Every aspect of Yuuka Mumbai is spectacular: from a grand wooden staircase leading up to a vast dining space; high ceilings patterned with a black and golden square theme replicated on the dark walls, molten gold place mats recumbent on dark wood tables housing ebony chopsticks dipped in gold; to the heavy burnished curtains, pulled back for diners to gaze at the glittering Mumbai skyline from the 37th floor.
This modern progressive Japanese restaurant defines opulence – each individual piece of sashimi ranges from 500-750 INR. I commence with a self-compiled sashimi platter featuring three varieties of fish – all Toro sashimi.
Cut from the tuna’s belly, Toro is the most expensive varient of sashimi due to its high fat content, at around 30 per cent. During preparation it is processed to remove intracapillary blood, giving it a fresh, white colour.
The Hamachi (Yellowtail) Tuna Toro has a deliciously clean, smooth taste with complex textures and a fat content greater than regular Hamachi sashimi.
The light golden flesh is marked by precise scoring by the chef to form a criss-cross pattern, while the cutting of each individual piece integrates the silvery skin of the fish to behold a dazzling flash of colour.
Of the three, the Maguro is the most commonly-available variety of sashimi however the fish does not fail to hold its own, its fierce red colour commanding stern presence on the plate.
With very little fat, it has a distinctly meaty taste which rounds out well when steeped in the accompanying soy sauce.
With the highest fat content, the Otoro has a taste and texture akin to butter; the light pink flesh is marbled with decadent white fat which dissolves in the mouth with utter silky brilliance. One could eat a hundred of these and experience the same nirvana, bite after bite.
Perched on top are judiciously used black truffles which do not detract from the taste of the sashimi; rather the shaved texture of the mushroom adds another element to the dish.
I am keen to experience the cynosure of all dishes for myself. I order and wait with bated breath.
The Salmon on Fire hangs whimsically from a stick of lemongrass, ignited by a burst of flames nether which serve to sear the fish for 10 seconds. The flame is quickly extinguished for the diner to enjoy a dish which is almost raw.
The detail on this dish is mindblowing in its intricacy; Citrus Ponzu soy-soaked cuts of tender salmon are laden with delicately wilted edible flowers. The garnish on the fish provides complexity to a dish whose textures would otherwise be one dimensional.
The tart acidity of the soy sauce is balanced by the sweetness of the accompanying raspberry gastrique sauce – however there is so much impact in terms of flavour that one may not wish to overcomplicate the dish.
After an initial tête–à-tête with the sauce, I resume devouring the salmon alone.
The ‘rack of lamb’ is disappointingly not as described – one envisages a full set, resplendent in size and origin, yet two miniature chops sit timidly in a plate which appears all too simplistic and empty; a lone stalk of asparagus the only form of vegetable relief.
Cooked disappointingly to almost well-done, the meat quality is satisfactory however not up to the gourmet quotient would expect from a fine dining establishment as Yuuka Mumbai. I’ve had better elsewhere!
Salty bacon coils furtively around the bone which compliments the creamy nuttiness of the accompanying sauce.
The marinated Chilean seabass is nothing short of spectacular in both texture and taste; tender meat flakes obediently under the fork to disintegrate on the palate, unfurling nuances of flavour which are perfectly intense in their citrusy sweetness.
Shavings of ginger and garlic permeate the flesh while the headiness of the soy marinade reveals a solid mise en place, or preparation.
The seared sirloin with black truffles and truffle oil is the epitome of lavishness – however for the more conservative palate, the flavours emerge as possessing an abundance of garlic which overpowers the senses as well as detracts from the flavour of the meat.
The truffle oil does little to assuage the richness of the dish, imparting tones which are unctuous and oppressive, resulting in a dish which was sent back half-consumed.
The chocolate fondant with vanilla bean ice-cream is presented in molds which are scathingly hot, indicating a precise ‘baked to order’ demand.
Delving into the centre unleashes a gloriously oozing stream of chocolate which juxtaposes with the ever so slightly charred sides of the cake. The ice-cream brings up the rear as the perfect partner to a reliable combination of chocolate and vanilla; a staple dessert made extraordinary due to flawless execution.
Supremely addictive, one is tempted with this dish to demand an encore.
Yuuka Mumbai is a prohibitively priced establishment which is largely aspirational for the lay crowd; the price of royal dining rings hefty, at around 7000 INR for two.
Nevertheless, every effort is made to provide diners with the five star experience – waiters are appropriately attentive, but not in the usual overbearing manner indigenous to most fine dining restaurants.
In spite of a few less than perfect dishes, the effort put into ambiance, food and service operate in a cohesive unison to ensure an experience almost worthy of every rupee.
Food 8.5, Service 9.
Yuuka Mumbai is located on Level 37 at the Palladium Hotel, Lower Parel.