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Sunday, 3 April 2016

ICHI-ZEN AUTHENTIC JAPANESE



ICHI  ZEN - ONE GOOD DEED

Tucked away in the corner on First Floor of the famous Galaxy Mall, Sector-15, Gurgaon is the ever so exclusive restaurant by the name of ICHI-ZEN. This outlet has been operational and serving serving Authentic Japanese delicacies since 2013 in our very own Gurgaon.
Ichi-zen is a part of the subsidiary of famous HONDA group and goes by the name of HKI (Honda Kaihatsu India Pvt Ltd) which was established in 2011. The group takes care of anything related to the word “Japanese” in India (Food, Culture etc). It has its registered cum Head office in Gurgaon, & its Branches ,Restaurants , Canteens , Food Corners are located at Gurgaon, Bhiwadi, Greater Noida (Tree-house Hotel) , Bangalore, and Ahmedabad.
The restaurant incidentally has been supplying “BENTO BOXES” (similar to a Deluxe Indian Thali) to the YAMAHA group from the last 1.5 years, at their Gurgaon office. In addition, they also supply authentic Japanese food from their Base kitchens in Bhiwadi to all the major Japanese conglomerates in & around that area.
AMBIANCE: The restaurant interiors are very soft and welcoming, just like the nature of Japanese people who are themselves very calm and composed. Authentic curios and paintings engulf the customers into the world of Mini-Japan. With dim-lighting and smell of food, one almost feels to have landed in the right place for authentic food in this area. The furniture and ambiance is of top notch quality and makes you feel comforted while being placed at your table.
The restaurant has ample & spacious seating with a total cover of 60+ seats which changes configuration in Lunch & Dinner depending upon the time, occasion and footfalls. In addition,  they have independent seating areas known as PDA – Private Dining areas one with Lower seating while the other 2 with high seatings for private gatherings and parties. Each room can accommodate approx  8-10 people and is majorly occupied by Corporates or smaller groups in Lunch and Dinner. Japanese and Koreans essentially are the only ones, which have this concept of exclusive private dining areas.

With a Bar cabinet placed very near to the entrance, one can select their Poison from the famous Japanese drinks like Soju of Daruma brand, Sake, to Japanese Wines which is almost impossible to find at this side of the town. They also have a whole collection of Sula Wines (Indian) which one can select from to enjoy with their food. Generally, white wine goes well with Japanese food which itself have very subtle flavors in their cuisine.




JAPANESE CUISINE (MYTH) : We Indians have a very myopic view when it comes to Japanese cuisine. We generally associate it with only Sushi and Wasabi as these are now more prevalent and readily available in our Fast Food subcontinent. Japanese Fine Dine contains many dishes and unlike us Indians their food revolves more around meats like Pork (maximum), Prawns, Squid, Fish and then comes Chicken. They are in love with their Sea-food and most of their food is also plated pointing upwards signifying that the food is completely fresh.

To remain as Authentic as possible ,the restaurant sources most of  its raw material from Japan, as much as they can. The ones locally sourced are of the highest quality. Ex Pork served here is only Belgian Pork, Prawns served here are of Black Tiger, & comes in the form of a cold block from the famous Prawn importers in India. Other meats are also sourced from the highest quality vendors in India. Wasabi comes in the form of Wasabi paste directly imported from Japan. Dry spices are mostly also imported from Japan. Owing to the Honda group lineage, import becomes an easier process for the outlet.  

AUTHENTIC JAPANESE FOOD: We were welcomed by our Host of the day : Mr. Ajay Sharma who has been with the company for more than 3 years handling their entire hospitality side of the business along with the Head Chef.

VEG. ONION SALAD(Japanese Paste) : We started off our meal with the Onions and tomatoes in a ever so tasteful Japanese paste…it acted like a palate cleanser before exploding our mouths with different Japanese ingredients…quite similar to our Indian foods Onions and Chutney combo…

PRAWNS TEMPURA WITH SAUCE: Tempura battered fried Prawns and beans along with some veggies and a Fish extract sauce, was an ultimate delicacy....also since the prawns were of the highest quality the size & the texture was simply delicious…ideally to be dipped in this broth of fish extracts it tasted absolute divine…plated beautifully it was a visual delight as well...



AGE DASHI TOFU: For especially vegetarians, Tofu which is a Soya byproduct is probably the healthier version of a dish….it was quite tasteful, and somehow melted in my mouth…since it was pan fried and seared in the sauces , sauces had seeped right into the center and was tasting quite nice…with 4-5 pieces in 1 plate it could go very well as a vegetarian starter…

ABURI CHASYU ( PORK BELLY): The highlight of the day was the ever so soft, succulent, well prepared pieces of pork belly that came plated on a stick with a sauce, & topped with green onions and sesame seeds…the 3 sticks came with oh-so tasty pieces that had right amount of fat and meat to balance the taste and the texture…a must try gastronomical delight when you visit this place…

CHICKEN NANBAN (FRIED CHICKEN): As advised to us, this was not to be confused with KFC chicken…this dish constituted deep fried pieces of chicken to be tried with a new kind of Mayonnaise and cabbage as condiments… the taste was nice but it did not hit my palate with something new or authentic…it was normal and not very unique though, something which I can give a miss while coming here….





VEG. YASAI ITAME (PAN FRIED VEGETABLES): The vegetarians have very limited options here, and this dish being one of them…vegetables were quite fresh and tasteful…from button tomatoes, babycorn, green onions, tofu, peas, cucumber, onions, capsicum & certain leaves were pan seared to perfection with sauces to compliment the taste…even though being a meat lover I was quite impressed with flavors of this veggy dish…recommended for all vegetarians visiting this outlet…

MISO SOUP (Soya Bean Based): The staple soup of the Japanese cuisine is the Miso soup, it is used as a Base in many dishes and is one flavorful item…it was nice in taste but it will take some more time for me to understand the true Authenticity and importance of this soup in the overall cuisine…

ICHIZEN EBI TEN MAKI (PRAWNS SUSHI): The presentation, and plating was something I really liked and admired…the taste was good actually...the only issue for me was the size, the bigger the size the more dry it becomes in your mouth as its a dish to be had in one go…so I dipped it in Soya, touched Wasabi on the sides and tasted it, the taste was very nice…a bit dry but very nice…must try when visiting here…you get flavor of fried prawns with sticky rice and pungent wasabi makes it complement all together...





SALMON MAKI : Essentially a Salmon Sushi which is blow torched at the top, actually this process is called Abhuri..topped with mayo and orange cavier (fish eggs)…it also came along with radish decorated flower and wasabi paste…it was nice but the for me the fish did not give out its own distinct flavor and smell, was my opinion…

PORK MEAT PRIKARA SHICHIMI ITAME: Pan fried pork strips with onions and soy sauce…it was a main course dish which ideally can go very well with noodles and rice both…the quantity was good for 1-2 people and came with Mayonnaise...salad leaf and tomato piece as condiment added to the crunch and flavor…

MINI BUTADON AND MISO SOUP (MEAL IN A BOWL): A nice dish in a bowl which can be constituted as a complete meal….With a large portion fit enough for one person the meal contains : 1 Medium sized piece of Pork Meat, 1 Egg boiled, burnt garlic pieces, good amount of noodles, spring onions, sesame seeds, and whole lot of Soup to fill our stomach…recommended for lunch as its easy to eat and consumes way less time…




BUTA TOMPEI YAKI (EGG ROLL) : Probably the only dish in the Menu which I could not have more than one piece…may be I was not conditioned as an Indian to acknowledge the taste…it was essentially egg rolled with pork meat pieces put on top of sticky rice, topped with spring onions, and whole onions…taste was unique and it did not gel very well with me…I think it is too authentic for me :)!!

CONDIMENTS : The entire food comes along with light & sweet Soya Sauce & a Japanese concoction of Dry spices & herbs which honestly we could not breakdown properly…It was as explained to us that its main purpose is to get some chilly-ness into their otherwise relatively bland-ish food…

FOOD VERDICT : 

Best Dish : Grilled and glazed Pork Belly on Sticks with sesame seeds,

Suggestions (if any): There needs to be more variety of Fish dishes in the Menu, the Sushi needs to be a little smaller in size as generally they are to be eaten in one bite and the larger the size the more dry it will become,

Chefs Secrets : The meats especially Pork is first marinated for 4-6 hours and then warmed in pans before being served....this is done to get the tenderized meat and the glazed look before being finally plated to the customers. Chef & his team, themselves make the Black Pepper sauce which is being used in many dishes here, this gives the smoky and nutty flavour to the dishes. Apart from a firm control on the quality of ingredients the cooking process is also controlled to maintain the authenticity of the dishes in this cuisine.

DRINKS : We were advised by our host to try their Saki and Soju (DARUMA brand) which came in both Warm and Cold forms…The Saki was was nice and easy to the palate and had a mild taste of rice in it, but Soju in both cold & warm form was quite the potent of the lot…we could only try a sip each and did not venture too much into this domain since we wanted no compromise on our food…but a nice change from the usual choice, highly recommended to go along with ones food choices here...

KITCHEN STAFF : The kitchen is headed by the CEO and owner himself who takes full efforts to check and maintain the Authenticity of the brand. The Indian Head Chef - Chef Naresh Kumar Sharma who hails from the H.P.(Himachal Pradesh) side of India has worked with Chef Saby,  Olive Saket & etc he now manages a team of 15 people inside the kitchen in this outlet. The Service staff is mostly manned by Lady stewards who are well versed with English and do their jobs very well.

ICHI-ZEN FOCUS : LOCAL INDIAN MARKET : The focus of the restaurant is now to target the Rich, upclass, travelled Indians who can understand and appreciate the Japanese cuisine in entirety. Uptil now the whole restaurant has been running on Captive Japanese Corporates who frequent the outlet mostly for the authenticity in their food. As of now , the restaurant has only done promotions in Japanese magazines and direct foreign corporates but the group now intends to enter the local Indian population in and around Delhi-NCR…

To target the Indian market, we suggested that they might need to update and add some dishes in their existing Menu which is incidentally written only in Japanese…small changes in their Menu like adding more variety of Vegetarian dishes, more types of Fish dishes, may be more types of Noodles basically to suit the palate of us Indians so to say…We have also been invited to try the New Menu once it has been finalized with the team to give our views on the same…




ICHI-ZEN, 
The Galaxy Hotel,  
Sector 15, Gurgaon

Timings: Lunch (12:00 pm to 3 pm) , Dinner (5:30 pm to 10 pm)



Coverage By : Vickrham (vicky) & Rohan Sehgal for Foodmaniacs
Compilation By : Rohan Sehgal 
Pics : Vickrham & Rohan
Email : vickrham.m@gmail.com


Ichizen - The Galaxy Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato