Monday, October 01, 2012

Media: Dinner at the Temaki Sushi Bar

To wind up the Dining Under the Stars series, Teddy and I decided  on Fellini initially. However, since he liked sushi and I had, had too much of an Italian fare, I decided to have a surprise for him at Temaki. 

I had requested Melinda for an Omakase, which in Japanese means I'll leave it to you or entrust the chef with the choice of menu. It is an excellent opportunity for the chef to show off his varied cooking techniques, while at the same time, a fascinating time for the customer to watch the chef at the bar. Temaki in Japanese means hand rolled, while sushi refers to a specially prepared rice. So temaki sushi is a completely hands-on dish which can be enjoyed without the chopsticks and sushi mats.

The Chef presented us a five-course meal which included a complementary course with tofu and mushrooms in pluck sauce.
This was soon followed by four square cubes of mildly fried tofu in a brilliant soya sauce broth. The tofu was juicy and succulent and the sauce absolutely elevated the flavor. 

Teddy was presented an artistic display using fish, which he was expected to roll up with his chopsticks, instead he tried eating it directly as it was presented. As a rule you are expected to tip only the end of the fish into the soya sauce. Dunking the sushi in the sauce is considered disrespectful to the chef. Along with this, you are also served slices of ginger to clear your palate along with some stinging wasabi or japanese horseradish.

Next, Ted was presented a beautiful beef roll while I was presented a deceptive looking roasted eggplant with a brilliant thick variety of soya sauce. You basically scoop it out with a spoon and enjoy it.

For the key course, we were each presented a striking sushi made with fish and fruits respectively. The presentation was mouthwatering and we were huffing and puffing through the course even before we got to the dessert. 

Chef Aki surprised us with one more course made with crispy fried banana rolled only with fruits. The beauty of the dish was the lack of rice to hold the rolls. The crispy fried skin of the banana rolled with other fruits beautifully complemented each other and it was undoubtedly one of the best courses I had that evening.
To wrap up the show, Chef Aki presented the fried banana tempura stuffed with three varieties of ice cream. Next to the Tres Les Che, this was one of the best desserts we have tasted. You must try a bite of this lotus flower like presentation, created by slices of banana tempura, filled with ice cream and topped with a cherry.

Chef Aki treated us to a memorable night of sushi, vegetarian and fruit rolls. The only gripe was the seating which had us hidden behind the bar and the purpose of the omakase was in part, lost, especially for me. I was looking forward to tasting the Japanese artistic style of presentation and left me hugely disappointed. Though the chef put up a great show, he had some issues at the restaurant with his waitresses and they were quite open about it. Coming from him, I was unhappy because I was looking forward to a memorable evening replete with a great dining experience. Irrespective of what your differences maybe, customers who come to have a good time should be spared the brunt of it. Nevertheless for the excellent fare that we were served, I left a hefty tip.

The waitresses on the floor need to be professionally trained to serve customers and understand their requirements without having to repeat it a few dozen times. I  had already told them I required cutlery since I have not used chopsticks before. However, for every course I had to call out to them to get my cutlery and get through the meal. It is certainly not pleasant. Further, it is not always the tips at the end of the day that should be the key focus, but respect and quality service that make the cut.

The key issue I felt was the lack of awareness and respect given to Japanese customs and an understanding of culture. Both the chef and the team should be trained to understand each other's expectations for a smooth functioning. The chef is highly respected and should be treated as such. When you accept a dish, it is a good practice to bow. The deeper your bow, the greater the respect you show the chef. 

Overall, Ted and I enjoyed the meal to the hilt. For a USD 100 including tips, it is a brilliant fare.


Jay Talkin' said...

Well - take a deep bow then (Jap style) for the excellent snaps and the well rounded article. I agree the chef is the most important person in that particular food chain called the restaurant! Can Omikase to you!

Anonymous said...

The pictures are beautiful, Soums.. and the food looks sooo delicious :)

AquaM said...

Wish you had been here Jans. You would have abs enjoyed it.

Jay, thank you and it is Omakase..:)