Picture yourself in a cosy Japanese home with fresh ingredients, hot grills and immaculate cuts, beautiful views of the Roppongi Hills through the window and warm faces around you- Welcome to Hilton’s Roppongi Hills Japanese Pop-up.
Chef Achal Agarwal has always kept us in awe. With years of expertise in Japanese cuisine, this pop-up is his wonderland. He’s kept it fairly simple in concept- Japanese ingredients and authentic preparations, nothing less. You won’t believe us if we told you that even the Wasabi, for the first time in Chennai, has been flown down from Japan and grated fresh before your eyes. And that’s just the beginning.
Back to the Basics
As his knife glides through Salmon, as if through butter, he explains to us that the menu boasts of things you’d find only in a home in Japan- no strings attached, no fancy words. “Japanese food is all about keeping it fresh and simple,” he says as he effortlessly arranges pieces of Tuna and Salmon on a plate with Ponzu Sauce and Japanese spice powder to make the Carpaccio.
Keepin’ it Cool
Nigiris and Rolls make the Sushi Combo placed on a wooden platter with freshly grated Wasabi on the side. He makes the Nigiris with swift movements of balling up sticky rice and arranging a beautiful cut of fish on the top and we’re mind blown at how something that simple could taste so elegant. In his must trys’ from the cold section, he also talks of a Sashimi Combo with 5 cuts- Salmon, Tuna, Octopus, Scallops and Crab Sticks. We can’t get enough of the Crab Sticks and the Octopus. If there are vegetarians out there are feeling a little left out, Chef recommends an Avocado Tartare that’s quite dashing.
If your cup of tea is meant to be hot, move over to the hot plates. Paripari Ika (fried calamari) and Karai Yarasu Ebi (prawns with spicy mayo) are here to save the day. Alternatively you could sample a Maki Roll, which is in the warm section. Spicy Crispy Shrimp and Crazy Sushi are what the Chef recommends. We needed an extra breath to talk about the Soft Shell Crab. Light and airy, soft and moist, the crab is a crowd-pleaser. We also had the honor of meeting Chef’s Salmon Teppanyaki. Fresh Salmon spiced mildly and grilled to perfection on a bed of sprouts and spinach, served with a dream team of sauces. And if your tastebuds cry with joy on meeting the Ebi Tempura, let it be. The prawn is dipped ever so delicately in a tempura batter, fried golden and served with a soya dip. Bliss.
Ready, Set, Menu
Chef talks about how their set menus are, well, set in style. They have a Kaicki’zen which is a set menu that was served only to royalty in ancient Japan. The Okonomiyaki, also another specialty, is a Japanese Vegetarian omelette that’s made with shredded vegetables and spiced mildly.
For those looking for the sugar, Chef has something that starts at Wasabi and ends in Brulee. We hadn’t got over the Wasabi Sorbet we had here last time, and Chef goes ahead and makes a Wasabi Creme Brulee. Contrary to what you might think, the Wasabi really compliments the caramel and makes you feel like it’s even sweeter than normal. Go out of your comfort zone and order this cream dream.
Also on the menu is a Cream Cheese Ice Cream and a Tofu Cheesecake for those who can’t have dessert without cheese. The Tofu Cheesecake is also a win-win for the weight-watchers out there. But then again, Chef tells us that Japanese food is always served with healthy salads and lots of radish, that keeps it light on the stomach too.
If it wasn’t obvious already, we’d really like you to go to the Japanese Pop-up at Hilton Chennai right away to eat like the Japanese do. And might we recommend dinner as the place comes alive with lights in mason jars and soul-stirring music. Book a table in a cabana please and enjoy the view with Japan’s best.
Watch Chef Achal live in action here: