Restaurant Review: Ukiyo
Food: 4.5 | Service: 4 | Décor: 4
Ukiyo, located in the newly opened Ritz Carlton hotel, is one of the few restaurants in the city which serves traditional Japanese cuisine with a contemporary twist. The word Ukiyo in Japanese translates to ‘live in the moment’.
Keeping in tune with the lavish décor of the Ritz Carlton hotel, Ukiyo has created a modern space with raw and natural design elements and has yet managed to maintain its traditional Japanese roots. Throughout the sprawling space, there are different sections and styles of seating. With stone textured walls, columns and even counters, the indoor section carries the natural and raw theme forward. This section has two beautifully designed private dining areas perfect for an intimate family gathering or even a formal dinner. There is the unique counter seating by the robata grill and sushi counter, where you can see the chefs working with fresh ingredients. An interesting element which impressed me the most was the suspended shelves above the bar and grill counters. These shelves are stacked with traditional Japanese ceramic plates, bowls, woks and other cutlery. The outdoor section is more informal with high chairs and tables.
Ukiyo is one of the few restaurants in the city which offer an authentic Japanese experience. The setting and even the menu pays tribute to an Izakaya, which are informal Japanese bars which serve alcohol and snacks, but with a sophisticated touch. Curated by Chef Edwin, the menu is a creative interpretation of Japanese cuisine and features fresh ingredients sourced from across the globe and an expansive selection of sake and sake cocktails. We started with two inspired cocktails, Miso Sour and Sake-tini and kept repeating them through the night. From the Kozara (Small Plates), we tried the fresh and tangy Baby Spinach salad with yuzu truffle, parmesan and crispy yuba (tofu skin) and the slightly sweet Roasted Nashi Pears with a sesame dressing and pomegranates. The chunky and delicious Avocado and Yuzukosho tartare was served in the most beautiful and unique fashion. The tartare bowl was placed inside a round ice sculpture which was kept on a bed of crushed ice. The Kozara section is quite extensive and there are a lot of great options to pick from. We continued with the baked Napa cabbage with shio kombu butter and sweet potato crisps. The flavor of the shio kombu butter was prominent, but did nothing to elevate the bland taste and blanched texture of the cabbage. The cottage cheese miso-zuke with wild mushrooms came next. The cheese was grilled perfectly and had an intense pickled miso flavor. The fish and seafood varieties on the Ukiyo menu are baffling and over the course of the evening, we had some beautifully fresh fish sourced from around the world. This included the perfectly cooked and flaky Norwegian salmon with a balsamic teriyaki sauce, the pan seared Chilean sea bass topped with yuzu and onion salsa and the Black cod with jalapeno misozuke.
For the Japanese, Tempura is almost sacred and all Japanese restaurants have an elaborate tempura menu. At Ukiyo we tried the prawn tempura and it definitely was one of the best the city has to offer. What made it more special was the amazu ponzu, an intense, sweet and sour sauce made from rice wine vinegar. The vegetable tempura platter is equally good. The sushi, sashimi and rolls were our top priority, as there are only a select few places in the city which have such an extensive variety. First came the delicious Okonomoyaki Rolls - Octopus stuffed inside sushi rice rolls, covered with tamago (Japanese omelet) and topped with katsubushi (dried salmon flakes). This dish is a definite crowd pleaser and highly recommended. The Ukiyo signature sushi and sashimi sharing platter came next which had six pieces of maki, sashimi and nigiri each. The freshness of the fish and other ingredients was clearly evident after tasting each component. Barring the cuttlefish, everything else on this platter was sheer perfection.
Among the desserts, our pick was the Dark Chocolate streusel cake with sake infused nashi pears served with vanilla bean ice-cream and mixed berry compote. The warm cake, the sweet pears, the flavorful ice-cream and the tart compote were a winning combination.
PLUS & MINUS
Ukiyo manages to come up with a progressive Japanese menu which is extremely innovative and contemporary. The beautiful décor and impeccable service elevate the dining experience further. A special note to the servers, who helped us understand the Japanese names of the ingredients and dishes which were being served.
Must Try Dishes: Sushi & Sashimi Platter, Cottage Cheese Misozuke, Okonomoyaki Rolls, Black-cod Jalapeno Misozuke, Kisu with Amazu Ponzu, Dark Chocolate Cake with Sake-infused Nashi Pears
Meal for Two: Rs. 2500
Address: Survey 103/2, First Floor, Yerawada, Pune - 411006
Contact: 020 6767 5000
Timings: 6:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Photo Courtesy: Ukiyo
Note: The article was first published in Pune Times on 20 December 2019.