The name Edo is inspired by the erstwhile title of the ancient city of Tokyo. It brings alive the Japanese Izakaya style of dining (casual after work watering holes) with sake, wines and whiskeys to savor alongside sashimi, sushi, robatayaki, tempura and scrumptious desserts. Edo has been enthralling and delighting Bangaloreans since its inception and has created an exalted space for itself in the culinary landscape of Bangalore. Voted the ‘Best Japanese Restaurant’ five years in a row – Edo is quite the overachiever! As Edo turns five, it has a new Masterchef in Nariyoshi Nakamura from Tokyo and a new menu to boot. The competition better pull up its socks…
I had the pleasure of experiencing a Kaiseki style meal on a lovely Saturday afternoon (yes, they are open for lunch on Saturdays). Japanese Kaiseki is your equivalent of haute cuisine where the chef uses fresh seasonal ingredients to prepare a sequence of dishes or courses. Each course is artistically presented on carefully chosen tableware that aims at enhancing the final dish. Edible garnishes are part of the package and you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you can send back a clean plate! While the menu itself is at the discretion of the chef, it generally includes an appetizer, sashimi, a soup/ simmered dish, a grilled dish, a steamed course and dessert. A peek into my exceptional Japanese meal.
A novel cuisine, refined setting, exemplary presentation and service – it’s easy to get uppity about the meal. But that’s not what Izakaya is about. Edo helps you shake off all presumptuousness with a Sake Bomb! Once you go through the fun ritual it is easy to relax and just enjoy your meal. It starts with a glass of beer and two chopsticks placed across the rim. A cup of sake is precariously balanced on the chopsticks. Then the ritual chant of “Ichi, Ni, Sa, Nya Sake Bomb” (one, two, three, four Sake Bomb) is uttered while simultaneously banging the table next to the glass of beer. The Sake cup plops into the beer and you pick it up and swig the entire drink in one non-stop movement! Getting a little high on both the experience and the alcohol – a wonderful start to the meal!
The first course is a beautiful quenelle of Monkfish Liver called Ankimo. Considered a winter delicacy in Japan – Ankimo was listed as #32 on the world’s most delicious foods in 2011. The scary looking Monkfish (also called Sea Devils) have a large fatty liver that bodes well for making pates. The delicate liver is cleaned, soaked in milk, rinsed with sake and steamed. Think of it like the foie-gras of the sea – light, velvety and rich with a faint taste of the ocean. The Ankimo here was dressed with mild berry sauce and dehydrated lotus stems served as crostini. One of my first experiences with Ankimo and it was quite a revelation. Monkfish liver is rarely seen outside of Japan and it’s a privilege to try it in Bangalore.
(Some more research revealed that it is a controversial dish because of overfishing of Monkfish for the liver. There is also the fact that parasites need to be carefully removed from the liver before it is cooked. However, it is considered one of the chinmi (delicacies) of Japan and is intricately linked to their culture.)
The next course was Zen Sai or a selection of appetizers. Please forgive me if I keep raving about the presentation. The three pieces of art on the plate consisted of an Avacado Tamari (fatty tuna enveloped by avocado slices and fish roe), Hokkaido Scallops encased in smoked pork belly laid elegantly on a bed of arc shaped fried noodles and finally ‘Kurage’ or Jelly Fish. While the Tamari and Scallops were outstanding, the Kurage really blew my mind. The rice noodle like jelly fish was dressed with soy, mirin and sesame seeds and tasted like the ocean breeze. This is what fresh feels like.
A chic plate of sushi and sashimi came out next. The sashimi had another Japanese winter delicacy called Hamachi (also Kanpachio / Buri). Though mistaken frequently for YellowTail Tuna, it is from an entirely different family. The white meat is prized for its higher fat content and I could see why it is so appreciated in Japan. We also had some beautiful Sake (salmon) on the plate.
The best part of having sashimi in Edo is the fresh Wasabi Root that they grate for you at the table. The neon green Wasabi root looks like a stubby tree and the grater is made of Shark Skin. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is!
Chef sent out the signature Edo Uramaki for the sushi course. Tuna spiced with shichimi and Japanese Mayo (Kewpie) is coupled with avocado which is then encased by a nori sheet and rice. The bright crab meat is then placed as the crowning glory on top. Yum!
While Sushi and Sashimi are top of the mind when it comes to Japanese cusine, they do churn out some beautiful grills called Robatayaki (robata for short). Literally meaning fireside cooking, meat is grilled on hot coals and served to the customers with great aplomb. Similar to Teppanyaki which uses a hot plate instead, both grills focus on the showmanship of the chef.
The Lamb which was simply spiced used Sansho (Japanese green peppers) packed quite a punch and was cooked to perfection. After this, my standards for lamb have skyrocketed! The sweet surprise however was the Miso Black Cod. Peaking underneath the lamb was this innocent looking piece of blackened fish. But looks can be deceptive – this was the most succulent, melt in the mouth piece of fish I have ever had. The outside was caramelized beautifully and the inside was white as snow and cut like soft butter. There couldn’t have been a more faultless marinade than the sweet Miso – Umami at its best.
After all the excitement of the grills it’s easy to discount a beautifully turned out basket of Tempura. This is Edo afterall and we were treated to a flawless one – fluffy, crisp and with the colours of the meat and veggies peeking through. The assortment had Lady Fish, King Prawns, Lotus Root and Pumpkin. The sweet fried Pumpkin was definitely a favorite at the table and stole the show from the more popular Prawn tempura.
The steamed course bought out a collectively sigh of amazement and kleptomaniac tendencies. The cutlery – OMG! The ceramic tray held a beautiful casserole with a lid that had hand painted sea creatures and a gold painted handle. The grey ridged stone tea kettle accompanying it deserves a separate paean. And finally the leaf shaped wooden bowl that held the plum sauce – exquisite! This was one case where the external looks were matched and exceeded by the contents inside.
On a bed of Japanese Rice cooked with Green Tea lay some steamed Red Snapper. Nori (seaweed) strips, Bonito flakes (dried, fermented skipjack tuna), Edamame beans and Sesame seeds piled high on the snapper. Pickled Plum Sauce which added the required sourness lay in the wooden bowl. And then the beautiful broth was poured onto the fish and rice. Made with Dashi, Green Tea, Soy, Sake and Kombu, the broth was soulfully mellow. The final flavors gently pile on one another and meld into one soul satisfying bite. A moments silence to acknowledge the craft.
Dessert after this seemed unnecessary. The Dashi broth was still calling to me! But who can say no to Black Sesame Ice Cream and Yuzu Lemon Cheescake with Strawberry compote and Madagascar Chocolate Mousse made with 77% Dark Chocolate – especially when they came in the form of a dessert trio! Steely resolves and international spies can be broken with this combo! I enjoyed it … every single bite!
Exceptional. Outstanding. Extraordinary. Incomparable. I can add in a couple of more adjectives, but being #1 encompasses all of it.
Thank you to Chef Kamlesh Joshi and team for giving me the most memorable meal of 2015. What a fantastic way to end the year!!
ITC Gardenia, 1 Residency Road, Bangalore.
Phone : +91 80 22119898
Cost : INR 3000/++ for a meal for two. INR 4000/++ for the curated Kaiseki menu for one.
Valet Parking available.