Restaurant Review | Guppy by ai … Japanese cuisine at its tastiest best!

“I’m fascinated by Japanese cuisine.”
Eric Ripert

Guppy by aiIt took just one visit to Guppy by ai. It left me bowled over, wanting to return for more. I have an affinity for anything Japanese, yet little connect with Japanese cuisine but for a single trip to Japan 2 years ago. The visit to Guppy awakened my memories of that visit where I accompanied the husband who had a conference in Tokyo.

For me anything Japanese means harmony, balance, art, neatness, fresh appeal, fine aesthetics, colours that soothe, and delicate presentation. Of late, there has been delicious frenzied activity celebrating the return of Guppy by ai, the contemporary Japanese Bar & Kitchen, in a new avatar. It was an invite I couldn’t wouldn’t turn away!!

Guppy by ai Guppy by ai under the flagship AD Singh brand has reopened much to the delight of Delhiites! The reviews are out and they are all good. One visit to the eatery and you know what you’ve been missing. From the moment you step in, the ambiance wins you over. The vibrance of the anime inspired interiors greet you. They are peppy, colourful and eye catching!

Guppy by aiClever use of origami, sculpted metal lamps, ceramics that warm your heart. You can spend all day here taking in the magical surroundings. Origami kimonos adorn the walls, neat frames, little pikachus leaping from the menu card, distressed wood beamers that cleverly hide the air conditioning ducts, Kokeshi dolls, metal stacked tiffin boxes, the soothing sound of water flowing … a lot of bric a brac and vintage finds bring out a unique character. Designer Anshu Arora scores a perfect 10 to deliver a seamless and stunning ambiance.

Guppy by ai As the interiors impress, Guppy endears itself even more once the food starts flowing in {literally}. Sangeeta and I managed to make it together on the same night, accompanied by our better halves. We were greeted by the gentle, ever friendly and passionate Chef Vaibhav Bhargave, a chef I’ve known for a few years now. I’ve followed him in delight over the years at Olive and he seems to have broken new ground at Guppy.

Guppy by aiHe explains with passion…the salad bar, fresh ingredients, authentic Japanese condiments, a lavish {and very delicious} vegetarian spread, an equally rocking non vegetarian one, salads to make the heart sing with joy, pot stickers that warm the heart, gentle sauces on the side that excite but don’t overpower. The choice is amazing.

Guppy by ai If like me, you have a pretty limited knowledge of Jap cuisine, you are in for a revelation. Raw fish is not my cup of tea, and I associate it largely with Jap food, almost synonymous with sushi and sashami. How wrong could I be? Vaibhav talked us through every dish, the origins etc. And then, with the ever knowledgeable Sangeeta, the place was a treat that night! I was set to conquer Japanese cuisine, fish and all! {My photographs didn’t come out as I messed up the lens, so I’ve borrowed some from Sangeeta and used a few of mine}

Edamame Sea Salt Chilli GarlicThe menu is refreshing and exciting. With comfortable seating, we began with the starters or small plates as the menu suggests. A beautifully spiced Edamame Sea Salt/Chilli Garlic awakened our senses, the edamame was taken to delicious levels, chili and garlic being 2 of my favourite flavours. With mocktails on the side, {the liquor license was yet to come through}, we ate our way through fresh, crisp and delicately flavoured salads. First up a Guppy house salad with seasonal vegetables, palm hearts & bamboo shoots in a karashi mustard dressing {sans greens}.

Chirashi Seafood salad Next up was the Chirashi Seafood salad, an assortment of pickled prawn, tuna, salmon, crab and baby greens in goma-ae dressing. I gingery tried the seafood salad on the insistence of my good companions … it was fabulous. Beautifully balanced fresh flavours and not fishy for my discerning palette. I love good fresh salads, and I could see the sweet chef at the live sushi and bar across working diligently to stir up the goodness!

Guppy by aiStarters followed the salads. With an emphasis on the extensive vegetarian selection, and non vegetarian options too to spoil us, we were happy campers. Rice Paper Vegetables Roll, Chili Lime Dressed Agedashi Tofu, Exotic Mushroom Gyoza {Gluten-free, crisp bottom steamed pot stickers, served with ponzu soy dipping sauce}, Crisp Vegetable Harumaki {exotic vegetable filo rolls, crisp baked in oven and served with yuzu miso}, Prawn Gyoza {Black tiger prawn pot stickers, pan fried, served with ponzu soy sauce, and finally Guppy Signature Pork Belly {slow braised pork belly, glazed with soy honey and served with mustard miso sauce}. I love pot stickers and both the GF mushroom gyoza as well as the prawn gyoza were outstanding, the latter absolutely addictive with ponzu soy sauce. It was interesting to see a gluten free version included.  I didn’t eat the pork belly, but those who did found it chewy and tough, a little disappointing for a signature dish!

Wok Tossed Exotic Teppan Vegetable
Photo courtesy Sangeeta Khanna

We were rather full, yet were told that this was just the beginning. We hadn’t even touched the main course. It soon arrived and despite the protesting tummies, it was happy meal time again. We skipped the noodles, rice and carbs of course! Teriyaki Glazed Artichoke & Tofu and Wok Tossed Exotic Teppan Vegetable glazed with sesame soy were the first to arrive. I am not a fan of tofu so I gave that a miss. The wok tossed vegetables were excellent, delicately flavoured, a good bite to them.

Black Cod, Guppy by aiThe show stopper of course was the baked Black Cod which arrived dramatically, sizzling on a large smooth pebble. The good server did the honours of taking it off it’s menacing perch. I bravely volunteered to taste it as well, and it was the best fish I have ever eaten. The miso marinated cod was light, delicate, cooked just right and hit the ball out of the park! I loved it!

Guppy by ai And then there was more but I was far too full. The Grilled Jumbo Prawn served with assorted vegetables and pepper garlic was devoured by the rest of the gang. There was Teriyaki Glazed Artichoke & Tofu too, but most of skipped as the cod gave us a happy feeling.

Guppy by ai Dinner ended with their signature dessert … warm carrot cake drizzled with mascarpone. I skipped it as was happily satisfied. What I loved about the meal was the lavish inclusion of vegetarian fare on the menu, as also an interesting medley of fresh salads. All the dishes were delicately flavoured and each stood out separately. With the well designed interiors, it made for a memorable meal, a place I would return to!

Thank you Vaibhav for spoiling us that night, and thank you Guppy by ai for hosting us. I would definitely recommend Guppy to everyone. Step in and experience the ambiance. The magic will touch you. There is something for everyone here, vegetarian and otherwise, including gluten free!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

1 Comment

  • 3 years ago

    My son visited Tokyo and loved every minute of it. I am obsessed with Japan and want to go so bad. You make me dream now with these pictures.

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