Asian food is getting so nuanced that each time a new restaurant is launched, you spot a little-known dish that has been pulled out from a far corner of the continent, on the menu. Shizusan, the latest Asian casual dining restaurant to open in Mumbai, lists little-known Asian street foods like Otak Otak from Malaysia, pork Adobo from Philippines, Miso soup from Japan and Buri Bop from Korea.
Serial restaurateur Romil Ratra’s latest venture, Shizusan is designed like the shophouses that line the older quarters of Bangkok, Penang and Hanoi. A sushi bar and a casual dining area make up the lower level. The abacus-inspired staircase leads to the second floor that houses a double height ceiling offset with Vietnamese-style lanterns made from wireframe and fabric. Large windows flood the place with natural light and bring focus on arched walls with frescos of lotuses.
What’s Hot: The menu is simple and homey and travels across China, Japan, Burma, Vietnam, Korea, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. Running the kitchen is chef Paul Kinny, whose 17-ingredient slaw salad is reason enough to seek refuge here with a glass of sake. It’s festively decorated with carrots, papaya, cabbage and tomato, but what makes the dish soar is the salted plum dressing and the crunch from the fried wantons. The roughly strewn mint and coriander add a burst of freshness to the salad.
Feed your street food itch with a pair of pillowy and well-loaded baos. The dough pockets come filled with roast chicken, scallions, cucumber, sesame and creamy hoisin sauce and are somehow heartier than they already look.
The bok choy and zucchini dim sums are firm of flesh yet soft and yielding. The veggies retain their crunch under the translucent casing. If you want a bigger bite, the lobster in black pepper sauce is a worthy indulgence. I mopped up the entire plate without blinking.
However the star of the show for me is the Korean Buri Bop. The theatrics of the dish start when the hot stone bowl arrives sizzling on your table. Raw pieces of tuna are placed on the inside of the pot. While the fish is being seared on one side the rice is mixed with gochujang sauce. The piece de résistance is the charred layer of rice and the heat from the sauce. Vegetarians can try the Thai red curry with sticky jasmine rice. The mildly flavoured curry is heroically full of bamboo shoots and pineapple.
Ice cream with Red beans, and sweet corn piqued our interest, this traditional Filipino dessert has quite a fan following. The Shizusan version comes with scoops of lavender, coffee and vanilla ice cream with rice crisps and condensed milk. The light toppings make the dessert incredibly refreshing with a mellow, grown-up level of sweetness. I thought caramalised bananas or coconut shavings would have been an excellent accompaniment.
What’s not: The drinks, barring the Chu Chu (vodka and cucumber drink with a tantalizing salt and chili rim) had no detectable kick whatsoever. Some err on the strong side, with generous measures of alcohol, while others have their spirits forced into hiding. Most drinks were quite unremarkable, with flavours being drowned out by too much ice and sugar syrup.
Where: Shizusan, Skyzone, Ground Floor, Near Lifestyle Gate, High Street Phoenix Mall, Lower Parel, Mumbai. Cost for meal for two with a drink each is Rs 2500 plus taxes.
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