When it comes to eating out with family and friends, I am a creature of habit and rarely venture far from home. I guess I am lucky to have some decent restaurants in my vicinity and don’t mind frequenting them again and again. So when two of my neighborhood favorites, the ever popular Le Bistro du Parc and the funky contemporary Japanese restaurant, Guppy by ai, decided to come together in a Franco Japanese Bar pop-up avatar titled “Tokyo Mon Amour” or “Tokyo My Love”, I couldn’t be more excited. And may I add curious. I always enjoy Chef Vikram Khatri’s food. But what was this French twist to Japanese cuisine or was it the other way around? So off I went to check it out.
This latest offering from A.D Singh’s Olive stable is just what the doctor ordered for unwinding after a day’s hard work. Or even to hang out with friends for a fun night out. Some innovative cocktails, tapas style shared small plates which are reasonably priced (Rs 350-650) in a chic elegant ambience created by Naïna de Bois-Juzan, the gorgeous, co-owner of Le Bistro du Parc, or the girl with a gamine smile as I call her.
The theatre, where this pop-up is being played out, is the indoor lounge and courtyard at Guppy by ai, Lodi Colony Market. A brilliant use of space, in my opinion, that does not affect the regular restaurant, which continues to run as usual with full Guppy menu.
Let’s talk about cocktails first. The reason why I hesitate to order cocktails at most restaurants is because I find them either too sweet or watered down. So I prefer sticking to wine. Tokyo Mon Amour menu features some interesting cocktails and out of the two that I tried at the insistence of the mixologist, I enjoyed Wasabi Mimosa made with fresh orange, wasabi infused vodka & sparkling wine. Found it very refreshing with the wasabi giving a slight pungent kick on the back palate. A word of advice: Always mention your preference to the bartender about how you would like your cocktail before ordering, rather than returning it for being too sweet, dry, sour whatever.
The food at Tokyo Mon Amour features some staples of both the restaurants and I couldn’t resist ordering Le Bistro Du Parc’s signature Pan Fried Calamari & Guppy’s Black Rice Sushi Rolls. Can one ever go wrong with these two dishes ? Yes, they also have Guppy’s signature Pork Belly, though for once I gave it a miss.
Now comes the tricky part, the inspiration bit. Some Japanese dishes have been tweaked to include French elements and vice versa. Niçoise Salad inspired Tuna Tataki with a wasabi soya vinaigrette is a perfect example of a classic French salad with a touch of Japan. An interesting element in this is Tamagoyaki or layered Japanese omelette, which can pass off as tuna, till one tastes it. Sakura Wood Cold Smoked Salmon is another inspired dish, the French influence here is Crème Fraîche. Parma Ham wrapped Asparagus Roll and House Chicken Sausages wrapped in bacon, which the chef insisted I try out, were very creative. The latter had a delicious red wine soy glaze.
The two dishes I did not care much for were Panko-crusted Japanese “kare bread” and Cheese Korokke (Croquettes). The fact that both these were deep-fried may have something to do with my reluctance to do them justice. Basically there was nothing exceptional about them.
The star of the pop-up and that one dish which epitomises Tokyo Mon Amour for me is Ramen Croque Madam. For the uninitiated, Croque Madam is a classic French ham & cheese sandwich made with fried bread, topped with melted cheese and a lightly fried egg. It is a staple of Parisian café menus. Chef Vikram has cleverly substituted bread with a Ramen Bun (pan-fried patties of ramen noodle). I loved this dish and strongly recommend it.
Tokyo Mon Amour pop-up at Guppy is on only till the end of April and those of you, who still haven’t gone, should give it a try especially for Ramen Croque Madame which is a brilliant innovation by Chef Vikram Khatri. The décor and the ambience is another reason why you cannot miss it. Did I talk about the playlist yet? I could sit here forever and listen to those lovely numbers compiled by Naïna de Bois-Juzan.
By: Lavina Kharkwal
Tokyo Mon Amour (on only till 30th April)
Courtyard & Lounge at Guppy by ai, 28 Main Market, Lodi Colony, New Delhi
Every Wednesday to Sunday (Dinner Only) 7pm onward