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    A2 at The Park presents a Japanese showcase, where sushi and sashimi are paired with sake and whiskies.

    WE enter The Park’s A2 late on a Monday evening, past the turquoise poolside setting of Aqua and are seated with minimum fuss. Overlooking the al fresco arrangement around the roof-top pool, A2 is a sushi bar that brings a typically minimal, Japanese aesthetic to the table. Thanks to industrial designer Gunjan Gupta’s shabby chic treatment, there are no glaring contrasts (besides the cleverly striped floor) in the decor to detract from the food, and this makes it a wonderful place to enjoy a quiet workday evening. My wife and I have come to sample some of the Bunkasai fare specially designed to highlight the Japanese sushi offerings here.

    Chef in control
    This Bunkasai menu, chief de cuisine, Rahul Shrivastava explains, is born of a tradition in Japan where high school children and their families celebrate the artistic achievements of the students and their academic year with cultural activities and quick and easy cafeteria style foods. I order a glass of Nikka’s Pure Malt Black which has a deep smoky rendering to its infusion of malt while my wife’s glass of Sake has a well fermented, almost sweet aftertaste.
    First up, a biggish bowl of cool, fresh seaweed and pickled cucumber strands is delivered to our table, the tangy aioli dressing bringing the menu sharply back into focus even as each successive sip of sake and whisky seems to play foil. We ask for an assortment of Nigirizushi (pellet of rice with a neta-topping) and Gunkanmaki (maki sushi). Chef impresses us with a platter of cleverly crafted, bite-sized rolls, easily persuading us to start with a couple of pieces of Ushiwakamaru maki with a crisped, almost crumbed exterior ­— “lightly rolled with tempura batter and fried before serving,” he explains.

    Mackerel moment
    Also on the platter are some Ikura Gunkanmaki (salmon roe) and Shime Saba Nigiri (mackerel) something I had never encountered in India before —‘mackerel’ is a particularly difficult fish to negotiate in the sushi kitchen, as it spoils quickly and is not easily found fresh enough. It must be cured in salt and then washed in rice vinegar to keep it clean and yet still be firm enough to be served as ‘neta’ for Nigiri. Here it was done very nicely, the distinctly oily flavour of mackerel not overpowering the accompanying rice and ginger. Did I mention Oriental prawn skewers in Kapayaki sauce and sticky Hoisin pork ribs? They even flambee’ a ‘dark chocolate marquise’ globe here in caramel sauce for those with a fondness for all things sweet.
    Rs 2,500 for two (with sake) till Aug 7.Details: 30853772

    — Niren Saldanha

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