The term Pan-Asian is a muchabused phrase among fine dining establishments, with joints serving a little more than the usual spicy Indian, Chinese and the odd Thai dish happy to add this tag line to their branding. While Pan-Asian is used to denote an assortment of cuisine from East and Far-East Asia, few restaurants in the country and fewer still in Bangalore have the culinary heft to offer such a wide choice of dishes on their menu. In Bangalore, two places, Shiok, run by techie-turned-chef Madhu Menon, and the Taj West End's Blue Ginger, lead the pack, with loyal clientele swearing by their lip-smacking fare.
It is into this market that Sake (yes, named after that heady Japanese brew) hopes to create its own niche. Located on the top floor of The Zuri, a new luxury hotel in the eastern suburb of Whitefield, Sake offers a sushi bar and Tepanyaki (Asian grill) counter with a fabulous view of the city. The main seating area is more lounge than fine dining, with low—and comfortable—seating and two elevated fire places in the centre of the lounge to keep the winter chill at bay. The proper sitdown dining option is hidden away at the back of the joint and restricted to a handful of tables.
Visiting a restaurant on Christmas Eve has some advantages— carollers, free cake and it's relatively empty. Here, the service was polite, too, making it a very pleasant evening. Our cocktails (Orange Caipirojka and Tohoku Breeze) were paired with Keong's Chicken (spicy chicken with green chillies and spring onion) and the tongue-twister Jiang You La Jiao Yu (Pan-fried chilly fish). Both dishes were competent rather than outstanding. The main course of Steamed Sea Bass Fillet, with ginger, garlic and rice wine, paired with Panfried Hunan noodles offered a better glimpse of the chef's culinary skills, with the relatively mild sea bass combining well with the spicy noodles.
However, much of the problems Sake could face—besides a 45-minute to an hour's drive from town through peak hour traffic—lie in its relatively limited menu. While our selection was well made and presented, the restaurant seems to have missed a trick with its menu. Presented in what looked like a modified office folder, it offered little insights into the cuisine of the East, with little on offer from the kitchens of Japan (besides the expected Sushi and Sashimi), Korean or the even more tantalising Burmese cuisine.
The menu looks like it's leaning heavily on Thai fare, with some Chinese options thrown in. And, with few authentic Pan-Asian desserts (try the Japanese green tea ice cream if you're brave), Sake has some way to go before it hits centrestage.
ADDRESS: The Zuri, #244, Hoody Village, Rajapalya, Whitefield Road, Bangalore; 080-66657272
Timings: 12 noon-11.30 p.m.
Meal for two: Rs 4,000
MUST-TRY: Udong Goreng Tepung (deep-fried prawns with coriander, mint and peanuts), Pla Lard Prik Thai (crispy whole snapper, chilli, garlic, lemon grass sauce) and Roasted Duck with grape and red curry