Yokoso is Japanese for ‘welcome’. At this new restaurant, The Lodhi, New Delhi, welcomes guests for a modern Japanese dining experience. Helmed by Chef Shubham Thakur who has worked in some of the finest Japanese kitchens in the city – Megu and Wasabi. Yokoso showcases meticulously crafted culinary gems integrating authentic Japanese ingredients and locally grown produce.
Chef Shubham’s knowledge of Japanese cuisine and eating culture is extremely impressive. Thus, you will do well to try his Omakase, wherein he’ll ask you about your preference of protein and any allergens, after which you will be treated to a culinary extravaganza course-by-course.
Although he brings modern twists to many dishes, Chef Shubham feels that some classics should not be tampered with. We thus start with the traditional Shira Ae, pressed tofu in a sesame sauce. In keeping with the season, it is accompanied with some thin slices of fresh cucumber and red radish. This is followed by Hamachi Usuzikiri – carpaccio thin slices of yellowtail topped with citric soy and jalapeno to lend a hot kick. Amongst the new creations are salmon kale cups, crispy tuna and pork ribs.
While the first is a delicious and healthy rendition of sashimi-grade salmon served on a bed of guacamole, encased in cups made of fresh kale, the second is a beautiful flower made of ponzu marinated lean tuna served over crispy shisho leaf. Both these dishes represent Chef Shubham’s understanding of the fine balance of textures and flavours that are intrinsic to Japanese cuisine. Even the Toro Tartare that can easily be drowned in excess mayonnaise or soy sauce is presented with utmost perfection. Here, the fatty tuna belly tartare is accompanied with fresh scallion, flying fish roe, rice puffs to lend some crunch, aromatic mayonnaise and finally drizzled with just the right amount of artisanal soy that lets the flavour of the fish shine above all the rest.
Needless to say, there is an excellent choice of sashimi and sushi, and immense care has been taken to source the best quality seafood in order to serve it raw. If you want to try something different, try the Baked Shrimp Sushi. While white soy sheets replace green nori, and rice encases shrimp tempura, topped with chopped shrimp mixed with mayonnaise and flying fish roe and torched before serving to give it a wonderful smokey flavour. Amongst the large plates, there’s the ubiquitous black cod with yuzu miso, sea bass with a delicious peppery mustard sauce with wasabi and spring onion oil and a hearty pork kakuni served with barley cooked in the residue of pork juices.
The menu is well thought out and offers a good mix of small and large plates, an impressive choice of noodles and a teppanyaki counter where guests get to interact with the chef and each dish is literally made to order. While there is a range of wines and classic cocktails, sake or Japanese whiskies round of this meal well. And for the finale, tofu cheesecake accompanied by a berry compote and topped with light as air vanilla candy floss is as fun as it is tasty. But if there’s only one dessert that you’d like, do not miss the homemade black sesame ice cream.
Barely a month old, Yokoso is already pulling in diners by word of mouth. Even though we visited on a mid-week evening, there was a buzz in the restaurant and we could hear people gushing about the beautiful creations on their plates.