Till a few years ago, my husband and I were wary of trying sushi in Delhi. Would the fish be fresh enough to be eaten raw, was my husband’s concern. Would raw fish taste all right? Wouldn’t it be too fishy? I had fewer compunctions, but somehow never quite got around to trying sushi on my own.
Over the past couple of years, though, there have been several changes. A number of easily accessible eateries (read: not exorbitantly priced restaurants in five star hotels that cater largely to East Asian expats) have opened. Some, like Sakae Sushi and Sushiya, make sushi the focus of their food. Others, like Guppy by Ai, Yum Yum Tree and Town Hall (which has absolutely fabulous sushi, as far as I’m concerned), have a far wider selection of dishes, with sushi being only one of various types of food being on offer.
Basically, in these past few years, we’ve become unabashed sushi fans. It’s light, delicate, and—at its best— really food for the soul. Gentle, kind.
But, to get in with this review. Asia Haus has been, for several years, one of our favourite places to order South East Asian food: they do a range of dishes from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and more. Some not that great, but mostly pretty good. So, when we heard that they’d opened a sister company called Sushi Haus, how could we not jump at it? Like Asian Haus, Sushi Haus is a delivery-only outfit: there is no restaurant. You can place your order online, or phone in, and the food will be delivered. Right now, Sushi Haus delivers to Gurgaon, parts of South Delhi, and parts of West Delhi.
We placed our order online: choose (from a drop-down menu) your location, then what you’d like to order. There’s a wide range of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian sushi here, including hosomaki, uramaki, and signature rolls. In addition, there is nigiri and sashimi. There are also larger dishes available: sushi platters and bento boxes. The bento boxes (which we’d have been interested in), however, require a day’s notice and a guarantee of a minimum number of boxes.
We placed our order, specified how we’d pay (cash on delivery, though credit card and debit card are options too), and received a notification that our food would arrive within an hour.
It did, each portion (four pieces) neatly distributed across three smart shallow cardboard boxes in white and deep pink. Moist paper towels and chopsticks came alongside, and each box had a substantial amount of wasabi, soya sauce, and gari (that lovely pink pickled ginger) in small clear plastic lidded containers.
On to, then, of what we thought of each item:
1. Ebi Maki: This was one of the hosomaki sushi: a thin roll of sushi, wrapped in a sheet of deep blackish-green nori seaweed. The filling, encased in the vinegared rice, was cooked prawn, wasabi, and white sesame seeds. On the side (and this was the only sushi that came with aside of its own, other than the wasabi/soya sauce/gari) was a helping of very thin juliennes of carrot and daikon: fresh, crisp, and given a brilliant little touch of nutty crunch by a garnish of toasted white and black sesame seeds. A very simple but good salad, and a good sushi.
2. Chicken katsu roll: I’ve usually encountered katsu—‘cutlet’—in its pork avatar, crumbed and deep fried to a crisp golden-brown on the outside, succulent on the inside. Sushi Haus don’t have pork on their menu, but they do have a chicken katsu roll, and we were sufficiently intrigued to order a portion of it. The chicken cutlet was wrapped, along with mayo and crisp panko crumbs, in rice, with each slice of sushi being drizzled over with soya sauce and a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds. It tasted delicious, but we all know what happens to crumb-fried meat when it’s cold: it goes somewhat tough. This wasn’t tough enough to be leathery, but it was tough enough to fall apart from the rice when one tried to lift it with chopsticks.
3. California roll: This hardly needs an introduction—it seems to be a favourite in all of Delhi’s sushi places, at any rate. Vinegared rice wrapped around a core of avocado, cooked crab meat, and cucumber. Sushi Haus’s California roll was good: the cucumber crisp and fresh, the avocado a lovely buttery contrast, the crab just right. The bright orange tobiko—the flying fish roe—crusted on the outside of the roll—provided not just the prettiness to the sushi, but also that faintly ‘miniature bubble wrap’ sort of mouthfeel I like about this particular garnish!
4. Spicy salmon roll: This was one of the uramaki (‘inside-out’) rolls, in which the thinly sliced fish forms the outside of the sushi, rather than its core. Folded inside the salmon here was the vinegared rice, along with finely chopped spring onion greens and spicy mayo. Also delicious, especially since the spring onion and the mayo between them contributed the right amount of bite and zing to complement the fish and rice.
5. Red Dragon roll: One of Sushi Haus’s signature rolls, the Red Dragon roll has the works: prawn, salmon, and tuna. With avocado, and a generous sprinkle of crunchy tempura crumbs on the outside. This was probably my favourite of all the sushi we ordered: lots of fabulous textural contrast, tons of flavour.
Oddly enough, when the bill was generated online and e-mailed to my husband, the total amount shown on it was about Rs 1,600, inclusive of all taxes. However, when the order was delivered, the bill amount was actually less: Rs 1,439—and that was what we were asked to pay.
For that, it was an excellent meal. Probably not terribly filling if you’ve a big appetite, but for us, this was sufficient. And it was delicious, every last bit of it. This is one place we’re going to be ordering from more often. I’m already looking forward to trying some of their other sushi, including their vegetarian options (okay, that may not be terribly authentic, but in a place like Delhi, a menu without veggie dishes may not be feasible). The avocado maki (with avocado and Philadelphia cream cheese), the asparagus tempura roll, the crunchy teriyaki tofu roll, the crunchy spicy mushroom roll… enough there, I think, for me to order in again sometime this weekend.
Tel: 011 64503333 (Delhi), 0124 6546868 (Gurgaon)
P.S. And this just goes to show how much we liked our first experience of Sushi Haus: in between writing up this post and publishing it, we ordered again from Sushi Haus—less than a week after our first order. This second time, I insisted on ordering some of the vegetarian sushi, though we did include a couple of non-veg sushi in our order as well. This is what we ate:
1. Crunchy spicy mushroom roll: One of their signature rolls, this one has cooked button mushrooms, a spicy mayo, and shichimi, the ‘seven pepper’ hot spice. Not really hot by Indian standards, but nice, anyway—slightly crisp, slightly chewy, and served with some that beautifully hair-thin carrot and daikon salad.
2. Crunchy teriyaki tofu roll: An uramaki, the rice outside encasing a filling of tofu in teriyaki sauce, with tempura flakes and a scattering of sesame seeds. While the flavours were great, this one was a slight disappointment in terms of textural contrast: the tempura flakes appeared to have absorbed much of the teriyaki sauce and gone all soft, so there was little crunch here.
3. Shiitake maki: A hosomaki, the vinegared rice wrapped in nori seaweed and with cooked shiitake mushrooms at the core. A sprinkle of sesame seeds to top it off. Very tasty.
4. Tamago nigiri: A nigiri sushi, but with a baguette-shaped piece of Japanese omelette (tamago) secured to the rice with a little ‘belt’ of nori, instead of the standard thin slice of raw fish that’s used in nigiri. This was something I’d been looking forward to, because I love tamago; the thinness of the omelette, the subtlety of its flavour, is something I always like. This one, though, wasn’t great, because the vinegar of the rice was too strong a flavour for the omelette to hold up against. Basically, one ended up not being able to really savour the omelette (which, sadly, was also a rather nasty grey in colour).
5. Zen roll: The lone fish sushi on our order, this one’s another of Sushi Haus’s signature rolls. Prawn tempura and spicy mayo form the inside of a triangular (rather than round) slice, the rice packed tight round it and wrapped on the outside with a thin slice of deep crimson tuna. Good flavour, though the tempura—like the tempura flakes in the crunchy teriyaki tofu roll—had gone soft.
Still, all said and done, good value for money (our meal cost us Rs 1,495, which is decent by Delhi standards). More or less good flavours, some nice textural contrast here and there. And, as I’ve realized, one important hallmark of good sushi: the rice is so perfectly seasoned, you don’t need the wasabi and the soya sauce to dip into. I’d mixed a little lot for myself, but ended up not using it.