This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
A platter of one of my favourites, the prawn sushi
Over time, one of my favourite arguments with my friend Justine, is how the sushi at Tamari at the Vivanta by Taj property in Panjim, trumps that at Sakana in Chapora. With all due respect to Sakana, I make an open admission to the bulk of their food being fantastic, but their sushi coming a distant second to what is on offer at Tamari. Of course, what causes people at large to balk at, when it comes to Tamari, is the pricing that comes with the five star tag. And this is precisely where Yaki Zushi hits pause on the tale being told, in order to squeeze its own chapter in.
So here’s the back story on the affair. Yaki Zushi is pretty much the Sangolda outlet of the age-old A Lua chain that has been anchoring anything and everything to do with events in Merces for the last 23 years. Over time, they have spread out into a host of other little platforms, such as their property in Verna, which is unbelievably scenic during the monsoon, as it is surrounded by a blanket of lush green fields. Their property in Sangolda now dons hues of red and black that is in keeping with the vibrancy of their renewed emphasis on all things far eastern. But what does all of this have to with my earlier comparison of two unrelated restaurants dishing out sushi, you ask? I’m just about to get into that, and trust me it’s not unrelated at all.
The new avatar of the Sangolda outlet is the brainchild of oriental cuisine specialist Amory D’Souza, the son of A Lua proprietor, Andrew D’ Souza. Amory has been responsible for creating some of the aforementioned great sushi at Tamari, where he handled the oriental section for a year. As such, he brings near, but not identical produce to the table, with almost identical flavours to those offered by Tamari; all the while retaining the A Lua principle of ‘value-for-money’. More importantly, many restaurants use local short grain to make the sushi-making process more cost effective (but alter taste and texture), but I’m happy to say that Amory works with proper awase-zu rice, which is what most forms of sushi call for.
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
A steamer full of chicken dimsum
To begin my trip there, it was recommended that I try the Chicken Dimsum. What I honestly like about their dimsum is that its outer layer is just the right density. It’s not too thick, so that it becomes almost ‘flaccid’ around the filling, nor is it too thin, so that is falls apart. It merely holds the filling together, and compliments it in the right proportions. But what is especially interesting is the array of dips that comes with it. The first (and perhaps my least favourite) is tomato and sesame, the second is a black pepper (which your throat will find a tad itchy, but your taste-buds will find very interesting and last comes my favourite of the lot, the honey coriander; it’s sweet, zingy and a little tart, which I find enhances the flavour of the dumplings. The dimsum here comes in three stuffing options: chicken, prawn and vegetable. I think that the prawn, with the honey coriander dip, will be a sure fire winner.
I believe in staying true to my experience, and what made it for me was the sushi. Every platter here (each roll contains a total of eight pieces) is served with grated daikon radish, pickled baby ginger, wasabi, Kikkoman soy and fruits on the side. The options that are up for grabs are ones that are more mainstream in nature, yet deliver what is expected of them. These include the likes of the Philadelphia Roll, which contains cream cheese and cucumber, before being topped with slices of smoked salmon; Spicy Salmon Roll, which is made with a spicy salmon mix and topped with togarashi (a common Japanese spice mixture which customarily contains seven ingredients); Tori Kachi Roll, made with strips of panko fried chicken (why do I have a feeling that KFC fans will love this); Prawn Sushi (which I love because of the sheer number of textures and flavours in it), made with steamed prawn and a layer of tempura batter for crunch; Salmon Sushi, which is rolled with fresh Norwegian Salmon; and lastly, the Vegetable Sushi, which incorporates spicy cherry cucumber and crispy vegetable. Please note that by request, Amory also works with nigiri style sushi and sashimi. For the less initiated, nigiri refers to sliced raw fish with a moulded ball of rice underneath. There usually is a dab of wasabi in between the rice and fish, so no additional sauce is needed. As per tradition, only the fish side of the nigiri should be dipped into soy sauce. Sashimi on the other hand, generally refers to sliced raw fish served without rice, and is usually eaten with wasabi mixed into the soy sauce.
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The Beef Teppanyaki, which will cater to many a local taste-bud
In addition to the sushi menu, Yaki Zushi also works with other cuisines such as Thai and Chinese. A Lua’s mainstay, over time, has been about catering to the Goan specialty palate. Therefore, they continue to cater to the walk-in lot that demand for those dishes at Yaki Zushi. I think that this might be my one issue with the restaurant. I don’t endorse multi-cuisine restaurants. I love it when a restaurant works with a theme, exclusively. Also, I don’t like the vibe of oriental décor, when what is on your plate is a cafreal, or a sorpotel. Somehow, for me, it just doesn’t go.
However, you can blindly go with, for and to the sushi here. It is fantastic, and if you have preferences of any sort, Amory is more than happy to work with dishes to individually mould them to the individual diner’s palate. All in all, I will leave things on this note. Affordable and delectable sushi that is (fairly) well located. Why wouldn’t you go?
Yaki Zushi is fairly well located, given that it is a stone's throw from Porvorim. This makes it accessible, whether you're approaching it from the mainland or the tourist zones.
While they cater to a variety of cuisines, my honest recommendation, is to stick with the sushi.
The average cost of a meal for two (minus the libations) would be an approximate of ₹1,500 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
H.No-251,Bella Vista Waldo, Sangolda, Penha de França, Goa 403511
Food is a huge part of any culture and for me, chancing upon a good meal is synonymous with having a great day. The What’s On My Plate series of posts is where I discuss food, great places to eat, and anything gastronomically moving. This could be anything from a great place to eat, to an obscure kind of food, to an origin story. After all, there is no love like the love of eating.