Eat & drink, the 'Izakaya' way! Juhu's Sesame brings modern Asian fare with traditional nuances
The concept of an 'Izakaya' is similar to a quintessential pub, where the essence of the experience is rooted in social dining and drinking. The evenings at these hubs are relaxed yet lively, with hungry diners unwinding, drinking and sharing small plates. At its core, 'Izakaya' means 'stay-drink-place' in Japanese, and this absorbing concept is now being spotlighted in Mumbai by Sesame - Hyatt Centric Juhu.
Featuring contemporary Asian cuisine, with a special focus on Japanese specialities, this luxe Juhu restaurant delightfully differs from other eateries on the same bandwagon. Sesame sits comfortably on the ground floor of Hyatt, as the epitome of refined indulgence - appealing to guests with varied palate preferences.
A Gourmet Manga Fanatic Meets Pavlov's Doggo
Upon entering, the whirring white toques in the open kitchen and the buzzing, luxe ambience commanded our equal attention. As we settled into our seats, we noticed how each dish left Sesame's kitchen, only after a quick yet thorough check by Executive Chef Rahul Srivastava, followed by a bell of approval for the servers. And after a minute or two, Chef Srivastava is seen walking up to the diners, to chat about their experiences - a gesture which promptly won a warm brownie point from our end.
At this moment, our starry-eyed expectations included prismatic presentations of our choices for the night and a myriad of flavours. And somewhat like Pavlov's doggo and a gourmet manga fanatic, our hungry eyes kept drifting to the kitchen counter, with each ring of the bell.
Running a slow visual check across the space, you can tell that Sesame keeps busy, even on weekday evenings. The restaurant has a well-stocked bar area, poised servers who know the menu by heart, slow music allowing people to talk, and perfectly spaced tables, making sure that those conversations can wind down among the speakers. Moreover, considering its intimate and opulent setting, Sesame is an ideal spot for a big fat family dinner and also a romantic, balmy lunch date.
Shifting our focus to the menu, the first bit which caught our attention was the pricing. Sitting amid such a palatial property, one would expect premium prices - in line with the ambience and the food choices. However, even within ₹1,200 - ₹1,500, two people can kick back here for a few hours, just like in any other bar or restro nearby!
A blend of global & locally-sourced ingredients
Speaking of the F&B menu, we were intrigued, to say the least! The beverage menu comes with a brief yet tempting list of inventive cocktails, linked with interesting snippets about Maharashtra. On the other hand, the food menu extends an artfully crafted roster of Asian fare that piques the interest of even the most fussy gourmand.
To start off our meal, we ordered the Chef's special Watermelon Tataki and Tori No Karage, alongside a serving of SSR (truffle oil-washed glass of scotch with fresh basil extract). Soon, a bowl of Beijing Street-inspired Tiger Prawns (must-have) arrived at our table as well, accompanied by Fifteen Sixty - a beautiful concoction majorly made of gin, sparkling wine and sake.
Of course, once you ask the chef to feed you his best, expect the whole menu to be lovingly recommended! But we had to take a pick. So for the mains, we requested Malaysian Nyonya Chicken Curry with a pairing of Japanese Sticky Tanifuji Rice. To wash it all down, we ordered a classic Mojito and we were almost too full to move at this point. But we knew, a dessert had to be devoured, for the sake of our dessert-arian hearts!
So to end the meal, we were torn between Japanese Cheesecake and Sesame's Classic Tiramisu. However, we opted for the latter and oh, what a treat it was! This combination of creamy mascarpone and a Kahlúa-soaked lady finger is surely one of Sesame's primary highlights and rightfully so.
Alongside its catholic dinner menu, Sesame offers a different daytime spread coupled with a rousing selection of coffee choices. The coffee beans are sourced out of Araku Valley, which leads this Japanese cuisine-focused eatery to bring a heady side of Andhra Pradesh to the table.
But Sesame's sourcing doesn't halt at Araku. The eel meat is brought in fresh from Japan whereas salmon is sourced from Norway. Further, the tuna fish hail from Kochi and fish eggs are obtained from Kashmir. In essence, Sesame's pantry is packed with global ingredients and regionally sourced elements, which add to the restaurant's competitive advantage.
In a conversation with us, the refreshingly-humble Chef Rahul mentioned, "Whenever people hear the words 'Asian food', they instantly think of meat-heavy dishes. However, Sesame's food menu is curated in such a fashion, that meat lovers along with vegetarians can come over for an exciting Izakaya experience! For instance, we have specially introduced Watermelon Tataki for Jains - given that there's a thriving Jain community in Juhu. We can honestly say that the menu is balanced with veg and non-veg options and it also allows patrons to customise their orders."
Further, he added, "Our daytime menu is focused on soulful eats and wholesome bowls. Alternatively, the dinner menu is more on the lines of a traditional Izakaya. We also have a long list of coffee options for folks coming over for breakfast - which ultimately means that we're open for all dining purposes. For first-time diners, I would recommend Hamachi Carpaccio, Beijing Street-inspired Tiger Prawns and Kinu Tofu. And personally, sushi rolls are my 'good place', so order any - you wouldn't be disappointed!"
So what we're saying is-
Each meal at Sesame is dished out of its open kitchen, only after a generous drizzle of thoughtfulness has been infused. And although the service may seem a bit slow, it is important to recognise the degree of personalisation that goes behind the orders.
In all, Sesame is recommended not only for its exquisite Asian dishes and handcrafted beverages but also for the way it makes diners feel. And that 'feeling' is synonymous with experiencing a plush theatre of Asian flavours, explored and savoured together with your loved ones.
Location: Hyatt Centric Juhu - Sesame, Juhu Tara Road, Shivaji Nagar, Santacruz West
Timings: 7 AM - 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM - 4 PM, 7 PM - 11:30 PM
Average price for two: ₹2,000 (with drinks)
For reservations: +91 86578 84964