Saturday 20 July 2013

Shiro - Japanese Food in Mumbai

Mr Jules and I recently stumbled into Shiro after a few drunken cocktails at the Hard Rock Cafe next door. Shiro is a 'pan-Asian' restaurant in Worli, and had been recommended to us by 'those in the know' as a good place to sample Japanese food - Mumbai style.

I have always loved Japanese food - ever since Yo Sushi! was thrust upon London in the late 90s - bringing us our first experience of raw fish using colour-coded plates travelling around a novel conveyor belt concept. Following that, Mr Jules and I were lucky enough to sample the 'real thing' on our amazing honeymoon tour of Japan. 

The statue that greets you when you enter Shiro
There are only a few places that serve authentic Japanese fare in Mumbai - of which Shiro is one.  Sushi is still not really a 'thing' here in Mumbai, the most cosmopolitan of Indian cities. The choice is either the phenomenally expensive Wasabi at the Taj Mahal Palace (voted one of Asia's 50 best restaurants 2013) or the other couple of places that offer watered down versions of Japanese cuisine (which I will not even bother to mention by name).  And when I say watered down, I mean that raw salmon is replaced with either cucumber or deep-fried/teriyaki chicken, and that raw fish is completely missed off the menu altogether.

But I guess you have to understand that not only are the ingredients required for Japanese cooking probably very hard to come by in India (for example - salmon does not exist in the waters around India), but I am sure that it must be nigh on impossible to prepare such food in the hot and humid climes of Mumbai. And of course, it doesn't help that raw or delicately seared fish is probably a huge turn off for the majority of vegetarian Indians.

Sesame crusted tuna sashimi with a wasabi mayo.  Ten out of ten.
The Shiro establishment itself is very impressive - as you walk through the door you are greeted by a colossal Zen like stone statue with its head almost in the clouds.  The restaurant part is upstairs on the mezzanine level - and you have to pass another equally impressive statue on the way up the stairs to get there.  The place almost reminds me of the pan-Asian restaurant Ruby Foo's on Broadway in New York - with its similarly giant Buddhas and over-sized oriental lampshades.  

Downstairs is a seating area and bar pumping out upbeat music, filled with suited office workers from nearby office buildings, soaking up the Friday night atmosphere. Upstairs we were seated by a 'pondish' water feature adorned with floating waterlilies and a dripping pipe. The furnishings are lavish - silky upholstered chairs and massive purple lampshades. The staff are professional and accomplished.

Having been deprived of Japanese food ever since my arrival in India (a year ago), I immediately zoomed in on the Japanese section of the menu - which also includes Vietnamese, Thai and Korean influences. I ordered the Norwegian salmon sushi nigiri and sesame crusted tuna sashimi whilst Mr Jules went for tempura prawns and 'Dyna' makimono - consisting of rolls of rice and nori filled with (more) tempura prawns.  Mr Jules - not overly keen on raw fish himself has a firm belief that anything in batter tastes good.  Then we shared a bowl of beef tenderloin donburi (udon noodles). The whole Shiro experience was such a treat, I can tell you.

I really can't take photos in low lighting conditions!
This is the Norwegian salmon nigiri.  Could have been a bit neater in presentation but it tasted good.
To be honest, the food is not completely up to the standard of places where the ingredients are immediately available in a fresh state.  But Shiro definitely gives Japanese cooking techniques a really good go - and I certainly had nothing to complain about.  I was more than satisfied with my raw salmon and tuna dishes (I may even have mentioned the word 'bliss' at the time) and Mr Jules was pretty impressed by the almost perfect tempura batter on his prawns.  And I loved the ambience of the place - chic, cool and trendy (those words aren't cool and trendy  - I know!) with a beat of dance music in the background and the subtle lighting (perhaps helped by the massive lampshades?).  I did notice that most of the other clientele that night were expats - probably the people that most crave sushi in this city.  Raw fish aside, I suspect that Japanese cuisine is also far too bland for the Indian palate. However, there are still plenty of other oriental dishes to be sampled on Shiro's extensive menu.

Mr Jules and I will certainly be going back when we get our next Sushi/Tempura Prawn craving!

More bad photos:

Prawn 'Dyna' Makimono

(Real) waterlilies

Did I mention the giant lampshades?

Fabulous prawn tempura

Tenderloin Donburi

Zen like creature
Lovely silky upholstery (bad photo taken on my Blackberry)

That giant statue again.

Dynamic bar crowd in the background
Bombay Dyeing Mills Compound
Pandurang Budhkar Marg
Worli, Mumbai
Tel: 02266511207 or 02266511208

Price: Pretty expensive but a lovely treat and great for parties (and apparently... star-spotting)


  1. Pretty ambiance and my family likes sushi too; here in California we have a choice of several sushi restaurants. I don't eat raw fish but like the other sushi and combination plates.

  2. Did Shiro call that dish Donburi on the menu? Donburi is a dish served on rice... like katsudon, gyudon, tendon etc.

    Then again if I had a 100 rupees for every time I order pad thai here and get hakka noodles.

    1. Haha I knew someone would pull me up on a technicality! Yes indeed they called it donburi on the menu, but the choice was rice or noodles. It was also more like Hakka Noodles....perhaps anything you ask for just ends up being Hakka Noodles?

  3. so you are back...have you tried kofuku at bandra...they serve laovely kakuni or braised pork...I quite liked the sushi at sing kong recently. Yet to eat at shiro's. Pan Asian at ITC has lovely sushi and teppenyaki but is super expensive of course

    1. Hi, not quite back yet Kalyan...but feeling the need to blog. Yes I have tried Kofuku...but found the portions a bit inelegant...taste ok though. I have had sushi at the ITC dome bar and it was good but stupidly expensive. Definitely want to try Sing Kong after your recent recommendation. thinking about it...,there are far more places offering sushi in Mumbai than I suggested!

  4. Have you tried "Sushi and More" at Breach Candy? More a takeaway but authentic and reasonably priced.I loved the Udon noodles at Shiro's.Joss (now Umame) too served good sushi but expensive.Tetsuma had one of the best but it shut down.I can't stand the sushi that is served at five star buffets.Restaurants in USA serve them so good and so cheap! I have yet to go to Aoi and Kofuku

    1. Some great recommendations, thanks Manisha. I have tried Aoi but I think they fiddled with the formula too much...I like it clean, plain and simple!

  5. I was very excited to see your post about Japanese food! We're moving to Mumbai soon and being Japanese, this was the area I wanted to know about. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Great I am so pleased! I hope you will also note down some of the recommendations from the other comments...I think I still have a lot more exploring of Japanese food to do in the city of Mumbai!



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