A new restaurant in Mumbai’s Juhu, Pink Wasabi presents pan-Asian cuisine in the most photogenic of ways. So that you can snap away to your heart’s content without worrying about what to order, here’s our review of the taste of things.
Mumbai is truly a miraculous city. The F&B space, immensely competitive pretty much everywhere across the world, is perennially in top gear in the financial capital. Restaurants pop up and disappear with alarming regularity, only a few that manage to make an indelible impression, can resist the ravages of this ultra-dynamic market. The miraculous part though, is in the fact that even after a year of on-off restrictions, business slowdown, rising prices and a lacklustre economy, the food and beverages industry in Mumbai shows no signs of slowing down. Case in point is the new restaurant I reviewed on a rain-soaked monsoon afternoon in the upscale neighbourhood of Juhu – Pink Wasabi.
Having opened just a little over a month ago, the restaurant has already been featured fairly extensively on Insta stories and posts of a variety of diners. The general hullaballoo on social media prompted me to drop by for a visit and get a taste of things.
Although I had dropped the pin at an incorrect spot on the map for my Uber, the gentleman driving me had no difficulty spotting my destination. The ‘pink’ in Pink Wasabi is taken rather seriously and even through the haze of a heavy monsoon shower, I noticed the façade, sitting pretty on a well-located street corner. It’s much the same story on the inside with the décor in varying shades of pink, complete with branches, flowers and even some neon signs. Almost every diner there, including my friend who had kindly agreed to join me, spent nearly a quarter of an hour after first entering, snapping off photos for social media and otherwise. It explained the visibility on social media.
The space itself is quite decent for a Mumbai restaurant, with a mix of outdoor seating, indoor tables and booths offering guests options for various occasions, working lunches, group dinners or solo outings.
We got started with a couple of mocktails – Amore and Pink Blossom – the first, a blend of raspberry, litchi, guava and elder flower, while the second had black plum, red grapes, apple juice and chamomile tea. Although my friend quite took to Amore, I found it a little too sweet for my taste and the complexity introduced by the Pink Blossom’s unique touch of tea was more, well, my cup of tea. As we sipped on our drinks and browsed through the menu, an extensive range of pan-Asian offerings including sushi, soup, dimsum, noodles and baos, among others, I noticed that the restaurant was already filled to its 50 per cent capacity. And this was a weekday afternoon.
Torn between trying everything that appealed to me and getting a holistic understanding of the chef’s range of capabilities, I eventually resorted to asking the staff to bring me dishes that they deemed the best highlight of Pink Wasabi’s culinary scope. My friend, a victim of poor life choices such as conscious eating, seemed a little alarmed by my decision but I assured her I would do most of the ‘dirty work’, given my burden of keeping you, dear readers, well informed.
While I was expecting the usual routine of courses appearing on the table turn by turn, the staff informed me that they would serve it as is customary with Asian cuisine, of getting the entire meal in front of the diner, at one go. There was a sort of poetic fluidity to the manner in which suddenly, within minutes, our table was choc-a-bloc with what seemed like nearly half the menu (it wasn’t even a tenth, in reality). My friend, in her throes of sensible eating, was stunned with the range of choices, but I, a seasoned, well, eater, was hardly daunted.
The Stir Fry Mala Crispy Chicken looked great, especially in how it was presented with an egg white net cradling the meat, and although my friend only nibbled on one small piece, she did spend much more time taking photos of it. Then there was the Mushroom Medley Bao, where the baos looked like larger-than-life mushrooms, and tasted quite good, especially with the black bean sauce. Next, I moved onto the Pink Wasabi Special Cheung Fun with truffle mushroom and edamame. This, although quite similar in the taste profile to the bao, featured an entirely different play on textures. One tip I’d like to recommend is that skip the soy dip with the cheung fun, the subtleties of flavour are revealed much easier.
Next, it was time to dig into the dimsums. The cane caskets were opened up to reveal Water Chestnut, Broccoli and Pink Turnip dimsum and Leek and Cream Cheese dimsum. Yet again, the photogenic dishes prompted a flurry of photos before I got a chance to sample them. I have to admit, the water chestnut, broccoli and turnip as filling were a little indistinguishable in terms of both taste and texture, though slathering on a bit of dip spiced things up fairly well. What was pleasantly surprising though was the pairing of leek and cream cheese. It’s not the usual direction for Asian cuisine but works well, especially in the creamy consistency.
Onto the sushi – the Pink Wasabi Special Roll and Truffle Mushroom Roll. The former has shitake, avocado, cucumber, carrot, cream cheese, bell pepper and pickled jalapenos, and while the blend of ingredients works well, the sauce slathered on top was a bit of an overkill. I enjoy the soy dip with my sushi but the excess sauce rendered the accompaniment redundant. The truffle mushroom roll though gets the sauce just right, as it does with the filling of assorted mushrooms. I had my fill of the soy dip and was finally satisfied with the sushi experience.
Although all the food had been presented at one go, allowing us to flit from dish to basket to tray, as we pleased, I had saved what I suspected would be the crowning glory of the menu, for last – Wok Fried Lobster in butter garlic. And it turned out, I was right. It was perhaps the most conventional tasting dish of the menu selections we had been presented with and somewhere, the familiarity struck a chord.
Even though we were stuffed to the brim by now, especially me, having had to compensate for my friend only nibbling on an edible flower or two, there was some space left yet for the dessert. Raspberry Flavoured Chocolate Mousse and Jasmine Raspberry Mousse, both were exquisite. While the former was a decadent indulgence in rich chocolate and berry flavours, the latter was the polar opposite with subtle and light expressions. And this was before we got to the compote in the centre. It was definitely one the biggest highlights on the entire menu for me.
With Pink Wasabi, both the space and the menu, are visually delightful. Lots of thought has gone into the décor and presentation, and it shows. The flavours are decent, and especially the edible flowers which make an appearance across many dishes, add a unique dimension to it. While the conventional offerings have a familiarity to them, the more experimental dishes would appeal to slightly evolved palates. The desserts do stand out and I would recommend indulging your sweet tooth here for sure.
Nobody knows the vagaries of Mumbai’s F&B space and as such, Pink Wasabi seems to have gotten off to a flying start, especially with the footfalls currently. And although only time will tell how this venture fares, one thing is for certain, whenever you do visit, you’ll get enough material to people your social media for months.