There’s sushi at Pickwick now

If you thought Pickwick, that classic restaurant at The Claridges, New Delhi, serves only typical British fare, think again. Pickwick is now the new hotspot in town for sushi and many other Japanese dishes. And the special sushi lunch on Wednesdays won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

While I have been living under a rock, The Claridges, New Delhi has gone and transformed itself, and continues to do so, with exciting developments like all-new luxury rooms, a state-of-the-art gym, a stunner of a spa, and much more. Much of this is thanks to the passion that The Claridges’ new GM and CEO Vikram Aditya Singh brings to his role.

The change is most palpable in Pickwick, the main restaurant, which looks stunning after its makeover last year.

Pickwick at the claridges, new delhi, has had a stunning makeover.
Pickwick at The Claridges, New Delhi, has had a stunning makeover.

Inspired by Charles Dickens’ novel, The Pickwick Papers, the restaurant has elegant British interiors, with illustrations from the novel on the walls. The vintage feel is enhanced with a beautiful old map which adorns the impressive ceiling.

The menu too is eclectic and vast, with British classics like Bangers & Mash rubbing shoulders with the finest Japanese omakase dishes. Yes, the new Pickwick has a ‘Cuisine Without Borders’ philosophy, with an inventive approach to contemporary British, American, European, Indian, and Japanese cuisines.

Without a doubt, the most exciting development is the exclusive Sushi Bar presided over by Chef Raul Andea Borja. Hailing from the Philippines, the veteran chef has long and rich experience in Japanese cuisine, much of it in India where he has worked at some leading Japanese restaurants. Very high-quality ingredients and seafood have been used, which as we know is crucial to Japanese food.

Of course, those looking for British classics like Bangers & Mash, Toad in the Hole or Shepherd’s Pie, English bread butter pudding (which here comes laced with 24K gold and crème Anglaise will not be disappointed. And, yes, the famous sizzlers are very much there.

Chef raul andea borja is a master at the art of sushi making. Thanks to him, pickwick now has some of the best sushi in delhi.
Chef Raul Andea Borja is a master at the art of sushi making. Thanks to him, Pickwick now has some of the best sushi in Delhi.

Pickwick is a restaurant steeped in nostalgia and most Delhiites have intensely personal memories of it (and loyalties to certain dishes). However, the restaurant is anything but stuck in a time warp. And I was there to try the cutting edge Japanese offerings, ‘Sushi Suiyobi’ (Sushi Wednesday) in particular.

Chef Borja may be trained in classical Japanese cuisine, but he does not shy away from contemporary flavours or pairings. This was apparent as soon as the meal began, with some truffle-flavoured edamame (why haven’t more restaurants thought about this, I wonder — it’s a runaway hit). Next came a mushroom pizza, with a topping of thinly sliced button mushrooms and black truffle cream, the flavours decidedly Japanese. This was followed by some pop-corn shrimp — crunchy black tiger shrimp served with a spicy chilli mayo — another best-selling dish which I couldn’t help ordering extra of.  

This was followed by a salmon avocado salad, a nice interlude before the next tsunami of food. Avocado is, of course, ubiquitous in restaurant menus now and I loved the pairing with tuna.

Sushi at the claridges arrives in trendy, wooden boats.
Sushi at The Claridges arrives in trendy, wooden boats.

Next came a plethora of sushi platters, appropriately sailing in on boats, definitely the highlight of the menu. Good sushi is always simple, understated and delicious. This is deceptive, because it takes great skill to create perfect sushi. Without a doubt, Pickwick is doing some of the best in the city, and are lucky to have Chef Borja helming the Japanese section. The freshness of the ingredients, so essential to good sushi, blew me away especially.

For vegetarians, the asparagus, avocado and shiitake mushroom sushis are to die for. The discovery of the day among the veg sushis was takuan (pickled radish and sriracha sauce). Non vegetarians will have a field day with akami (lean tuna), sake (salmon), kanpachi (great amberjack — a fish I’ve never had before) and unagi (freshwater eel — which is my all-time favourite). By the way, these were just the nigiri sushis.

Next came delicious platters of maki sushi rolls. I groaned at the amount of food, but couldn’t stop eating. After all, Chef Borja is a master of the form and this is where his creativity was most on display. I particularly liked the Fire Cracker, Dynamite and Real California makis. There’s a Crocodile Maki too on the menu (don’t worry, there’s no crocodile in it, just black tiger shrimp tempura!).

'sushi suiyobi' or sushi wednesday at the claridges is great value for money.
‘Sushi Suiyobi’ or Sushi Wednesday at The Claridges is great value for money.

I skipped the offerings from the robotayaki grill — which include Chicken Negima and miso-glazed Pork Belly — rushing straight into the mains, from where I chose a delicious marinated salmon with truffle soy sauce accompanied by Yakimeshi (Japanese fried rice). Other main courses on offer are pork neck with udon noodles, crispy fried chicken and, for the vegetarians, vegetables in miso sauce.  

I make no bones about having a sweet tooth. Ergo, I had all the desserts: matcha cheese cake with yuzu lemon, passion fruit crème brulee and a startlingly successful wasabi ice cream.

I haven’t even gotten to the best part — which is that the pricing makes all this surprisingly affordable. And, for a fraction of that amount, you can also have unlimited sake. So, if it’s Wednesday, it has to be sushi at Pickwick.

Details for Sushi Suiyobi:
Venue: Pickwick, The Claridges
Date: Every Wednesday
Timings: 12:30 pm-3:30 pm
Price: Rs 3,000 plus taxes for Chef Special Menu
Rs 995 plus taxes for Unlimited Sake

Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars) 
Food: 8/10
Drinks: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Interiors: 10/10
Vibe: 7/10
One dish we loved: Pop-corn shrimp

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