Can Zenmai be the next happening destination for Asian flavours in Mumbai?

The short answer, maybe. The long answer, well, you’ll have to keep reading.
The sushi and sashimi selection at zenmai is definitely worth exploring, promising some interesting flavours.
The sushi and sashimi selection at Zenmai is definitely worth exploring, promising some interesting flavours.

It’s no secret that large menus are often overwhelming for diners. Some would even say they showcase the restaurant’s lack of faith in itself, or the inability to perfect a single cuisine. 

For a restaurant that prides itself on being a melting pot of Asian flavours, Zenmai immediately raises eyebrows in that aspect. However, the menu is pretty concise, while still offering you not just options but also different styles of food experiences.

Founded by Darshan Desai, Rahul Gianchandani, and Kunal Sikhwal, Zenmai is a space based on the Japanese philosophies of Wabi Sabi and Kintsugi. The same is reflected immediately in artfully broken floors filled with golden grout, signifying the imperfection of reality. 

Sadly, the same philosophy seems to have found its place on the final plates rather unintentionally. Rife with both authentic Asian cuisine and experimental options, there’s a fair amount of anticipation given dishes like Mapo Tofu for a family meal, or the Hamachi sashimi and much more. However, the place far from delivers on the promised bold flavours. 

Zenmai nails their sashimi with this delicious hamachi, pairing it well with sour, sweet, and umami flavours.
Zenmai nails their sashimi with this delicious hamachi, pairing it well with sour, sweet, and umami flavours.

I will say this, the small plates are more of a hit than a miss. The aforementioned Hamachi sashimi is undoubtedly tender. The delicate taste and texture of the fish isn’t overpowered by the pungent sauce, with the vinaigrette dressed greens adding the right balance of tartness. It was easily one of the highlights of the evening, given the exceptional balance of flavours. My partner, who lost his sashimi virginity with a ‘raw fish’ dish he was highly sceptical of, immediately fell in love. 

However, the Chilean sea bass dumplings stood out by a mile. The seafood was moist and cooked expertly, with the wrapper being surprisingly QQ and holding its own as well. Paired with the accompanying Thai style sauce, the dish was a definite knockout. I would go as far as to say that the restaurant merits a visit for this dish if nothing else. 

Among other dishes, the truffle philadelphia roll is a good option for cheese lovers.
Among other dishes, the Truffle Philadelphia roll is a good option for cheese lovers.

Shuko snacks like the Spider Roll weren’t bad, but the spicy in the ‘spicy mayo’ was definitely silent and therefore muted the whole dish. The Shrimp Tempura was fortunately pretty textbook, and a nice textural contrast against the rest of the meal. 

It is worth mentioning at this time that the service is far from seamless. In a restaurant with pretty dim lighting and not too many people around at the time of our visit, it wasn’t immediately clear why the servers weren’t quick to respond to our calls. The abundance of mosquitoes didn’t help, and didn’t exactly make the entire experience any better. The food also takes some time to arrive, so I’d suggest getting all your orders in at once if you’re famished. 

On the drinks front, there isn’t too much to speak of. Again, not subpar by any means, but nothing to write home about or even something that would linger on your mind once you’ve left. 

Zenmai has a wide selection of asian cocktails and liquor options, offering interesting choices for all.
Zenmai has a wide selection of Asian cocktails and liquor options, offering interesting choices for all.

The mains, however, were the biggest let down. Both the Spicy Seafood Ramen and Mapo Tofu had me on the edge of my seat in anticipation. A traditional Mapo Tofu is a spicy, deep red gravy with silken tofu and minced meat in plenty. It’s the exact kind of spicy that burns, but doesn’t deter you from taking another bite. The one at Zenmai, however, just isn’t that. It reminds you more of a Manchurian gravy, with no distinct flavour profile or even the tiniest hint of lingering spice. 

The Spicy Seafood Ramen is somehow worse, resembling a Laksa more than a traditional ramen. It’s also a major sharing portion, you have been warned. That’s not to say the broth here isn’t flavourful, but it definitely isn’t what you might expect. 

As a final saving grace, the Panna Cotta is a must try. With three layers and a generous sprinkle of golden crumbly sugary things all around, it’s easily a winner.

The restaurant does have a promising start, but the experience eventually tapers off and how. However, if you’re in the mood to explore some delicious and artfully sliced sashimi, or have some of the best dim sum in Mumbai, Zenmai could be your go-to! 

Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)

Food: 7/10

Drinks: 7/10

Service: 4/10

Interiors/Décor: 6/10

Vibe: 6/10

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