The Japanese Zensations Festival at Zen is all about romancing with the flavours

When you do something with love and passion, things always turn out positive. This makes so much sense when I speak about Zen, the Pan Asia restaurant at The Leela Palace, Bengaluru. Lately, I have been inclined towards the Asian flavours more than anything else and Zen is one of the reason for this. Every time I dine at Zen, it makes me happy, it sets a new benchmark for itself. I leave the place every time thinking of coming back soon and one questions that strikes my mind – What’s next?

The next wasn’t far to be. Zen is back with a bang, this time with The Japanese Zensations Festival and it is nothing like anything. The experience was beyond my expectations, the Japanese Zensations festival is all about romancing with the flavours. Undoubtedly, this was one of the finest meals I have ever had. A big thumbs up to the team of Chefs that has put soul in the food. This à la carte menu was curated by the Japanese Master Chef from Thailand – Chef Panchai along with Chef Dominic, the Executive Sous Chef at Zen.

What comes to mind when you talk about Japanese food? Sushis and Sashimis? Well, the Japanese Zensations festival at Zen shows you that Japanese food is way more than that.

The menu has a fine balance of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes with comforting soups, refreshing salads, lip-smacking appetizers, soulful mains and happy endings with desserts.

Every single dish on the menu is a show-stealer in their own unique way and I will not finish writing if I had to speak about every single one of them in detail. This is one of the toughest decisions ever but here my top 5 picks from The Japanese Zensations festival at Zen.

Miso Corn Soup

When it comes to soup, I always prefer it with chicken or seafood. But at Zen, I did the unexpected overpowering my reluctance, I tried their vegetarian soup - Miso Corn. Was I surprised? Hell yes, I was. I had never expected a veg soup to be so impactful. The shimeji (edible mushrooms native to East Asia) and American corn paste with miso does wonders to this soup. This is a delight for the veggie lovers and it is a must try for the non-vegetarians.

Lobster Salad

If you are a salad person, this will just top the list of our favourite salads. It is a bowl full of goodness with flavourful surprises in every spoon. A Japanese salad is hard to imagine without the sesame dressing and this salad just reaffirms what makes it so popular and integral part of Japanese cuisines. Sesame combined with Ponzu dressing that brings in the citrus punch, gives this salad a soul. It brilliantly balances the poached lobsters, shitake and avocado.

Chicken Teriyaki

For me, this was the star of the evening. Chicken Teriyaki has been a regular affair but none tasted like this one. This has the real teriyaki punch I have been longing for. That juicy chicken with a glaze of teriyaki sauce is all you would want on a rainy evening. While sweetness and stickiness of the sauce turns some people off, it was absolutely perfect for me.

Lamb Tsukune

This was another crowd favourite. The minced meat balls are skewed and cooked with yakitori sauce. The lamb can be overpowering in some cooks if not balanced with another element. Eating this lip-smacker is nothing less than enjoying on a seesaw. The meaty punch takes you high and the hint of sweetness from the sauce brings it down to balance it off. This brings the true essence of Japanese cuisine.

Chicken Katsu Curry

This one is a complex Japanese dish with crunchy breaded, deep-fried chicken and white rice on the bed of Japanese Worcestershire sauce. The curry had a very distinct flavour which really pushed the level of this dish. The Worcestershire sauce uses pureed fruit as a principal ingredient, or a well-seasoned ketchup and that’s where the strong flavour comes in from.

These were my top five picks from The Japanese Zensations Festival at Zen. Other notable mentions are Pan Seared Salmon & Ginger and White Miso Cream Brulee.

What: The Japanese Zensations Festival
Where: Zen, The Leela Palace, Old Airport Road, Bengaluru
When: Till 18th July
Rating: 5/5


Dreamer, Blogger, Writer, Foodie, Movie buff, Public Relations. Contributor for The New Indian Express and recently started a news publishing website 'Unkrate'.

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