Wabi Sabi At The Oberoi Bengaluru Adds A Touch Of Fun To Its Japanese-Nikkei Menu

From the familiar to slightly out-of-the-box thinking, Wabi Sabi's new menu touches upon traditional dishes and adds just enough newness to keep it interesting. Plus it focuses on the vegetarian community, which is always a plus.

Published On Jun 24, 2024 | Updated On Jul 04, 2024


Shedding their so called ‘traditional’ perspective, The Oberoi Hotel in Bengaluru has slowly been inducing, albeit in moderate doses, a touch of the contemporary across their various menu. Its popular bar, The Polo Club, underwent a much-needed change some time ago, and this time, it was Wabi Sabi’s turn. The Asian restaurant, which has this lovely quiet ambience for itself, décor that does not scream Asian but makes it known with the help of Kintsugi-inspired ceramics, soft lighting, and not to mention the gorgeous chopsticks that add a serious glam factor to the table. The glass windows on one side overlook the signature waterfall and lily pond right outside, pulling you into a sense of serenity. 

Tai Sashimi

Wabi Sabi’s new menu sits across Japanese and Nikkei cuisines; therefore, you’ll find lots of sushi, sashmi and cold plates and ceviche, etc, not that they weren’t there before, at least the Japanese side of things, but this time around master chef Randy Cultivo and executive chef Anirban Dasgupta have added a bit of effects and drama to make the experience a lot richer, without of course in the words of both the chefs, “taking away the essence of the real deal”. 

So, let’s dig in. Here are some of the dishes you absolutely must try, but before that, let’s not get purist here. Yes, there are slight innovations to the dishes, things you may find odd or even absolutely new. But nothing is absurd here, it’s just different. 

Endless Summer

The “Endless Summer”, a tempura asparagus roll, yuzu kosho dressing, avocado, isn’t something insanely unique. But the Bubuarare – tiny rice crackers from Kyoto – and the touch of fresh truffles on the sushi take this dish to a different level (assuming you like fresh truffles). It’s got some bite, some sweetness, that hit from truffles, all packed into a tiny roll. 

“Some Like It Hot” is made with Forbidden Rice, which is why you must try it. Now, Forbidden Rice, which is actually black rice, was called so because in ancient China, only the royals or the wealthy were allowed to eat it. But we like forbidden things, don’t we? This one has Habanero chilli pickle, cream cheese and sansho powder. It’s the sansho, made from grinding berries or Japanese prickly ash, that adds a slight lemon and pepper-like flavour to the dish, giving it a lovely aftertaste. 

Heart of the Sea

Chef Dasgupta did mention that they are trying to focus on some vegetarian as well, given that sushi is automatically associated with seafood, and so far, it has been a fine display. But, talking of seafood, the ‘Heart of the Sea’ – uramaki that comes with eel, ebi (prawn), crab meat and then a bit of soy reduction for that slight sweet and salty taste – is quite a catch on the menu. The flavours are clean and you just need to pop it into your mouth. 

The Yellowtail Ceviche

My favourite would definitely be the ‘Yellowtail Ceviche’ from the Nikkei section that comes with a generous portion of salmon skin crisp (I saved it till the end), leche de tigre (which means tiger’s milk but is a sauce/marinade of sorts that’s made with lime onion, salt pepper and chillies), basil oil and Valencia orange – all of which come together in a fairly balanced fashion. You’ll taste the citrus as expected, a hint of the sweet and of course a sharp bite from the chillies in the leche de tigre. Delightful. 

Wabi Sabi Crunch

Now let’s talk about the ‘Wabi Sabi Crunch’ because this dish is nothing traditional. What you get is more like an Asian pizza made with tortilla bread. It’s topped with avocado, yuzu koshu mayo, microgreens, and Furikake which is typically made from dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and some MSG. I forgot to ask what was in theirs though. Now this dish is literally for fun and is quite neat. How open would I have been to the idea of a Japanese pizza made from tortilla bread before this? The chances are low. But there’s a lot of flavour even though subtle and the crunch from the bread is just ideal.  

The Pork Miso ramen

Next stop: Ramen city. Bengaluru LOVES its ramens so it goes without saying that this menu has tried to serve something familiar and yet not quite. 

Now the two ramens I tried – the ‘Pork Miso’ and ‘Magic Shrooms’ – were both good. In fact, I’d eat them again but both bordered a little on the Pho side than the ramen side. In fact, a fellow journalist was the one to point this out to me. 

The pork ramen comes with a generous helping of a slow-roasted Porchetta, kombu (edible kelp), wood ear mushrooms, pok choy, roasted nori, ajitsuke tamago (soft boiled eggs that are made sweet and salty with a dominant touch of the umami), spicy doubanjiang (fermented chilli bean paste). A ramen might look simple but really isn’t. It needs a whole bunch of flavours from different directions, added in that precise quantity to get the right taste. In short, I loved the Pork Miso. The broth may have been a tiny bit thicker than usual, but I emptied my bowl. 

The Magic Shrooms – I ‘borrowed’ a few spoonfuls of it from another person at the table – would be like manna to those who can’t get enough of mushrooms. It’s not packed in, you still have room for the roasted nori, and the tofu, but there’s enough. The shio broth – combination of dashi and chicken broth – brought all the flavours together. 

Keep in mind that you might find this ramen a bit different from what you’re used to. 

For dessert, we tried the ‘Dark Chocolate Wild Mushroom’ with candied ginger and passionfruit gel. But if you are the sorts that like to carry the taste of Asian food till your next meal, skip it. 

Where: Wabi Sabi, The Oberoi Bengaluru, MG Road 

Timing: For lunch and dinner 

Meal for two: INR 5,000 (plus taxes, approx) 


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Photo: Featured Restaurant