A Class Apart; To Eat Or Not To Eat in Harajuku

Name: Harajuko
Location: O Hotel, Koregaon Park, Pune
Date of Visit: 4th March 2012 (Lunch)

My sister and I have been looking forward to eating at this place ever since it opened a few years ago. We were never able to go for Japanese since the rest of our family was not keen on experimenting especially the vegetarians with Japanese food! After nearly two years of making and breaking plans Stuti and I finally went for this much awaited Bento Meal on quiet afternoon. Although it was Sunday afternoon very few tables were occupied, this made for a peaceful and laid back lunch in my lovely hometown. There was a child, about six year seated at the opposite table, he looked at the food and exclaimed, ‘This is not food!’ with an adorable frown on his face.

 Reasons To Eat
1.     I loved the Ambience of Harajuku! It was a class apart. The gorgeous golden panel on its ceiling defining the bar counter and the dark wood furniture redefines fine-dining in Pune city. Even their chairs have an exceptionally high back and the upholstery is done in beautiful floral prints in light colors. The designer of this place deserves a standing ovation.

2.     There are few places in Pune city that serve Japanese food. It is rare to find a Japanese specialty restaurant. With Sushi and Teppanyaki on their menu, I think it is safe to say that a Japanese menu is a breath of fresh air for diners in Pune city. I love my butter chicken but raw fish surprisingly refreshing change.

3.     Good Food. I remember the first time I tried sushi. I did not like it. It was new and seemed too bland for an Indian palate, but my palate has come a long way since. I have travelled and begun to love sushi. Sushi in Harajuku as not at all bland as you may imagine. Pieces of seafood and sticky rice stuck together with a dot of wasabi, yummy! Beware, that pungent wasabi is sure to burn up your nose!

4.     The Bento Meals make a reasonable fixed meal set that is filling and utterly satiating. The Sushi Bento Meal included five items in the Bento Box along with Miso soup and dessert with a green tea or pint of beer as the beverage alongside. Although the rest of the menu may seem expensive, if you pick one of the Bento Meals, you will be satiated without a burning hole in your pocket. The green tea was subtle and delicious.

5.     There is a little something for the Indian palate. In the Sushi Bento Meal that I picked there were six pieces of sushi, some salad, tempura vegetables along with grilled salmon and two pieces of a deep fried appetizer that was very tasty but did not seem Japanese. It seemed to me as though they have added a little something to suit the Indian palate. Even the grilled salmon was not bland or subtly flavoured, it was grilled and pleasantly seasoned with salt and pepper.
Reasons To Not Eat
1.     Although Harajuko does have vegetarian meal options on their menu. I would not recommend this place to vegetarians, simply because it may not be as enjoyable for the price you pay.

2.     It is an expensive restaurant. Although with the ambience and choice of cuisine it does not seem over-priced, if you don’t go for the Bento Meal, chances are your meal will pinch your pocket.

3.     If you are not an experimental foodie or a fan of Japanese food, I do not recommend it. This can turn out to be an expensive experiment.
The service here was prompt however, I prefer not to comment on service till I see good service during rush hour. Venturing into a Japanese restaurant is a brave step from O hotel, although in a city like Pune full of foodies wanting to try out new stuff, Harajuko is a breath of fresh air!
Ambience: 9/ 10 Excellent
Value for Money: 6/ 10 Average
Menu: 8/ 10 Very Good
Food: 8/ 10 Very Good
Service: 7/ 10 Good
That Thing About This Place: 9/ 10 Excellent
Excellent Ambience + Average Value For Money + Very Good Menu + Very Good Food + Good Service + Excellent That Thing About This Place = Very Good
Rating: 8/ 10

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