Presiding over the heart of Pune’s bustling central business district of Sangamvadi, the Conrad, which opened last year, makes a distinguished statement of class and understated elegance. And if you are an Asian food gastronome then its specialty Japanese, Thai and Chinese restaurant quaintly called Koji with its attached bar, Masu, are an absolute must do.
Crafted by Spin, a famous Japanese interior design house, this charming restaurant captivates you in an embrace of deep shades of brown that romance flirtatiously with warm spotlights, focused on its large mahogany tables and bespoke wall art. Among the restaurant’s most distinctive elements are its grand chandeliers and an array of sake barrels that line its walls, apparently inspired by ‘kagami biraki’ a Japanese ceremony performed to mark happy celebrations.
Says Executive Chef Mandar Madav, “Koji is our signature restaurant with a beautifully balanced yet creative menu. Our food is marked by authentic ingredients and a detailed focus on traditional Chinese, Japanese and Thai preparations. I would like to believe that Koji is a restaurant where culinary talent celebrates ingredients and respects produce.”
While in Koji, make sure to try its signature Vegetable Crystal Dumpling (combination of water chestnut, celery and carrot), Asparagus, Mushrooms and Water Chestnut Bao (steamed buns stuffed with barbecued vegetables), the Koji Chicken (wok tossed chicken with cashew nut, onions and bell peppers), Koji Crisp Prawns Salt and Pepper (homemade chilli relish and oats), Signature Chicken Ka Prao (spiced chicken mince with hot ba-sil) and Koji Signature Singapore Chilli Crab (fresh live crab made to order served with Mantou–steamed buns).
For Japanese food enthusiasts like me, Koji offers an irresistible range of delectable experience platters of sushis and sashimis, surprisingly in vegetarian section too. And yes, don’t miss the Carpaccio, featured as the chef’s signature creation on the menu. The restaurant’s dessert features a heart-melting selection of home made ice creams, sorbets and confectionaries, including the Orange Crème Brûlée, Jasmine Biscotti, Macha Tea Ice Cream, Banana and Sichuan pepper Ice Cream, Mango Sorbet and Lemongrass Ice Cream.
Attached to Koji via a walk through an exotic Sake wall is Masu, Conrad’s chic bar – currently the city’s hotspot. So whether it is a business meeting with colleagues or a hot date or just a friendly get together, Masu is just the right place to relax and unwind over a couple of innovative drinks as I discovered during my visit to Conrad Pune. Chic and contemporary with Asian-inspired cocktails, authentic rice wine from Japan and China and plush seating, Masu is definitely one of Conrad Pune’s popular outlets. The 9-metre long bar that offers exotic cocktails and a complete Sake collection also has lounge music played by the in-house DJ over the weekends. Sakes, wines and whiskies from all over the world are served at Masu and the vibe spells elegance. With an interesting food menu featuring finger food, the bar can be entered through Koji or by walking into it directly via the lobby.
Overall, if you are looking for a truly unforgettable dining experience in the city of Pune, the Koji and Masu are the places to go.
Drinks to Die For
- Juice with basil leaves and orange chunks
- Dragon’s Fire (Absolut, Triple Sec, Thai green chilli, cranber-ry and lime juice)
- Jonetsu (Absolut, tequila, passion fruit nectar and sour)
- Midnight Silk (Absolut, Kahlúa, Baileys and vanilla ice cream) Saketini (Beefeater, Sake and Gari)
- Samurai (Beefeater, lemon chunks, lemon grass, cucumber and kaffir lime leaves)
- Serpentine (sparkling Wine, Grenadine, Togarashi and lime juice)
- Sunset in Osaka (Tequila, melon, mango nectar, sweet and sour)
- TE-ANI (Absolut, Sake, peppermint tea, honey and lime)
- Tokyo Drift (Ballantine’s Finest, Absolut, Sake and lime juice)
- Wasabi Martini (Absolut, cucumber, wasabi, mint and lime juice)
- White Witch (Absolut, cardamom, lychee nectar and lime juice).