Charming décor, a meal that’s bittersweet: Hello Guppy restaurant review

The interiors are full of fun, but the service is indifferent bordering on cold. Expect more or less the same from the food.

mumbai Updated: Jul 29, 2017 09:03 IST
Antoine Lewis
Antoine Lewis
Hindustan Times
Hello Guppy,Restaurant review,Food review
Instagrammers will love the interiors. There’s a photo op at every step, from the toy-sized robots suspended near the entrance to the manga and anime references on the upholstery and even in the washroom. (Shashi Kashyap / HT Photo)
Hello Guppy
  • Rating: 2.5 / 5
  • Where: Godrej Building, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex
  • When: 12 pm to 1 am
  • Cost: Rs 3,000 for two with one drink each
  • Call: 2653-4720

The phrase ‘over the top’ comes to mind as we settle into a table at the back of the restaurant. Instagrammers and fans of Japanese pop art and pop culture will love the interiors. There’s a photo op at every step.

Toy-sized robots are suspended near the entrance. The bar is bathed in the eerie glow from fluorescent inflatable plastic rings.

Manga and anime references abound on everything from the upholstery on the mismatched chairs to the screen panels in the washroom. A grinning Pokémon Pikachu is suspended from the centre of the room.

Hello Guppy calls to mind the excess of Sodabottleopenerwala, another of AD Singh’s BKC restaurants, which goes overboard with the Irani café artefacts.

The chicken katsu curry, a thick glutinous Japanese version of an Indian curry, came with rice squares dotted with nori to resemble a panda’s face. The plating did not help elevate the dish. (Shashi Kashyap / HT Photo)

The light-hearted décor sends out a clear message: this is a fun place to kick back, unwind and not think too much about the food or worry whether it’s Japanese enough.

Unfortunately, the service and kitchen staff don’t seem to have received that memo. Apart from a smile from the manager when we enter and exit, they aren’t particularly friendly or pleasant.

Nor are they particularly attentive. The restaurant is not very full and yet we constantly have to call out to get their attention. The attitude is one of indifference, tinged with Gallic disdain.

The thinly sliced meat in the tenderloin tataki was a little gamey; the bed of crisp vegetables on which it sat was more enjoyable. (Shashi Kashyap / HT Photo)

The indifference manifests itself in the food as well. Hello Guppy offers the easy-to-eat, quick service, café food that you’ll find at tiny eateries outside a busy Tokyo subway station. Except here, the food is largely devoid of flavour.

With the exception of the chirashi seafood salad with its lashings of shredded kani (imitation crab stick), chunky tuna pieces and refreshing tartness, and the molten, gooey matcha fondant, everything else is rather lacklustre.

The rice on the asparagus tempura roll is dry and a touch crusty, the tempura is hard and tasteless. We did the unthinkable - tried drowning it in soy sauce. This didn’t help.

The chirashi seafood salad with its lashings of shredded kani (imitation crab stick), chunky tuna pieces and refreshing tartness was a rare win at Hello Guppy. (Shashi Kashyap / HT Photo)

The thinly sliced meat in the tenderloin tataki is a little gamey; the bed of crisp vegetables on which it’s sitting, and which has soaked up the ponzu sauce, is far more enjoyable.

Instant Japanese noodles from a packet have more character than the insipid chashu ramen miso, even though it’s packed with thick slices of pork and halved soft-boiled eggs.

The chicken katsu curry, a thick glutinous Japanese version of an Indian curry, held out some hope. But even the rice squares dotted with nori to resemble a panda’s face and the crisp, panko-coated chicken strips didn’t help.

Even the many slices of pork and halved soft-boiled eggs could not rescue the insipid chashu ramen miso. (Shashi Kashyap / HT Photo)

We did find some solace in Bittersweet Symphony, a subtle, smoked vermouth-and-whisky cocktail. Bittersweet is perhaps an apt way to describe our experience.

We loved the space, but wish the rest of the experience matched up to it.

(HT reviews anonymously and pays for all meals)

First Published: Jul 28, 2017 17:24 IST