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April 24, 2012

In Buddha’s Shadow

Everything about Shiro Restobar and Lounge in Mumbai is dramatic and soaring. From the high ceilings and larger-than-life Buddha statues to the raw smoky interiors that gently fuse with the soft furnishings – the Zen-inspired eatery is on the must-visit list of most city diners

Inspired by the theme, cuisine and architecture of the Land of the Rising Sun, Shiro Restobar and Lounge is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Jay Singh and Sanjay Mahtani – also known for bringing the iconic Hard Rock café to India in 2004. Their oriental brand, Shiro, is lavishly done up in a colour palette ranging from rust to caramel and is rendered in a unique combination of natural stone, wood, bamboo and velvet. The interior is complemented luxuriously by shimmering lotus pools, plush furniture and subtle lighting while the cuisine is a sumptuous array of Korean, Vietnamese and Thai cuisines. Sanjay Mahtani, co-founder and executive director, talks to Malvika Sah on what makes Shiro such a success

The inspiration
We had a space which was too large for Hard Rock so we decided to develop another brand, an Asian-inspired lounge since it would not conflict with the Hard Rock TG in terms of concept, cuisine and price points. Eventually, it evolved into Shiro.

Unique name
As with the design, we wanted something simple yet a name that had some direct association with the space. After much debate, the name Shiro was selected. It was short, simple and easy to pronounce for almost everyone. It means ‘Castle’ in Japanese which is what our interiors really look like.

USP of the restaurant
Shiro is an experience that begins the moment you step into it. The ambience, a nice meal, the Teppanyaki counter, lounging around or clubbing with friends, adds to the whole process.

The décor
It is influenced by Balinese, Thai and Japanese cultures. The colours are earthy and the focus is largely on stone and water. Each Shiro’s décor adapts to its environment – for instance in Bengaluru we have focused more on the outdoor terrace so the Teppanyaki and bar is outdoors whereas the main dining is indoors.

The cuisine
The cuisine is broadly Asian, though the focus is on Japanese and Cantonese cuisines. The menu offers a variety of sushi, sashimi, Cantonese dim sums and an array of Korean, Vietnamese and Thai cuisines.

Fun cocktails
Lots, but one of our signatures which was also fun to create, was the Demerara Fig Mojito.

Challenges in the Indian market
Finding the right space is probably the biggest challenge. Getting quality and constant supply of raw materials is another. Most other challenges are common to all outlets in our trade.

Pleasing the customer
I don’t think that any customer is easy to satisfy. There’s always a lot of work that goes into keeping our patrons happy and wanting to come back for more.

Unwinding from hectic work
Personally, I don’t get to unwind too much, but I love travelling to faraway places – preferably thousands of miles away from India on a secluded beach somewhere.

A common passion
It is definitely the satisfaction of launching such a successful brand that gets the right responses from everyone.

Favourite restaurants in Mumbai
Table is good and so is the Dome at the Intercontinental Marine Drive.

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