This New Asian Tapas Bar In Pune Has Great Food, Unique Ambience

Fergusson College Road is one of the busiest streets of Pune—this is as well-known as the fact that the bustling street full of students, residents and visitors has no dearth of eateries to step into for a quick bite. But walk into the small entrance gully that leads up to Yakii, an Asian Tapas Bar that has recently opened up on FC Road, and you will be immediately transported. Almost completely cut-off from the noise of the streets and instantly welcoming with its earthy interiors, Yakii is the place in town that will provide you with a great escape, literally, with its food and ambience. 

“Our motive was to do something that Pune hasn’t seen before,” says Yakii’s owner Hrishikesh Baravkar, adding that the Spanish concept of tapas bars is pretty new to Pune’s café- and bakery-dominated food culture. “We wanted to combine the feel of a beach resort restaurant with that of a tapas bar. This is a very huge space with 6,000 square feet, so we could create elements that give you a Balinese beach vibe with food and drinks that fit in with the tapas concept with an Asian twist. We have used a lot of wood and natural plants, including an ancient tree that we incorporated within the structure instead of cutting off.” 

The fact that Baravkar has a background in interior designing and is a dab hand at handling Pune restaurants with great vibes—he owns Culture on FC Road and 2.0 Culture on Balewadi Highstreet as well—is quite evident in the ambience of Yakii. He explains how the space that the restaurant occupies is basically a very old structure and how he has retained certain elements that people will find interesting, from old, repurposed doors to the winding staircases that lead up to what he wants to create as a rooftop space soon.  

Asian Eats With An Indian Touch, Served In Tapas Style 

Complementing Baravkar’s vision is Chef Ameya Mahajani, the brains behind the unique “Asian Tapas Bar” concept that Yakii’s extensive menu reflects. “We wanted to do Asian food in a tapas bar style, and there are so many countries in Asia including India,” Baravkar says. “What Ameya has done is to bring dishes from Asian countries like Japan and given it a more chatpata flavour with an Indian touch, making the menu very relatable yet new for the Indian audience. We are not claiming to be authentic custodians of Japanese, Korean or any Asian cuisine, but we promise to deliver experiences that Indian taste buds will enjoy.” 

“Whenever I cook for any restaurant, the dishes simply have to be tasty irrespective of their origin,” says Chef Mahajani, who has worked with international restaurant brands that are well-known names in the Asian food industry, like Wagamama and Tetsuya. “So, for example, when I make Korean Chicken, my aim is not to replicate the flavours of the dish as they are but make it my own representation of the dish. My top three picks at Yakii that nobody should miss are the Korean Chicken, the Chicken Katsu Curry and the Wild Rice Congee. For the last one, we have sourced wild rice from West Bengal and turned the bland Asian breakfast into a dish that will be a mainstay for many years.” 

One of the youngest members of the team at Yakii is Priyanka Rath, the Mixologist behind the delectable cocktails that pair up beautifully with the dishes on offer while being a part of the Asian concept of this tapas bar. Rath explains how all her cocktails are completely eggless and the fact that she makes her own syrups and infusions with local ingredients to create Yakii’s signature drinks. Despite being a new entry in Pune’s restaurant scene, the kitchen, bar and serving staff at Yakii are all in sync, ensuring that everything reaches your table as it should be—the food warm and delicious and the drinks sublime and chilled. 

A Closer Look At The Food And Drinks At Yakii 

The very concept of tapas bars is based on tapas or appetizers that are enjoyed with alcoholic beverages, and a blend of two or three tapas dishes for two people is usually filling enough. But given the fact that Yakii is an Indian-owned restaurant, the portion sizes are quite generous when it comes to every dish. The Korean Chicken here, like Chef Ameya Mahajani said, is indeed one of the best dishes on the menu for Indians who can hold their spice. Yes, you’d expect a Korean Chicken to be sweet and spicy, but this one is tailor-made for Indians with a penchant for spicy food with a hint of sweetness.  

The Spicy Chicken Kulcha reflects the heritage of the tandoor India has, while the pairing of Laccha vegetables prepared in a Kimchi-style side pickle with this North Indian favourite makes it quite an exceptional dish. The Kulcha’s texture and flavour is reminiscent of Amritsari Kulchas, which is quite a treat for those who are craving the dish while in Pune. The Green Goddess Prawns is simply divine thanks to the tempura prawns being slathered with a sublime, Thai-inspired spinach and coconut sauce. The Sweet And Spicy Pork Belly has the best balance of sweet and spicy flavours, with the cook on the pork nailed perfectly until it reaches that melt-in-the-mouth texture. 

For those who want a taste of seafood, we’d recommend the Teriyaki-glazed Fish Robata and the Crispy Sichuan Salmon Tacos. The crispiness of the brown garlic and freshness of scallions in the former meld really well with the deep umami-ness of the Teriyaki glaze. The tacos, with the crispy fried fish topped with Pico De Gallo, sour cream and a sweet and spicy sauce is the perfect marriage of Asian and Mexican flavours. For those who love to indulge in sushi, we recommend the Prawn Dynamite Roll and the Spicy Sriracha Shiitake Mushroom And Avocado Roll.  

As for what to drink, those who love experimental and unique cocktails are sure to have a great time here. Given that Pune is known for its local berries, the mulberry-infused Kuwa Sour is tailor-made for vodka lovers. The Kinasuya Punch with gooseberries and snap peas is another berry-infused beverage to try out. For those who like their drinks with a punch, the Laccha Sting with its blueberry, coffee and supari flavours is a must-have. The Yakii De La Casa and Saffron Negroni are drinks that those who like smooth flavours will absolutely love and want more of.