LAHORE: I am a self-proclaimed sushi junkie who loves almost all manner of sushi, even the ones such as at Dubai Airport or shopping mall food courts. That isn’t to say I like just any sushi but it definitely says that I have had enough of it to set apart the bad from the good and the good from the great. That is exactly what the sushi at Gai’a is; it’s great. This trendy eatery which opened in an obscure corner of Lahore in Phase V of DHA, is behind the more popularly known Jalal Sons supermarket. Let’s start off with the name. It’s the Greek word for ‘earth’. Now that you are completely thrown off, let’s move to the food, which needless to say, doesn’t fit into traditional Japanese cuisine by any stretch of the imagination. All this in an environment designed by Omer Rauf, that’s edgy and avant-garde to say the least! Adorned by beautiful artwork that’s actually for sale and gold leaf on the walls which gives you a feeling of being cocooned in a warm welcoming space that’s in sync with nature with the unfinished wood slab table edges and subtle touches of nature all around, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got a Buddhist monk to come in and figure out their feng shui. The cuisine is most certainly a fusion with strong Japanese overtones. We set forth on the voyage with what seemed like regular California and Crunchy Maki which I thought were a safe bet and needless to say, my favourites, boy, was I in for an eye opener. The California Maki had real crab and not the synthetic or soya-bean variety served up in most places. Soft delicate parcels of happiness! We started with the Seared Tuna Tataki served on a bed of soft caramelized onions in tataki sauce. The delicate tuna quite literally melted on your tongue with the delicious tataki sauce washing it down. It was followed by Red Snapper Nikkei served on a beautiful Clayworks platter intricately arranged and served in its own unique sauce. The most tender snapper I have ever had in my life, which dissolved in your mouth, bathed in a South American sauce with seared Peruvian Amarillo chillies. Thinking I have attained nirvana after those two masterpieces I set upon the Sanpei Chicken Claypot which was smothered in a dense blackbean and sweetbean sauce that made me actually sit back and chew my food slowly to take in every nanosecond of pleasure I was going through. I was now definitely back in the orient from the heights of Machu Picchu to the land of the golden temples. The culinary rollercoaster ride had not quite ended yet. The ride took a sharp turn and I found myself reaching for the Teriyaki Chicken. The succulent chicken was doused in a nutty sauce with strong woody accents that was unique and had me yearning for more. Not only was the food beyond compare, their mocktails, were without a doubt in the same league as their exemplary cuisine. Of special mention are the Ginger Fizz infused with a strong hit of ginger and citrus flavours. The Blueberry Fresca had a lovely deep purple colour of berries with a subtle hint of berries and mint. Great selection of mixed drinks, a must have. This great eatery is the labour of love of three well-travelled food connoisseurs; Azfar Hassan, Asim Malik and Nadeem Saigol. Their love of great food is evident in the passion with which they source their produce and determination to serve only the very best. The Sea Bass is genuinely imported from Chile, South America, the beef comes all the way from Brazil and the list goes on. A private lounge with a DJ is in the works for the basement for private parties and catering is on the cards as it’s barely been a month since they opened. This whirlwind gastronomic journey sadly came to an end with truly spectacular desserts which were a perfect and befitting culmination to this experience. We ordered Wasabi Panna Cotta which was unlike any dessert I have experienced. The wasabi was subtle and restrained, blended into a delicate panna cotta. The Crème Brulee which was an otherwise tried and tested dessert that Gai’a has taken to a whole new level. Of course the piece de resistance was the Gai’a Dark Chocolate Torte. I would wholehearted recommend Gai’a to all those to appreciate fine cuisine and please go with an very open mind to be challenged with textures, flavours and tastes you may not have had ever before and you shall definitely be surprised.