The Passion of Puglia @ Ottimo

When I visited Puglia, the heel of Southern Italy I was charmed to say the least! Apulia as it is popularly known, is the largest coastline in Italy, flanked by the mighty Adriatic Sea on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other. The region is famous for its vegetables, fresh sea food (but naturally), its wonderful golden bread and olive oil. It is common to see olive trees nearly a thousand years old dot the countryside and nearly all its native population is at least, a third generation of olive oil extractors.

The air in Puglia is crisp and heady. Being an extended coastline this region has imbibed many influences from its neighbours and invaders over the centuries. It still has a lot of ancient Roman, Byzantine and Turk influences both in its architecture and food. I was surprised to see a great amount of Arabic influence in Bari (the largest town in Puglia) both in its spoken dialect and food. The region abounds with fresh sea urchins, mussels and a huge variety of fish thanks to its position in the Mediterranean, touched by the Adriatic sea in the north and Ionion sea in the south.

Dining at Ottimo at the ITC Gardenia, has always been a culinary eye-opener for me. Master chef Grecco Vittorio and I have developed a deep friendship over the years bonding over food tales and his sheer passion for presenting all the good memories of his Italian heritage (including his ‘MAMMA’S” recipes) and presenting them on a plate.

This time it was from the sunshine belt of Italy…Puglia.

We got straight down to business as soon as we stepped into the buzzing restaurant. Ordering a crisp glass of rich Merlot, I was excited to start my culinary journey..All those flavours that still lingered on my palate even after a year.

When he mentioned that the first course was Friselle with heirloom tomato, cucumber and onion With a drizzle of Puglian extra virgin olive oil, I nearly swooned!!

Friselli is a dried bread traditionally used by fishermen as their meal at sea.They often dip it into the salty sea water to soften it and then add their.various versions of condiments that are popular across Puglia.

Just to know that Chef Vittorio had made his own Friselli and dried it for a couple of days made me order the second non-vegetarian version too!. Friselli with salami piccante, (not to be confused with the mass produced pepperoni) and creamy buratta!

Our next course was the almost sublime Sea bass stuffed zucchini flowers lightly coated with a thin batter and served with a ‘secret sauce’. Delicate slivers of zucchini were tantalizingly wrapped around this ‘secret sauce’ on my plate and I went mad trying to decipher the complex beautiful flavours. But it pays when ‘the man’ is a friend and he revealed the secret ingredients…pickled zucchini and charred yellow bell pepper and oregano emulsion and the pure Puglian Olive oil! The oil used in the emulsion was the clincher!

I saw a lot of hand made pasta being made in Puglia, the most famous being the ear shaped Orecchiette. But I preferred their firm egg less pasta with a hint of semolina to give it its texture and lo and behold!That was exactly what was served as our next course but with a little ‘master chef’ twist by Vittorio…Braided pasta with zucchini and prawn!

Apparently chef Vittorio braided his pasta because it reminded him of his little sister who always had her hair in braids when they were growing up in Italy. But the ‘super chef’ did admit that the indentations made by the braids in the pasta, added a capacity to capture the sauce between the strands for added flavor!! This simple dish held unimaginable flavours for sure.

The Capunti pasta with lamb ragout with a a shaving of the beautiful ewe’s milk cheese, Pecorino, was simply out of this world!The young lamb ragout is left to simmer for over six hours and the meat had a ‘melt in your mouth’ quality! The Capunti pasta is made from an egg less dough with semolina to give it it’s signature texture. It is then made into a pasta on a special mat to give it the grooved pattern on the outside to help hold and absorb the flavour packed sauce better.

Lovely Puglia abounds with nut, olive and fig trees. Almost all the dishes have some element of the gorgeous sweet plump fig in it. So when Grecco brought out the simply gorgeous thin crust hand made pizza topped with honeyed caramelized figs, goat cheese and rocket, my cup runneth over with joy! Each mouthful gave way to a crisp pizza base, squishy caramelized figs, peppery rocket leaves and that fabulous goat cheese…Simply sublime!

If there is an Italian heaven…it must surely be Puglia.
The promotion is only on for a another week.There is no option but to go back for sure.

 

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Fed with Med @ Fava

Abhijit Saha, is a restaurateur, chef and a friend extraordinaire. He is a quiet and unassuming genius who lets his work talk for itself.As a friends, both Shruti M Saha and Abhijit, are rock solid, caring and loyal friends who can be counted on. These qualities set them apart and judging by the large turn out of well wishers and friends that turned up to flag off of a week long ‘tapas evenings’ at Fava, it was more than evident that this wonderful couple are dear to many of us in Bengaluru.

Visiting Spanish chef Alejandro, was on hand to explain the fabulous array of tapas (small Spanish savoury dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar) in his charming accent and was a sure fire hit with the guests.
The succulent prawns, lamb chops, tidbits of Spanish omelettes, creamy ‘explode in your mouth’ crumb crusted cheese balls,tiny veggie spring rolls served in a glass with an explosive sauce to name a few tapas were gone as soon as they appeared.The excellent red and white wines looked like they came out of a never ending magic urn and the music…ah! the music was magic!

Fava, has a great Mediterranean vibe, and this fabulous evening was a brilliant way to kick start what promises to be a week full of fun, frolic and food.Thank you chef Abhijit Saha for a truly wonderful evening.We shall be back!.

Twist & Shake @ Farzi Café

The vast diaspora of people from the Indian subcontinent had emerged as a shot in the arm for Indian restaurants serving Indian cuisine. Gone are the rich ‘curries’ that so epitomized Indian food and the thick almost gluggy curries and spice ridden recipes have given way to a subtler, more organic cuisine ingeniously mixed with newer cooking influences from all over the world.

That being said, I have never been a great fan of the ‘done to death phase’ …the much touted ‘progressive Indian cuisine’. I have found the aromas, tastes and influences a wee bit muddled and fancy and quirky plating couldn’t compensate for food that was sometimes incomprehensible! I am a strong believer in the progression of food within the Indian diaspora, and a steady influx of traders and invaders over the centuries have left their indelible mark on our food. So why ruin the taste of a particularly unmistakable Indian spice with say…cheese or even pasta! Some recipes are innovative and some are downright sacrilegious!

But there have been bright luminaries, Indian restauranteurs and chefs who have put Indian cuisine on the global map and done us proud. And we cannot go through that list without mentioning Jiggs Kalra fondly dubbed as the ‘Czar of Indian Cuisine’ and a formidable force whose skills set includes not only introducing Indian cuisine to an International audience but also setting standards for the same. In a career spanning close to five decades, this “Taste maker to the Nation”, is a pioneering food columnist and author, gastronome and food consultant and the only Asian inductee into the prestigious International Food & Beverage Gourmet Hall of Fame.

I remember waiting with bated breath even as an eight year old for the copy of the JS (Junior Statesman) in Calcutta just to read his weekly column. He has had a major impact on anyone who thought that Indian food was just an amalgamation of thick rich gravies and over spiced food. He was single handedly responsible for re-introducing heritage flavours and tastes with all their finer and gentler nuances. Now, he plays mentor to his highly dynamic son Zorawar, the force behind his mega venture Massive Restaurants, of which the fabulous Farzi Café is one in the string of many successful restaurants, which he owns and runs.

Never really having the time to sit and leisurely partake of a meal there, my knowledge of the type of cuisine they served was perfunctory at the least! So, it was a real revelation of sorts when I hosted a soiree there with a select group of my well-travelled and gourmet loving guests one Saturday evening.

The setting was perfect, as my guests trooped into the chic restaurant, with its wide spaces and informal seating with a massive island bar dominating the central space. The place was buzzing with guests and that is a great indication of the popularity of the restaurant.

From the word go, the wait staff made sure that everything went off like clockwork, without being obtrusive. They were polite and courteous, and had complete knowledge of the dishes being served which is not an easy task with progressive Indian cuisine. It was not a simple task to explain to the discerning guests what went into the Tempura Fried Prawns, Nimbu Mirch Foam, or the gorgeous creamy wok tossed Field Mushrooms with a Truffle Haze and Walnut dust.

Farzi’s quirky twist to the classic Italian Arancini where homemade Dal Chawal is crumb fried with papad & served with achar papad chutney, was a sure fire hit, as were the melt in your mouth Belgian pork ribs braised in a sauce made of coriander, green chilli & curry leaves. It left us with a familiar yet different taste so reminiscent of the flavours one finds in the hills of Coorg.

The perfect soft round Paneeyaram  (batter made from black lentil and rice) Goan Chorizo Sausages and scallions served with Tamatar ka Kut (a much loved Hyderabadi tomato sauce thickened with gram flour) and south Indian green chutney was simply outstanding. The complexities of the different flavours were both amazing and surprising! There were many surprises in terms of flavours that evening and it would be remiss of me not to mention either the Delhi Belly Tikka, Roasted Russet Apples, Murraba Glaze; which was tender Pork Belly cooked in a tandoor with a Kashmiri Murraba Glaze and served with roasted russet apples, or the superlative Mutton Irachi pepper fry, served with a multi layered Malabari Parantha.

I wish I could fault something! Even their decadent dessert of Rasmalai sandwiched with carrot halwa, in a pool of rabdi and topped with a dainty caramelized rose petal net was outstanding.

Not a big fan of cocktails, but I was a recent convert with their charming array of refreshing cocktails. The foaming Farzi Apple Foamitini (Vodka mixed with fresh green apple, elderflower and topped with mint foam) and their Three Musketeers (Bourbon whiskey mixed with chilli chocolate and Californian orange) were definitely my favourites.

I have only heard great things about their outlets in Mumbai, Pune Delhi and now Dubai. All my friends who have eaten there have been charmed and impressed with the right marriage of complimenting flavours. The grand old flavours mixed innovatively with the newer ones…I suppose they are right when they call it the ‘Farzi Twist’

Well I have coined my own ‘twist’ going by the feedback of what my friends had to say;

’Sab ki marzi…hai Farzi’

 

 

 

 

 

Café Felix @ 1 MG Mall, Bangalore.

I was really looking forward to the opening of the hip ‘n’ happening Cafe Felix at I MG Mall.

This upscale Mall boasts of a lot of fine dining restaurants and high end fashion outlets. I love going there as it has an electric ambiance and after a spot of shopping its great to be able to meander into one of the book shops, have a great cup of tea or dine in one of the restaurants. Something for everybody kind of vibe…

Cafe Felix is the brain child of he very charming, young and savvy Rishad Nathani of Breadbox Hospitality and his team of super Chef Nitin Kulkarni and creative designer Shreya Shanbhag, known for The Clearing House, the fine dining restaurant that is making waves in Mumbai.

This young team seems to have a pulse on the evolving diaspora of Bangalore, and their all day diner, hits a sweet spot of embodying ‘everything special’ that a discerning clientele in Bangalore is looking for…a big sprawling space that affords you privacy and a bit of quiet, lounge spaces which allows you to read (yes! they even have a small book space) or work in peace, a non-stop kitchen that serves you from breakfast to dinner, a beautiful open to the sky bar, which plays fabulous music (for those very important pre-dinner or after dinner drinks), and the twinkling lights from the busy CBD Area converting it into a fine dining restaurant at night!

To top it all, there is a beautiful view of Ulsoor Lake and a glimpse of the tree tops! Totally secluded from the noise and bustle, yet very much a part of vibrant Bangalore…just perfect!

But the proof is in the pudding so to speak, and however funky, eclectic or new it may seem, the food is always King (I would prefer Queen!) Chef Nitin Kulkarni prefers to let his work do the talking for him and boy oh boy! His food sang to us!

We were there for dinner and we let Chef do the honours by leaving the choice of the menu up to him. Everything…I reiterate everything we ate was super fabulous! The little bowls of roasted tomato and lemon grass soup and the beautiful smoky roasted corn soup set our salivary glands on overdrive with the sheer subtlety of flavours, as did the choice of salads!
The baby spinach (I loved the strong and unapologetic flavour of the baby spinach leaves) and water melon salad was a great choice for a muggy day, as was the quinoa salad with delicate shards of citrus fruit. My all time favourite was the cold prawn and soba noodle salad with raw mango and the robust Teriyaki chicken salad.The king (or queen) of the hors d’oeuvres was the (almost silky) avocado and tomato crostinis!

We had a choice of thin crust pizzas of slow roasted tomato, truffle ricotta and baby greens (to die for!) and a simply glorious Goan sausage, cheddar and cheese pizza.

I was stuffed to the gills but I saw my dinner companions order a main of Jerk spiced Tandoori roasted chicken, and perfectly braised Tenderloin medallions with a side of creamy mashed potatoes. Even though there was no more room in my over crowded stomach, I did manage to taste both the mains and I was blown away enough to want to kidnap Chef Kulkarni!

All this high octane drama unfolded before I was introduced to their pocket sized, 23 year old pastry chef, Husna Jumani. She was their proverbial secret weapon of talent! Her plethora of desserts was simply impossible to resist!

A sinfully decadent Dark Chocolate fondant that oozed chocolate when you cut into it, a simply fantastic passion fruit crème brûlée, a Chunky monkey with brûléed bananas and walnut nougatine, and a sinful apple and cranberry pie, was the proverbial ‘last straw’ that catapulted me into the abyss of sheer gluttony.

I did die and go to heaven that day…but now I’m back!
Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner at Cafe Felix anyone?

Lunch @ Shizusan Shophouse & Bar.

We traveled over hill and dale (read Whitefield) to The Phoenix Mall, to have lunch at Shizusan Shophouse & Bar, only because we heard such fabulous feedback from everybody who ate there. The newest franchise to open its doors in ‘namma ooru’ I was looking forward to eating there.

We walked into an eclectic restaurant buzzing with patrons, and immediately the friendly and vibrant vibe stuck a chord.Happy patrons, is the key to the impending success of any new eatery,and there were plenty of them!

Plates of salmon sushi, crunchy raw papaya salad, braised chops, Udon noodles, Thai curry made from scratch, and scrumptious prawn and chicken bao’s and momos whizzed past us and the aromas certainly activated my salivary glands!

We settled down on a table with friends Sarayu Hegde and Praveen Chandra, and my munchkin Adnan Furniturewalla, and the fabulous cocktails kept arriving in droves. The aperitifs, were really mouth-wateringly good and the humble chicken satay with peanut sauce blew me away. It was soft and moist, and the beetle leaf wrapped beef was really very very nice! The prawn bao was the star, as was the Californian Maki sushi! There were many favourites on our table but I have to mention the excellent tuna sushi!

The mains didn’t disappoint either…we devoured the fabulous Thai curry with sticky rice and the stir fried Udon!

I am so impressed with the new lot of restaurants mushrooming in our city (I root for everything new!), and they make sure that the flavours and tastes are authentic, and the produce fresh and fabulous!

I had tete-a-tete with Chef Paul, the fabulous Deepti Dadlani,VP-Marketing of Bellona Hospitality Services, and the gregarious Arshia Ladak, Director of Palladium Constructions, I was struck with their versatility and passion that they share for this new enterprise…

You go ladies! You have your fingers on the pulse and you know your patrons, your food and it shows….

Water bottle in hand I am looking forward to making that trek to Shizusan Shophouse again…this time to sway to some jazz and retro music with a ‘One Night in Bangkok’ in my hand!!

The Final Countdown…

What an absolutely stellar evening! Like all our Bangalore Wine Club evenings this aptly titled ‘The Final Countdown’ thanks to our music loving outgoing President Biren Ghose, the evening abounded with good natured ribbing, an excellent repast, and some fabulous wines.

Winding up the business for the last year, the present committee, handed over the reins to the new committee, and we the members did what we do best…had a blast!

The dimly lit lawns of the uber luxurious Taj West End was a perfect setting on a balmy evening as the elite wine club members, held onto our crystal wine glasses enjoying a sparkling Chandon Brut.

Once I espied the cheese selection reminding one of a quintessential fromagerie, and a table laden with the most delectable anti-pasti, my choice of wine quickly changed to a Garnacha Bianca and Parellada 2012 and the Domaine Laroche,whose edgy acidic flavours went beautifully with the Pecorino, Romano and the gorgeous Manchego.

From the anti-pasti table I choose my favourite Roasted beets and pomegranate with Roquefort cream, and a salad of water chestnuts and new potatoes in spiced balsamic dressing.

As I did a slow but sure reconnaissance of the tables laden with food, I sensed before I saw a live counter serving a creamy seafood risotto! It was excellent, and just the way I liked it…bursting with prawn and squid!

I deftly but reluctantly bypassed a live Creperie with a choice of mouth-watering fillings, the tempting Asian Soup and bread stations as I planted myself firmly in front of the Biryani Station! Plump and succulent pieces of mutton peeped out tantalizing me from the Lucknow Dum Biryani, and I paused just long enough to change my wine to a robust red Montes Alpha Merlot 2013, before I delved in!.

Having little or no place for dessert, my friendly neighbourhood wine aficionados egged me to try a Flambeed mango with an Amaretto creme.
I was truly flambeed with the ambiance, the company, wine and food…now till the next Wine Club soiree…be still my heart!

Samaroh – Celebrating Indian Cuisine.

I have been fortunate enough to live or have visited different parts of India with my parents, who were adventure and food aficionados! I remember going into packed ‘gully gutchas’ (as my mom fondly called them) jostling people, cows and various other forms of transport including hand carts rickshaws, tongas, not to mention mini lorries belching smoke just to taste a local delicacy that some local may have fondly referred to!

What stands out distinctly in my memory is that the hot muggy summers have a rainbow at the end of all the trials and tribulations associated with the heat…mangoes!!

So, when my friend Suresh Hinduja, invited me to join him for lunch for an ‘only mango infused’ repast he didn’t have to cajole me at all! I all but jumped at the opportunity to… ahem!…gorge on the ‘king of fruits’ …the delectable mango.

I have never made any bones about the fact that a vegetarian menu has to be outstanding to impress me. I feel there is so much one can do with a vegetable. And sometimes I find the accompanying gravies that the vegetable is dunked in over powering the frail veggies. Except…for Marwari cuisine. Marwari food has no one particular strain. Since the adaptable Marwari community were die hard traders, they settled wherever their business took them and adapted their cuisines to the place they stayed in without losing their essence.Their chaats, chutneys, farsaans and sweets are simply scrumptious.

Samaroh, on Vittal Mallya Rd is a restaurant that essential serves food from the Rajhastan, Marwah, Gujrat and UP belt of India Their vegetarian cuisine and desserts are quite popular. So, It was with a sense of anticipation that I went in for an ‘all out mango marathon’ with them.

I had to control myself not to fill up on their fabulous mango chutney, delicious sweet and tart aam panna or their delightful pani puris with a shaving of raw mango! Even their tomato soup served with savoury crisps was delicious!

From their vast array of starters, the Keri (raw mango) paneer dhokla and the Keri green potli, really hit the mark with me.Their seven course mains were beautifully laid out in small katoris and what was really charming that it was served course by course.It was wonderful to enjoy ones meal in an hurried and relaxed manner. The Aam ki launji,.Keri mugardaal,.Keri mirchi masala and.Keri wali daal were among my favourites.

Their piece-de-resistance was the Aam Raas…lightly flavoured with saffron and chunky pieces of mango, and eaten with a crisp ghee laden piece of Khoba roti. This was pure gluttony!

I hear satisfied customers come in and devour up to eight helpings in one sitting!! For the ‘Aam aadmi’ is has got to be Aam!

“Misu” Madness…

Restaurants, pop ups, cafes, micro breweries and pubs are mushrooming all over our city. Every day one seems to sneak up on me, and when I see the changing skyline as I drive around the city with its bright neon lights my heart skips a beat…sometimes in anticipation and sometimes with trepidation. Sometimes I’m a wee bit over awed with the culinary diaspora, but many a time sadly the emphasis is on the ‘gimmicky’ rather than on substance. But being a die-hard optimist for any culinary experience (and also because I am always rooting for the newer places to do well), I always…always look forward to being pleasantly surprised.

Misu, the new pan-Asian eatery that has sprung up on St Marks Rd (my neighbourhood), and because the CBD area is already dotted with hotels and restaurants with a formidable reputation, I was hoping against hope that this quirky little restaurant would deliver what they promised.

With the expertise of the Gourmand Suresh Hinduja behind the restaurant, and the savvy and astuteness of the owner, the young and dynamic restaurateur, Amit Ahuja, I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed! They have the food figured spot on! Pan-Asian food that is unpretentious, wholesome and very very tasty. Amit has included his favourite flavours from Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and Japan.

At the mega opening of his restaurant, (it spanned over 3 days!) My large contingent of family and friends couldn’t spot a single flavour or seasoning that went awry! The quirky cocktails came fast and swift, as did the array of dishes we tried on that day. Even the pre-cursors to the main course like the divine raw mango salad was polished off in a jiffy. Whether it was the ‘light as fluffy cloud’ batter on the prawn tempuras’ or the exceptionally succulent Kung Pao chicken, or the melt in your mouth tofu in a dark soy sauce, everything was fantastic.

Sometimes one craves for food with the right seasoning and flavours that pique your palate and yet are familiar. The small things and the little details done with care and love elevates your meal to a supremely pleasurable experience. It could be a small dish of Udon and chicken, or a great Pad Thai or a plate of Nasi Goreng that one may have eaten off the stalls on one of your travels.

Well, your experience at Misu will do just that, with a little twist of sophistication, or a little tweak here and there the meal will simply charm you!

All the very best Amit Ahuja and Pratiksha Kataria Ahuja, you have a winning formula here….you can definitely add me to your list of die-hard fans!.

NRI – Not Really Indian!

When one gets the opportunity to meet with and dine with a 2 Michelin star chef in the very elegant and chic environs of the Ritz Carlton.then you know that life is being extremely kind, and some good karma is smiling down at you!

Atul Kochar is a mini legend of sorts and the formidable reputation that his trio of restaurants commands is legendary to say the least. Atul is deeply bound to India and his cuisine both at NRI and Benares, makes you want to get up and sing in the local dialect!.Even his uber chic Latin American Lounge Bar, Lima, in Mumbai has a eclectic mix of Mexican, Brazilian and Peruvian food accents.

I was fortunate enough to be there when he was showcasing the flavour palate of his restaurant NRI (Not Really Indian).

I fell in love with the clever name and the amazing concept of ‘Not Really Indian’ immediately.

India is a sub-continent that has had a series of invaders and visitors over the centuries and our cuisine has been re-invented, adapted and has has absorbed all the different array of spices and produce from all over the world. Over time, that has made Indian cuisine truly global much before it became a ‘trendy’ concept.

Our specially crafted meal captured all the global influences from the Indian diaspora living all across the world, and that undoubtedly was a feat in itself!

The different flavours danced and sang on my palate, whether it was the Jamaican Jerk spice infused in the chicken in our salad, or the Indonesian Kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) smothered on the Mamak lamb chops, or the Chinese shrimp based Rojak sauce in the fruit salad made with Malaysian fruit! Yet the flavours were recognizable, earthy and familiar…like home.It is then, that it becomes abundantly clear, how much Indian cooking has evolved and metamorphosed into the cuisine that it is today…with influences and tastes from all over the world, and yet uniquely our own!

It was an honour to meet with the shy and self effacing Atul Kochar, and see how great men only let their work do the talking for them.Our charming host was the Executive Chef of Ritz Carlton, the soft spoken Michelin Star awardee Anupam Banerjee, and it was an almost indescribable pleasure being around such creative and wonderful men, whose panache and skill has wowed monarchs,leaders and discerning palates all over the world! With three Michelin stars amongst them…it was truly a ‘starry starry night’

Misu!

I was invited to a sneak peek before the unveiling of a new Pan-Asian restaurant ‘Misu’ at the invitation of the ‘gregarious gourmand’ Suresh Hinduja.and the owner of Misu, the young, charming and very dynamic entrepreneur Amit Ahuja.

I was quite honoured to be a part of the tasting panel of a specially curated meal that is going to be the high light of the grand opening a fortnight away.The food was non- pretentious and hearty with a strong emphasis on fresh produce and taste, which is in my opinion the hall mark of any successful restaurant.

Our meal started off on a ‘spirited’ note with one of their signature cocktails, which again struck a right cord straightaway!
We started our meal with a tasting portion of the famed Tom Kha chicken soup and immediately the flavour of freshly extracted coconut milk hit my palate.With a touch of galangal, lemongrass, Thai chili, mushrooms & lime juice, the blend of flavours were delicious and authentic. The second course,the Indonesian Bakso soup, with a delicate flavouring of celery and lightly fried shallots in the pork broth was delicious!Coupled with a smattering of noodles, tofu and minced pork dumplings, the soup deserved every slurping sound my mouth made!

Another paper thin crispy delight were the Prawn Tempura’s. I have had many a thick and oily batter fried prawn passed off as a tempura, but this one was perfect! Plump fresh prawns cooked to perfection with a light almost lacy tempura batter was picture and taste perfect. Teamed with a delicate fish and honey sauce, I really couldn’t have asked for more. (Which incidentally I did, and polished off the second serving too!)

Amit gently cajoled me into trying their Sushi,( I’m always a little diffident about eating sushi and sashimi in newer places) and am I glad I agreed! The Californian  Maki with a topping of a sliver of strawberry gave it that sweet/tart burst of flavour in my mouth and it was delightful..

The chicken stir-fry with chili garlic basil sauce was served with a portion of jasmine sticky rice and was wholesome and hearty. The crisply fried basil garnish, is always a favourite with me as I love the little crackle it gives the dish.

It takes a deft hand to make a pork belly, and it was evident the chef had one. The slow braised pork belly cubes was soft with a crackling skin and the robust chilli and garlic sauce was a perfect accompaniment.

Being a die-hard non vegetarian, a vegetarian dish has to be next to perfect to impress me. Well…the lightly steamed pok choy served with a delicate garlic, soy and sesame seed sauce did hit a right note on my palate
It was a happy non-gimmicky meal…true tastes and great flavours.

If this was a teaser trailer I’m looking forward to the whole show….