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A royal repast

If it weren’t for a helpful security guard, we’d never have found Kainoosh. Though located down a corridor just off the entrance to a mall...

india Updated: Apr 16, 2010 01:45 IST
Jimmy Chew

If it weren’t for a helpful security guard, we’d never have found Kainoosh. Though located down a corridor just off the entrance to a mall, the lack of any signage meant that my friend and I had to traverse almost the entire length and breadth of the huge mall before hitting bulls-eye.Marut Sikka’s new restaurant, whose Persian name translates into ‘emperor’s private dining chamber’, carries a baggage of expectations on its two-month-old shoulders. Would it be able to match up to the standards of chef’s extremely successful diner Magique? I wondered.

Stepping inside, plush interiors greeted us — contemporary, with a touch of kitsch and Mughal era-inspired lattice work. Impressive though the décor was, the lights were dim, and the music was a little too loud and too international. Once seated, we shrugged off any misgivings and got down to business.

The extensive menu was divided into two sections — ‘India Over the Ages’ and ‘India 21st Century’. I decided to try the vegetarian bespoke thali (Rs 925), the better to sample a broad selection of dishes (one can choose six dishes from the separate thali menu), and a Keya Magic cocktail (Rs 400). My partner opted for the non-vegetarian thali (Rs 975).

The star of the meal for me was the slightly sweet dish of peas simmered overnight in a thick khoya, milk and fenugreek base. Cottage Cheese Kofta, stuffed with pistachio and dried plums and served in decadent roast almond tomato gravy, came a close second. Chicken thighs marinated in coriander, brown onion and yoghurt paste and simmered, were tender to the point of melting in the mouth. Lamb chops and lamb mince slow cooked on a griddle is for those fond of strong tastes and a hint of spices like elaichi. Keya Magic (vodka, sambuca, betel leaf and lemon soda) turned out to be supremely refreshing; perfect for those who prefer their cocktails on the sweeter side. For dessert, we ordered a trio of kulfis — fig, aam panna and pistachio (Rs 175), and washed it down, thoroughly contented, with a complimentary serving of kahva.

While the chef has excelled himself, the service too deserves a special mention. It was, in a word, impeccable. The staff was courteous and gave us their undivided attention. That they inquired after the food perhaps more than was necessary is something I’d attribute that to enthusiasm, not lack of training.

However, there are certain jarring elements that this high-end restaurant could improve on. No thought seems to have been paid to designing the menu cards, that’re bland, noticeably scuffed around the edges, and have some typographical errors — a sadly unimpressive precursor to what turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable meal.

However, these are just minor blemishes. Kainoosh’s soul lies unequivocally in the two areas that matter most — its food and its service.