LIMA, MUMBAI What do you get when you put together a Michelin-starred masterchef, completely novel cuisine, and a setting that oozes contemporary chic with a bit of whimsy thrown in? Lima. This new place is all that and then some. The country’s first South American tapas-style lounge bar with a strong lean towards Peruvian cookery, Lima at BKC is Chef Atul Kochhar’s newest baby that specialises in ceviche, the raw fish wonder, from Peru, grills from Brazil and street cuisine from Mexico. The ambience is a mix of Latino flair with bits of colonial grandeur thrown in. It makes for a perfect combination if you want a relaxed after-work evening spent nibbling smoked grilled yucca served with a salsa criola, milk-infused corn-on-the-cob, as you enjoy Lima’s signature cocktails like the pisco-saturated Lima Sour served with a frothy cloud of meringue. ‘Nuff said.
Trending: Helping India discover that there is a whole other raw fish world out there besides just sushi, Lima proudly shows off its experimental side, offering raw fish iterations like tiradito and poké from Hawaii… besides the divine ceviche, of course.
YAUATCHA TERRACE, BENGALURU
It’s barely three months into its run as Bengaluru’s hippest new rooftop spot, but Yauatcha Terrace, the 2.1 gastro bar version of the popular dim sum teahouse from London, is adding a whole lot more to the skyscape of Garden City at M.G. Road. Offering up an exhaustive menu featuring the likes of tea house classics like har gau, chicken char sui buns and prawn shui mai, the all-white joint amps it up further with mains like honey-smoked spare ribs and braised pork belly, as well as interesting wok dishes such as the spicy chilli fried squid. All this is ably supported by a drinks’ menu that has a mix of classics and innovations like the Tokyo Cooler, a delectable sum of its lemongrass, raspberry, guava and peach juice parts.
Trending: With the humble tea morphing into a much sought-after bar ingredient, Yauatcha Terrace cashes in on the trend with its range of tea-infused cocktails like the Cha La Lai made with vodka, black grapes, oolong tea, apple juice and sparkling wine, and the Lalu which contains vodka, lychee liqueur, lemongrass, oolong tea and lychee juice.
Very rarely does one come across a restaurant that is the result of an experiment that works out splendidly. Initially conceived as a 10-day pop-up Japanese restaurant in December last year by the Hyatt Regency, the decision to launch as a full-fledged eatery in February this year is perhaps its canniest move. The dinner-only Yakiniku offers authentic yet uncomplicated Japanese cuisine freshly prepared in different dining ambiences — there’s a yakiniku grill and a large food display, a main dining area with a sushi counter, and there’s a teppanyaki grill. The emphasis is on a casual fun-filled atmosphere, and the menu is unpretentious but high on flavour and substance, with dishes like takoyaki (octopus dumplings, tonkatsu sauce, mayonnaise, and seaweed), salmon chan chan yaki (salmon, cabbage, onion, mushroom, carrot, and sweet miso), and the sublime nasu dengaku (fried eggplant, miso sauce, and sesame seed).
Trending: This place is big on the immersive dining experience, and guests at Yakiniku are encouraged to discuss the menu directly with the chefs, thus creating a totally interactive eating-out experience.
HABIBI, NEW DELHI
A new place that brings to the capital a flirty Arabian Nights vibe with its dim Arabesque mood lighting and plush red velvet upholstery. The name Habibi, meaning lover in Arabic, also lends romance to this fine-dining restaurant in Rajouri Gardens, a tribute to the Lebanese and Moroccan specialties it dishes out in style. Whether the lightly-spiced delights of a Middle Eastern pizza called a Manakish or the lamb tagine with its robust, punchy preserved lemon flavour, the food takes you on a magic carpet ride straight to old Marrakesh. Need we say more?
Trending: Hookahs, of course, from which you can inhale your cocktails, thanks to boozy flavours like the bestselling cognac iteration among others.
Housed in the city’s trendy Phoenix Market City mall, this funky pan-Asian bistro gets its food philosophy from its mascot and namesake Shizusan, whose explorations across China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea and Malaysia have become famous. The 80-seater restaurant with its minimalistic Asian-inspired décor pays obeisance to East Asian street-food classics but dishes them out with a modern twist. So, while you have the iconic hawker stalls of Singapore referenced by the peanut sauce-dunked satays, the Phad Thai and basil-scented vegetable stir-fry take you to the food-saturated streets of Bangkok, while the more experimental mod-Asian salmon tartare and tuna carpaccio share table space with an authentic Vietnamese Pho that seems straight out of a Hanoi noodle shop.
Trending: The menu takes on an international ‘small is good’ approach with the hot and cold small plates concept, where Asian tapas-style dishes and finger foods are dished out in micro portions.
CHEMISTRY 101, MUMBAI
Why would a restaurant bill itself as an experience? When you step inside this rather austere and nondescript Lower Parel gastro bar, you immediately realise why. The word ‘normal’ is totally missing from the Cardiff-based, award-winning, Rosette AA Chef Stephen Gomes’s culinary lexicon. The chef-driven Chemistry 101 is something of a Heston Blumenthal-meets-Dexter’s Laboratory experiment gone right, as it sings a lusty paean to molecular gastronomy and amply references its modern Indian cuisine underpinnings. Bubbles, vapours, air, unusual mixtures, textures and deconstruction summarise the food and bar menu at Chemistry 101, with hawker classics getting a diverse twist of textures and presentations. Take Gandolf’s Dosas that are a cheeky take on a waffle masala dosa served with mint chutney spheres.
Trending: In line with the trend of using charcoal as an ingredient is Chef Gomes’s rendition of a black, dehydrated, smoke-infused carbon dhokla served with a LNO2 tamarind sorbet, coconut chutney and edible paper, suitably christened Emperor’s Notepad!
TOAST & TONIC, BENGALURU
This chic, new kid on the Ashok Nagar block claims to be an international restaurant-cum-bar that is “a manifestation of effortless chic, local inspirations, New American dining, and a bar with a belief that less is more”. Keeping that brevity-soaked belief at its fore, the hipster haven is a relaxed space with an intriguing array of cocktails whose ingredients are treated with reverence. The bar mimics the kitchen’s approach by showcasing the organic flavours of fruits and flowers while making its own shrubs and tonics. So, you can sip on the Flower Power Tonic (jasmine, elderflower and grapefruit) and a wacky Bacon Old Fashioned (bacon infused bourbon, bitters, orange, sugar and ice) while you nosh on dishes like the Hawaiian chilli tossed tuna poké and take in the piscine pleasure of the smoked Cochin mackerel-on-toast.
Trending: The emphasis is on the ‘holy trinity’ —seasonal, local, regional — amped up with indigenous ingredients like gondhoraj lemons, amaranth leaves, drumstick leaves, nolen gur and fresh-pressed mustard oil.
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