Friday, 11 October 2013

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Sumptuous Treat for the Senses in a Green Getaway

This review first appeared in Mail Today, Delhi/NCR. Copyright: Mail Today

By Sourish Bhattacharyya

The grandeur of Kiyan’s architecture, the beauty of the manicured greenery around it and the novelty of the menu make eating here a complete treat for the senses

WHAT: Kiyan @ Dusit Devarana New Delhi
WHERE: Samalkha, NH-8 (Take a U-turn from under the Rajokri flyover)
DIAL: 011-33552211
PRICE PER PERSON (MINUS ALCOHOL): Rs 1,800 (veg) / Rs 2,300 (non-veg) +++
Check whether the resort hotel has got its alcohol licence

WHERE in this teeming city of ours can you have a meal watching a family of ducks waddle past you, the mother leading the way with Nazi steps, on a placid pool of crystal clear water amid acres of trees and shimmering green grass?
Nishant Choubey, formerly of Olive
Beach and Cibo, has crafted a plated
menu that brings into play the best
of contemporary techniques and
international ingredients
The world’s first Dusit Devarana, the spa resort brand created by Thailand’s Dusit Thani group of luxury hotels, has opened on one of Delhi’s busiest roads, the one leading to the Gurgaon toll plaza, flanked by Rajokri and Samalkha. But once you step inside, away from the bustle of traffic and the drone of landing aeroplanes, you are transported into a world of meditative silence and eye-warming greenery. It’s like being in a showpiece farmhouse.
Kiyan thrives in the heart of this oasis. The all-day restaurant, guarded by three monumental pillars inspired by ancient Sumerian architecture, is special because it will be the first to serve only individually plated, four-course meals — three options: European, Pan Asian and Indian — priced between Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,300 per person plus taxes. It’s the kind of restaurant where you don’t have to spend ten minutes pondering over the menu and then order just what you had asked for the last time you went there. It takes the tedium out of ordering and creates room for pleasant surprises.
The chef steering the restaurant, which I see becoming a major magnet after this Durga Puja-Navratra season winds down, is the young and creative Nishant Choubey, who earned his spurs at Olive Beach and then Cibo, when it was still a restaurant worth visiting. Choubey and his younger team (I was particularly impressed by bakery chef Anand Panwar’s 11-grain breads and baguettes) have created a multi-layered dining experience where each dish stands out for its combination of tastes and textures.
They surprise us with the care they take to choose their ingredients — artisan whole wheat flour from Germany for the breads, Ponni rice for the idlis, 65-day-old chickens (poussin) whose meat with skin on melts in the mouth, Spanish black pork sausages (sobrassada), home-made ricotta cheese pasta (gnudi) and even clementine (a variety of mandarin oranges) that grows only in May and June at the resort’s organic farm in Rajokri. There’s a sense of refreshing newness in this roster of ingredients.
I knew I would come back to Kiyan when I had its Andaman lobster wok-tossed with Madras shallots and served on a bed of ‘samundri bhaat’ (a memorable seafood khichdi). The novelty of the preparation combined with its deceptive simplicity just blew my mind. Likewise, the combination of foie gras (100 per cent goose liver — thank God for it!), Himalayan red salt and wine-poached prunes was so delicately balanced that the muscular robustness of the foie gras (I wish, though, it was sautéed a little gently) wasn’t overpowered by the sweetness of the prunes.
My personal wow moment, though, was the tomato soup, imbued with the power of fleshy confit tomatoes, their gentle tartness complemented by the bitter-sweet citrusy notes of the clementine foam. The other must-haves are the black cod with miso glaze and baby bok choy (a no-brainer if the fish is right and is just gently seared), zesty mushrooms (shimeji and enoki) and feta cheese wrapped in wafer-thin phyllo pastry sheets, and the gnudi that comes with a delectable spinach cream. And yes, whether it’s on the menu or not, you must ask for (no, demand, even threaten the management with dire consequences) the toffee pudding. It beats every other toffee pudding I have had in my life. Writing about it makes me hungry and makes me want to set off for Kiyan at once.