These are on very different corners of the world, though, so don’t assume you can cover them over one weekend.
BHOPAL: Let’s start closest to home. If you’re headed to Bhopal for work or a family visit (let’s face it, who goes to Bhopal for tourism?), drop in at the Courtyard by Marriott. They’ve introduced Bay Leaf, a restaurant that serves ‘progressive Indian cuisine’ such as Potato Cheese and Chilly Galette, Mint and Coriander Spiced Rajasthani Pithaud, Pan-seared Chicken Tikka Pate and Stewed Lamb Shanks. This happens to be the city’s first and only fine-dining restaurant (now you know why we don’t recommend it for tourism).
Marriott chefs Ratan Kumar and Ajay Chaudhary say, “We hope that combining tantalizing tastes with a bold use of Indian flavors and international ingredients will be appreciated by our guests.” We hope so too. They recommend their signature kebabs like delicately marinated Scottish scallops, crisp fried soft shell crab, and fine Indian curry preparations. There are more traditional options too.
MAURITIUS: The very lovely Mauritius resort, One&Only Le Saint Géran has now got a new chef de cuisine for its Indian restaurant, the Indian Pavilion. Delhi-born Faizan Ali will be putting to good use the scents and flavours of his childhood in old Delhi and his experience in working at hotels like the Claridges and the Leela Palace Kempinski. “I have worked with General Manager Charles de Foucault in India and Bali and I am so pleased to be able to work with him again in another beautiful part of the world, Mauritius, and for such an iconic resort,” he says. He will be using the famous slow-cooking techniques of Mughlai food and reinventing them for the restaurant. “We often use different shapes of Indian utensils to cook different dishes. For example, the Degchi is used to cook qorma, but only Lagan can be used to prepare Biryani. We also only use certain metal utensils when preparing Mughlai cuisine; galvanized brass Lagan for Biryani, Iron Kadhai for frying meat and clay for cooking breads.”
If you’re headed there, do check out the Gosht Nizami Dalcha (lamb morsels cooked with Bengal gram lentils and chillies), Galouti Kebab with Ulte tawe ka Parantha (a unique delicacy of Lucknow, which includes shallow-fried lamb patties, so soft they melt in the mouth, flavoured with the smoke of spices and are served with saffron bread cooked on an inverted griddle). Also note the Mahi Anarkali (a fish kebab flavoured with pomegranate and ginger juice), and Jheenga Zebunnisa (scampi marinated with chilli and garlic).
AMSTERDAM: The other Asian restaurant making the news is Taiko by Schilo, which is soon to come up at Amsterdam’s Conservatorium hotel. Named after ancient Japanese drums said to beat with a mythic rhythm, Taiko by Schilo is Chef Schilo van Coevorden’s hotly awaited new Asian-inspired restaurant. With a live Taiko player beating harmonious rhythms every evening, this promises to be a fusion experience of another sort altogether.
Inspired since childhood by all things Far-Eastern, Schilo worked extensively around Asia, training with masters of the cuisine. Returning to his home city of Amsterdam, Schilo long dreamed of marrying his love of Asian cuisine with local, seasonal produce to create a whole new concept. “At Taiko the menus employ all the skills, techniques and flavours I discovered in the Far East but I have the luxury of working with both local and Asian suppliers – meaning we can ensure that the real star is the ingredients. So, our sashimi-grade tuna is sustainably sourced in Europe and the beef sizzling on our Josper BBQ or table grills is either fine Dutch entrecote or real, authentic, succulent Japanese Wagyu. Our fish may be freshly line caught in the North Sea or, if the quality is better, flown directly over from Asia”, says Schilo. He continues: “To ensure the most authentic flavours we’ve employed our own sake sommelier, and managed (rare for a European restaurant) to source the very finest sake from an artisan microbrewery. And we’ve chosen some beautiful Champagne as the ideal accompaniment to sublimely fresh sushi and delicate dim sum. I do not like the term fusion, but my philosophy at Taiko redefines the concept and creates something new and exciting. Plus it’s just the sort of food I love to eat.”
The restaurant will open exclusively for press from 9 to 16 September 2014, after which it will be open for all guests.