As passionate as I am about my food, I don’t remember ever laughing out loud in sheer delight of a gastronomic experience. This was a first for me at Tian – Asian Cuisine Studio, the newest offering in dining by the ITC Maurya, New Delhi. Tian, literally translated to “heavenly”, shares the top floor with West View and has taken the space of the erstwhile oriental restaurant, My Humble House. Even though there have been very few structural changes, the alcoves from My Humble House still remain to offer some privacy to diners and the new restaurant is dressed in warm reddish colours that are balanced with golden hues. The access to the restaurant is now through a well lit bar and the décor seamlessly amalgamates traditional roots with a contemporary feel much like the cuisine that is offered here.
Chef Vikramjit Roy’s child-like enthusiasm finds expression in the creative presentation of dishes that he very clearly has had a lot of fun putting together. His energy is contagious as he guides us through every course, explaining exactly how to approach the dishes and the sequence in which the different elements on a plate are to be mixed while he waits to see our expression as we savour his creations.
At Tian, one finds varied oriental flavours spanning Japan, Korea, China and Thailand in modernised dishes presented in dramatic platings. The drama starts right from a reading of the menu where appetisers are termed “Curtain Raisers”, soups form “The Prelude”, mains are found in the “Star Cast” and staples are the “Side Kicks”. The set menus are predictably the “Trailers”. Three “Trailers” are on offer depending on the number of courses you would like to go for. For your first Tian experience, it is recommended that instead of the ala-carte you go with one of the set menus to savour the flavours orchestrated by the chef’s imagination.
We are presented with an amuse bouche that has four components including a dumpling and a palate cleanser. Setting the perfect tone for the evening, our first course arrives shortly – Dehydrated Lotus Stem with Soy Milk Cream. The fact that the lotus stem is crispy without being deep fried makes for a perfectly light start. The crunch of the lotus stem is balanced with accompanying cream that is sprinkled with homemade five spice powder.
Then comes the Sichuan Style Crispy Prawn topped with a slice of compressed, spiced pineapple. While one bite of the prawn along with pineapple lends to delicious yet predictable flavours, the second bite, which is dunked in the surrounding crushed sichuan chillies, creates a wee bit of smoke on the plate and chills the palate !
Next we are served an Indonesian influenced Lamb Satay and Buta Yakitori. The yakitori is a melt-in-the-mouth grilled pork belly skewer. The drama in this dish precedes the tasting. We are presented with some potted herbs that Chef Vikramjit asks us to water. Almost as soon as I start pouring the water, the herbs are covered in smoke emanating wafts of lemongrass and galangal.This is followed by the Purity of Earth Mushroom Soup. Unlike anything that I’ve had before, it showcases On-Table assembly that the restaurant prides itself on. The broth of mixed mushrooms is presented in the way that one has seen experiments being conducted in chemistry labs. The delicious soup is created at the table by pouring the broth atop dehydrated carrots, dehydrated lotus stem, dehydrated truffles, white truffle powder and fresh shiitake. We are advised to enjoy it like wine – “Sniff, sip and eat” to be precise.
After a palate cleanser, our mains arrive – crispy Herbed John Dory with Garlic Spinach and Kabocha Mash followed by Chicken Green Curry served with dehydrated jasmine rice. Both the dishes are succulent and downright delicious.
Needless to say, by now we have no room left for dessert. Yet we are served Valrhona Chocolate with fresh mint ice cream. One obviously cannot go wrong with this one, but it certainly is no match to the rest of the meal.
Food like this has to be matched with perfect service, and we don’t see the restaurant dealing with any teething problems in this regard. The wait staff is very well aware of the ingredients of each dish, the process of its creation as well as the perfect way to savour the dish.
While one does find elements of molecular gastronomy in Chef Vikramjit’s creations, he emphatically refrains from claiming it to be the USP of the restaurant. “What I do in my kitchen is no business of the guests that dine here”, he states adding that certain techniques are a mere need of the times. “I simply want my food to achieve three things for diners – evoke nostalgia, create a memory and tingle the taste buds”. And boy, has he succeeded! In the course of the evening I indeed enjoyed some familiar flavours but each dish impishly played with not only the taste buds but all the senses (in many instances, the effect in the mouth is very different from what one expects), creating a memorable experience. And if the Chef’s promise of providing a surprise element each time one goes back is anything to go by, I certainly see myself going back again and yet again.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4.5 | Drinks: 4.0 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.5| Overall: 4.50
Meal for Two: Rs. 5000 (Without alcohol) | Credit Cards: Yes | Alcohol: Yes | Timings: 7pm – 11.30PM
Address: Tian, ITC Maurya, Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave, New Delhi | Telephone:011 26112233
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.
– Shibani Bawa