Last year I had met Chef Inderjit Saha, executive chef, Sofitel Mumbai, during his initial days at the hotel and had a long conversation with him on his vision of bringing different global and sub-regional cuisines to Mumbai through his kitchens.
Last one year has seen interesting food festivals like the Palanpuri, French, German charcuterie Malvani, Goan & Thai amongst others being hosted at the Sofitel under Chef Saha´s guidance. With each successive event, Sofitel has progressively consolidated its position as a food destination despite sharing the location with standalone giants like Masala Library and Yauatcha.
The latest feather on this cap is the Mexican food festival which ran at the hotel till last Sunday. Chef Tania Tovar who hails from Mexico is spearheading this initiative under Chef Saha´s guidance. We went for a tasting of her menu and had a moment to discuss her vision and challenges with her.
One of the biggest challenges faced by her which also seems to be a consistent issue with restaurants serving Latin American cuisine is the availability of raw materials from that region in India. However Chef Tanya seems to have successfully identified Indian chillies that would work as perfect alternatives to their Mexican counterparts. Many of the dishes served during our tasting were made using the locally procured alternatives.
Our start off dish was Shrimp and jalapeño based broth which I found to be very light with clean flavors. The chef insisted that I add a dash of fresh lime juice, post which the flavor of the dish got much enhanced and the spice kick towards the end of the palate made it a worthy start up dish for the evening.
The Mushrooms with Garlic and Guajillo aji (Xcaret Mushrooms) which was a kind of a stir fried mushroom had a lovely garlicky soft flavor which was delicate in its essence and not overpowering the dish. The Pulled pork (Cochinita Pibil) though a bit chewy was soft, sweet and quite delectable due to the tasteful use of rosemary.Another great Mexican dish I was looking forward to was Chile relleno which is essentially large Chillies filled with minced meats and Mexican spices. I was disappointed to note that here they had made a vegetarian version of the same filling it with potatoes. Dejectedly I bit into it but was mind blown with the very tangy and tasty salsa which topped the chilies. Simple plain potatoes with a robust tangy tomato salsa on top made me go for second helpings for this dish.
Similarly, simple dishes like the Lettuce and avocado salad where the avocados as well as the extra virgin olive oil were used quite liberally were pleasing to the palate. The Tequila Styled Shrimps were also quite decent. The dishes I thought, were weak in comparison to these dishes were the Chicken Verde where the heavy cilantro usage made it taste quite similar to the Indian tikka, the store bought nachos, though fresh, were a bit of a letdown since I was expecting fresh made nachos a la Mexicana and the Chicken and corn tex mex salad was average and something one would find in buffets around town.
They also had a live taco and burrito section where Chef Tania had taken charge herself. The small tacos and burritos were quite nice though I wished that she had used the real corn meal base for her tortillas.
During the tasting we did order a couple of Margaritas which I felt were a bit watered down as compared to the ones one can find in popular tex mex places like TGIF or Hard Rock Café.
All in All, the efforts taken by Sofitel in promoting cuisines from around the world is pretty commendable and while most dishes are delicious, I would once again insist to the management of the hotel to evaluate the possibility of hosting such events in a la carte format rather than the buffet.
However, in the end, I do applaud the initiative of Chef Saha and his team in bringing lesser known cuisines of India and exotic cuisines from around the world closer to home. Here is a toast to this and many more such events. Cheers!
Meal for Two without Alcohol: Rs. 4000 Approximately plus taxes| Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes|
Timing: Dinner : 7 – 12 | Wheelchair access : Yes
Address: Sofitel Hotel, C 57, BandraKurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai
Telephone : 022 61175000 / 022 61175001
Disclaimer : This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgment and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review; however readers may exercise their own discretion.