I have never been so short on words as I am after visiting Tian – Asian Cuisine Studio. A meal which is so high on technique and presentation can confidently be termed as one of its kind to be experienced in India. I have visited Tian once earlier and while I enjoyed the food but I lost on some of the finer details of the dishes since I was with a group of friends and the focus soon shifted from food to conversation.
Recently, when Tian introduced the new post winter menu, I visited it again, only to be completely floored and mesmerised by the Chef and his creations. I refer to his food as “creations” because while other chefs prepare dishes, Chef Vikramjit Roy is an artist who presents his creations on plate only to recreate them again and again for each guest. In the era of molecular cuisine where use of nitrogen and dry ice is common to create drama, none of the dishes here used either of them and he still succeeded in creating an interest and mystery around the dish.
For those reading about Tian for the first time, Tian is the progressive Asian cuisine restaurant at ITC Maurya in Delhi known for its avant-garde cooking and artistic imagination lent to the dishes by their chef. Situated on a terrace level, the restaurant can easily seat 60+ diners in its modern yet comfortable seating in an alfresco style. The soothing live music and beautifully done up PDR’s (Private Dining Rooms) aptly compliment the creations of the Chef. There are three types of tasting menus available at Rs 2500, Rs3500 and Rs5000 (excluding taxes) per person, depending upon the ingredients used, which changes every season. I chose the best of Tian.
Three types of amuse-bouche are served. First is Thai curry & rice. Thai yellow curry is served in a sphere and while spherification is not new, I had a warm sphere for the first time served on dehydrated jasmine rice crisp. Next is kimchi, shaped like a dragonfly. So much effort has been put in this simple looking dish with dehydrated cabbage kimchi as the wings of the dragon fly, kochujang gel and aged kochujang miso resembling the eyes and the head. apart from using the sweet potato crumble and walnut purée, Japanese mountain potato formed the lower body. Eat it all in one go to get the complete flavours. The last amuse bouche is the No Burrata, No Tomato. Anyone who has had burrata cheese will vouch that it tastes like burrata but interestingly the Chef has not used any of it in the salad. Made using curdled Japanese soy milk with alkaline extracted from seaweed called Nigari, it tastes just like burrata. The tomato texture and shape is given using tofu and red pepper gel. Topped with herb oil, chilli gel, toasted sesame sauce, two textures of olives, one would like to end the meal on this unless the expectation is only increasing and one gets greedy.
The winter soup is made using black carrot broth, winter peas and lentil purée topped with a little drizzle of garlic oil. This soup is served with an eatable spoon. Such a small twist to this simple but very tasty soup enhances the appeal.
Next is the The grass. The lacto-fermented arugula lettuce is presented like grass, but when you move it a little, one will find pink grapefruit mousse with smoked almond milk and toasted amaranth seeds. This very tasty and refreshing salad has a bit of herb oil which accentuates the flavours. Lacto fermentation is a microbial process using beneficial bacteria including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium spp. This good bacteria aids in the digestion and while it is used in few restaurants all over the world, I may not be wrong in saying that Tian is the first one to use this technique in India.
Lacto–fermentation is the process by which lactic acid bacteria metabolize vegetable sugars and create lactic acid and carbon dioxide. The process is completely vegan and should not be confused with the word “lactose,” which refers to milk sugar.
I don’t have the menu in front of me and each dish comes as a surprise. One may again feel that there is nothing new in baked prawns as a dish. But the crunch coating is unique. It isn’t the bread crumbs but the protein made by wheat. The dish is served with miso ‘Mole’ sauce, pickled tomato powder, pistachio crumbs and Kafir lime yoghurt. Shaped like half of a wind mill, the presentation is excellent and one feels sorry for destroying the art on the plate while enjoying the dish.
Next dish is what we all can easily relate to. The Steamed chicken tartar is cooked using 5 different techniques. It is very airy and tasty. If one does not know then they will certainly not identify the main ingredient as chicken since the texture has changed to resemble tofu. The pineapple & mango herb mash provides an interesting twist to the flavours and makes it an addictive meal.
The well cooked Lamb chops is served with home-made kochujang miso and winter vegetables. Again in this dish there is a unique element of potato glass that acts like a papad but Chef Vikramjit tells me that it is not potato. I didn’t get into any further discussion but felt in awe of the chef for bringing so many new techniques on the table. The ginger flavored beetroot mash acts like a thick jus.
The palate cleanser is a lime sorbet which is beautifully presented in the lemon shell.
Another dish to remember is the very moist Halibut fish served with 8 textures of onion. I wasn’t even aware if this was possible until I visited Tian. Each element is beautifully cooked be it the spring onion or the white onion paste. I love the onion which is first burnt to make an ash out of it and then served as a mash. Chef Vikramjit asks me why we all love smoky favours and while I was still thinking, he answers that our ancestors used to cook food in wood which lent it a smoky note. The flavours are now part of our genes and that is the reason for why the smoky feel is enjoyed world over. Intelligent thinking!
I am already full by this time while Chef personally gets us Crab curry with 2 different textures of crab – Crab mince meat with crab. This north Thai yellow curry is served with jasmine rice crisp, peas & seasonal vegetables. This is served with Kerala red rice which is cooked in bamboo.
I end my meal with a dessert that resembles an egg on the nest. This vanilla pan Cotta is made like an egg and coated with white chocolate. Inside it is filled with very subtle Thai chilli to look like the yolk. The nest is made with vahlrona chocolate and vermicelli.
Tian is a gift to Delhi’s gourmet dining scene. Most of the dishes are safe for gluten intolerant people who usually don’t get many options in other restaurants. If Michelin is to come to India and start rating restaurants, then apart from Indian Accent, Tian is truly a worthy contender.
Rating (Out of 5)
Food: 5.0 | Service: 5.0| Ambience: 4.5 | Overall: 5.0
Meal for Two: Rs8000 | Wheel Chair Friendly: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Alcohol: Yes | Timings: 7pm to Midnight
Address: Tian, Terrace Level, ITC Maurya, Diplomatic Enclave, Sardar Patel Marg, New Delhi | Phone: 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.