Overall rating: 3.5/5
Two factors – people and food – are more than enough to make an evening worth remembering, and in case you are fortunate enough to meet some very good people, I am sure you will succeed in creating a wonderful memory. In a nice bit of serendipity, my first encounter and dining experience with #NaviMumbaiFoodies during a food tasting session for an Italian food festival filled my evening with joy and fun where the energy and the charm of everyone was beyond compare. Apart from the purpose of food tasting, it was an evening of learning where I came to know more about the food, I got a chance to understand the different perspectives of my fellow bloggers, and, of course, I made wonderful connections. In short, I, along with some other food bloggers, was invited to experience the Italian food festival at Asian Kitchen restaurant where we tried a variety of authentic Italian dishes, and I was extremely glad to get this opportunity to connect with wonderful people who share a very similar passion (food). My experience in terms of food was quite satisfactory; however, some of the dishes were absolutely stellar in preparation and presentation. Let’s see the review in detail.
Mr. Mukul Jha is the executive chef of this restaurant, and he has 14 years of experience in this industry. He mentioned to us that their Modus Operandi is different because they keep on changing their menu after every six months. As people – most of the times expatriates – stay for a longer period of time, chef and his team believe in bringing more variety to the food rather than serving the hackneyed stuff; hence, they make a conscientious effort to bring freshness in their menu by revamping it after every six months. In all honesty, I really liked this aspect because every customer looks for something new when they visit the same place again, and I sincerely respect the chef for taking care of this aspect. This festival by Asian Kitchen is a demonstration of diversity in the food, and they have a separate menu for it. Chef and his team do organise Punjabi, Goan, Mexican and other festivals as well with the purpose to maintain the diversity in the food.
Being a vegetarian, I was disappointed by looking at very few vegetarian options, and, in all honesty, I did not try to dissemble my feelings. The vegetarian options were only 30-35% of the total menu items, and after enquiring on this delicate subject from the chef, he mentioned that they follow the rule of “Demand and Supply” as there is more demand for non vegetarian options from the expatriates. This gave me a feeling that their menu is designed primarily for the people who stay at the hotel, and it is not for the localities. I agree on the “Demand and Supply” rule to some extent, but I also feel that they are missing out on the vegetarian audience which is quite big in number in Mumbai.
According to me, the food was okay; however, some of the dishes were absolutely stunning in presentation and delectable in taste, especially the desserts. Let’s have a look at the food.
Soups and Salads:
Fennel and Asparagus soup – The viscosity of the soup was perfect. It was served with the topping of Crème fraiche which is sour cream, and it was going very well with the rest of the flavours. The taste was good, not very spicy, and I liked the blending of all the ingredients. I am not a big fan of soups, and I always avoid them; however, I liked this and finished all of it.
Traditional Italian Vegetable Broth soup – In all honesty, I did not like this soup. I found it to be brackish where the salt content was too much. It had very low viscosity and was served with the toppings of yellow and green zucchinis. However, I liked the flavour of Parsley which was finely chopped and was giving a nice aftertaste, but the extreme salt content did not allow me to indulge in it.
Sliced Tomato and Bocconcini cheese salad in fresh pesto – This salad looked very appealing with a ball of Bocconcini cheese placed at the centre of it. Pesto sauce is one of my favourites; hence, I was looking forward to have this salad; however, it turned out to be just average. Firstly, Olive Oil plays a very important role in a pesto sauce, and I could not taste it all. Secondly, I found that the quantity of pesto sauce was a tad less; hence, the salad was not flavoursome. I have had much better salads with amazing pesto sauce at other places. However, the cheese was very good, and, to some extent, it made up for the missing flavours, but I did miss the pesto sauce big time.
Red Onion Marmalade tartlet with Goat cheese – This was absolutely stellar in terms of presentation and was extremely scrumptious. For the first time, I was eating a tart made up of caramelised onions and goat cheese, and it looked heavenly with the toppings of red bell pepper and sprouts. The chef displayed his amazing creativity in this dish and definitely earned accolades. In terms of the taste as well, it was good; however, if you do not like caramelised onions, you might not like it. I did not find it great in terms of taste as I am not a fan of caramelised onions; however, it was good, and I would definitely like to taste it again.
There were six dishes in the main course section; however, I was extremely disappointed to find out that all of them were non vegetarian. Yes, not even a single vegetarian main course dish. As a result, vegetarians were only left with the options of risotto, pizza, and pasta, and we finally ordered one ravioli pasta in pesto sauce and a risotto in red wine beetroot sauce.
Ravioli pasta in pesto sauce: This was a big disappointment because it was very chewy, and it was hard for me to cut it in to pieces. The pesto sauce was just average, and I did not find it flavoursome. The chewiness of the pasta did not let me enjoy this dish; hence, I had to leave it after 2-3 bites. If the sauce had had some flavours, I would have managed to finish it, but, sadly, this was not the case.
Risotto in red wine beetroot sauce: This was absolutely delectable. The preparation and the blending of the ingredients were impeccable. This was the first time I was having a risotto cooked in red wine, and this will stay in my mind for sure. The presentation gave me an impression of a non vegetarian dish because of its pink color, and I was a tad hesitant to eat it; however, this dish turned out to be extremely delicious. Again, a demonstration of amazing creativity.
Garlic bread: This was also very different and simply delectable. The red paprika and finely chopped garlic made this dish heavenly in taste. I have tried garlic bread at so many places; however, this was very different and creative.
This is the only section where vegetarians, particularly I, do not have to face the disappointment of dominating non vegetarian dishes. To some extent – leaving out the people who do not eat eggs – there is no discrimination between vegetarians and non vegetarians in this section of food, fortunately. Coming to the point, desserts were amazing at this place. Everything we ordered in the desserts was absolutely scrumptious, delectable, appealing, and stunning in the presentation. So we really had a happy ending.
Mixed berries, Coconut honey & Kiwi pannacotta: I am at a loss of words to describe this divine dessert which is made by blending thick cream and egg white. This trilogy pannacotta was served in three flavours known as: Kiwi, Blueberry, and coconut, and all the flavours were superb and unbeatable. The first look does give you a feeling of “Get ready for a taste of heaven”, and it indeed met the expectations. The most fascinating thing about this dessert was its sugar-free aspect. In other words, it is not only great in taste but is also healthy where you do not have to keep a count of your calories.
Tirami Su: It is a coffee flavoured Italian dessert, and, again, this did not disappoint. Amazing presentation and taste where the eggs, cheese, sugar, and coffee were blended impeccably. I completely embroiled myself into the taste and enjoyed it.
Crème Brulee: This Italian dessert consists of a rich custard base topped with a hard caramel. The preparation was very good where the custard blended perfectly with the other ingredients; however, it was extremely sweet for my taste buds. It was good, but due to the extreme sweet flavour, I could not eat it much.
Chocolate habanero: Chocolate Habanero is actually a variety of chili pepper, and as the name suggests, it had a flavour of spiciness. The texture was very similar to that of a Chocolate mousse; however, when you eat it, you feel the spiciness. Again, the texture, the preparation, and the presentation were too good. This chocolate indulged dessert looked very scrumptious and did not disappoint me.
The service was a bit slow; however, I really liked the hospitality. The staff was very courteous, and they made sure that we were comfortable in every aspect. As a token of appreciation, they also gave some goodies at the end, and we really enjoyed them. The entire dining experience was great; however, the food – except the desserts which were amazing – was just average, and I have had much better Italian dishes. The unbalanced vegetarian food items(30-35% of the total menu) do not allow me to come to this place again, unfortunately. Overall rating 3.5, but in terms of vegetarian food, I would like to give 3 out of 5.