Imaginative and exquisitely presented cuisine. Flavours, modern and inspired by myriad cultures. Unpretentious, yet casual and opulent interiors. Butler service that’s reminiscent of Her Majesty. I had been reading a lot about Michelin Star experiences of restaurants across the globe but I never had an opportunity until I was invited to try the tasting menu at Hemant Oberoi, BKC, Mumbai.
If you know me then you know that I am big on vibes; be it people or places. And Hemant Oberoi had a relaxed vibe that was accentuated with elegance. In times when I usually end up at places where music pierces through my conversations, almost throwing words in its shadows, the soft ambient music here came as a pleasant change. While I do enjoy places with blasting music when I am in a mood for it, it’s usually places like these that I crave for – places where I can truly savour every morsel and hear interesting stories from the people I share my meals with, without getting distracted.
The restaurant shares its name with its owner, a culinary legend, Chef Hemant Oberoi. It was he who introduced the concept of fine dining in India and turned patrons into fans with every dish that came out of his kitchen at Taj group of hotels. After four decades with the Taj and two very successful restaurants in San Diego and Singapore, he’s gifted his hometown a gem.
While the restaurant serves an ala carte menu, it boasts of a 25-course meal and an 11 course Sunday brunch that would cost you INR 25,000 and INR 2,900 respectively. The tasting menu that I was presented comprised of a soup, appetizers, mains and desserts; curated to give a holistic feel of the varied flavours Hemant Oberoi had to offer.
My evening kicked off with a glass of Elderflower Vintail. Now that my taste buds were rejuvenated, I was ready to savour the first dish of the evening – Perushi – a sushi inspired by Peruvian flavours. This Japanese-Peruvian fusion served had avocado and cucumber that were spiced with Pickled ginger and soy sauce. It was quite an appetizing start to the fair.
The second appetizer on my tasting menu was my most awaited dish given its rave reviews and it being one of Chef Hemant’s signature preparations. While I eagerly awaited its arrival, I was served a 3 Melon Gazpacho Soup with quite a performance that was marked by smoke rising and liquid pouring. This was my first experience of a cold soup and such a delight it was. It had a grainy texture with detectable notes of watermelon and musk melon.
After I was done relishing the gazpacho, my plates were cleared and I was notified that my second appetizer was on its way. Minutes later the white-gloved server presented the Brie and Truffle Soufflé enclosed in a fancy crockery. The Soufflé lived up to the expectations. The truffle flavours were mesmerising and the souffle was as soft as a candy-floss, melting on the tongue almost immediately.
As part of the Entreé, I enjoyed Cry-O-Packed Mushroom Ravioli and Asparagus Risotto, both of which really good. The ravioli also consisted of pine nuts that gave the dish the crunch. Personally, I can OD on mushrooms (not those kinds, haha) and this mushroom ravioli certainly brought a big smile on my face. Coming to the risotto, it was quite rich and the quantity was generous enough to fill you up. The flavours were delicate and comforting and made for a delicious meal.
For desserts, first, I was served Valrhona Mille-feuille. The alternate tones of dark ganache chocolate and milk chocolate made the chocolate lover in me very happy. What truly amazed me, however, was the dessert that came next, Chocolate Shawarma – Hemant Oberoi’s signature dessert which is a tableside creation. A mini shawarma station was brought near my table with the chef shaving slivers from the wheel of chocolate. The heat made the top layer melt and seep through the layers beneath making them more chocolaty. It was served with house made rose petal ice which was equally good. While I didn’t quite enjoy the combination, they worked very well individually.
Overall, I had a lovely experience at Hemant Oberoi, it was a journey for the senses!