When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it,” a quote from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist goes. There have been days we’ve damned this comment, claiming that nothing like that ever happens. And, then there is this day, when we walk into Auriga at Mahalaksmi nursing a
The entry into this three-day-old South-East Asian restaurant and lounge designed by architect Sanjay Puri is as dramatic as it can get. Auriga, which stands for a constellation of stars depicting a chariot, has a metallic cobweb-inspired structure that continues into the lounge on the ground floor and turns into a soothing soft wood inside the restaurant on the first floor.
Owners Kritika, Kapil Nagpal and Anil Goyal have good news for the vegetarians. The menu has equal number of dishes for you as it has for the non-vegetarians. To add to that, it has an all-veg live bar. Next time that non-veg friend smirks at you for missing out on all the ‘good’ food, you know where to head. The lounge section is on the the ground floor, and the restaurant on the first.
We let Chef Nilesh Limaye, who has recently returned from a recce trip to Cambodia, to influence our order. A proud vegetarian now, I begin with a Thai Herb, Pumpkin and Coconut Milk Soup (Rs 120), which is spicy hot and ideal for a rainy day. First up is Goat Cheese, Basil and Mushroom Puff (Rs 270). The buttery puff crumbles in the mouth, paving way for an earthy mushroom and basil filling tossed in South-East Asian herbs.
Chef Limaye tells us that the Indian palate is finally letting chefs to take over taste buds and create new-age food, which blends cuisines and global flavours. For proof, the server brings us an Asian Pizza, topped with stir-fried veggies sautéed in lemon grass, spring onion, basil and chillies. The crunch of the veggies moves on to an even crunchier base.
The Chicken Cigarellos (Rs 360) are crispy on the outside and soft in the inside. As we bite into it, the crunchy exterior makes way for the melt-in-your-mouth minced chicken that is extremely light on the palate. This is followed by the Prawn Siu Mui (Rs 460), a dumpling that has a filling of mixed prawns and oodles of spring onions seasoned with sesame oil and soy sauce. We take one bite and just can't stop.
The dumpling has a perfect balance of the prawns and the seasoning without one overpowering the other. It leaves a pleasant after taste in our
mouth. Main course comprises Jasmine Rice topped with Burnt Garlic (Rs 360) and the Five Spiced Assorted Mushroom Pot Rice (Rs 300), each distinguished by its sticky and thin characters respectively.
Chef teams this up with his new weapon of mass attraction, the Cambodian Curry with Baby Eggplant, Sweet Potato and Bamboo Shoot (Rs 300). At first bite we achieve nirvana. The Jasmine rice is light-flavoured and heady with lemon grass and chopped vegetables, while the latter, cooked in a tomato base, is tangy a carnival on its own.
The spicy chillies are complimented with a sweet zest of honey, making it an orchestrated performance on the taste buds. If one line could describe the curry, it is to die for. The Cambodians are like the south Indians, and the free use of turmeric gives this curry an Indian finish. The Diced Chicken in Sweet Soy Teri Sauce (Rs 350) has long strips of chicken flavoured with dark soy sauce and star anise. While the chicken is well cooked, the sauce is a tad too salty for our liking.
For dessert, we have Chocolate and Mint Samosa (Rs 260) stuffed with mint and chocolate. A crunch and a bite later, we are drooling. Our stomachs begin to burst at the seams, but we are still not done. The last serving is a Passion Fruit Cheesecake (Rs 270) which is light on the cream and the base biscuit salty enough to balance the sugar. The universe that holds the Auriga is surely a well-fed one.
We cannot rate the experience as it was a preview
Where: B1, Famous Studio Lane, Mahalaksmi