Don’t judge a book by its cover, and in this case a restaurant by its name. After we heard of Thane’s new eatery Tenzo Temple (a chef in a Buddhist monastery is called tenzo), we readied ourselves for dinner over sushi, rice dumplings and perhaps, Indian-Chinese. The name of the restaurant was written in English modelled on Japanese and Chinese fonts. The restaurant was surprisingly full for a Tuesday evening and we had to wait for half an hour for our table. We spent our time in the adjacent open-air garden where the owners intend to start a pitcher and kebab serving joint. With moist grass beneath our feet and a tastefully done seating area behind us, we waited for our Oriental rendezvous.
Once at our table with a fancy glass-walled kitchen on the side, we were informed that unlimited starters would be served after which we could help ourselves at the buffet. That’s when the surprises began to unfurl: the first non-veg starter was Chicken Kandahari and Lotus Stem in Barbeque sauce. Confused at the cuisine type, we walked up to the buffet table for a dekko. There was a desi-sounding Paneer Mutter and Murgh Peshawari. The flavours of the Kandahar Kebab pleased the palate, on the lines of Malai Tikka; the portions too were chunky though a bit under cooked. The crispy lotus stem was a hit, with its spices and crunchy feel while being light on the tummy.
The second and the third vegetarian starters missed the spot — Butter Garlic Mushroom Tikka was just a step away from being boringly bland while the Corn Dumplings (finally, a dish to compliment the restaurant’s name) though tasty was a tad too greasy. Our hopes hit sky-high after devouring the Kalimiri Paneer Tikka and Fish in Schezuan sauce: the pepper-seasoned paneer melted in our mouth while the Schezuan sauce coated the natural juices of the fish rather nicely. Our culinary rollercoaster continued. The Chicken Lollipop was oily and not crispy but we were spared the artificial colouring, which is a common sighting at restaurant tables.
From our buffet, the Chicken and Veg Manchow soup was delicious. There was the option of kulcha, parathas and tandoor rotis to go along with our Paneer Mutter; which wasn’t extraordinary. Again, the Diwani Handi, was very regular. While the vegetarians could opt for steamed rice and pulao along with Exotic Vegetables in Yellow Bean Sauce and Dal Tadka, non-vegetarians can choose from the Chicken Hakka Noodles with Fish in Black Basil Sauce and The Black Pepper Chicken. This Black Basil Sauce dish was the biggest let down while the later made up for the disaster.
Stuffed to the hilt, we ventured towards the dessert counter. It was the highlight of the evening. The Semaiyan Payasam was creamy, the Strawberry Mousse, light, and the pastries were fresh and came served with gooey chocolate. The Beetroot Halwa was an unexpected hit and the Pan Mukhwas ice cream, an in-house creation, should be a permanent fixture on their menu.
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