When you are invited for a party at one of the newest restaurant in the town and it turns out to be the most happening hot spot.
When you are told that getting a place on a weekend in that restaurant is next to impossible and you are actually there.
When you are treated to a great evening with great drinks and wonderful food.
When the man himself, the legendary owner of the place spends some time with you.
You feel really special and pampered.
That’s exactly what happened with me last weekend in Mumbai where I was really treated to a great evening. The place is Kode, Freestyle Kitchen and Bar in Lower Parel, a relatively new entrant in the market from the icon of the culinary world, Zorawar Kalra. And I remembered that old Hindi song, “Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan”.We landed there at about 745 (about 15 minutes ahead of our reservation) and the place was fully lit with more than three quarter of the place vacant. We thought that we were bogged down by wrong publicity and that we shall soon walk out (our table was reserved up to 10 only- quite an arrogance) after a drink or two. What appeared to be an initial setback, soon turned into a pleasant surprise. In next 15 minutes, practically all the tables were full and lights had started to dim down. By about 930, it was literally jam packed. The crowd was hep, merrymaking, enjoying their great looking drinks and creatively plated food. We were not going anywhere now.
While studying the stylish and the elaborate menu, we ordered Sparkling Water to start with. We had ordered this to start with but it remained with us till the end. And it actually, served as a good intermittent sips in between the, God knows how many, rounds of drinks. Sparkling Water is a sugar-free and calorie-free water with carbon dioxide. It is a sort of bubbly club soda , and keeps you hydrated.
While sipping our Sparkling Water, we decided on Sangria as the drink for the evening. We ordered Berry Infused Red Wine Sangria. I had tasted Sangria with regular Red Wine. Berry Infused sounded good to try. It was different. The looks were rather goldenish orange instead of wine red. The chopped fruits provided a sort of glitter to the drink. Was just at the right temperature. A sniff of the drink gave you that tinge of the berries, sweetness of the fruits and the whiff of the wine. The first sip rolled over the tongue told that it was smooth, flavourful and refreshing. I think it floored us. What we thought to be an initial drink to set the tone of the evening, was there till the end with many more rounds.
Sangria is a drink made with red wine and chopped fruits and some orange juice or brandy and sweetened with sugar. Some variants of Sangria, in addition to wine and fruit may also have a dash of sparkling water (so our adventure of having sips of Sparkling Water intermittently with Sangria was actually not out of place).
Suddenly we saw the server taking a huge tray to the adjoining table and setting up a small workstation. Soon he was, in some way, engaged with the guests on the table while preparing a peculiar looking item with mortar and pestle. We were intrigued and ordered the same to be brought to us. We were excited at the very feel and were floored with the taste of the final outcome. The server prepared a dip on our table. He first put three large slices of avocado in the mortar and crushed it with the pastle till it became a paste. Then he squeezed juice of half of lemon, added some chopped green chillies, sea salt and chopped coriander. That dip filled mortar was then placed as it is on our table with a plate of colorful chips. The taste of the dip was amazingly flavourful, light and healthy. Went very well with the chips and, in fact, after the chips were gone, we didn’t allow the mortar to be taken away till the last.
There after we ordered three dishes one by one and each one turned out to be simple yet very refreshing and flavourful.
First one to come was a plate of Panko Crusted Calamari. Golden rings, interspersed with a sprinkle of chives (may be), sitting pretty in a dark bowl was a real delight to look at. The aroma of fresh seafood which hit us as soon as it landed on the table told us that we are in for a game. Couldn’t wait to care to serve in your plate, we picked up the squids straightaway. Each roundel was crisp outside with basic flavours and the meat inside was fresh, flavourful and soft. Was a great accompaniment along with the Sangria.
Fried squid is calamari is a dish in Mediterranean cuisine. Roundels of Squid dipped in batter are fried. Before frying, at times its coated in breadcrumbs, normally for giving it a crunchy crust. In this case the squid was coated with Panko, a Japanese variety of bread crumbs, often used for tempura.
Next came in Sushi. It was an ensemble of spicy tuna rolled in vinegared rice with very delicate flavours. Sitting on a creative platter the Sushi rolls were accompanied by wasabi and pickled ginger. Surely, each roll is to be picked up with chopsticks, dipped in a bit of soya sauce and then enjoyed. Each roll on the palate released mild flavours of rice, freshness of tuna, saltines of soya. The surprise element was an aftertaste if mild spiciness. Wow !! What a dish. We took our time to finish it because it was to enjoyed with focused pleasure. Was a delight to look at and a real pleasure to enjoy it.
Sushi is a Japanese dish (though has number of varieties and variants) prepared with vinegared rice normally combined with seafood (often uncooked) or vegetables.
In the series of our oriental food adventure (we ignored all food paring rules of wine and loved it) next was a round of chicken dimsums. Sounds very ordinary. Soon, a small shallow bowl landed on our table which had a layer of white sauce. In a dimly lit place we could see the sauce dotted with some basil leaves and had a tinge of saffron. We had to ask the server that we had asked for dimsums and something else has landed. He assured that this was a bowl of dimsums. A bit surprised, with a fork, we fished for dimsums and discovered there were bite sized star shaped dimsums sitting hidden inside the creamy sauce. A first dimsum in the mouth tasted like heaven. It was drenched in the flavourful white sauce which hits your palate as a first flavour, then it leads to the flavour of the steamed dough which was soft and moist. Then you hit the flavourful chicken filling in the series of the flavours. A very simple yet wonderful recipe which raised the dimsums taste to altogether a different level.
While we were busy admiring and enjoying our drinks and of course the great food and the ambience, enter the man himself; Zorawar Kalra. I could see him freely hugging and greeting his staff from the manager to the bartender to the chef and mingling with guests. A pleasing and humble personality. Soon, a common friend brought him to our table and then it was our time to talk about favorite topic, food. Was a real pleasure to talk to him. The evening was made, of course, not before a friendly hug and a quick click with him. As soon as he left us for carrying on our enjoyment, the firang dancers performing in the restaurant, landed on our table for a chat and clicks. What else ?
Wow !! What an evening !!
I am told they have an outlet in Delhi too. Shall surely go there but for Kode, Mumbai, at least it has to be one more time.