There are many reasons to dine at the Oberoi in Mumbai. The spectacular location on Marine Drive, the breathtaking view of the Arabian Sea from its cool confines, its awe-inspiring lobby and tasteful décor, and of course, its legendary service.
This month there is one more reason to be at the Oberoi – Fenix's new menu.
The Fenix is Oberoi Mumbai's all-day dining restaurant serving world cuisine. The restaurant serves European, Asian and Indian specialities, in addition to traditional Japanese specialities like sushi and sashimi. I was at Fenix earlier this month to savour its new menu.
To flag offwhat would end up being a very elaborate dinner, the chef sent a green pea and pine nuts soup to our table. The taste, at first too bland to remark upon, grows on you. The sweet pine nuts complement the dominant flavour of green peas with a slight hint of mint that lends some freshness to the soup.
An entrée of steamed asparagus with poached egg in hollandaise sauce followed. The classic French sauce was paired with asparagus brought in from Peru and sprinkled with some truffle oil. The slightly tangy hollandaise sauce, a combination of egg yolk and butter, seasoned with a bit of lemon juice and salt, complemented the bland, poached eggs, topped with a dash of white pepper.
Before digging into the main course, I was served a palm heart and apple salad. The marinated palm hearts, topped with peppery rucola leaves came together beautifully with sweet, sliced apples to make a very refreshing appetiser.
Starting on sushi
If the colourful assortment of sushi, sashimi and maki rolls on two big platters wasn't reason enough to catch my attention, the mysterious white fumes emanating from underneath them surely did! The presentation of the oriental main course is impressive to say the least, brought to the table on a bowl of evaporating dry ice.
Adapting to the Indian palate, Fenix had a few vegetarian options in its sushi spread. Crunchy asparagus and slivers of cucumber were paired excellently with silky cream cheese, wrapped tight in seaweed and covered with a layer of rice. The maki roll was topped with toasted sesame seeds. Those averse to trying sushi or put off by the idea of pungent flavours should give this platter a try. My personal favourites were the bell peppers and mushroom maki rolls. Both the fresh, juicy bell peppers as well as soft, flavourful mushrooms wrapped in a bed of rice and enclosed with seaweed were delicious and warranted multiple helpings. The bean curd maki, filled with bits of sweet, white ginger was a little tamer than the previous options, in my opinion. The ‘Samurai' roll was up next; a combination of salmon and avocado, coated with teriyaki sauce. The soft texture of the salmon was married to sprinkles of crunchy sesame seeds that the maki was sparingly topped with. The Samurai roll was an enticing melange of flavours and textures. An absolute thumbs up!
On the spread were, also, eel sushi and salmon and tuna sashimi, both of which we gave a miss in anticipation of the culinary showstopper of the day.
Sampling the mains
A part of the western main course, the ‘Glazed Duck a l'Orange', was the dish I had been most looking forward to. The duck was well-cooked with a zesty orange jus and served with balsamic roasted figs and caramalised turnip. Six hours of preparation before it was brought to our table, involved marinating the duck with herbs, sea salt, pepper and orange zest. The meat was soft while retaining its characteristic flavour, enhanced by a generous portion of the jus served alongside in case the meat gets too dry for your palate.
Another option in the Western main course was the four cheese ravioli. True manna for those who love cheese, this was easily the most tempting and the most deceptively filling dish on the menu. The ravioli was served on a bed of pumpkin puree and sage butter. Every bite of the soft ravioli - stuffed with ricotta, parmesan and sprinkled with parmesan along with partly crushed walnuts and garlic pods – was pure delight.
The Indian main course was not left unattended either. A platter of ‘sarson da saag' and ‘makke di roti' with dal and plain rice was the vegetarian's choice. The ‘keema kaleji' was served in true ‘bambaiya' style with buttered pav. Garnished with coriander leaves, the keema was mixed with chunks of liver. Another dish to try was ‘shalgam gosht' with onion, turnip and whole spices.
The chef threatened not to let us out till we dug into some dessert. So for the parting shot, he served orange flavoured cake in vanilla sauce and a platter of banana, coffee and chocolate crème brulee. Despite all the initial hesitation about packing in at least another 400 calories after the main meal, the crème brulee was a clear winner. While the banana brulee was a rare, bold experiment, it was the strong coffee crème brulee that turned out to be the kind of favourite you'd want to go back to The Fenix time and again, to savour at the end of your meal.
What: New menu at Fenix
Where: The Oberoi, Mumbai
How much: Rs 3,000 for a meal for two