Nepali Times Asian Paints
Review
Yellow Chilli

SOMEPLACE ELSE by MARCO POLLO


PICS: MARCO POLO
Hype around the opening of Sanjeev Kapoor's Yellow Chilli in Kathmandu may have made our sampling a pinch too sweet.

The Indian chef and host of the popular cooking show Khana Khazana presents an overwhelming menu of North Indian specialties and chaatwala-inspired dishes at the three-month-old outlet at the Blue Bird Mall in Thapathali.

Upon our entering the dining hall from the very formal reception desk, it was clear that we were underdressed for the upholstery. The origami napkins, modern angles, earth tones, recessed lighting, jute and bronze-vested staff suggest fine dining with swank and as we soon discovered, the prices matched our first impressions.

Opening the menu reveals an intricate read, where even the prices are spelled out. Patrons not fluent in Hindi may encounter some difficulties. For example, plain rice is listed as "Sada Chawal" (Rs 250) without an alternative description.

Every other menu entry is a dish from Kapoor's televised compendium, highlighting the colours and flavours from his family's home in Meerut or his Pashtun heritage. His signature dishes, indicated by his silhouette, were naturally sampled.

For starters, the Shabnam ke Moti (Rs 510) promises "mushroom caps overflowing with cream cheese and a subtle touch of blue cheese cooked to a golden hue in the tandoor," but what was tabled was something more like a skewered cream of mushroom. The mushrooms were tender and generous but the blue cheese was indeed subtle.

Khaas Seekh (Rs 650) advertised as the "Chef Special" and "the softest seekh kebabs you'd ever have" were quite different from Kapoor's kebabs as televised in a September 2011 episode. Preparations may be different from the kitchen and the tandoor, and perhaps, watching Kapoor makes the food seem just more appetising. The minced chicken that enveloped the paneer stuffing was hardly traceable.

Shaam Savera (Rs 650) the restaurant's "signature preparation of spinach koftas filled with paneer served floating in a velvity makhni gravy" sounds divine. But sad to say, the gravy tasted like treacle and the paneer was grainy.

Beverage-wise, the Peach Iced Tea (Rs 100) and the frozen Margarita mocktail were heavy on concentrate and required diluting.

Kapoor's saving grace, aside from its attentive service and comfortable setting, was in his sweets, as to be expected. Kesari Kulfi with Rabdi (Rs 225), apparently "sugar-free," was a toothsome dessert where the saffron married well with the homemade ice cream.

It appears that the Nepali extension of the streamlined chain may have been hasty and may have assumed that an Indian satellite would more or less sit well with the upstairs neighbour. For what is served, prices could better accommodate and the menu could be tweaked to suit the Nepali tongue and taste bud. But to be fair, the description of gulio bhat in parentheses and the addition of steamed chicken momos (Rs 650!) make an attempt.

Blue Bird Complex at Thapathali above the KFC and Pizza Hut Delivery



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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