In the past few years, the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) has grown far beyond its initial identity as a corporate hub. Several fine-dining restaurants, specialised bars and other culinary establishments continue to populate the locality. In recent times, the opening of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) in BKC has further solidified its status as a cultural hub. Amadeo is the Oberoi group’s standalone restaurant housed inside the centre and we were recently hosted for lunch there. Here are some of the highlights of our memorable afternoon:
The menu at Amadeo by Oberoi rests on four pillars or “micro-concepts” that represent four cuisines: Indian, Italian, Chinese and Japanese. The small plates, large plates and cocktails are thus divided into these four broad categories. At the helm of the kitchen are Executive Chef Kayzad Sadri and Chef Gregorio Oblen, who specialises in Japanese cuisine. They are joined by Alisha Rampal as the food and beverage manager. There are dedicated counters for three micro-concepts (except Indian), where patrons can sit and oversee the making of their dishes. These counters offer diners an opportunity to experience culinary sophistication in a more laid-back manner.
We began our meal with the Yasai Kakiage Tempura Maki roll. The first impression was a lasting one – the dish turned out to be the best small plate of the afternoon. In this remarkable veg sushi, layers of soft cream cheese were rolled along with peanut-flavoured tempura vegetables. The maki was topped with potato strands (think salli chips that are thinner and crisper), which playfully contrasted the texture of the sticky rice.
After quickly polishing off this appetiser, we moved to one of the signature Japanese delicacies on the menu: Chilean Sea Bass, cooked in the Robata style. Also known as Robatayaki, this refers to a traditional Japanese method of grilling seafood or vegetables over charcoal in a distinctive manner. The sea bass was thus endowed with a unique smoky flavour we hadn’t encountered before. The pieces were topped with a chimichurri-like sauce, which brought some freshness to the palette. But we must admit, we would have liked more of it at the side.
Amadeo spans an expansive 14,600 square feet and the plush interiors have been designed by EDG Singapore. Along with the counters, there’s seating at the bar, regular tables and a coffee lounge at the entrance (with a separate menu). The layout boasts another incredible feature: a view of the Fountain of Joy, where a captivating lotus flower-inspired sound, light, and water show takes place in the evenings. Since we visited in the afternoon, we did not get to experience the spectacle first-hand. But it is not hard to imagine the pleasure of such a vibrant display complementing one’s meal. During our daytime visit, the restaurant was suffused with natural light – a rarity in city restaurants that we often take for granted.
Next on our radar were the Chinese and Indian menus, but the fascinating range of cocktails beckoned us first. What would you say to Mount Fuji represented in a glass? We said, “Yes, please”. Fuji San was a delight to behold and taste; managing to do justice to the subject of its inspiration. A concoction of white rum, apple soda, umeshu and grapefruit was served in a glass that mirrored the shape of the volcano. We loved the touch of the lava-like design at the sides. The cocktail was appropriately icy, echoing Fuji’s famous snow-capped peaks.
The next cocktail we tasted was dramatic in a different way. Inspired by Chinese flavours, Huang Zhi Xiang is a citrusy gin-based drink whose name translates to “fragrant garden”. It comes with a special bubble, which bursts to leave aromatic wisps to waft over your glass for a few moments. Whether you want to take an aesthetic reel for your feed or just treat yourself to a bit of theatre, this is the drink to order. If you wish to pair your Asian bites with a mocktail, we highly recommend Light and Fruity. A combination of passion fruit, pineapple lime and sweet basil seeds, this drink was as well-balanced as its alcoholic counterparts.
Amadeo does not disappoint when it comes to the classics, either. We opted for their take on the Espresso Martini, the Filter Kaapi Martini. Having tried filter coffee in different places in the city as well as age-old establishments in South India, our expectations were quite high. Our verdict? This is a cocktail worth returning for. We were blown away by just how accurately the martini managed to capture the distinctive bitterness and the layer of foam the original coffee is famous for. If you’re a wine enthusiast, Amadeo’s expansive wine list features some of the best wines from across the globe. You can also view some of the most sought-after bottles as you pass from the lounge towards the dining area.
After the delicious subtleties of the Japanese dishes, we were craving more robust and familiar aromas. The Indian choices at Amadeo are a good mix of experimental and classical. The mention of the Thecha Kombdi intrigued us with its description of a “green chilli chicken tikka”. What graced our table a few minutes later was a plate of the juiciest chicken tikka we’ve had in recent times. The flavours of the marinade seem to be fused into the meat itself. We expected a spicier dish given the “thecha” in its name – but we could not complain about the overall effect. The pumpkin murabba – while delectable in its own right – felt rather unnecessary to us. Our suggestion is to relish it after you’re done savouring the heat of the tikka.
Reliable classics can be important to identify. If you want a small plate with a generous sharing portion or a spicy accompaniment to your cocktail, go for the Chinese Chilli Glazed Lotus Root Chips. It was a blend of spiciness and sweetness that is sure to be a hit at any table. What impressed us was how crispy they were despite having been mixed with a generous amount of sauces. Furthermore, they managed to retain that crunch even after a significant amount of time.
We had reserved the Italian section of the menu for the main course. The wood-fired pizzas were extremely tempting, as was the selection of Amadeo’s signature handmade pasta. We finally settled on the Truffle Tagliatelle. I confess I have a soft spot for ‘minimum ingredient’ pasta and this one only had parmesan and black truffles. However, in hindsight, the idea of any other addition seems almost sacrilegious. With every bite, we marvelled at the smoothness of the parmesan sauce, the earthiness of the truffles and the wholesomeness of the handmade pasta. If you had to dine at Amadeo and have a single savoury delicacy, make it this one.
And if you had to choose only one dessert, don’t miss the Burnt Basque Cheesecake. An undeniably attractive dessert, it is served with a dazzling red scoop of sour cherry sorbet and topped with a luscious berry compote. The pretty presentation is only one aspect of its dreaminess. The rich moistness of the cheesecake, the interplay of the tangy sides and the bitter hint at the end… sounds of appreciation escaped our lips without a second thought.
The next time we visit the NMACC, we can already see ourselves making a beeline to this restaurant. In case you’re wondering, its name is derived from a Latin word meaning “Lover of God”. Like us, if you too worship at the altar of scrumptious food, make Amadeo by Oberoi the object of your next gourmet quest.
Where: NMACC, Jio World Centre, G Block BKC, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai