10 Lincoln Street
London SW3 2TS
020 7225 1881
Rasoi by Vineet Bhatia is a twice awarded one Michelin star Indian restaurant, the first ever with such a distinction. We’re currently in the midst of our exams, and felt like we needed to de-stress, plus it was a special occasion for us. We decided to have Indian food, since we’ve not had that for ages. After some research, we settled on this highly regarded restaurant, and made our reservations on toptable.com.
We were the first diners in the restaurant when we arrived, and the first thing that struck us was the deadly silence all around. We almost felt obliged to whisper when talking to each other. Only when the dining room slowly filled up did it feel less ‘silent’ and our conversation could carry on at our usual volume. Perhaps some light music could be played to fill up the silence.
Service was very good throughout our meal. Our servers were helpful and knowledgeable. The menu in Rasoi is very compact. We could choose from either a tasting menu, or a selection of starters, mains and accompaniments. Some of the dishes from the tasting menu looked really interesting, but we weren’t allowed to order them ala carte. That was a pity. The menu contains very interesting modern Indian food, with very few of the usual Indian fare that one would find in a typical Indian restaurant. It was hence a very interesting experience ordering since almost everything was new to us.
We were presented with a pre-starter that was more like a starter than an amuse bouche. In one corner was a lovely sweet fruit drink, which contained passionfruit and possibly some other exotic fruits as well. This was very clean and fresh, and was definitely very successful in awakening our palates.
This was followed by an Indian potato salad, served in little spoons. This was just a one very small bite, but contained so many different layers of flavor. It was quite exceptional.
. We were also given a basket of pappadoms with a sweet mango chutney and a coriander and mint dip. These were just wonderful. We loved the sweet mango chutney, and the poppadoms were perfectly thin and crispy. A loved the way the sweetness of the fruit drink complimented the sweetness of the mango chutney, and was fascinated by how different levels of sweetness were presented in one dish. Overall this was a very generous pre-starter, probably the best pre-starter we’ve ever had in any restaurant in the world. It was a great way to start off the meal and managed to get us all excited for the meal ahead by presenting such intriguing flavor combinations.
When our starters arrived we were shocked by the amount of food in front of us. We were also very impressed by the presentation of the food. Everything was delicately placed on the plates and every single item there was well thought out and put there for a reason. It was very impressive to see the attention to detail and love that was poured into the presentation alone.
We ordered the Seafood medley – soft shelled crab, crab chutney, home smoked tandoori salmon, gun powder prawns. The smoked salmon came covered in a glass bowl, which was lifted with a flourish when it was presented to us. This was described as their signature dish, so it had high expectations heaped on it. We started with the salmon, and when we first put it in our mouths, we simultaneously looked at each other with that ‘OMG’ look. Indeed, this was the most flavor we’ve had in a single piece of fish ever. There was an amazing smoked flavor infused throughout the fish, and a strong taste of the tandoori marinate. This was easily one of the standouts of the whole meal for us. The raita underneath the salmon complimented the fish beautifully as well. Our gun powder prawns were also out of this world. They were absolutely yummy and daringly spiced. The soft shelled crab was a little disappointing though, and A thought that the batter was too thick. The crab chutney underneath the soft shelled crab helped balance the dish though, so I didn’t mind it at all.
We also ordered a Rasoi platter – south Indian crab cake, tandoori jumbo prawn, duck confit samosa, mustard and curry leaf infused chicken tikka, gilafi lamb seekh kebab. This was literally a ton of food. Everything in this platter was wonderfully marinated and bold. It was just mouthful after mouthful of flavor. The duck confit samosa was outstanding, and so was the lamb kebab. We even loved the little salad vegetables underneath and the spicy sauce accompanying it all was also super. Overall we were just floored by the explosion of taste with each bite, and highly impressed by the boldness of the chef in challenging our palates and pushing the boundaries.
We also had a trio of breads – one sweet, one with an Arabic spice, and one with wild mushroom. The sweet naan was really interesting, and just simply fascinating. The wild mushroom however, was just mind blowing. Even before I put it into my mouth I could smell the fragrance of the mushroom. We are used to eating naans dipped in curries, but these naans are just perfect by themselves. They don’t need any accompaniment. The mushroom naan was so amazingly full of mushroom goodness that we gobbled it up in no time at all.
After our starters we were left wondering if we had enough space for our mains. We were also filled with anticipation, after the wonderful orgasm of taste that our starters gave us, that our mains would also wow us.
We ordered the oven based spiced cod – coconut and roasted cashew nut khichdi with tomato ‘kadhi’, purple potato chips, chenna chutney. When it arrived the cod looked dry. However, it wasn’t dry like it looked. Having said that, we didn’t think it was as wonderful a dish texture-wise as other cod dishes we’ve had elsewhere. We kind of prefer the smooth melt-in-your-mouth feeling that cod gives. This was quite a different version. Nevertheless, it was seasoned well and very tasty. The rice underneath was a huge disappointment though. We didn’t like the coconut at all, and found it a very unnecessary addition; plus, they were too chunky. This was one thing we would have preferred to be subtle. We also didn’t quite like the quite large bits of cashew nuts in the rice.
Our second main was the Tandoori duck tikka – duck confit in a coconut korma, truffled potato khichdi, apricot chutney, foie gras brulee. The confit in the coconut korma was not something we liked. We found the taste quite strange and unappetizing. Strangely, our server told us that that was his favourite component of the dish. Well, I guess, to each his own.
The foie gras brulee was also something we found quite special. However, it was so rich that we couldn’t finish it even if we wanted to. The caramalised sugar on the top was amazing, and the foie gras underneath was just wonderfully creamy and smooth, but unfortunately far too rich. The tandoori duck tikka however, was absolutely divine. My brain refused to process the fact that it was duck I was eating. The flavours were so unexpected, yet the pairing of the marinate with the texture and taste of the duck was so perfect that my brain just couldn’t reconcile the fact that I was eating what I was eating. I don’t usually like duck, and was very apprehensive about ordering it. However, I’m a huge fan of this tandoori component of the dish, and this to me was the standout of the whole meal.
We had an accompaniment with our meal as well – Matka chicken and rice masala. This came in a cute little pot, and was just chockfull of awesome flavours that it was a shame that we were so full that we couldn’t finish it all. It was rich and tasty and was good enough as a main by itself.
We were completely stuffed after our mains. However, we thought we had to go for desserts, and ordered a Rasoi chocolate craving. Before this came, we were served a pre-dessert – jelly with ice cream. This was not the most successful of dishes. We were challenged with a strong lemongrass taste (or, what we thought was lemongrass), which we thought didn’t work at all. The jelly underneath it all was really nice though.
Our dessert was the Rasoi chocolate craving – white chocolate kulfi pan chutney, cumin hazelnut chocolate fondant, caramalised nuts and silky chocolate delice, warm marbled white and dark chocolate samosa, panna cotta (Indian flavor). We worked our way through the different components in the order they were introduced to us. After such a wonderful meal with bold flavours we were excited to try their desserts. However it pains us to report that we didn’t enjoy desserts very much. There was definitely a very strong Indian influence in every single one of the components of this dessert. For example, the panna cotta had a really strong jasmine taste. Even the chocolate fondant had an Indian infusion. The effort in making all these desserts fit the style is truly commendable. However, we’re not sure it worked as well as with their mains. The panna cotta for example, was so shockingly overpowering with jasmine that it was quite uncomfortable to eat. It just took over all the other tastes in our mouths, in an unpleasant way.
On our way back we reflected on the desserts, since it was so controversial to us. We felt that having prior experience with Indian food, we could appreciate the bold flavors and welcomed the extent to which the chef played around with these flavors. However, with the desserts we are perhaps more conventional with our approach, and hence when we’re challenged with different tastes and flavors we are put out of our comfort zone. To those who are unused to Indian food this whole meal would have probably been quite a shock to the senses, somewhat like our experience with the desserts.
Anyway, overall we were amazed by the bold use of spices throughout the meal. By spices we don’t mean chili, but all the wonderful things that make Indian flavors so unique. Such glorious cooking like this really puts most other restaurants to shame. With such a multitude of spices available in the world, there really is no excuse for bland food at all. It’s such a pity that such spices are not more adventurously used in other cuisines and cooking. Halfway through the meal we just gave up trying to discern what went in each dish. We were just blown away by the fascinating textures, tastes and aromas of the whole experience. Based on our experience, Rasoi truly deserves its Michelin star.