Azok - Unique on the Palate

Michelin starred chef Vineet Bhatia has one more base covered for his legion of fans in Mumbai, by opening the elegant fine dining restaurant Azok, in the northern suburb of Juhu

By: Lorraine Rodrigues

Posted on: July 10, 2010

Azok restaurant MumbaiMichelin starred chef Vineet Bhatia has one more base covered for his legion of fans in Mumbai, by opening the elegant fine dining restaurant Azok, in the northern suburb of Juhu. The other, Ziya at The Oberoi in Nariman Point, also draws a strong crowd especially from the city centre.

Although just a few months old, Azok benefits from its location. Perched atop the Oakwood Premier serviced apartments, it has indoor and outdoor seating that reveal lovely vistas of the city that are best enjoyed from its open air section. While the al fresco appeal goes missing during the rains since this area remains closed during the monsoon, the views are still as gorgeous.

Having fine-tuned the art of fusion over many years with well loved menus at the Swiss-based Rasoi, and concepts like Desi Tapas at London’s Urban Turban, the cuisine at Azok is experimental and engaging, drawing from regional Indian flavours and street food, and international cuisines like Japanese and Italian. Though the menu is limited in comparison to most other restaurants - 13 starters and 11 main courses at last count – the multi-ethnic cuisine makes up in innovation what it lacks in volume.

Senior Restaurant Manager Rakesh Gupta explains that the menu will be overhauled at regular intervals to maintain the novelty of the dining experience here.

With options like silver crusted tandoori cauliflower and gunpowder lobster, choosing was tough, but we started off with the excellent mustard tempered sit-fried prawns with wasabi and curry leaf. My friend loved the Panniyaram topped with smoked cashew nuts and goat cheese and spice balsamic drizzle.

The non-vegetarian main platters promised distinct, unusual flavours - Lamb Nalli Korma, South Indian Style, served with coconut khichdi and chili shitake mushrooms, and the sooji crusted black masala pomfret in Moilee sauce served with spiced potatoes – and both lived up to that promise. We would definitely come back for the well thought out combinations in both dishes. Another firmly vaunted favourite among friends (that we could not try purely to save space for dessert), was the Punjabi Penne tossed in makhni sauce.

Azok restaurant Mumbai foodWhile the main course is predominantly non-vegetarian, some of the vegetarian options are Tandoori broccoli with achari pine couscous and rajma masala, and the asparagus and mushroom kofta. The menu also has a small section devoted to Indian breads.

The perfect end to our meal was the Threesome. Ahem. At Azok, that refers to the absolute mouth trinity of Madras coffee, chocolate and Baileys, served with ‘Chivas Regale’ truffles. If the name doesn’t leave you with a smug smile on your face, the dessert itself certainly will.

While Azok’s obvious stars are its food and dessert menu, the drinks menu plays commendable supporting roles. The truncated wine list consists of old and new world selections, while the whiskey menu (well equipped with single malts like Caol Ila, Talisker) is more extensive, a move that according to Gupta was meant to buck the wine obsession that’s currently in vogue. We recommend the pureed Kiwi-based mocktail, apple and ginger mojito and rum based mango.

Rattan-like chairs, glowing table and wall lamps and dominant tones of reds and brown, make Azok welcoming and cozy in spite of its spartan décor. Overall, though, the ambience could show a little more creativity and originality like its menu. Starting in July, the restaurant also plans to introduce a Sunday brunch.

Azok serves up a combination that’s unfortunately rare in this city - great city views, attentive service and a menu that more often than not, fascinates and delivers on its promises.

Coordinates: 29/1, J.R. Mahatre Road, Behind PVR Cinema, Juhu, Mumbai – 400049, India
Phone:  +91 (0)22 6623 8894
Mon - Sun: 19:30 - 01:30

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