Address: Gate 4, Kamala Mills Compound, Lower Parel, Mumbai
Time: 12:30 PM to 3 PM, 7:30 PM to 12 Midnight
Meals for two: Rs. 2,500
Cuisines: Asian, Sushi
Facilities: Full Bar Available, Outdoor Seating, Wallet Accepted
Vibrant and ‘tongue in chic’, just about begins to describe my high-voltage lunch guest and the new restaurant we reviewed. Bestselling author of 18 books, opinion shaper, social commentator, the forever gorgeous (would you believe she is turning seventy in a few months?) media superstar Shobhaa De needs no introduction. A couple of years ago, we had dined together at Chef Vikramjit Roy’s restaurant Tian in Delhi’s Maurya, and loved it. He has now moved to Mumbai and along with Avik Chatterjee set up POH – Progressive Oriental House. Shobhaa squeezed in time between her hectic jet-setting and writing schedules and a fun, warm, memorable and delicious lunch ended with her declaring it to be one of the best meals she’s had in a long time. It was exceptional (the tall genius chef was in attendance). I went back for an unannounced dinner check (as I always do). The chef was missing as were a lot of the exceptional flavors.
Dramatic lighting, green glass lamps (no Chinese lanterns please note), ‘Yao Dian’ or pharmacy-style bar, sushi counter… POH strikes a pose that’s trendy yet nostalgic.
Over my two meals, I tried both, the straightforward (Sushi, Sashimi and Dim Sum) and the Southeast Asian with a spin -flamboyance in presentation and flavors. Sparkled with Tobiko and Tobanjan Aioli, the baked giant Alaskan King Crab Leg was an intense joyous treat. The Crystal Dumpling, plump with roasted onion sauce, fresh black truffles came up tops, as did the Cantonese Chicken Shao Mai Croissant, Prawn Cheung Fun and the vibrant with jalapenos, Yellowtail Carpaccio. Flavorsome, kissed with sweetness black cod. We ate Spring Chicken, Pad Thai Noodles, Chilean sea bass, Tuna Tataki Salad and more.
The dessert was a banana lover’s dream come true with contrasting textures and temperatures -Sex on the plate: Caramel and dark chocolate and Wasabi Caramel Water ice cream.
The tea tray with its fancy test tubes and brewing timer served up a tiny cup of Rose Tea, which tasted of hot water. Some of the dishes were overworked and seemed to be trying too hard. ‘Not A Caprese’ overwhelmed with Japanese soy milk, red pepper gel, textures of olives. Baked Prawns with fermented yellow beans, smoked corn mash, pickled tomato powder, citrus gels. Ice chunks in the sorbet. Lackluster Thai curry and overbearing Massaman Curry. Thickly sliced Sashimi. Slow service at dinner.
POH – Progressive Oriental House – lives up to its name. The brilliant chef Vikramjit Roy’s interpretation of Southeast Asian food through a modern prism sparkles with vibrant flavors, textures and presentations. He overflows with ideas, but in a few dishes, there’s the use of too many ingredients. The Sushi and Dim Sum delighted. It was the inconsistency over the two meals that jarred. Hopefully POH will iron out its teething troubles. But we are definitely going back for its elegantly audacious creations, the perfect place to celebrate Shobhaa’s forthcoming book, Seventy… and to hell with it.