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Friday, November 30, 2018

Restaurants Typhoon Shelter

When you need to escape from the stormy weather in your life, make your way to Lower Parel, says Menka S

Just when you think you have been to High Street Phoenix at Lower Parel often enough to know every inch of it, you discover a hidden treasure. Tucked away at the far end on the second floor of Skyzone, the building best identified by Marks & Spencer, is Typhoon Shelter (‘Cuisine, Bar and Safe Harbour’), which opened its doors on May 10 and is the first fine-dine restaurant from Gourmet Investments Pvt. Ltd. (GIPL), the group that brings you Pizza Express and Runway Project.

Typhoon Shelter, whose culinary head is Chef Avinash Naha, can seat 50-60 guests at a time. It features Chef Christian Yang’s menu recreating a fishing boat culture that is gradually disappearing in Hong Kong; as Sous Chef Sahil Rajeev Pradhan explains it, “In Hong Kong, you have man-made covers where boats and ships from different locations can be safe in a typhoon,  and all cultures meet.” The decor and menu reflect this; the ceiling is in constant motion, the screen mirroring the changing colours of the sky—you could almost believe you are seated in the midst of an advancing storm. The black-and-white pictures that the menu sports, of ancient Chinese sailing boats (‘junks’), fishermen gearing up for an approaching typhoon, and other scenes of typhoon shelter life, add to the experience.

The menu also has dishes like Typhoon 8 Pomfret (a reference to the numbered signal system indicating the intensity of the storm); this is a must-try dish, a whole deboned pomfret served in a bed of fried garlic and scallions, sweetened with soy and spiced with bird’s eye chillies (Rs 1395).

Pradhan says that Typhoon Shelter has 18 - 20 in-house sauces, such as light and dark soya, kung pao and several others; the extensive menu makes good use of these in small plates, big plates, salads, dim sums, the ‘Bo Lo Bao’ section and staples, including the ubiquitous hakka noodles (Rs 445) that no Chinese restaurant in India can afford to ignore!

The drinks menu is extensive too. Varun Sudhakar S, Head - Innovation and Operations - Beverages, says there are 25 sakes, 64 wines, and 13 varieties of gin, not to mention Japanese whiskey (Rs 745 to Rs 1045), American whiskey (Rs 375 to 1495), single malts, rums, sangrias, shots, signature cocktails at Rs 895, such as Tidal Mist (cape gooseberry shrub dipped in dry vermouth and mist of ocean) and Rice on Ice (rice extract with pisco and iodine); Merrick Rodrigues, one of the stars of the Belvedere ReLearn Naturals bartending competition, is with the GIPL Group, and this is his concoction.

“Try an iced tea between courses to cleanse your palate,” suggests Sudhakar, which might seem like a strange thing to do when you are in the midst of a great alcoholic drink, but it turns out to be a good idea; the peppermint ice tea certainly lights up the tongue.

Start with salads and dim sums. We had the Tuna Tartar served in a salt bowl, with Zhenjiang vinaigrette, mixed cress, flying fish roe, shallots and cured yolks, which make for a lovely creamy dressing; almost too beautiful to cut into, it made for a light and refreshing beginning. Try the different dimsums; each has a different skin, giving it a unique look and taste. The Wild Mushroom and Edamame dumpling (Rs 445), with eight types of mushrooms, is wrapped in finger millet, while the Succulent Lamb Crystal Ball (Rs 445) is almost see-through in its potato starch skin. The Ruby Dumpling (Rs 395), as the name suggests, has a pretty beetroot skin. Another unusual dish is the Lotus Root Casino Chips (Rs 645), with large lotus root slices fried with smoked honey and sesame seed lotus crumble, sweet and tangy, certainly a bar snack that is meant to be shared.

If you have room after all those starters, opt for the Big Plates; our favourite was the melt-in-the-mouth Hakka braised pork belly (Rs 925) cooked for 24 hours. Whether you skip the mains or not, definitely make room for the desserts; designed by Solanki Roy, who previously worked with chef Gaggan Anand, they are spectacular.

Zen is a dish where edible stones of caramel-vanilla and hazelnut crunch are camouflaged against real stones that look identical (Rs 1195). Tap your spoon against them to find out which is which; this can be a great party game at the end of the meal! Luna is a sugar ball with mango coconut sticky rice pudding and a hint of caramel inside (Rs 995), a tribute to the Lunar festival; it is served with a moon lamp to add drama to the table; lightly touch the globe to watch it change colour. “At night we switch off all the lights before serving this,” says Sous Chef Pradhan.

Despite the location, Typhoon Shelter is not the sort of restaurant you’d want to visit in the midst of a hectic shopping day; it is a place where you can stop to savour the experience. Visit it for lunch between noon and 3.30, on a day when you can afford to get back home for a nap, or at night, between 7 p.m. and 11.45 p.m, when shopping is certainly not going to be on your mind.


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