Food & Drink

Indian dining with a twist: Yantra by Hemant Oberoi

There’s usually a lot of fanfare and hype whenever a restaurant ropes in a celebrity chef. After all, there’s just something really exciting about eating cuisine by a culinary star who has served some of the most famous and powerful people in the world.

But Yantra at Tanglin Mall bucks this tradition by staying low-key about its new kitchen superstar — renowned chef Hemant Oberoi, who was formerly the corporate chef of the Taj Group of Hotels and has cooked for the likes of world leaders and celebrities such as Hilary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Barack Obama and Angelina Jolie. Oberoi is now a partner and head chef at Yantra.

This post: Indian dining with a twist: Yantra by Hemant Oberoi

To mark its new collaboration and eighth anniversary, the Indian fine dining restaurant has been rebranded as Yantra by Hemant Oberoi, and now features a completely new menu designed by the man himself.

Atmosphere

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Yantra by Hemant Oberoi is a sophisticated space with dim lighting and dark walls.

Yantra is tucked away in Tanglin Mall, which is one of the quieter spots along the bustling Orchard Road stretch. It’s not the busiest of locations, but we like how it provides respite from the crowds.

The restaurant’s interiors exude the same understated yet elegant vibe. It is dimly lit with black and grey walls, and, in line with its fine dining concept, furnished with plush chairs and white tablecloths. There’s also a wine cellar at a corner, where diners can take their pick from over 250 vino labels from around the world.

Food

Oberoi’s new menu features food from all across India and incorporates hand-picked spices flown in from the country. He is based in Mumbai, but will visit the restaurant every two to three months to check on operations and add new dishes.

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Formerly corporate chef of the Taj Group of Hotels, famed chef Hemant Oberoi has cooked for world leaders and celebrities.

What’s fascinating about his repertoire is that it incorporates unconventional ingredients such as edamame and quinoa, along with creative dishes such as tandoori avocado and chicken tikka fondue — where diners get to dip chunks of chicken tikka into chili cheese. For the less adventurous, there are also curries and biryani dishes.

Our meal began with a tasting platter of three different types of chaat, which refers to the savoury snacks commonly sold at street stalls and food carts in India. The Chair Chaat was what held our attention most, thanks to its quirky (and literal) presentation of a crunchy dough puff atop a miniature chair. Crispy and salty, the chaat was a delectable treat that went well with the chair’s edible “leather” of spiced mango slices.

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The varqui crab is a decadent combination of crabmeat, prawn and filo pastry.

Next to arrive was the Varqui Crab, which comprised curry and pepper crab sandwiched between delicate filo sheets and bedecked with a char-grilled prawn. The crabmeat was sweet and subtly spicy, providing the perfect foil to the tart cumin balsamic sauce spread around the plate, while the crisp filo layers contributed wonderful textural contrast. Succulent and smokey, the prawn on top was a glorious finishing touch to the whole concoction. This was easily a dish we’d order again.

After munching our way through the previous fried courses, we were jonesing for a warm, hearty bowl of soup to wash down the grease (and our guilt). We satisfied that craving with Yantra’s seafood rassa, a comforting and sour broth of lentils, tamarind and tomatoes. The broth was presented in a siphon so we could watch the juices from various ingredients such as fish and prawns being drained and infused into it. It was ready for serving after three to five minutes.

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Grazing Goat comprises tasty battered lamb chops with meat rolls.

Our fourth course — the whimsically named Grazing Goat — didn’t disappoint either, made with Kashmiri lamb chop, which was slow cooked before being coated with a light and salty batter of milk, saffron and peppercorns. The meat was tender and so well-marinated that we couldn’t taste any gaminess. It was accompanied by khandvi rolls (chickpea flour sheets stuffed with meat) and a goat cheese salad.

We were getting quite full, but we really couldn’t say no to the next dish that greeted us: A trio of kebabs that looked nothing like the usual barbecued meat or vegetable skewers commonly served at most other establishments. And they were scrumptious, too.

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Yantra’s Ganderi kebabs comprise minced chicken skewered with stalks of sugarcane.

There was the Haleem kebab, a moreish chunk of lamb slow cooked till almost puréed, and the Ganderi kebab — spiced minced chicken impaled with a sugar cane stalk that imbued the meat with a sweet fragrance. Also outstanding was the Bhatti prawn, which was juicy, slightly charred and presented on sweet grilled pineapple.

For our main course, we opted for Yantra’s signature ghee roast chicken, which was marinated and cooked in clarified butter for a richer, smoother flavour. The meat was slightly dry on the inside, but this was easily remedied by eating it with the homemade chilli, which was surprisingly not too spicy.

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Succulent and slightly charred, the Bhatti prawn kebab was a satisfying treat.

Rounding off our substantial feast was a combination of desserts such as mango kulfi (ice cream made from evaporated milk), Gulab Jamun Tiramisu (a coffee flavoured milk dumpling ensconced in cheesecake) and a crunchy carrot cigar — comprising soft bits of the sweet vegetable fried in reduced milk. Our favourite was the Tea Brûlée, Oberoi’s masala tea-infused reinterpretation of the traditional French confection. Light and aromatic, it was a lovely way to end the meal.

Verdict

With its innovative new menu, tantalising cuisine and Oberoi’s celebrity chef tag, Yantra may just become a force to be reckoned with in the Indian fine dining scene. Its willingness to veer away from run-of-the-mill dishes and experiment with unconventional ingredients also ensures there’s always something new for diners to look forward to.

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, Oberoi plans to conduct Indian cooking classes and demonstrations at the restaurant later this year. The sessions will be based on different culinary themes, and students will get to interact personally with the chef, so they learn from the best.

Yantra by Hemant Oberoi, 163 Tanglin Road, Tanglin Mall #01-28/33, Singapore 247933, +65 6836 3088, www.yantra.com.sg


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Source: Harta Chisinau
Category: Food & Drink

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