Bengaluru may be called the ‘the pub capital of India‘ thanks to its large number of microbreweries serving craft beer, but the city has recently seen a spate of restaurant openings that are expanding its fine-dining culture more than ever. The latest eatery to join the ranks is the uber cool Raahi–Neo Kitchen & Bar in Ashok Nagar.
Stepping into the restaurant, it’s first the majestic chandeliers that catch your eye. The muted brown tones from polished wooden, cushion-backed chairs, and mood lighting make this a lovely place for an intimate meal. And much like a caravan that takes you on an expedition, so does the menu at Raahi. Here is a restaurant where you will spot cuisines from across India, all of which have been recreated with global techniques, promising an interesting dining experience.
Each time a plate is placed before you, you may want to try and ask which of the many culinary techniques – ranging from flavour extraction using a rotary evaporator, controlled pressure and temperature cooking, to fermentation, smoke penetration, wood fire, salt curing, dehydration, vacuum drying or even Casei culture – is behind what you are going to eat.
We started our evening with some Coffee Cured Shrimp with an XO relish. Not a combination you would think, but with prawns that were cooked so well, it came together beautifully in terms of texture and taste. The Bheja Fry with Crisp Dosai comes to the table set as a cone (so true to the Sagars that dot the city’s foodscape). It’s the Bheja fry that really shines through – a good bite with strong flavours of pepper. When the Trio of Mushrooms arrives, do try to distract others at the table and grab the morels for yourself. This is a dish worth fighting for. The Smoking Salt Cured Red Snapper, with saunth soy could do without the boondi that is sprinkled on it; also an acquired taste. Vegetarians who love their paneer could try the Topli Paneer with a dal moth salad. The freshness of the paneer shines through.
Interestingly, it’s Northeastern dishes here truly stand out. In a city that has a dearth of good Northeastern cuisines in the premium segment, these dishes on the menu have huge potential. The Yak Cheese Datchi with Tingmo Gurung Bread is as comforting as wrapping cold hands around a mug of spiked hot chocolate. The cheese does not overwhelm and the spiced tingmo bread makes for a perfect offset. The Chicken Mizo Rice emptied straight from a hollow bamboo onto your plate is great too. Another interesting dish is the Bhoot Jholokia Pork belly on greens galho. It does not wallop you in the face, so dig right in.
Though the desserts are simple yet interesting, with a base of chocolate, milk or even filter coffee if you like, we’d recommend spending some time on the cocktail menu. Inspired by the Panch Tattvas (5 elements), these experiential libations have unique combinations. We suggest you try Shvash with vanilla infused Absolut, passion fruit, orange pulp, and sparkling wine. Sheel is for those who enjoy basil and cucumber flavours in their drinks – combined here with Bombay Sapphire and Kaffir Lime Kombucha. Also check out their range of contemporary cocktails and their non-alcoholic beverages.
In short, Raahi-Neo Kitchen and Bar is place for some soulful dishes and a place you can actually see those culinary techniques you read about in action. Indian dishes are souped up in cool ways, and this is a place where the food may end up being the focus of conversation.
Where: 15, Madras Bank Road, Above NEXA showroom, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka
Contact: 080 4890 7848
Opening hours: 12:00 noon to 12:00 midnight
Recommended dishes: Prawns in XO Relish, Datchi with Tingmo, Shvash cocktail
Price: Rs 2,000, excluding taxes
Noise levels: Medium