Musician Anil Srinivasan pays a visit to Royal Vega, to sample their new arusuvai virundhu
From start to finish, Royal Vega (the signature all-vegetarian Indian cuisine restaurant at ITC Grand Chola) is a study in duality. Everything is at once old world as it is contemporary; regal and remote as it is accessible. With five types of settings (based on the idea of King’s Table, Queen’s Table, Queenmother’s Enclave, Princes’ Table and Ministers of the Cabinet), the ambience and decor are perfect in each opulent detail. Service is exemplary, and as I discovered, surprisingly unobtrusive.
We were invited to sample the ‘Arusuvai Virundhu’, one of the restaurant’s set menus. True to the nature of this particular combination (having six different taste templates — salt, sweet, bitter, spicy, sour, astringent), we were served with an array of dishes. Starting with a
soft coconut-based sweet concoction madhu swaad, to cleanse the palate, we were then treated to a thali meal that served up interesting variety — again, familiar mixed with the exotic. Special mention must be made of the condiment tray — raisins soaked in rosewater and desert beans being instant hits with us.
The dal (tuvar treated to cooked pea aubergines) was mild on the tongue but wholesome, while the rasam (jeera, with the imli essence) was a delight to sample. I personally wasn’t thrilled with the masiyal (Tamil traditional mashed vegetable using a combination of ground spinach, dal and spices) that had baby tomatoes added to it, but it certainly made for an interesting addition to the mix. It could be made a tad spicier. Fried potato curry counterbalanced the vendakkai–thayir pachadi (okra in a yoghurt sauce) perfectly, while the broad bean curry (avaraikkai poriyal) was neither overdone nor too raw.
This is the first time I’ve sampled morkozhambu (buttermilk stew) with cooked Malabari cucumbers, and I will definitely be trying this in future. The rice varieties — plain, lemon rice, coconut rice and curd rice — were served at the right temperature. An additional delight were the puris — plain and spiced.
Desserts were simple and refreshing — chakkarai pongal served with silver leaf toppings, and a rather exotic concoction featuring yoghurts, bananas and chikki that lingered in the mouth. Again, the familiar paired with something novel.
Overall, a delightful meal in an interesting setting. I couldn’t but help overhear conversations at adjacent tables. Judging by the raucous laughter and ubiquitous smiles, Royal Vega seems to have got it just right.
The thali is priced at Rs 2,250 plus tax, per head. Details: 22200000
- Anil Srinivasan