FTER a rather long wait, Hong Kong-brand Shangri-La will open its doors this month, and we couldn’t help but accept executive chef Antonio Tardi’s invitation to a sneak peek into their culinary pride — b Café. An all-day dining restaurant on the lobby level, Tardi explains that you come not simply to eat, but to experience food. The individual ‘open-theatre’ cooking stations, with floor-to-ceiling windows, is comfortingly designed in earthy colours of beige, and white, with grandiose gold, setting the tone for added drama.
Now while b Café Pastry welcomes you with decadent treats, what we are most looking forward to is the halwai section, which focuses on Indian sweets. “There will even be namkeen (savouries) so the next time you want a Diwali hamper or just a desi snack, our delicatessen is what we hope you’ll think of,” says Tardi. “The dessert section is our favourite spot. Not only will there be sweet treats from across the globe, the entire counter top will be filled with lollies and sweets for kids to take home as well,” shares the Italian, whose children inspired the lolly land. The rest of the space is divided into salad and cold cuts section, with Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean food.
Asian and more
On offer at the salad bar is a selection of fresh crustacean (yes, an entire side board dedicated to fresh catch!), and sushi and sashimi. At the Asian section, expect Cantonese dim sums, noodles and dishes off the wok, or flame-fired grilled food at the Mediterranean counter. It doesn’t end there however. Pizzas, American favourites, Greek kebabs, a widespread Indian menu, are some of the other sections, along with a smattering of Brazilian, Arabian, French, Australian and German food.
We tried the veggie platter from the Indian section – soft paneer tikka, jacket potato stuffed with rice, and a vegetable version of the sheekh kebab, and they were good enough to convert a carnivore. We sampled the braised lamb shank with red onion jam, pan seared bekti with stewed shallots next, and are pleased to report that it indeed exceeds expectations, with the lamb beating the fish by a slim margin. A Malaysian vegetable curry followed and we loved that the flavours hit all the right notes.
The a la carte menu too is promising with make-your-own sections. “We wanted people to be involved in their own food. Instead of telling the server what they didn’t want, the idea was to get the guest to say what they did want,” Tardi tells us.
At Palace Road. Details: 45126100
— Aakanksha Devi