Fresh food from the kitchen

In my very first Fast Forward restaurant review I covered Jo-Jo’s French Bistro just after its move to Marda Loop. Over two years and well over 50 reviews later I return to my fabled first setting to sample the cuisine of the newly incarnated Rasoi.

Upon seating our server (owner Jash Sandhu) greeted us warmly and filled us in on the concept of his restaurant. Rasoi which means kitchen in Sanskrit features an Indian-inspired menu with select seasonally featured dishes. Most ingredients come from the farmers’ market just down the street so this isn’t your traditional Indian restaurant with a profusion of menu items.

Getting us started with two glasses of Kingfisher an Indian beer and a lovely wine recommendation Sandhu brought us a complementary serving of yam chips with savoury tamarind and coriander dips.

Our dinner officially began with the chilled orange lentil soup accented with turmeric and organic goat’s milk yogurt ($7). Munching on the accompanying pappadum I took in the ambience of the new space. It has changed considerably. The new interior combines cream and chocolate with the rich tones of a graphic purple wallpaper. The space is comfortable modern and complementary to the Indian-inspired menu.

I wasn’t immediately sold on the cuisine. Though I liked the texture I found the soup tasted fairly bland. My opinion changed with the appearance of the steamed P.E.I. mussels served in a coconut curry broth ($14). The mussels were fresh and the broth was delectable. My only complaint concerned the naan served alongside it. It was a non-naan — lacking the traditional shape softness and warmth. This bread was a closer relative to pita and was a distraction from the strength of the dish.

Our entrees were very nice. The pan-roasted filet of halibut with wilted spinach black lentils and turmeric oil ($29) was sensational. The subtly salted filet was bursting with flavour and immaculately prepared.

Likewise the cumin-crusted beef tenderloin ($34) drizzled with coriander citrus butter was melt-in-your-mouth good. Served on a bed of thinly sliced roasted garam masala potatoes with accompanying Indian eggplant and okra atop a cauliflower purée the dish was both inventive and tasty; truly an inviting fusion of East and West.

To top it all off we sampled the chilled saffron rice pudding ($6) – an old family recipe I’m told – which was the best rice pudding I’ve ever had. It was garnished with edible rose petals and infused with fireweed honey. Aromatic and subtly sweet it was a masterpiece.

With impeccable service an inviting atmosphere and imaginative dishes Rasoi is a must for any culinary explorer.