They say that food is our common ground, a universal experience â I reckon there is so much truth in this. So when I was invited to visit one of the chic Indian dining hot spots in Abu Dhabi and try out their new menu, I promptly said yes. To those who have been following and reading my reviews intently, you may have noticed that Abu Dhabi has a bit of a soft spot in my heart, even though I am a Dubai lass.
Avasa , a trendy Indian restaurant, happens to be located in the commercial wing âThe Collectionâ at the magnificent St Regis Hotel on Saadiyat Island. Now not many people know this, but I absolutely love spicy/hot food â so every time I get the chance to try out the gastronomical delights from India and Pakistan, a sweet smile envelops my very being.
What impressed me immediately, apart from the friendly service staff and restaurant manager flashing their most genuine smiles â was the decor. I absolutely loved the modern Indian ethnic vibe that emanated from the interiors – tasselled curtains, colourful cushions, figurines and a magnificent ceiling piece comprised of bangles.
Bangles I am told have always been an inseparable part of Indian culture but to have nearly 8,000 bangles adorn the ceiling proved one thing – that the people behind this amazing restaurant will attempt to surprise and delight patrons with their creativity.
We started our taste experience session with a delightful and refreshing marriage of two classic flavours in the form of a salad â the sweet ripened Mango coupled with spicy mustard and curry leaves; and what a marvellous treat it turned out to be. There were smiles all across the table, and I reckon everyone nodded in appreciation at the simplicity of the dish, yet the powerful flavours it packed.
From the list of appetisers, I devoured the bun kebabs with relish â they were so good that I threw caution to the wind, and had a few of them (reminding myself that I would need to put in extra hours at the gym later this week). Essentially, these are Indian sliders with a saffron flavoured lamb patty â succulent and extremely juicy, that it melted in my mouth. Definite thumbs up for this dish!
With the creativity surrounding the dÃ©cor, I was wondering if this would lend itself in the food â and I wasnât let down, for the next dish turned out to pleasantly surprise me for its unusual combination â but it worked, and it worked very well. I am referring to Sunehri Jhinga â tiger prawns marinated in saffron and yoghurt served on a bed of umpa (a south Indian breakfast dish made out of semolina). Experiencing is believing, and you need to try this out to believe the combination actually works!
From the mains, once again the chef surprised me with a rendition of paneer (cottage cheese) dumplings stuffed with figs, and soaked in creamy non-spicy gravy. The texture of the paneer dumplings and the trickery played by the sweetness brought about by the figs drew resemblance to one of Indiaâs classic desserts â the gulab jamun. But make no mistake, this was no dessert â it was a delicious creamy vegetarian dish â good job chef! In case you are wondering, this dish is named Anjeer Kofta Curry.
There were 2 stand-out winners for me from the non-vegetarian dishes presented â the Alleppy Fish Curry spiced with green chilli and balanced beautifully with sourness from the green mangoes and the sweetness from the coconut. This was paired perfectly with naans (Indian flatbread). The other dish that got me salivating for more was lamb chunks cooked with pickled gravy â this was an absolute winner â the meat delicately tender and falling apart beautifully and the hint of tanginess lent by the pickled gravy was a smart move.
Last but not the least, the desserts â and the all too familiar Rasmalai was brought to our tables â but the manner in which it arrived deserves a note â yes, believe it or not the Leidenfrost effect was in play and it tasted sublime! What a perfect way to end the meal.
Avasa, with its trendy Indian inspired dÃ©cor, creative take on some much love Indian delicacies and clever presentation skills all added to an amazing gastronomical experience. Take a bow!