In these modern times of autoplay, infinite scroll and Amazon Prime, everything is instant, inexhaustible and – let’s face it – not very good.
Asian cuisine has suffered a similar fate. Characterised by cardboard boxes and paper bags, the food delivery market has changed the way we view it. However, give it the attention it deserves and you will be thoroughly rewarded.
Attention is one thing which the food at Nirvana Kitchen has definitely been receiving – from cooks, customers and critics alike. The restaurant is located in a fairly unassuming setting (well, as unassuming as a five-star hotel can be). But here, inside the Montcalm in London’s Marylebone, you will find a hidden gem.
Having settled into the plush surroundings, I soon found myself looking at the menu. An array of treasures from the Far East, we started with three small plates which were all big on flavour. There was a bit of bite to the black cod which gave way to a beautifully soft interior, paired perfectly with a Thai som tam dipping sauce.
A light batter didn’t swamp the squid, which was beautifully cooked and served with a cucumber, lemongrass and ginger sauce. This course’s showstopper however, came in the form of fresh scallops with sweet potato, red onion, crispy sweet corn and citrus chilli yuzu. The yuzu has a powerful kick to it which is impressively absent, right until you’re almost onto your next forkful.
The small plates were followed by charcoal dishes of Chilean sea bass with a caramelised cashew “Gajak” and spiced lamb cutlets with edamame truffle puree. The sea bass was flavoursome and succulent while the spiced lamb was beautifully cooked, the sauce providing the perfect complement to the meat.
Next up were “pots” of lobster curry and lamb massaman, served with sides of roti canal and steamed rice. The lobster curry was presented brilliantly and featured delicate flavours which complemented the sweetness of the lobster. The lamb massaman was tasty, plentiful and slightly spicier than its seafaring counterpart.
Dessert took the form of mochi and a chocolate fondant. An array of different tastes, the mochi boasted a selection of flavours including mango and salted caramel. Furthermore, it was even served with a shot of sake. Meanwhile, the chocolate fondant, featuring salted pistachio milk ice cream and honey berry sauce, was suitably gooey and delicious.
The desserts made for a sweet conclusion to an exciting meal in a truly luxurious setting. As for the bill, three small plates, two mains, two pots, two sides, two desserts and six drinks cost approximately £200 ($250).
With impeccable service, incredible food and excellent attention to detail, this is one of the best restaurants I’ve been to. A self-described “Pan-Asian odyssey”, Nirvana Kitchen offers a journey into the East on a road paved with gold.