In BKC's prestigious NMACC complex, a new international adventure awaits. From the Oberoi Group, AMADEO is an experiement in live counter dining and creativity that is sure to have something to delight every customer.
There’s a preconceived notion in the culinary world when it comes to “hotel restaurants”. Cookie-cutter menus are designed for consistency over imagination and line-ups come with a little something to please everyone at the same time. So when I first learned about the concept behind AMADEO by Oberoi – a first-of-its-kind independent restaurant by The Oberoi Group – it was with a slight trepidation that Mumbai may be in for another restaurant that's trying to take on more than it can handle.
At AMADEO, they operate on what they call ‘The Counter Collection’ concept. The four pillars are Japanese, Chinese, Italian and Indian food with the first three being made at live counters spaced around the 14,600 square foot space, while the Indian food offerings find a home in the main kitchen. Located within Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) in BKC, the restaurant has a neutral feel that transitions from an airy lunch destination to an intimate evening soiree and doesn’t tip the scales in favour of any one culture represented on their menu
At the bar, they’ve paid homage to their address with curated cocktails that reflect different art forms. Theatre is mirrored in Chinese flavours, painting finds a place with Indian flavours, music and cinema in Italian flavours and sculpture is evoked through Japanese flavours. I begin my navigation of their menu with a Sawayaka which features Sansho pepper-infused bourbon topped with ginger ale, lime and a matcha foam, a welcome relief from Mumbai’s relentless humidity.
Turning to the food, the menu serves up the cuisines side-by-side, all curated by talented Executive Chef Kayzad Sadri and his team. Describing themselves as micro-concept cuisine, they steer clear of the dreaded ‘multi-cuisine’ label to define a new niche where different countries can find equal representation without overwhelming people with choices. “We’re not trying to do it all,” Chef Sadri explains, “you’ll find sushi and robata (a style of flame-grilled barbecue) at the Japanese counter, baos and some wok items at the Chinese counter and fresh pasta and pizzas at the Italian one. And instead of trying to showcase food from all over India, we have focused on food from the Western belt. It’s a refined take on popular cuisines.”
Since the menu is designed to give you a taste of everything, the best choice is to go the way of small plates and try something from every section and I took the plunge with Japan. For sushi lovers, there’s plenty to choose from, but more or less the same fare you can find in most upscale sushi restaurants in the city right now. Instead, I started my meal with an exploration with the Asparagus and Avocado Robata which was a medley of fresh flavours with a punchy glaze that contrasted the creamy avocado, crisp asparagus and slight smokiness from the barbecue. The Black Cod goes the opposite direction with deep, buttery textures that you can sink into with the rich miso glaze coating a plump fish fillet. But you don’t need to be a seafood aficionado to appreciate the nuanced flavours of this dish, this is a definite winner.
Next, I head out west with the Goat’s Cheese Ravioli with golden beets and toasted walnuts. They keep their promise of freshly made pasta and the small beetroot pink parcels are wonderfully light and uplifting to match the slight tang of the airy filling. The Ligurian Genovese pizza too delivers on freshness, made with imported Italian flour and San Marzano tomato sauce, topped with Kalamata olives, pine nuts, basil pesto, haricot beans and potatoes, it sidesteps the all common issue of a stodgy dough with ease but retains a pleasant chew.
Back in East Asia, the Cantonese Steamed Prawns are weighty but the flavours are a mellow umami that feels familiar for a moment before stepping back and allowing the prawn to shine. The lotus root wrapper is a masterful add, providing a distinct crunch and freshness to combat the dense meat. Though there’s much more to discover in this section, the error of attempting to make my way through this meal alone is starting to dawn on me. Chef Sadri seems eager to feed me enough for a table of six, but I reluctantly leave the baos unexplored so I don't miss out on sampling the Indian menu, the last of their four culinary pillars.
Their desi delicacies are all inspired from western Indian cuisine and the Thecha Kombdi is a stunning reminder of that. The slow burn from Maharashtra’s famously spicy green chilli condiment is tempered by the sweet pumpkin murabba but it retains a hearty kick. The Kale Avocado chaat may be less visually recognisable as an Indian dish with a handmade papdi topped with a layer of tamarind chutney, pureed avocado quenelle and finished with crispy kale stands, but somehow these incongruent ingredients come together to echo the magic of streetside chaat.
The meal ends with a wonderfully simple dessert with an equally simple name. 'Milk', features a light sponge soaked in a Malibu sauce and topped with mango sorbet, cranberries and bright pops of passionfruit pearls. A fitting end to a meal that has prioritised fresh, clean flavours and has left me more than satisfied, but in no way weighed down.
At first glance, it might not seem like Amadeo isn't pushing any boundaries despite their international influences. The menu is replete with familiarity and you won't feel the need to bring a culinary translator to place your order with confidence. But if you look closer, you'll find a touch of ingenuity in every dish. Each cuisine is true to its origins but small touches in the ingredients or embellishments allows you to flow seamlessly between menus without it feeling disjointed. With AMADEO, the Oberoi group has untethered themselves from the confines of a hotel kitchen and lavished a wealth of creativity on every dish. The undertone of playfulness is designed to draw people in, take them on a journey and keep them coming back for more. And as Chef Sadri says, “At a hotel, food is a necessity, here it's a choice.”