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DOWN SOUTH AT ZAMBAR

Ever had a cross between rasam and tom yum soup? At Ambience Mall, Gurgaon, many coastal delights are on offer

Please note: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant to taste their food, and no bill was presented to the author. While the author assures you of objectivity, the review may be influenced by the personalised attention the author got.

Zambar opened many years ago in South Delhi, and soon after in Gurgaon, at Ambience Mall and then a short-lived outpost at Cyberhub. Some time ago, they curtailed operations in Delhi and Pune and decided to revamp the restaurant at Ambience Mall – both interiors and the menu.

The first thing I notice is that it is a smaller restaurant and thankfully they have decided to get rid of the boats, resulting in much cleaner, fuss-free interiors. The menu is more playful and now includes Goa and Maharashtra too, along with the southern states. The person cooking up a storm is Remya Mohanan, the demure sous chef of the restaurant.

We start the tasting session with a bang. Kaffir lime rasam served with baby appalam or small papadams (Rs 180) is a cross between rasam and tom yum soup, and is delicious. Being from Mumbai, I have my reservations about the next dish Nano Vada Pao (Rs 240) because Delhi just can’t get vada pao right, but the dish that arrives has got me curious enough to try it. Here we have micro mini paos with the customary dry red chutney, with a liquid vada (mashed potatoes and cream) along with some crispy besan on the side. While it may not be vada pao, assembling it and then popping it in one’s mouth is surely an interesting process.

While kids may love this dish, I don’t warm up to Chettinad fried fish fingers (Rs 520). Again, not sure how Chettinad this dish is, but fish finger wrapped in a cheese slice and rava fried is not a dish that appeals to me, though the quality of sole fish is good. Gunpowder prawns served with creamy yoghurt pachadi (Rs 610) is cooked well but too much batter and no crispness in the recipe distracts from a dish that could have been good.

Buhari Chicken 65 (Rs 395), the iconic fried chicken tossed with curry leaves first made at Buhari hotel at Chennai is prepared well, and is a perfect accompaniment to beer. Chicken Cafreal (Rs 440) a surprisingly good Goa- inspired dish of grilled chicken legs, marinated with fresh coriander and fresh mint, is also enjoyable. Vetrimurugan’s Mutton Sukka (Rs 480) is a hot selling dish here. It has a hit of pepper and whole spices and is delicious.

In the mains, Puttu and Kadala curry (Rs 340) a favourite breakfast dish from Kerala, is enjoyable, though the Kadala (black chickpeas) could have less coconut and more gravy.

The last dish on the table is a procession of Appam (Rs 75), Egg Appam (Rs 100). Flaky Malabar Parotta (Rs 75) and Idiappam (String Hoppers; Rs 100) are perfectly made and served with Achamma’s Lamb Curry (Rs 540) – meaning grandmother’s recipe from Kerala of mutton simmered in coconut milk and Malabar vegetable stew (Rs 290). Maybe the restaurant could get a better cut of meat so that all pieces cook evenly in its mutton dishes.

Zambar provides a good change to the sameness of Delhi food. It is a good place to go when the palate seeks a different food experience.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 | Value: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0

Meal for two: Rs 1400 | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Wheel chair friendly: Yes

Address: 3rd Floor, Ambience Mall, DLF Phase 3, Sector 24, Gurgaon, Haryana 122001. Tel: +91 9958564400, 0124 4665639