Chef Ritu Dalmia has spent the last two months profusely apologising to several guests. The reason? Quite simple. A chef who is synonymous with stellar Italian smorgasbord, decides to challenge herself into doing something outside her comfort zone, with the launch of her first ever Asian restaurant, Diva Kitsch, and with it she quite unintentionally sends her patrons into a tizzy. There have been people asking her all kinds of questions lately—how come there aren’t any truffles on the menu? How can an Asian restaurant have no Thai or Chinese dishes? Why did you feel the need to move away from what you do best—Italian? And Ritu has heard them all with a patient ear and answered each query with her infectious smile and reassuring words. “I have been taking very serious notes from my patrons and maybe to make up, I will amalgamate Asian flavours with Italian truffles in the next Diva restaurant. For now, trust my taste and join me in this superlative gastronomical journey of unconventional Asian offerings,” she says with a laugh.
Since this artsy Asian address is still trying to make an identity, Ritu is keeping her fingers crossed. All other ventures have been accepted and appreciated by all kinds of people. Will this stand the test of time? Most feel it will. “I chose a different concept this time round because I really needed to get my brains working again, and required to set a new challenge for myself. I am not a trained cook. When I started my first Italian restaurant, it was purely based on tastes and memories of Italian food from my travels. Twenty years later, it was about time I broadened my horizons,” says the Diva who loves to take unpredictable risks every now and then.
The menu is extensive and the prices are not conservative but for what you get on the plate, it is justifiably worth it. It is divided into four distinctive sections—small plates, big plates, sides and desserts. The portions, however, even in the small plates are by no stretch of imagination small which is a good thing, since you can easily fill up with a salad and a side order.
The Bomra’s Tomato Salad that has tomatoes massaged with sesame, tamarind and jaggery dressing, generously sprinkled with peanuts makes it the finest item on the menu. The other must have is the Tempura in a light Japanese batter. Both the vegetarian and non vegetarian versions are worth a try. Don’t forget to toss it in the spicy accompaniment.
The other items that took our notice were the Cold Vietnamese Rolls that were stuffed with glass noodles, artichokes and roasted pumpkin, drizzled with Nahm Jim. The beautiful circle of Beetroot and Shredded Coconut Salad with guacamole and toasted hazelnuts was both delicate and delicious.
The mains here are as good as the starters. The Chicken Schnitzel drizzled with Apricot Chilli Salsa was one of the best items in the main course. It is Ritu’s answer to the popular dish—deep fried chicken, served with potatoes wedges.
For more liberal palates, there is Chilli Caramel flavoured Fillet of Red Snapper with an Orange Peanut Nahm Jim and Wok Fried Pak Choy, Tom Yum Marinated Grilled Prawns with Laksa Sauce, Herb and Shoot, Teriyaki Glazed Yellow Fin Tuna Burger with Wasabi Mayo, Sambal and Fries, Wasabi Rubbed Tenderloin Piccata Topped with a Fried Egg, Mash and Mushrooms and more. An item that particularly caught our attention was the Roti Bawang. You heard us right. It indeed reminds you of ghee laden stuffed paranthas but this one’s inspired from a Malay flatbread.
The desserts section is experimental. Comprising Jaggery Creme Brulee, Black Pepper and Chocolate Fondant with Basil Ice Cream, Basil Infused Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit Coulis, Banana Spring Rolls with Burnt Palm Sugar Sauce and Ginger Ice Cream, All Spice Stewed Fruit Minestrone with Watermelon sorbet are some interesting preparations. “If you ask me, you must try the Steak and Eggs, the Yellow Fin Tuna Burger with Avocado Mash and the Roti Bawang with Pineapple Pachdi. And yes of course, the Jaggery Crème Brûlée,” says Ritu who is very close to her mother and before she launches any restaurant, her mother’s approval is imperative. This one, she says, has passed the test.