Food can do strange things to people. For Rohan Ahuja, it changed his life. The 25-year-old managing partner of Asian Station restaurant in Chennai’s Anna Nagar gave up his studies when he discovered his passion was food. “I loved to try different food and improvised on their taste by giving them different flavours,” he says. This penchant for good food translated into him opening the restaurant, which serves a variety of Asian cuisine, which he co-runs with his brother Rahul.
After graduating from Chennai’s Loyola College, Ahuja went to Srathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2011 to study Business Management. In 2013, he worked in medical company Karl Storz in Germany to learn selling medical instruments. His family are distributors of endoscopes. After working with his family for two years, Rohan realised that the culinary line of business was his calling. In November 2016, he opened Asian Station, which he claims serves “the best from the best” flavours from Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Myanmar and China.
At Asian Station, black and white tile cladding on the wall opposite the buffet table creates a mosaic effect and compliments the pink, blue and yellow cushions on the two-seater and high-backed chairs. At night, lanterns are lit outside, while during the day natural light filters in through large glass windows. A sleek mocktail bar serves drinks.
“Most restaurants serve popular Asian dishes, but we have only specialised ones such as pearl spring rolls from Vietnam with homemade black pepper dip or honey sweet chilly dip, which is a combination of our special flavours,” says Rohan. “Our Japanese vegetarian and non-vegetarian teppanyaki is one of our signature dishes. We have live cooking by our Japanese chef, which involves tricks like throwing egg yolk in the air and catching it in a spoon.”
His signature dish is Panfried Char Siv Bao—paniyaaram stuffed with chicken or prawns and served with his signature black pepper sauce. Another is triple fusion noodles, a mix of hakka, ordinary noodles and crisp rice served with saucy schezwan sauce. Wonton Cup Salad is a combination of corn, cucumber, carrots and zucchini topped with mayonnaise and served in a wonton cup. “We do not serve Indian cuisine as it is common in restaurants. We serve only pan-Asian food. My passion is introducing new dishes into casual dining while serving standard dishes,” he says.
Mocktails are their speciality, particularly Steam Express, a mix of cranberry and orange juices and masala tea served cold in a vinegar oil bottle with dry ice on one side. When hot water is poured on it, it lets off steam.
Rohan and Rahul plan to start Asian Station outlets closer to the main city and residential areas.