Ziya: pioneering modern Indian gastronomy in Mumbai
Ziya is a fine Indian restaurant with a streamlined statement – bold, glowing, elegant, smooth and proud to be counselled by the celebrity (Netflix and Masterchef judge in India) chef Vineet Bhatia. He is considered as the father of modern Indian cuisine and was the first Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star (in 2001 at London’s Zaika).
Dining at Ziya can be a romantic affair. In its tuned down ambiance focus your gaze on the Arabian sea flushing the shores of Mumbai, hold the hands of your loved one and savour together the impeccable symphony of flavours created by the indian chefs.
The busy and trendy Nariman Point, where the Oberoi hotel with Ziya inside is located, invites to a dynamic lunch or dinner out. Particularly if you imbibe in watching the rattling chefs at work inside the windowed kitchen. It is like an Indian top chef show live. One can learn how to toss and throw a colossal naan bread while dining, it looks like a Roman pizzaiolo skilfully whirling a pizza. You will be served a wide selection of indian breads, next to seasoned naan, chewy rotis and crispy poppadoms, accompanied by a holi festival coloured dips. The grassy green is based on mint, while the flamingo pink is a blend of beetroot and yoghurt, no artifice.
The restaurant’s name is derived from the word diya, which means ‘glow, light, and splendour.’ The interior was designed to reflect this glory. Golden glowing panels, doors and luxurious chairs, ‘magic’ handmade carpets and ostentatious tableware.
The food is not the less subdued, flashing with flavours and original interpretations of classical indian fare.
Its brain is the London-based chef Bhatia (who closed his wonderful Rasoi there), who visits the restaurant throughout the year. His role is to supervise the chefs’ technical expertise, the recipes as well as presentation of the dishes. His innovative approach to Indian cooking at his London restaurant (now named Kama inside Harrods) was born in Mumbai. He mingles between here and his growing global emporium of restaurants from Dubai (Indego at Grosvenor House Hotel was very good when we went in 2018) to Geneva (Rasoi disappointed us a few years ago).
The menu is constantly evolving, but always contemporary Indian with a wide-choice of vegetarian plates, that are exquisite. One could easily enjoy giving up meat with food so delicious as this. A multi-course tasting menu is on offer, but we went à la carte. At Zaika I would highly recommend to loosen your stereotypical self and go for the new, yet unexplored dishes suggested by the waiters. Every single bite there was exquisite. Whether it was lamb, rice, the grilled paneer cheese or sweet and rich broccoli.
Beverage selection is very good for Indian standards. An international wine list spans from Australia, through India to France and the US. Finding Indian wines abroad is not easy, therefore I went for a glass of Chardonnay made by Fratelli wines. Fratelli is one of the biggest wine producers in India making enjoyable, easy drinking fruity wines from mainstream varietals. A nice aperitif.
To follow, we went for a bottle of French, Rhone Valley blend from Côte-Rôtie by one of the best producers E.Guigal. Its spicy Syrah character accompanies the fragrant indian seasoning very well.
Opening hours: Lunch: 12:30 pm – 2:45 pm; Dinner: 7:00 pm – 11:30 pm.
The Oberoi Hotel, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400021, India.
Tel: +(91) 22 6632 5757
Visit: November 2013
Price: High (top Indian chef, one of the best Mumbai’s hotels, luxurious interiors = very expensive)