An Indo-Oriental culinary journey

Food Review

Time was when most high-end eateries in this suburb of the national capital were concentrated in Noida, Sector 18, but that’s slowly changing.

Welcome to the newly-opened Tawak in Sector 63, an eclectic combination of office and apartment blocks that takes you on a wonderous Indo-Oriental culinary journey.

“Tawak (Sanskrit for cinnamon) has been one of the most revered and traded spices since ancient times. Ours is an endeavour to take you on a stimulating journey across Asia to experience the rich diversity in flavours of the Indian and Oriental cuisines,” co-founder Deepankar Arora said as he served the cucumber after work welcome drink.
Light on the palette, the drink came in a mason jar with a huge slice of cucumber adorning the side.
“We have different glasses for different drinks,” explained the 33-year-old Arora, a quintessential ‘Purani Dilli’ boy who studied at St. Xavier's and was previously the executive chef at Mumbai’s Taj Land’s End.

Sipping the drink and munching on the nice and crunchy Som tum thai, green papaya salad with peanuts in a spicy lime and jaggery dressing also gave one the opportunity to take in the décor of the 50-cover restaurant with its rope chandeliers and roof adorned with oversized replicas of the coins of the Asian countries represented on the extensive menu.
“We celebrate the distinct identity of these unique and varied cultures, all of which immensely value their tradition and food. These great civilizations have flourished together through strong trade relations and cultural exchanges over centuries with effects trickling down as exciting influences and fusion of their food,” explained Arora, a graduate of Mumbai’s IHM (Institute of Hotel Management) and who has also worked as a chef in Nigeria for nine years.

The spectrum of cuisines at Tawak comprises food from the plains of the Ganges to the bed of Japan’s Shinano river. The menu reflects the best of all worlds, drawing inspiration from the distinguished culinary history of their respective regions while creating an urban dining experience.

It was now time for the soup and this came in the form of a rather unusual yakhni shorba with a smoky aftertaste, the feeling enhanced by the saffron and coriander floating on the thickish surface and with chunks of mutton on the bottom of the dish.
Explaining the rationale behind Tawak, Arora said he and his partner, Vinayak Gupta, conducted a recce last July and discovered that there was no stand-alone outlet in Noida offering a choice of both Indian and Oriental food.

“That’s when we zeroed in on this site as it has both corporates and residences in the vicinity. Besides, Indirapuram (in Ghaziabad) is not too far away so we have a fairly large catchment area,” Arora said, adding: “Noida is fast picking up as a foodie destination.”

The appetisers then came up, beginning with Cantonese steamed fish that retained the full flavour of the meat unlike the smoked variety, Kataif-Wrapped Wasabi Prawns -- prawns wrapped in bird-nest like Kataif Vermicelli and flavoured with wasabi -- and a tangy Vietnam bass. In spite of the taster's portions, this in itself would have made for a complete meal.

Nonetheless, one soldiered on with tiny portions of seared chicken in red curry paste, shredded chicken with pickled chilli and coriander root and Kung Pao Chicken - diced chicken tossed in spicy and sweet sauce and flavoured with peanuts.

One can rest assured that there’s an equally wide choice for vegetarians!Rounding off this sumptuous fare were walnut-topped brownies with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream and silk cake - a decadent flourless chocolate cake, to list just two items on the menu.

Depending on the vegetarian or non-vegetarian options, a meal for two would cost Rs.1,300 to Rs.1,500 (without alcohol as the eatery is yet to get a bar licence). The
restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.

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