I’m a fan of the Gourmet It Up (GIU) concept, I really am. It’s becoming crazy expensive to dine out in the city with all these insane number of taxes, and even when you’re willing to pay the price how do you know what to order? Here’s when Gourmet It Up comes to the rescue. They offer set meals, at some of the finest restaurants across India’s metro cities, at a prices that are definitely lesser than a la carte. A completely pre-planned menu featuring specials from the restaurant, so even the hassle of deciding what to order is eliminated.
I recently decided to go for a celebratory dinner to Joss – Farrokh Khambatta’s South East Asian restaurant, serving Japanese, Malaysian, Balinese and Indonesian food with a modern twist. I loved their Kala Ghoda outlet, infact my first tryst with sushi happened there. I’d been wanting to visit their Santacruz outlet since a while, and I thought the GIU experience would be the best way to sample their menu.
Everything from looking up their set menu, to booking a table, and getting a confirmatory call happened flawlessly through the GIU website. The set menu looked really promising as it had all of Joss’s favourites – sushi, dimsum, and their green curry spread across four courses! The menu has an equal number of options for the vegetarian and non-vegetarian diner, which is very commendable.
Joss sports beautiful, monochromatic interiors which are classy and modern. The outside al fresco seating is perfect location for a balmy (so-called) winter evening to nurse your drink.
Since we were two of us, we ordered different dishes from all four courses and got to try eight dishes in all. Something that would not have been possible had we ordered off the menu. We started off our first course with some Crab and Avocado California rolls. This sushi was everything a good sushi should be – perfectly rolled, avocado providing the crunch, crab meat providing the flavour, and that burst on top thanks to the tobiko fish roe.
If you go to Joss and can only order one thing from the menu, let it be the Dumplings of Prawn and Chive. I’ve yet to eat better prawn dumplings anywhere else in the city. Plump prawns encased in a really fine outer spinach dough, these prawns were so well cooked they hardly required any mastication.
Next course – appetizers! The Yum Kung Prawns with pipette Jus was a visual treat. It looked like a science project of kinds, with the prawns hanging off pipettes found in labs. A very minimalistic dish this is – with the prawns cooked in simple flavours, elavated by the presence of the jus in the pippette, that needed to be sucked out or squeezed out onto the prawns. Inspite of being a visually and theoretically brilliant dish, there was something lacking in the taste. It was far too bland for my liking, also I’m not a fan of eating my prawns cold.
I really liked the Stir-Fried Chicken with Dried Chili, Fermented Beans, and Sesame Oil. I was skeptical of ordering this as I’m not a fan of how overwhelming a black bean sauce can be. This was perfectly cooked chicken, perfectly spiced with dried chili, on a base of black bean that was not overpowering at all.
Two courses down, and I was the least bit full. We thought the portion sizes could have been better in the first two courses, until the mains arrived. And then we took back our words. The Barbeque Chicken with Thai Hot Chili and Holy Basil arrived first. It was delicious with Chindian flavours, but something you would find at any other Pan-Asian restaurant. What I enjoyed was the Thai Green curry with steamed rice that accompanies the main dish. Joss is known to have one of the best Thai curries in the city, and I wholeheartedly agree. This Thai curry was fragrant thanks to the lemongrass, piquant, and creamy thanks to the coconut milk. I forgot about the chicken, and had bowl fulls of this curry the entire night.
The Banana Leaves wrapped Arabian Sea Bass with Balinese Spice Mix was such a winner! I think sea bass is highly underrated, and really needs to be highlighted more in all the Basa dominated menus across the city. The fish was moist, cooked and spiced perfectly. I only wish there had been more!
I was really excited for the desserts to arrive, and my excitement did not go to waste. The wonderful staff at Joss surprised all the diners that evening with a chocolate cake on the occasion of Women’s Day which was such a sweet gesture.
The ‘Smoking Permitted’ dessert consisted of a dense chocolate cigar roll that was paired with a prune and armagnac ice cream. The ice cream was beautiful combination of prune and brandy, and eased out the sweetness from the chocolate cigar. The ‘Exploding Creme Brulees’ did not excite me as much, inspite of having a perfectly caramelized top. The Yuzu limoncello flavour was far too sour for my liking to be included in a dessert.
My entire experience with Joss and Gourmet It Up was exceptional. Note how I’m calling it an experience because it was a lot more than just a meal. Good food, perfect portion sizes, and attentive service that wavered off in the middle of the meal but regained focus again towards the end. Priced at Rs. 1400/- including taxes, we thought it was worth it considering the array of food we ate and that we got to try so much from the menu.
(The author dined at Joss anonymously and paid for her own meal).