Need a good read for your long-haul flight? Pick up award-winning author Shinie Antony‘s beautiful new novella The Girl Who Couldn’t Love. A haunting tale of twisted relationships, it’ll move and intrigue you in equal measure. Meanwhile, savour her delicious review of a blissful Bangalore restaurant:
“Shiro, which stands tall and quiet in the bustling UB City premises in uptown Bangalore, is done up in stone and old wood. In its studied isolation and greenery – there is even a tree on the terrace – is a philosophic statement; here is an oasis in the middle of all of life’s madness. Like circumventing a maze and finding a tree to sit under. Unlike in many other popular eateries, the stress is not on hot or happening, but rather a time-out. Clock hands still and eternity seems entirely possible.
Japanese, Chinese and Balinese ethos and very tall statues of Buddha. The terrace part of the restaurant offers a glimpse of your portions being cooked right before you. But inside, which is where I sat with a writer friend of mine who loves food as much as she loves her children, was a lovely table I wanted to steal.
We started with soup to impress the waiters with the right order of things, though we should have gone with dessert first; by the time we finished with starters and main course, not even an inch of cotton candy could get past our lips. Also, the dessert section of the menu is a little too one-track: chocolate volcano, chocolate tiramisu, mandarin chocolate velvet cake and chocolate cherry bomb. Chocolate all the way.
But back to the soup. Which was no ordinary stock routinely salted and peppered. The seafood soup was a miniature water body with all its marine life transformed into delectable morsels. I am no soup expert (though sometimes my khichdi gets watery enough to qualify as one) and I am no artist (though my parents have framed some sunsets I drew as a child), but this soup – Thai Kwai – seemed a minor work of art to me.
Okay, so I am not a foodie or a gypsy with multiple visa stamps. I am more of a khichdi and curd person most of the time shooing pigeons off my balcony. Everything on the menu is in danger of looking exotic to me. Also, to feel at home anywhere else but on my bed in my own little flat is a challenge. Going down the stairs to catch a cab is the max I meander. Which is why the zen quality, the shade and silence of Shiro appealed to me right away. No decoration jumps out jack-in-the-box, nothing screams ‘look at me’; instead there is a slow and steady vibe.
Starters comprised Crispy Spicy Avocado Maki – the rice crisps were a nice touch; Salt and Pepper Prawns – faultless with the braised onion mix and crisp prawn complementing each other; Cambodian Prawns – hints of coconut and basil; assorted dim sums, including Chi Chow Style Dumpling, Crystal Dumpling and Zucchini Coriander Dumpling among illustrious others– plump and brimming with water chestnuts, seafood and chicken; Prawn Tempura – tall and stiff and begging to be bitten… All of these lived up to their looks in terms of taste, but the Cambodian Prawns went beyond the call of duty. They brought to mind heaven and first love and monsoons and other such clichés.
The main course of Hibachi Rice With Egg and Fish With Chili Mustard Sauce kept their promise. Also, an Assorted Sushi and Sashimi Platter with snapper, tuna and salmon slices, which absolutely demanded selfies with it. There it sat on a bed of ice, glistening with texture and taste. One hesitated to chopstick it in, so photogenic was it all.
Our two mocktails – Orange And Mint Virgin Mojito and Berry Patch – were fizzy and thick with blueberries respectively. The cocktails – Rose Melon Sangria and Fig Mojito – elicited different responses from me; former was as expected, sharp and tart and pretty as a picture, but the latter I wanted to marry. I think it was the rum-soaked fig that had me say ‘I do’.
No doubt Shiro is aware of competition and updates its fine-dining elements regularly, but to introduce a sense of calm and maintain it over the course of a meal is no small feat. Even the loo décor goes with the whole ‘detox your soul’ temperament of the place. Accessorizing food and interiors to mood and natural lighting sets this place apart. Chef Jageshor Jaishi obviously runs his kitchen on love and fresh ingredients.”
Photos: Nandita Bose, Shiro