There’s something celebratory about heading to The Oberoi in Mumbai. The hotel occupies prime space on the Queen’s Necklace, but it’s gentle in its presence, tucked away from the jarring discord of the urban chaos that is Nariman Point. Which is why it’s special when you do go there. You’ve to be in the mind space to calm down and unwind, to allow yourself to be pampered. And after a long day at work, I was ready to be treated to a luxurious dinner. I headed to Fenix at the Oberoi, a space fashioned after a living room. Cosy and plush, there are sofas peppered around the dining space, unexpected for a sit down dinner perhaps but they set the mood perfectly. There are lamps flanking the sofas, so the space is aglow and warm, making every meal here an intimate affair. I went on a weekday and Fenix was busy – the diners included hotel guests who had come down for a comforting meal, regular patrons of the place (they even have preferred spaces, Farhad Driver, the Food and Beverage Manager told me), and others like me who had come to experience the offering at Fenix.
The food here is exceptional, big on flavour and paired interestingly with other elements. Each dish features something familiar and then, something unexpected. It’s like a roller coaster for your taste buds, an enjoyable one. We started off with a gazpacho – but there was a twist, this one came with a hint of raspberry. A soup that’s sweet? I see your raised eyebrows. But this was unlike anything I’ve tasted. Think subtle hints of raspberry layered with plenty of savoury flavours.
We also tucked into the Paan Pata Chaat, one that someone might turn their nose up at, after all, it could be street food. Sure, you might have tried this before but it has never tasted this good. At Fenix, the chaat comes with a generous sprinkling of fennel powder, and dollops of gulkand chutney – it will make your heart sing. Chef Gurmeet also suggested we try Dahi ke kebab and we happily went along with the suggestion. And it was wise. A dish with strong contrasts, these delicate kebabs had us for reaching for multiple helpings. The crunchy crust was a sharp contradiction to the flavoursome, thick yoghurt inside, ticking all the boxes for texture and taste. Oh, and don’t forget to try the sushi at Fenix, Farhad proudly claimed it to be the best sushi in the city and the restaurant certainly delivers. I would strongly recommend the Avocado and Asparagus appetiser, it remains a firm favourite.
Of course, we paired this with plenty of cocktails, each one creative and inspired and might I add, potent.
The Chicken and Leek plate comes drizzled with a soy and mirin glaze, topped with sesame and served with scallions was delicious and one that needs to be on the top of your must-try list. We ended the meal with a dessert stacked high with caramel popcorn, ice cream and a crumble; a fitting finish.
One of the best things about the food at Fenix is that it fills you up but you don’t feel stuffed, I walked out with a spring in my step. Good food does that to me.