Aish – The Park Hyerabad’s signature restaurant, is known to dish out some delicious Hyderabadi and Andhra fare. However, over the past couple of weeks, it was hosting a Goan Food Festival curated by Chef Sarita (Sacramenta Carvalho). Last Saturday, I attended a meetup organized by the Hyderabad Foodies Club.
This was my first visit to Aish, and from the moment I stepped in it was evident that a lot of effort has been put into the ambiance. The decor, which was conceptualised by Tarun Tahiliani, is royal and resplendent without being gaudy. The food festival was actually designed as a thali or a set menu, but for the foodies event, we were offered a buffet with the starters served on the table.
The service started off with a glass of Kokum sharbat. I’m a huge fan of the punchy flavour of Kokum drinks. However, the shartbat that we were served had practically no kokum. The Sol Kadhi that I had later on was also equally disappointing. Starters included Prawn rissois, Fofos de Peixe, Mushroom stuffed pao, and Potato and peanut fofos. I loved the Fofos de Peixe, which was a version of fish cakes with mashed potato that reminded my friends of Bengali Machher Chop.The Prawn Rissois was a fried pastry with a creamy minced-prawn stuffing. It was good, but had me wishing there was more prawn in the stuffing. Neither of the veg starters were particularly appealing. The Mushroom Stuffed Pao was exactly what the name suggests, and the vegetarian version of the Fofos didn’t have anything particularly exciting.
The main course, thankfully, was significantly better. I instantly fell in love with the Kishmur, a spicy salad made from dried prawns and grated coconut. The Chicken Baffad had a mellow, but flavourful coconut milk gravy, while the Mutton Vindaloo had both the heat and the tanginess that the dish is known for. Our accompaniments included Goan Par Boiled Rice and Odde (a miniature version of Poori). I tried a little bit of the vegetarian offerings, which included Dal Waran, Pumpkin Mergol, and Beans Foogath, but none of them really stood out to me. The star dish of the night was the Pork Sausage Pulao. The sausage was delicious and every little morsel of it created explosions of flavour in my mouth. However, I wish that the sausage was used in a different dish which would have given it the opportunity to truly dazzle us.
The desserts included Bebinca, Ice Cream, Pais, and Sweet Potato Nevre. The bebinca was some of the best that I’ve had – fresh and really soft! Vanilla ice-cream and bebinca aways makes an awesome pair, and here too they stole the show. The Pais would have benefited from a little bit more coconut, and the sweet potato didn’t really appeal to my palate.
On the whole, Aish got a lot of things right. The ambiance is splendid, and the food had its moments of brilliance. However, the spread was limited, and I feel that they missed an opportunity to show off more flavors of Goa. I’d have loved to see more sea food and pork dishes. I paid Rs. 750 for the foodies meetup, but the actual cost of the dinner was Rs. 1195. Other similarly priced food festivals have offered more, but the premium rates are somewhat expected from a five star specialty restaurant. Unfortunately, the service through the night was spotty and not befitting a premium dining experience. Every time I needed my glass refilled I had to hunt down a waiter. There were long breaks in between the servings and I had to request the waiters multiple times for a second helping. A couple of more dishes in the menu, and a slightly better trained waiting staff could have made this a night to remember. Aish, fell slightly short, but it was still a fun night filled with lots of laughs and good food.