[New Delhi] “Tian” in Chinese means heaven and that is exactly where Chef Vikramajit Roy takes you with his food inspired from far-off regions of Asia.
Open only for dinner service on all days with the addition of lunch on Sunday, the restaurant has gained popularity by word of mouth.
The food that is extraordinary in terms of looks, ingredients, presentation, and of course is pleasing to the palate.
Tian – Asian Cuisine Studio is another feather in the cap of ITC Maurya that houses greats like BukharaBukhara and Dum Pukt, two of the most popular restaurants in New Delhi for decades.
Moving away from traditional Indian cuisine, Tian takes on a more modern look at Asian food that originates from Korea, Japan, China, and other South East Asian countries.
While Tian might not attract the conventional Delhi crowd that prefers North Indian food, the fact that it has grown in popularity means that this experiment with food has clicked somewhere with the psyche of the locals.
Tian is a special place and even though it is elite, due to its location, the food offers a flavour profile that is as complex and unique as it is simple in appearance.
The heart of the restaurant though is Chef Vikramjit Roy.
I have had the pleasure of interacting with him a little and, in a world full of celebrity chefs who are fighting for space on our TVs, he remains humble, down to earth, with a strong focus on his passion for food.
Simple, eager to receive feedback, approachable, and friendly, Vikramjit Roy’s creativity comes across in his food that at times plays with the mind, but in the end satisfies the hungry soul.
This simplicity that the chef exhibits spills over into everything that he does.
Whether it is the plating that is at times minimalist or the decor of the restaurant, the focus is always on the food, more so on the ingredients and taste.
The interiors of Tian boast rich colours, primarily gold, albeit in subtle tones that are pleasing to the eyes and don’t come across as too gaudy.
Comfortable seating, a well-stocked bar that stays true to the theme of the restaurant by concocting incomparable drinks, and beautiful panoramic views add to the ambience of a fine dining experience.
In addition to this, Tian also has the option of alfresco dining that can be the perfect setting for a romantic dinner.
Keeping up the latest trends and also acknowledging the fine art of cooking, the menu at Tian highlights produce compliments the experimental nuances of the dishes.
Tian has an a-la-carte menu that has a mixture of modern fusion and comfort food, but it is the tasting menu where the chef truly shines with his razzmatazz.
The three tasting menus at Tian are called Trailers (Rs 2500, 3500, 5000, SGD50.50, 70.50, 101.00) and they are usually the best way to get a feel of the place.
The tasting menu had quite a few fun surprises like the Fish and Corn that came hanging from a Bonsai tree.
The Pork Belly Taco with a little sauce pump jetting out of it on a piece of newspaper was delicious beyond words.
It takes a certain confidence in the food for a chef of a fine dining restaurant in one of the most exclusive hotels of the country to present food in this back to the basics manner.
The drama though that day was thanks to the Hickory Smoked Scallop Micro Sponge that had chocolate sand, miniature condiments, and a smoky glass cloche housing a black sponge which revealed a perfectly cooked scallop on the inside.
I am the type of person who loves little touches. The idea of lifting the cloche, smelling the hickory smoked sponge, and picking through everything that is on the plate.
However, an almost burnt aftertaste made this my least favourite dish of the day.
It does take some time to get used to the flavours on the table. The mind plays tricks because often the food looks one thing and tastes something completely different.
One of my favourite bites was the Crab Rice Bun Burger that came with seaweed salt and with the addition of sweet potato chips in a nori cone transported me to the seaside for a minute.
The tasting peaks with the dessert that highlights the joy of sharing and eating together with the chef’s speciality Eat Off Your Table.
Picture a chocolate vase being filled with exquisite ingredients like pineapple vanilla compote, white chocolate with matcha, freeze dried fruits, mango and passion fruit coulis and then dropped from above so it breaks and makes a mishmash of everything that can be scrapped off and eaten by everyone.
Some of the other signature and popular dishes at Tian include the Scallops and Truffle Pizza (Rs 1095, SGD22.10), Purity of Earth Mushroom Soup (Rs 475, SGD9.50) and Tian’s Soft-Shell Crab (Rs 1750, SGD35.25).
The service at Tian is impeccable. The front of house remains well connected with the kitchen at all times who are then abreast with the whims and wishes of the guests.
One of the most important factors about molecular gastronomy is keeping the magic of food alive when it arrives on the table and the service staff works tirelessly as being the well-informed intermediaries between the chef and the diners.
While the chef is responsible for creating the drama, the bells and whistles that make avant-guard cooking so popular, it is the staff that has to execute it and this pressure is handled rather well by everyone at Tian.
For someone who enjoys to eat out with the family and as often is the case, fine-dining restaurants have strict rules about children, I am happy to see that Tian allows everyone over the age of 10.
Tian is exclusive, it is expensive, yet it remains unpretentious and that for me is the biggest draw.
Eating at Tian is an evening full of wonders. The food is never what it looks, but the tastes are reminiscent of classics and regional childhood favourites.
A perfect location to celebrate that special occasion, Tian for me though is a food lovers dream come true.
Tian – Asian Cuisine Studio, New Delhi
ITC Maurya, Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021
Tel: 011 4621 5152
Opening Hours: 7:00pm – 11:30pm (All Days), 12:30pm-2:45pm (Sun)
Google Maps – Tian – Asian Cuisine Studio
* Written by DFD’s India Correspondent @tickereatstheworld. Raghav is a travel and food writer who enjoys the thrill of discovering new places and writing about them. When he is not working, he can be found driving around his two kids from one birthday party to another.