The Oriental Pavilion
11th floor, Fortune Select Excalibur, Sector 49, Sohna Road, Gurgaon
Timing: Lunch :12: 30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Dinner 7:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Don’t get put off by the road to The Oriental Pavilion, the new South-East Asian eatery at Fortune Select Excalibur, Sohna Road; you could be missing out on a host of authentic yet fresh flavours. A glass walled elevator whisks you to the roof-top restaurant, far away from the bustle of the road below.
While the décor is essentially contemporary, with unique star-shaped tables, the cognac leather upholstery—interspersed with deep maroon velvet cushions—gives it a warm ‘Oriental look’.The softly lit, dining room is a visual haven; accentuated with coloured silk hangings, Japanese fans, and Balinese masks.
The menu emphasises South East Asian cuisine, albeit with distinct Japanese influence—possibly to satisfy the growing population of Japanese residing in the hotel and its vicinity. Having spent close to 15 years in the Far East, my companion and I are fairly critical of food served under the garb of 'authentic Oriental’ fare. But, at “Oriental Pavilion’, we are pleasantly surprised.
The restaurant caters mainly to businessmen during lunch—and has an express lunch menu. It also offers a range of bentos (at Rs. 899)—a single-portion takeout, or home-packed meal—common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables—usually in a box-shaped container. The restaurant offers a sushi and tempura option; as well as one with onigiri and vegetable tempura.
The restaurant manager, Lal Mukund, is an import from Monk, a speciality restaurant at Galaxy, that is best known for its ‘meals in a bowl’. The Oriental Pavilion offers a similar concept—where diners can enjoy a selection of street food delights—from Bangkok, China and Hong Kong—all in a bowl (Rs. 699).
While the above options are for lunch only, dinner is more about leisurely dining. The menu is comprehensive, displaying both hot and cold appetisers, soups, a range of fish and meat dishes, and dessert. We could not quite decide what to order, so left the decision making to the manager.
Served piping hot, the miso shiru, a classic Japanese broth, was a good way to clear the palate, for other delicacies. We could see the dishes being stir fried, steamed and curried to perfection—in the restaurant’s show kitchen.
Our unanimous vote for the appetisers had to be the fresh prawns—steamed in Thai chilli, and then pan-seared in a chilli plum sauce. Each morsel was succulent.
When we reached the mains, our tastebuds were screaming for more. We started with Cantonese steamed fish with mushrooms. We were expecting it to be a bit bland; but the light soy and chilli oil dressing brought out the subtle flavour of the seabass well. Another pleasing dish that we had was stir fried lamb in chilli bean sauce. The lamb was cooked to perfection— a rarity as mostly it is overdone to the stage of being chewy—and braised in a pungent chilli bean sauce. Vegetarians should love this restaurant, if the crunchy Oriental greens with sesame and garlic are anything to go by.
We had reached a point where another bite would have been the breaking point; we were happy to end the meal sipping jasmine tea. But we found ourselves slurping on tab tin grob or Red Rubies—sweet water chestnuts, with crushed ice and coconut milk. It was nothing short of being ambrosial.
The service was excellent. The staff was warm, hospitable and well-informed.
It is a pity, though, that due to architectural constraints, the hotel hasn’t been able to leverage “Oriental Pavilion’s” roof-top location. It needs a terrace or at least some picture windows, to give the diners a feel of being on top of the world.