KooX @ Novotel Chennai Chamiers


There's a brand new Asian grill in the city and this one is up on a rooftop, the rooftop in question being the one at Novotel Chennai Chamiers. And KooX - yes, it's the domain of 2 chefs, one specialising in Japanese fare and the other, Sichuanese.

From the outside looking in

Invited for a preview, I loved the place at first sight. Up on the 8th floor of the hotel, it has the pool and gym for company. KooX has an alfresco seating area from where you have a good view of Chamiers road and the adjoining flyover. What a view! It's pleasantly breezy because it is open to the sky but before the first of the monsoon rains hits the city, it will have a roof.

Perfect lighting

The adjoining grill room has a bar counter where the bartender makes some real cool kooxtails. On the opposite end is the glass-enclosed kitchen where you can watch the KooX chefs at work. The lighting is dim, the space is very cosy and the music is so cool.

Drunken Chemist

There's cinnamon in my cocktail!

My cocktail, Drunken Chemist, had vodka, celery leaves and sour mix with dehydrated apple slices clipped to the side. The first few sips tasted very nice but after a bit, the celery leaves became a bit too much.

A second cocktail had pineapple juice and a nice hit of cinnamon. A torched stick of cinnamon floated around and yes, this one was so much nicer.

Conversation starter - edamame

Veg sushi

Seafood sushi in a boat!

A couple of boatloads of sushi arrived on the table, one vegetarian and the other, seafood. The interesting one on each platter were those made with Assamese black rice. How dramatic can rice look? Slightly nutty and absolutely delicious, it held together so well while being lifted with chopsticks and presented a beautiful contrast for the other components of the sushi.

Salmon tartare

Chilli chicken skewers with house made dips

Our appetisers included  salmon tartare with green onion, cucumber slices and aged soy sauce. The composition was very pretty and the salmon was fresh. Chilli chicken skewers was nicely done and they do pack quite a punch, perfect with your drink.

Watermelon carpaccio

Watermelon carpaccio was delightful. Take alternate bites of the melon and balsamic caviar and you'll know what I'm talking about. Pondicherry feta is much less saltier than its Greek counterpart and with briny olives to provide contrast, this was a refreshing take on the usual watermelon and feta salad.

Norwegian salmon & NZ lamb chops

Sichuan dry pot with broccoli, lotus root & parsley

Salmon, lamb chop; sprouts, cabbage & beancurd; noodles; dry pot veggies & sticky rice

The main course was a mix of their speciality cuisines. Norwegian salmon fillets and New Zealand lamb chops graced the tabletop robata. The salmon, glazed with mirin and teriyaki, was delicious. The lamb chops, with soy, garlic, togarashi and sesame oil, had been cooked perfectly. The centre was pinkish and the meat tender. The Asian main courses of sprouts, baby cabbage and bean curd were a little overdone. The Sichuan dry pot of lotus root, broccoli and parsley as well as the Koox-style Sichuan noodles could do with a little more heft while truffle garlic sticky rice was good. 

Dessert arrangement

Gooey 5 spice molten chocolate cake

The pastry chefs were having a whale of a time laying out dessert - really laying it out! Tiny bowls of yoghurt brûlée, green tea tiramisu, 5 spice molten chocolate cake, little bowls of tender coconut ice cream, macarons, cake, crumbs and tarts filled their canvas, interspersed with micro greens. Such a pretty sight.

KooX is a great place to hang out with friends. It has great music, a lovely ambiance and good food too. Timings are from 6pm - midnight.

Novotel Chennai Chamiers Road
11, Chamiers Road
Nandanam. Chennai 600035.
+91 44 2430 2333

A Tamak afternoon


Modern Asian cuisine is the in thing at a lot of restaurants and that's what Tamak presents. Cheery, bright, cosy and trendy, the 70-seater restaurant at Feathers Hotel is just the place you go to when you want to forget your woes for a little while, for the warm and soothing ambiance and the food there does just that.

Scenes outside and inside Tamak

Mocktails and cocktail

When the drinks are named after towns and localities of the city, that will surely bring a smile to your lips. That's another trend these days and that's how the Kanjeevaram, a mocktail, rolled in. Made with apple juice, tamarind and jaggery, the tamarind sweets that accompany amp up the flavour. My choice of cocktail was Triplicane, made with white rum, fresh pineapple and orange juices and coconut water and it was so refreshing. At Tamak, all the juices are freshly made.

Tamak team - Associate F&B Director, Ankit & Rajya

We had been invited for an afternoon of conversation and food tasting. Behind the glass-enclosed open kitchen, there's plenty of action. Rajya, one of the partners at Tamak, talked about the menu that features small plates, meal bowls and Asian BBQ. When the amuse-bouche - tiny paneer canapes arrived, she pointed out that India was also very much a part of Asia ...that's so true! The chilli cheese toast coated with sesame seeds, was equally engaging.

Grain chaat

The grain chaat had 4 kinds of grains that included black rice and a dressing with just the right balance of mustard paste and sweetness from pomegranate arils. It didn't look pretty but this is one dish where looks do not matter at all. One mouthful and you'll be reaching for more!

Iranian lamb kebab; steamed prawn wantan; chicken kebab; scallion sesame cake

From the small plates listing, we were served Iranian lamb kebabs that just melted in the mouth. Steamed prawn wantons had fluffy skins but the chilli oil was rather mild. Crisp scallion sesame cake had to be an exercise in restraint - the bun was so crisp and the shiitake mushroom filling within was so delicious that it was so difficult to stop with just one portion.

Spicy Thai pomelo salad

The spicy Thai pomelo salad with lettuce and yam beans is something you can tuck into without any misgivings. The spice was rather subdued but the pomelo is sweet and I loved the crunch of yam bean and peanuts. Such a refreshing salad it was.

Anda paratha

Anda paratha was the one that that stole the show. Straight off the tawa, we almost burnt our fingers trying to tear it apart. I was told this is street food in Delhi but whatever the provenance, this is a must order dish. The paratha was fried so crisp that it was almost like a puff, the egg filling spicy. Together, they made for a deadly combination.

Grilled eryngii

The eryngii mushrooms were sliced really thin. Miso butter gave it an umami flavour but because of the thinness of the slices, parts of it got charred more than they needed to, resulting in a slightly leathery texture. Still, they tasted good and probably they would have been a fabulous accompaniment to some sticky rice. Achaari broccoli has a mix of kasundi and caraway seed which add a lovely pungency to the rather bland veggie.

Stir fried chicken with green beans
A selection of Indian bread, kali dal; sarson sag

Two main courses - the first was stir fried chicken with beans but it seemed to have lost the plot somewhere. The other main was Indian bread and we selected makki roti and mattar paratha, with kali dal and sarson sag as accompaniments. The breads were good, the dal and sag, passable.

Rhubarb tres leche; triple chocolate mousse with berry compote

Matcha tiramisu with soju and yuzu syrup 

Of the 3 desserts, the most appealing was the triple berry mousse. A little less setting agent would have made it even more appealing. As for the rhubarb, it's not a vegetable that's seen in the local markets but I think it is a good way of toning down the sweetness of a tres leche.

At Tamak, it's the appetisers that score on all fronts.  They are innovative, addictive and so darn tasty!

Tamak is at Feathers A Radha Hotel
4/129 Mount Poonamallee Rpad
Manapakkam, Chennai 600089.
Reservations at 07358018814.

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