Opsomming: Brei menu, spesialis sjefs, uitstekende kos en opsies vir elke begroting.
Geskatte prys vir twee: Ala Carte - Rs. 3200 per paar (pre-belasting insluitende kos en drankies). Pos belasting Rs. 4300 per paar. Buffet / Promotions - Rs. 2000 per paar af.
Adres: The Westin Gurgaon, Number 1 MG Road, Gurgaon 122002
When I read about the Westin opening in Gurgaon, I was really excited. Westin is known to be one of the high end brands of the Starwood chain, known among other things for their patented ‘Heavenly Bed’ on which I have enjoyed many restful nights whilst travelling on work.
While this is not a ‘Hotel Review’, the thing with restaurants at 5 star hotels is that you pay for the ambiance and service that comes with the property. So while this is still a restaurant review, I will write a little bit about the property itself.
Firstly, considering the fact that the property is bang on IFCCO Chowk, Gurgaon’s answer to South Delhi’s Ashram or BRT, one would expect an insane amount of noise. The fact that the entire front of the hotel is made of glass did not inspire confidence. However, surprisingly, it’s actually pretty quiet. Quiet enough to make you forget where you are and that’s a good thing.
Secondly, since the hotel caters almost entirely to the business traveller, they have some interesting options for people looking to grab a bite on the go. They have a sandwich menu in their lobby area where you can create your own sandwich and carry it with you for your business meeting. Think of it as a 5 star Subway. I saw the prices and was pleasantly surprised. You could get a relatively healthy lunch (yes they have diet friendly options as well), for around Rs. 400-600 which is quite reasonable for a 5 star brand like the Westin.
While this may not seem like a big deal, I think it shows that someone thought about the demographic the hotel caters to and the little things that could make the stay more enjoyable. I just went back to all the times I had been forced to eat fast food lunch at business meetings or site visits for want of a better alternative when all I really wanted was something light which wouldn’t put me to sleep. So yes, for me this says a lot.
Thirdly, the overall ambiance of the hotel has a somewhat calming effect. Without taking any names, certain hotels in Delhi seem to have this aura of panic and plastic at the same time. Maybe it was the way the staff greets you upon entering the hotel or maybe it was the light ambient music. I’m not sure. For awhile, I forgot why I was there.
Coming to why I was there, I wanted to try out their Award winning Asian restaurant called EEST. The first thing that hits you about this place is the chic design. There are 5 different themes across the restaurant so every time you turn your head, you see something different. I’ve seen many Asian restaurants across the country but this is the first time I’ve seen a multi themed restaurant. So I did some digging up. The Westin was designed by a Japanese firm called Super Potato founded in 1973 by Takashi Sugimoto. On his website, he explains his design ideology as follows:
“Space is not an imitation of the styles that have been developed by developing countries, yet a system which creates energy that may trigger us to proceed to the next generation. This energy is created when people face the mixture of concentrated feelings of the people who have gathered to one space — contradiction and frustration, aspiration for the past, hope and desire for the future.”
Honestly, seems a bit too abstract and morbid for my liking but who cares, because I really loved the design!
Before we come to the food, I would like to write about a very interesting attraction offered by this restaurant. Eating at 5 star properties is quite common in India. Honestly I think that Indian culture is unique in the sense that the bulk of Hotel restaurant sales come from walk in guests looking to eat at a 5 star restaurant as opposed to room guests. So for a lot of popular 5 star restaurants, locals walking in and spending lots of cash is a regular day at the office.
Now here’s the catch. If you are going to eat a full meal at a 5 star restaurant and you don’t have a loyalty card, you will end up spending at least Rs. 3,000 per paar. For that price, you won’t get much but you will still get to dine at a 5 star. EEST gives you an option of getting more for your money. Byvoorbeeld, suppose you would like to propose to your girlfriend and you want a 5star experience but you also want some privacy and personal attention from the Restaurant. EEST offers you private dining rooms with views of the pool which you can book for a cover charge of Rs. 2,000 per persoon (excluding taxes). The way I see it is that if you want a romantic evening, you will order a 3 course meal and a bottle of wine. Even if you were eating at a regular non-5star restaurant in Delhi, you would spend more than Rs. 4,000 (excluding taxes) a couple. So why not go 5 star and get the benefits of private dining for the same price? And yes, for family outings and kitty parties etc, they have larger rooms which keep noisy groups quarantined in secluded rooms (Thank God!).
An added bonus is that even some of their regular tables like the one I ate at, are completely covered by clever designing to give you the feel of private dining without the cost. For those of you who have read my reviews, you will be wondering why I have just spent one and a half pages rambling on about design. I completely agree with you. Let’s talk about food.
EEST showcases food from China, Japan, and Thailand with a separate Master Chef for each cuisine. Byvoorbeeld, Chef Chia from Malaysia is the Master Chef in charge for the EEST kitchen who looks after Chinese cuisine, Chef Surya Master Chef from Thailand looks after Thai and Chef Saeki, the Master Chef from Japan looks after Japanese and Korean. Clearly; no jack of all trades nonsense here.
The menu is really quite elaborate and it would take weeks to eat everything. So I went with the management’s advice and tried out an assortment of Sushi, Sashimi and Dimsums. It’s been awhile since I had authentic dimsums and these were just fabulous. Having worked and lived in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, I can say that the taste was an exact replica of the stuff I ate there. We had an assortment of chicken, lamb and prawn based dishes which were light and fantastic. In sushi and sashimi, we tried an assortment prepared by the chef. The thing with Sushi and Sashimi is that 70% of the taste depends on the quality of raw material and the remaining 30 % depends on the chef and his rolling techniques and knife skills. Needless to say, at the Westin, the quality of fish was superb. I even had my first taste of Octopus Sashimi and it wasn’t chewy at all.
Just to be sure, I ordered a California Roll which is my acid test for Sushi. Now people often say that the quality of the Sushi always depends on the price. By that logic, the California Roll at Kunomi at Trident Gurgaon should be way better than what you get at Yum Yum Tree in New Friends Colony which is half the price, but that’s not the case. But when you have a California Roll at EEST, you know that it is a 5 star dish. A perfect balance of Avocado, fresh crab, soft sticky rice brought together by a generous coating of sweet tangy caviar that just adds an amazing texture to each bite. I was in sushi heaven.
I am told that the signature dish of the restaurant is the steamed Cod fillet with light soy sauce, but that will have to wait till next time. According to me the signature dish was actually the dessert which you see in the picture attached to the review, the Coconut Caramel Custard with toasted almond shavings. This dish is absolute heaven for people who love the coconut flavour. The caramel itself is soft, creamy and delicate with the toasted almond shavings adding a crunchy texture to contrast the creaminess. Pure bliss! The best part is that it’s a massive portion, big enough for 2 big eaters.
As for the price of eating Ala Carte, I asked the management a basic question. What would be the cost of a meal for 2 people including 2 non veg starters, 3 main course dishes and 2 desserts with beer. I was told that before taxes the bill would be Rs. 3,200 and after taxes it would be Rs 4,230. The extra Rs. 1,000 is thanks to a certain fraternity that occasionally congregates in a building called the Parliament who come up with new ways to torture us and call it ‘governance’. Anyway that’s a separate topic. The price breakup for this Rs. 4,230 consists of 2 Asahi Beers, a Chicken Sew Mei and Spicy Lamb as starters, 1 veg rice, a stir fried chicken and a veg green curry for mains and 2 nageregte. Honestly, that’s more than I would order at a 5 star restaurant. I would normally share one appetizer and share one dessert so obviously; this bill can fluctuate upwards or downwards subject to what you order. Honestly, the food, ambiance and service makes it well worth the money you spend.
Fortunately, if this price seems a bit steep for you, the restaurant has options for every budget. Byvoorbeeld, for lunch every day from 12 noon to 2:30 PM, you can stuff yourself with unlimited sushi and dimsum for Rs. 800 plus taxes per head. That gives it very close competition to my other favourite, the Yum Yum Tree. There are more lavish options as well. On Thursday nights, they have a Sake, beer (Tsingtao), sushi and dimsum buffet for Rs. 2,500 plus taxes per person. On Saturday nights, they feature what they call ‘the Dragon Feast’ which is an elaborate Chinese menu with unlimited Australian Wine (white and red), Tsingtao Beer. The package without alcohol is Rs. 1500 plus taxes per person and with alcohol is an extra Rs. 500 plus belasting. This is great because most places will charge you for the booze whether you drink or not. It’s good to see places catering to the fact that some customers won’t drink and shouldn’t be charged for it.
In summary, EEST has a lot of similarities with other Asian restaurants such as the Pan Asian brand at ITC. Both serve up cuisine from across East Asia in a 5 star setting. Where it differs is that a lot of thought has gone in to making a restaurant that has the options to cater to almost any audience. For example this restaurant will appeal to guests who want to eat in luxury at a budget, people looking to splurge, people looking to have private business lunches and couples looking for romantic private dining. It obviously helps that they have separate Master Chefs cooking each cuisine that is served at the restaurant. In fact I can’t think of a demographic that would not enjoy this place. That’s a first for me!