One, two, three – POH!
Young blood makes a mark
POH is the high-end offering from Anjan Chatterjee’s Speciality Restaurants of Oh Calcutta and Mainland China fame. With Avik, his son donning the mantle of management of POH and the brilliant Chef Vikramjit Roy helming the kitchen, the success of POH was a foregone conclusion. The chef managed to get the flavour balance right and was not afraid to live on the edge as far as taste experiments were concerned.
Chef Vikramjit’s inventive touch ensured POH pulled head and shoulders above its competitor and neighbour Kode. Quite a few brilliant dishes but also some that ticked the inventive but not necessarily the taste box. POH had to stand on its own two feet after the Chef’s abrupt departure just a year after its launch. The kitchen (and food) felt a little directionless for a few months post that. A recent visit was reassuring with some fine-tuning having been done and the food tasted as good as ever.
Magician at work
A chef who understands flavours and is a bit of a showman can create absolute magic on your p(a)late and that’s exactly what Chef Vikramjit Roy managed to do. The Chef’s 12 course tasting menu does a thorough job of bringing in creativity and innovation into every single course. This is the only thing that is still missing at POH after the Chef’s departure and has to be mourned.
Crowning glory – Sushi, sashimi and the dumplings
The quality of fish used in the sushi sets it apart from the rest and puts it on par with the Wasabi level and school of sushi. Try the Unagi (Eel) and avocado sushi or the Spicy tuna, salmon or yellowtail (hamachi). My absolute favourite though is the salmon coated Shrimp tempura and asparagus textured sushi roll – a genius at work here surely! The tuna and cream cheese textured roll with its stretchy cheese topping dominating the taste is nowhere as good.
The sashimi is crazily priced but well worth every morsel. It does bring the insanely priced (on the other end of the scale) fat slices of Hamachi at Wasabi tei in Singapore to mind. Try some otoro (fatty tuna) slices and you will understand what I mean. Remember to ask for the fresh wasabi which will be grated at your table on request.
My favourite appetizers
The list that follows is not exhaustive and has been sampled across many, many meals at POH. First the list for the veggies and some of these are good enough to grace the table of carnivores as well
- Asparagus croissant puff – love the crispy, buttery goodness of the puff
- Crispy asparagus Cheung fun – that depth of smokiness in the sauce!
- Truffle infused edamame dumplings – good stuff this
- Avocado and asparagus textured sushi roll – super tasty and beautiful colour on the plate
- Smoked water chestnut tortellini – art on the plate and they taste heavenly
And the non-veggie version – this list will be really short because I can’t seem to get past ordering the pork belly and the crispy Cheung fun every single time, they are that good!
- Crispy prawn Cheung fun – my son drains the last possible drops of the smoky sauce, as good as Yauatcha
- Pork belly – fatty, almost melt in the mouth heaven
- Oysters with duck liver – the umami goodness of this!
- Thai fish cakes – may have exited the current menu, sadly
- Alaskan crab – in all its deshelled glory
- Soft shell crabs
- Yellow bean glazed prawns
- Lamb chops – trifle heavy so might end the meal with no main course required!
Mains – rarely sampled with the filling Sushi, dumplings and starters
The spinach in yellow curry is one of the better veg mains and the tortellini feels substantial enough as a main course as well. The Kerala fried red rice with edamame is a must order and goes well with almost everything. The chicken with fermented chilli, Singapore chilli (soft shell) crab and black cod miso deserve a mention. All the tenderloin dishes seem to have vanished from the menu lately. The Lamb Rendang is the only main that needs fine-tuning. The depth of flavour one expects from a good Rendang seems to be missing from this one.
The Wagashi dessert studio
You can see the desserts being crafted at the dessert counter if you choose but I love the drama and fanfare with which the desserts are brought to the table. Each dessert is a creation with a lot of thought behind the balancing of taste and flavours. Focus on the Chocolate or the Fruit collection of 6-7 desserts each with a different flavour note. The in-house range of ice-creams are a decentish accompaniment to other desserts but don’t work well as stand-alones. The best of the lot is the tart and spicy raspberry jalapeño ice-cream.
My absolute favourite dessert at POH is surprisingly not a chocolate one! It’s the (kiss from a) Rose – an almond milk panacotta with a Rose foam and an actual(!) rose that feels like it has been honey dipped and blast frozen. You whack this on the edges of your plate to break into shards, mix everything up and dig in. Words are not enough to describe this ‘experience’. The Chocolate raspberry, the Valrhona based dark, dark (not a typo) chocolate Nuts and bolts and the Chocolate caramel are great chocolate options. The yoghurt dessert and Chocolate mint while visually appealing are a bit underwhelming.
Baby get back
While the fine-tuning of the menu has helped POH fill the gap left by the Chef’s exit, coasting along cannot work too far down the line. It needs an inventive mind in the kitchen churning out new ideas and dishes so that the palate doesn’t get jaded by the sameness. Especially with the South Mumbai scene bursting with new entrants into the Asian scene like Foo. Another couple of months and it will be time to on-board a creator. Till then, we will keep coming back to POH for the assured comforting familiar palate and soul satisfying dishes.
If you are a fan of Asian food then check out Asian style tapas at Foo Mumbai. And the latest entrant for affordable (not only) Japanese food – Happy Thai. A sushi and sashimi fiend – check where you can get the Best sushi and sashimi in Mumbai. Also check the review for Kofuku – my best bet for modern sushi.