We first reviewed Chutney, a worthy member of the Chess House Restaurants portfolio, when it opened around a year ago (see our review here), and we were delighted by the modern Indian restaurant’s bright and vibrant food and atmosphere.
Now, there’s a new executive chef on board – Delhi-born Virender Kumar – who boasts more than two decades of experience at restaurants around the world. Notably, he was Group Executive Chef for Indian cuisine at Shangri-La Group, where he travelled to open dining outlets within the Shangri-La Rasa Ria (Kota Kinabalu) and Shanghai’s Pudong Shangri-La, followed by stints at Shangri-La properties in the Philippines, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Before relocating to Hong Kong late last year, Chef Kumar was Chef de Cuisine at Galaxy Entertainment in Macau for 12 years, overseeing a 300-cover restaurant.
Chef Kumar shows off his wealth of experience with new à-la-carte dishes and a redesigned tasting menu (HK$568/person) – which we think is the way to go if you’re either an Indian-cuisine newbie or simply greedy (like us) and want to get a taste of most of the all-star dishes.
Romanesco and beet salad (HK$128): a salad might not be your idea of a typical Indian starter, but this one is a definite contender. It’s an earthy cold number featuring riced tandoori Romanesco broccoli underneath a layer of chunky beetroot purée (also cooked in the tandoor), married with a light yoghurt dressing. A fresh, healthy way to kick off a meal.
Tandoori octopus (HK$218): again, octopus is an unusual feature on an Indian table, but Chef Kumar places the spotlight on this favourite ingredient in a flavourful, spicy plate of slow-cooked Spanish octopus. The octopus is finished in the tandoori oven, imparting a boost of smokiness. It’s served with a corn chaat that adds a nice balance of sweetness and a crunchy contrast to the tender octopus.
Sarson malai jheenga (HK$188): though not a brand-new addition to Chutney, Chef Kumar has put his unique stamp on this dish, making it even more moreish than before and plating it with a beautifully artistic flourish. It features crispy shrimp marinated in a complex mixture of mustard seed, curry leaf, black salt and lemon. The tangy flavour profile is enhanced with a silky sauce made with more mustard seed, along with tamarind, turmeric and cream. The dots of homemade beetroot and guava chutneys impart a sweet earthiness. Divine!
Nargisi kofta (HK$288): this is a traditional Mughlai dish that’s akin to an Indian take on a Scotch egg. Here, hard-boiled egg is wrapped in a very finely minced and spiced lamb mixture, before being dunked in a tomato-based masala gravy. Comforting and rich.
Scallop moilee curry (HK$338): a classic South Indian curry jazzed up with plump pan-seared Hokkaido scallops. The coconut flavour shines through here, and the crispy curry leaves are the icing on top.
The ideal accompaniment to this dish (don’t waste a drop of that sauce!) is an order of Chutney’s famous truffle-cheese naan (HK$58), pillowy naan with just the right amount of chew that’s filled with ricotta cheese and basted with black truffle paste.
Celeriac miloni (HK$168): this dry plant-based curry is a rainbow of colour, showcasing braised celeriac and other root veg braised in a myriad of fragrant Indian spices. We imagine this would be great with roti.
Passionfruit-coconut cake (HK$120): again, not new, but we can’t leave without recommending this light, creamy, tropical dessert, which is more like a mousse than a cake in texture. It’s the perfect choice when you’re craving just a bit of sweetness to leave you feeling satiated.
Kudos to Chef Kumar for his menu overhaul at Chutney. We’re especially pleased to see the inclusion of several lighter dishes, with seafood and veg a surprising but welcome focus (we’ve also clocked a dry jackfruit curry that we’ll be sure to order on our next visit). However, if you’re in the mood for something heartier and meatier, the new dishes include tandoori Australian tenderloin and lamb chop pepper masala.
Bonus: those dining at Chutney for dinner from now until 28 April 2023 (7pm onwards) will be kept entertained by the dulcet tunes of world-renowned sitar and tabla musicians Fateh and Nawar Ali, who are in town from India.
Where: 4/F, Carfield Commercial Building, 77 Wyndham Street, Central
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.