The celebrated Tatu restaurant has finally filled their gaping void with a fresh face to make his mark in the scene. Chef Karan, is a young and serious take on an executive chef; almost the polar opposite of his very jovial predecessor, Chef Hubert, winner of the Taste Chef of the year. Suri has been given a huge pair shoes to fill at the Norfolk. He aims to impress with his myriad of credentials and former experiences at some of the top restaurants in New York, New Delhi and Dubai. Chef Karan’s take on food is a fusion of his life and experiences drawing from Japanese, French, Indian and Italian methods of preparations.
A stunning example of his affinity to blend cooking styles were his trio of Canapés – the “Tomato ‘Bloody Mary’ Gelée with Limuru Mozzarella” was an amusing combination of an Italian Caprese salad and Japanese/French Savory jelly, served on a Far East Asian styled spoon. This dish reflects his attraction to the cultures he has interacted through culinary exploration. Though his has tried “…many cuisines all over the world, but the best are yet to beat (his) mothers cooking.”
Suri has not abandoned his North Indian roots and proceeds to impress us with a common dish found in Nairobi, Chicken Tikka. There are few Chicken Tikkas that beat Hashmi’s secret marinade but when it is double marinated, cooked in a 5 star hotel and served with a glass of clean Sauvignon blanc – it makes you re think those plastic chairs.
Chef had much to say about his choice of main courses. The menu read like the Rosetta stone with a combination of Asian, European and African ingredients. The Snapper Paupiette with garlic spinach, leek compote and red wine reduction was a checked flag of French and Italian cuisine; though well executed with a beautiful Pollock-esque presentation, the red wine reduction added little to the dish and almost stuck to the plate in the shape of a brushstoke. On the other side of the globe was the signature Tatu Morandat Striploin served with “Arima Sansho, Baby Bok Choy and Wasabi Butter” (Arima Sansho is a pepper berry from Kyoto, Japan). This dish took the Kenyan Naivasha beef and flew it to Japan for the weekend. He took iconic representations of Japanese cuisine and translated them into the tender striploin, neatly cut with a sense of Zen presentation. “My latest obsession I have to say is Japanese food” Suri further expresses. His most interesting dish was his desert, “Saothome (West Africa) Chocolate Parfait, Passion Fruit Curd, Salted Caramel.” Salted Caramel has been a craze the world over; the Maldon Sea Salt used was subtle though one could ask themselves whether it became the focal point of the dish and overshadowed the quality of the chocolate. Nevertheless, the presentation and execution was dramatic and added an element of theatre to the dining experience.
Suri’s take on cuisine is a sharp contrast to the former executive chef. The key difference between Hubert and Suri is Hubert’s knack to translate menu to ingredients to palate. While Suri brings an intense and profound culinary expertise, we still await to see how he will interpret the Tatu steak house style menu. Chef Karan’s experimental personality will definitely lead to something very promising, making us take a fresh look at culinary landscape of Nairobi.