Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Very Good Wine Dinner at Trishna North Indian Restaurant

Interior of Trishna

IWFS Dinner at Trishna North Indian Restaurant, Istana Hotel 13th March 2014

Following on from the Continental style dinner we thoroughly enjoyed at the Soleil restaurant, the venue chosen for the March IWFS beano would allow us to sample some spicy and very tasty North Indian Style cuisine. Located at the Istana Hotel on Jalan Raja Chulan in KL, the Trishna restaurant had been on the radar for some time but it was only following a visit by the Prez and myself that it got determined to give it a try. It ticked all the initial boxes - nice ambience, glasses and no corkage. As a result of a successful and enjoyable food tasting, wines got paired and the dinner was on. 

One of the "sultry gazers"
The name Trishna means desire, and certainly the entrance gave off a 1960s psychedelic vibe with its purple and green lighting. The entrance gives way to a brightish white room dripping with small chandeliers above and deep carpets below and walls from which “the sultry gaze of unnamed maidens in framed abodes” overlooked proceedings. Yes. Nice touches with silk tasselled cushions and the lamps which gave a nicely subdued feel for the room. Our three tables were on the raised portion of the room which we presume doubles as a stage for weddings and karaoke and other such visuals. The kitchen is overseen by a Tandoor chef and another in charge of curries, both of whom hail from India where they were schooled in their special culinary skills. 

Given the 46 members and guests who had signed up for the Soleil, we were hopeful of a similar response for Trishna. This did not transpire and so it was that a lowly but nevertheless boisterous 24 turned up for the fun. 

Chomping on the appetizers
And fun it would turn out to be. Getting happily in the mood courtesy of the Bodegas Abanico Renaixenca Brut Cava, the eight allocated bottles got swiftly downed accompanied by some hugely tasty appetisers that got served as we were socialising. These were a big hit and nicely set the tone for the wonderful food that would follow. Principally a blend of three Spanish grape varietials (Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada and traditionally stored in caves (hence "Cava"), the bulk of Cava production takes place in the Catalonia region, specifically in Penedes. The notes say “The Renaixenca is bracingly dry, with lemony acidity and beautiful fine playful bubbles it presents a clean rush of green fruit that whooshes over the palate like a cooling breeze in a Spanish orchard”. It was a good chugger, bit short on the finish but enough to charm and satisfy and a perfect accompaniment for spicy style starters that doesn't break the bank. It was all pretty much chugged by the time we got sat down, so 'nuff said. A good start.

The booze, er, wines
It had been decided that the meal would come out in two sessions. The first would be Tandoor style with Naan bread and the second would be traditional curry style with rice. It was decided to serve both pairing wines at the same time so that everyone could compare for themselves and decide which wine suited their food better. 

The wines were the 2011 Hugel Gewurztraminer and the 2009 E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage. 

An old favourite by a winemaker which we always enjoy, this Alsatian beauty consistently shows off that distinctive almond and Turkish Delight spicy aroma of the Gewurztraminer grape. The Hugel winemaker notes state that this is a fine vintage picked at perfect maturity, and we couldn't disagree with the Wine Enthusiast notes that claimed this one was "a master class in the flavors of Gew├╝rztraminer… spicy, ripe and rich, with lychee and mango flavors. Perfumed, rounded and touched by notes of spice and ginger, this is lacking in acidity and will likely be drinkable soon."
IWFS Ladies. Gaze, ladies, gaze....
It was delightful. Rich and full in the mouth, nicely opulent yet with a refined silky balance of texture and perfumed acidity. The sweet lychee mouth as expected was the perfect counterpoint to the spice in the food. Balance and spice, like drinking liquid Turkish Delight with fruit and almonds.

First Round of food
The first round of food was excellent. The Garlic Naan was nicely hot from the Tandoor and the curry sauces had spice and taste and a wide range of textures given the differing main ingredients - firm chicken, smooth fish, melting mushrooms. Amazing mouth feel across all of them.
Men also can gaze sultry one. Or should that be a sultry glaze?
E. Guigal wines have never disappointed and the offering from this appellation of the northern Rhone valley which surrounds the prestigious Hermitage appellation would clearly rank as another Guigal success. Crozes-Hermitage is an appellation of the northern Rhone valley which surrounds the prestigious Hermitage appellation. Said to be one of the top wines of the vintage, the notes say the wine is "exceptional" with Parker noting the "complex bouquet of black olives, licorice, ground beef, spring flowers and red and black currants (which) soars from the glass of this 100% Syrah that is aged in 3-year-old barrels as well as larger foudres. With remarkable density, this evolved, approachable, delicious, full-bodied Crozes should drink well for a decade.” He gave it a 92 whilst Tanzer talks of deep, ripe and dense energy with smoky black fruit aromas and sweet sappy blackberry pastille flavour and gives a 91.

Second Round of Food. I think...
We were keen to avoid serving a tannic monster with spicy food and the Crozes proved a great choice. It felt a bit over chilled on the night and a bit on the tannic side as a result, though it improved magnificently as the wine warmed and helped the food go down very nicely indeed. For the second round of food, everything merged and welded into a delightful spice mouth and belly full of warmth and well being. Chefs had got that excellent balance between spice that you could taste yet did not overpower. You wanted to kiss the food, it was so good.

Well, except for the dessert. It just screamed diabetic shock from the colour and look of it, and given that there was still some red in the glass I decided to decline. Consensus was it tasted good. There you go. Some things you just have to leave to another life. Given the choice between sugar and booze, I choose booze. Hopefully will live a bit longer as a result. Probably live longer without the booze but what kind of life is that?

Before wine...
On the night, we guess most people preferred the Gewurtz since it got finished well ahead of the Crozes, but ultimately no prisoners were left at the end of the night. 

After wine!!!
Look what I got!!
Overall, a good night of great spicy food with well matched wines. Might be a bit pricey for some pockets and not "real" cuisine for some, but hey, this is good tasty cuisine in a city centre venue with friendly, competent service both of food and wines. Kudos to Trishna staff and management for getting everything nicely chilled and for washing our glasses at the end of the night with only one glass broken. On reflection, the food was quite rich in taste and texture and possibly not somewhere one would eat on a daily basis. But for that special occasion when the fire is up for a taste of great Indian cuisine in opulent surroundings, the Trishna would be a very good choice. Major downside was the car parking charges. At the food tasting, we got stung for RM18 which felt unacceptable. There was supposed to be a flat rate but the machine would have none of it, so we made alternative parking arrangements for the dinner. Won't say where we parked, but it was a darn sight cheaper. For us, RM18 is a real deterrrent and probably means we won't return too soon. Our other default Indian cuisine is the Sagar in Bangsar - great North Indian cuisine, a shade finer in spice and sauce and free parking. But Trishna did a very good job in catering to us and for this they deserve credit. Find a way to minimise your car park and pay them a visit!

Effect of the sultry gazing...
Trishna Restaurant Menu

Tandoori Chicken Tikka
Fish Ajwain - dory fish coated with caraway seeds and grilled
Mutton Sheesh Kebab
Hara Bhara  Kebab - a vegetarian kebab with aromatic spices

Bodegas Abanico Renaixenca Brut Cava NV
You get sultry hantam from all this gaze...

Mains 1
Goan Fish - a sinfully delicious fish curry that originated from Goa, cooked with fragrant spices and rich in coconut milk
Butter Chicken - a dish that dates back to the luxurious days of the Mughal empire, made with tomato puree and a dash of cream to finish
Saag Mushroom - a smooth, exotically spiced spinach curry with sizable chunks of mushrooms
Are we hungry yet?
Tarka Dhall - a traditional staple curry made with lentils and lots of spices making it a favourite accompaniment with rice or naan breads
Naan Selection: Plain Naan, Garlic Naan, and Tandoori Roti, all fresh from the Tandoor

2011 Hugel Gewurztraminer
2009 E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage

Mains 2
Papadums accompanied by Mint Chutney and Mango Pickles
Prawns Masala
Mutton Tawa Masala - Mutton with spices prepared in a griddle
Bhindi Do Payaza - A North Indian Dish made from Lady’s Fingers & Onions
Chicken Curry
Plain Briyani

2011 Hugel Gewurztraminer
2009 E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage

Gualb Jamun - deep-fried dough balls immersed in warm sweet syrup
Gajar Halwa - a traditional Punjabi dessert made with shredded carrots, milk, almonds and cashew nuts. 
Another before photo. The After was a bit fuzzy. 

Good health!!

All my own work... with a little help from my friends!

Thank you and good night!! Three doctors - Stephen, Rajan and Stephanie


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