Aug 04: Nadodi Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur offering modern South Indian cuisine elevating rustic ingredients and traditional dishes using modern gastronomic techniques and presenting them with sensorial flair, was a rewarding experience for our guest writer Yegas Naidoo from South Africa with South Indian lineage and she feels it could replace the now shut-down Gaggan in Bangkok in winning accolades but feels the wine experience could be better
I need to thank my dear friend Debra Tye, based in Kuala Lumpur for making an impeccable restaurant choice out of the suggested fine dining options in the city when she recommended Restaurant Nadodi during my trip to Malaysia last year. It was an accomplished choice delivering mostly with sheer poetry throughout our dining experience. It proudly stands out as a fine dining hotspot in the city.
“Nadodi” sweepingly interpreted as “nomads” in several South Indian dialects, references and highlighting how foods travel with generations of migrants, laborers and travelers bringing their culture and cuisine to alien lands, contributing to the melting pots of the nations they become part of adding dimensioned richness that today we are so eager to dissect, reassemble and disseminate with a more depthed understanding.
Nadodi’s founders comprise of three South Indians: Head Chef Sricharan Venkatesh, Brand Director Kartik Kumar, and Akshar Chalwadi, heading the beverage programme. Let us first get the elephant in the room out of the way: yes, the first two boast stints at Gaggan in Bangkok but this restaurant is not intended to be an epigone of Gaggan Anand’s famed Michelin starred restaurant which, incidentally, closed its doors in August, 2019.
Contemporary South Indian cuisine
Of course Nadodi might be the contemporary Indian successor that will fast track a position in the exalted International food guides [think 50 Best and Michelin]. Furthermore, younger Executive Chef Sricharan etched with dark good looks is a model of restrained modesty compared to the frothily ebullient Gaggan. Nadodi focuses on modern, progressive South Indian cuisine elevating rustic ingredients and traditional dishes from the area using modern gastronomic techniques and presenting them with sensorial flair. Alchemist Chalwadi works magic with cocktails distilled from infused alcohols with a base of common kitchen waste materials together with innovative local spices. Recycling kudos be awarded to him!
Various Tasting Options
It offers a variety of tasting menus, including a vegetarian option, cleverly classified as measured dining journeys depending on your resilience and appetite, there are also paired options with wines and bespoke curated cocktails that also need a special mention. Open for dinner six nights a week, the crafted tasting menus run from 9-Miles Journey (about $105.00) to an 11-Mile Journey (about $120.00).
Nestled in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, in a high rise building under the shadows of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, the restaurant caters for 70-night time- only diners in a sleek polished marbled floored interior. The main dining room features a curvaceous fluid lighting creation adding dramatic effect. But more interesting are the large scale black and white photographic images dotting the various rooms.
The well-lit display wine showcase on entry is more beauteous than functional. Service matches with impeccable style and delivery with a deft touch to distinguish any diners with exceptional dietary requirements: the stem of the positioned glassware has a specific colour code that can readily and automatically be identified by various service staff.
Sricharan amuses with a whimsical sense of adventure and playfulness in building up his complex handcrafted dishes, yes there are foams and espuma moments together with familiar textured deconstructed presentations, cutting edge custard-like cubes and broths distilled out of bubbling brewers brought to the table with fanfare and a degree of theatrics.
My dining experience almost took me back to famed Tickets Restaurant in Barcelona as both displayed, to a degree, that modernity and tradition go hand-in-hand. The creativity here has an optic of showmanship but what we have is a refreshing display of how a fine dining Indian restaurant can break away from the cliché of crackling poppadum, fiery curry and rice with a slurp of Kingfisher.
To quote Chef Sricharan: Asked to sum up their cuisine in a word, “Disruption,” he gamely ventures, “We destroy a traditional dish, but keep its soul intact so that people can still relate to Southern Indian food. We harness completely contemporary techniques and retrofit an age old traditional recipe with modernity and flair.”
Pricing is rather expensive but not as extreme as Gaggan. One is however, constrained apparently by 3 Set menus only and choice of wines is limited.
The only dramatic complaint was with a poorly stored Italian wine which necessitated a second choice which worked perfectly – a German Riesling. The wine list was pretty standard and I recall struggling to find a suitable red wine. The first Italian wine we selected was off [not corked], due I think to poor storage.
There was no undue challenge in returning and replacing the wine at all, fault accepted and replaced with a smile. We then changed to a completely different region. I do remember the wall-to-wall display arrangement at the entrance to the restaurant, attractive to behold but not functional for wine/spirits storage at all.
They do some rather innovative “home-style” clear distillations with recycled scraps [vegetable and citrus peels etc.] including saffron presented like Grappa as an after dinner digestive, not completely refined as a concept but the F&B Manager is rather enthusiastic about this in-house recycling project.
Nadodi is definitely a restaurant to visit if you are looking for a fine dining restaurant serving Indian cuisine. Watch-out when the 50 Best Restaurants List or Michelin Star ratings are announced during the next couple of years.
Naidoo completed her education in the UK with a degree in Biochemistry and ‘The British Wine Profile’ as dissertation topic in MBA cultivating her passion for wine. She is an international wine judge and frequently attends dynamic wine events. Her carefully nurtured interests in food, vineyards, spas and holistic therapies during 30 years of family business, make for an integral part of her personality-editor
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