See, Smell, Touch and Taste - Degustation Menu at J.Hind, Grand by GRT Chennai

Where: J Hind – Grand by GRT
Address: Grand by GRT Hotels, 120, Sir Thyagaraya Road, T. Nagar, Chennai
Cuisine: North Indian, Mughlai, South Indian

Among the zillion art forms, cooking is the one that lets you to experience and sense the creation. The different cuisines, unbelievable array of ingredients and the finesse cooking techniques present before you an appealing and appetising dish. Over the years of Masterchef TV series, I have dreamt of witnessing the different cooking methods (or techniques) as well as tasting them something. My happiness just multiplied when the fine dining restaurants in Chennai started to experiment and infuse different cooking techniques in their food. And the one place I was curious to dine at was “J Hind” as the GRT hotel got revamped, they opened two restaurants and one lounge bar. Talking about J Hind, the quirky and classy decors will make you fall in love with them and then the dining fiesta. They create a flabbergasting experience with different cooking method; though the cuisine is familiar it’s the experience that makes the difference.

Enough with the introduction, let me talk about the food. To relish the unique cooking style you got to opt for their ‘Degustation’ menu which lets you experience 6-7 different cooking styles. Though I was familiar with all the cooking methods (thanks to Masterchef), all that I cared about was ‘taste of the food’.

After a brief about the degustation menu, they served the beautiful Amuse Bouche with Coffee Mishti Doi Shots, Avacado Chilly Dragon Fruit Spheres; the liquid form of avocado and dragon fruit are shaped into spheres by a culinary process ‘Spherification’. The refreshing avocado, spicy dragon fruit and the sweet, delightful coffee flavoured mishti doi was heavenly.

The hot Gajar Adraki Shorba wasn’t a favourite; the soup was topped with cream foam. Besides witnessing the Foaming technique, the soup didn’t have an impact in me in terms of taste. A bowl of soup is all about infusion of strong flavours which should impress you when you taste but this one was bland for my liking.

Nitro Freezing technique proves to be the hero and the visual experience leaves a long lasting impact. Who wouldn’t love Bhel Puri? At least I love them, with the addition of olives, a drizzle of olive oil and focaccia bread they create an Indian-Italian chat Indian Focaccia. The crispy frozen focaccia bread with the chat masala and sauces along with crunchy pomegranate, tangy olives, peanuts, om podi, papadis and fried onions tasted good and it definitely couldn’t go wrong. But because of the technique the chat is chilled and that somehow doesn’t let me adore it.

All of a sudden a bunch of starters and mini tandoor grills started to line-up on the table. The food was served so quick that we struggled to understand the dishes. The Paneer Khurchan Tart and Gothumai Kuzhi Paniyaram Stuffed with Chilly and Cheese were the two starters that failed in taste. A bite of the tart and a spoon of the paneer tasted well when ate separately then as a dish put together; the stuff was dry and it didn’t mend well with the tart. And talking about the paniyaram, I did find the wheat paniyaram okay but where there any hint of Cheese? Yes, a cheese lump had settled at one corner in the paniyaram. The paniyaram was insipid and didn’t excite me in taste.

The flaky puff pastry stuffed with sweet and velvety caramelized onion was blissful; loved the Caramelized Onion & Apricot Turnover. Though I personally couldn’t identify the taste of apricot, I loved this started.

The Chettinadu Noodle Wrap Prawn and Payyoli Chicken Fry with Strawberry Sauce tasted good. The masala used for both the meat were same; being a seafood lover I enjoyed the crispy, juicy prawn rolled in crunchy noodle. Though the chicken was fab, I wasn’t a huge fan of the sauce that came along.

And then the best starter made its way, the Pan Fried Momos served with Manchurian Sauce was drool-worthy and I couldn’t stop craving for more. The momo's were smoked with wood flavour; after a couple of failed attempts to light the smoke gun, the momo’s were finally served but I couldn’t sense any wood flavour. But the spicy and flavourful Manchurian sauce coated vegetable and chicken momo made-up for the starters that failed to appeal in taste.

The All Fried up Tandoor scored points in presentation and the blowtorch roasting made it all the more interesting. And when it came down to taste, the non-veg tandoor dishes tasted good. The succulent and spicy Achari Pomfret fish and the juicy Wasabi Chicken Tikka, bursts with flavour in your mouth. Whereas the vegetarian tandoor dishes - Oats Tikkis and Tandoori Gobi Shimla Mirchi weren’t the best in taste; but the sweet and charred delight ‘Achari Ananas (pineapple)’ was brilliant.

A tiny bowl of Pineapple Rasam Sorbet (the rasam was frozen by adding liquid nitrogen) was served before the mains as a palate cleanser. I love pineapple rasam but whatsoever the modern culinary methods are, I can never imagine a chilled rasam. Also the flavour of pineapple or rasam (i.e. the essence of grounded spices or tamarind) wasn’t evident.

Right after seeing the line-up of main courses, I knew that I am going to burst at the end of the meal. The crispy and thin rava dosa with the curries were a South Indian delight. Thenga Paal Thamarai Thandu Pattani Kurma with Corn Rava with Cheese and Onion – The coconut based kurma with lotus stem and green peas was packed with flavours but the cheese, onion corn rava dosa was okay. But on the other hand, the Keema Rava Dosa with Kozhy Thenga Paal Curry was a deadly delicious combination. The zest of coconut milk and the mouth-watering chicken paired with the keema dosa can’t get any better.

The desi North Indian gravies and breads were equally good, but the dish I enjoyed the most was Paneer Roulade with Chilman Curry. The rich, creamy curry did the magic for me, but the hard texture of the paneer acted as a spoiler. If you get the Sous Vide cooking method right then probably the meat you serve will be one of the best. Here, the lamb just effortlessly melts in your mouth reminding you that they have nailed the cooking method. The spicy Lamb Shank Nihari served with Tandoori Potato Mash paired with the Indian breads (Amritsari Kulcha, Pudina Kulcha & Missi Roti) was yum.

Dal Jai Hind – was it rice or gravy? Whatever it be, the J.Hind style dal tasted perfect. Whether you eat the dal alone or with roti, they seemed to taste good however you prefer to eat them. And finally the most awaited dish, Gilli Murgh Biryani and Paneer Tikka Gilli Biryani. This is wet biryani so if you are trying it for the first time, either you will love it or you may hate it. The well-cooked rice mixed with chicken curry is a delight; it looks like digging into chicken curry rice or bisibelabath but the flavours remind you that it’s biryani. Though the paneer tikka gilli biryani was good, I end up favouring the non-veg.

Paneer Roulade
Gilli Biryani - Murgh & Paneer
It’s tough to say ‘no’ to guilty pleasures especially when they spell ‘Desserts’. The moment the Chef crushes the nitro frozen rose on your scoop of ice-cream, you just scream ‘wow’. As they score a lot of points in the visual theatre, they failed to score the same way in taste. Except the Orange & Basil Ice Cream that tasted so good, the other two desserts were average. The hard and grainy texture of Malai Gulla Brulee wasn’t palatable. The Apple Coin Jalebi had the right sweetness and texture; it was neither bad nor excellent.

Jalebi, Ice Cream, Malai Gulla

In between the courses we tried two of their A La Carte dishes; they were Gun Powder Arancini Rice Balls and Pazha Dosa Pops. The Indian style Arancini balls stuffed with gun powder rice and cheese somehow didn’t appeal me in taste. Even after trying the arancini with four different sauces and two different powdered spice masala, the dish fell short and it wasn’t appetizing to me. And who knew the mini banana dosa loaded with nuts will turn out to be the best dish for the day. A must try at J.Hind, it is a fancy version of unniyappam but they were fantabulous and you wouldn’t like sharing them.

Besides the presentation, there wasn't much to talk about Pani Puri
The Degustation menu is priced at Rs.1450++ for vegetarians and Rs.1650++ for non-vegetarians.

Breaking Down Points
Ambience: Quirky, Classy and Indian.
Food Variety: I loved the variety in the degustation menu (which I tried). The A La Carte menu is also elaborate.
Taste: I wish they had focussed a tad more on the taste than the tamasha (I mean the visual theatrics and presentation). While I loved the momo, I liked the main course, amuse bouche and the turnover starter whereas the others didn’t make a mark in taste.
Quality & Quantity: The portion seemed never ending but talking about the quality, it’s the unique culinary method, theatrics and presentation that grabs your attention. But I would have loved it if the taste had blown me away.  
Price: A meal for two would cost Rs. 3500-4500 INR approx. (excluding alcohol). Extremely expensive!

So my Verdict!
J Hind at Grand by GRT takes you on a culinary journey where you can see, smell, touch and taste. The unique cooking methods, presentation and a few dishes were impressive. Though the pricing is expensive, I wouldn’t bother if they nail the taste.  

P.S. On-the-house invite for tasting the Degustation Menu at J Hind. Remember, no two person's palate can be same. 

J.Hind - Grand by GRT Hotels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
See, Smell, Touch and Taste - Degustation Menu at J.Hind, Grand by GRT Chennai See, Smell, Touch and Taste - Degustation Menu at J.Hind, Grand by GRT Chennai Reviewed by Divya Srinivasan on 15:08 Rating: 5

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