Adding to the line-up of restaurants in the city, Nksha, Mumbai’s brand-new eatery stands tall and sharp in the colonial lanes of Churchgate. The fine dining restaurant is the brainchild of food connoisseurs Pranav M. Rungta and Chef Vikram Arora, two culinary masterminds turned entrepreneurs who envisioned a colonial space with an expert menu specialising in the diverse Indian flavours and ingredients associated with North Indian cuisine.
One of the most enticing things about a restaurant, apart from the food of course, is the space and setting. And Nksha does a wonderful job with its art deco-inspired setting. Bombay’s vintage era was the biggest influence for the restaurant’s architects Shruti Jalan and Neesha Alwani of NSA Architects. Nksha transports its guests to Mumbai’s bygone vintage era, with an art deco-themed space where colour and creativity align.
You won’t find any dull glares of whites and pastels at Nksha. Instead, you’re met with a brew of rich tones that complement the vibrant coral and forest green interiors. With its setting, decor and ambient lighting, the restaurant looks almost like a jazz bar from the 50s. While the decor is kept to a minimum, it certainly catches your attention; subtle gold accents, layered lighting, textured panels along the walls and a vintage classic – arched windows which help unite the indoors and the outdoors.
The vintage theme gets a further stronghold with a handful of black-and-white photographs lined across the walls, while dim table lamps and plush seating give guests the authentic experience of dining in the 50s.
Contemporary North Indian
While the interiors and ambience give off a vintage, slightly European vibe, the food at Nksha is thoroughly traditional, albeit contemporary versions of the traditional classics. Imagine a hearty kulcha with a gourmet truffle and cheese filling or a Chandni Chowk special dahi bhalla papri chaat with a garnish of fresh berries instead of pomegranate. You will find many such iterations on the menu, all of which only make it harder to decide what to eat.
Having heard great things about the gourmet kulchas, my dinner date and I started our meal with a truffle essence — a truffle, cheese and mushroom kulcha. Now if you’ve ever had a dish made with truffles, you’re familiar with the fragrant aromas of anything truffle! The overpowering smell of the truffle announced the arrival of the kulchas bringing a childlike cheer onto my face. And I wasn’t disappointed. Served with a generous shaving of fresh truffle, the cheesy mushroom kulchas were light, savoury and a spot-on start to our meal.
As a fan of North Indian street bites, the appetisers were an extremely tough choice with the array of kebabs, tikkas and fried treats. And while the choice felt impossible to settle, we agreed on three very promising plates – parmesan malai tikka, tandoori lobster tikka and tandoori jheenga lehsuni. As a fan of lobster, I wasn’t completely taken with the lobster tikka. The prawns, on the other hand, had a burst of flavour, while the parmesan malai tikka in its rich parmesan cream marinade, remains a favourite of mine.
Like the appetizers, the mains too feature traditional favourites with a contemporary spin either in the form of ingredients or western cooking techniques like smoking and poaching. For our main course, my dinner companion and I decided upon the smoked laal maas, something I had my eye on from the beginning! Served with hot butter garlic naans, the Rajasthani delicacy was as sumptuous as I’d expected. The mutton was so tender it slipped right off the bone!
Dessert at Nksha really pulls all the stops with its sweet classic curations. Classics like jalebi, kulfi, gulab jamun, shahi tukda and moong dal halwa grace the menu with fun variations. My dinner date choose Nutella ghewar tart while I savoured the coffee rasmalai. Two very sweet but truly heartwarming desserts, the ghewar and rasmalai dishes are meant solely for those with a good sugar tolerance. And those with a not-so-sweet sweet tooth can try out options like the paan ice cream, the kesar pista kulfi, kesar moong halwa or the mirchi ka halwa for the braver ones!
The cocktail menu left quite an impression. While it does boast some of the classics, the speciality menu was really seemingly captivating. Curated by mixologist Varun Sudakar, the cocktail menu offers a fine selection of wines and cocktails, ranging from classics to innovative concoctions that continue to pay tribute to the bold flavours of North Indian ingredients. Apart from cocktails, guests can also try out a range of fine wine selections chosen specially by Sommelier Nikhil Agarwal, along with pairing recommendations for each.