With the Pullman brand coming to the city, we have not just been provided with another luxury property at a prime location, but also some amazing food destinations. Honk, the bistro-style specialty restaurant showcasing culinary influences from around Asia, is one such destination. The food is inspired by popular street-style dishes from across South East Asia, primarily Chinese and Japanese with a glimpse of Thai and Singaporean as well as a touch of Indonesian.
The décor is distinctly natural, using a lot of bamboo and brass elements, with the lamps and candles lighting up the wooden interiors, bringing about an innate calmness to the place. The large live sushi bar is certainly the center of attraction for the place, which brings an interactive element to the experience. They also have a tempura counter and Robatayaki grill, where we can choose from the best fresh produce, and get customized dishes made live in front of us. In addition to that, the restaurant also has an al fresco area, which is perfect for a casual and relaxed evening at the garden.
Another aspect worth mentioning is the emphasis laid on the presentation of the food. Moving away from the mass-produced and industry-manufactured crockery, they use award-winning and limited edition crockery from 55 bcn (sourced from Barcelona) that is used for the appetizers so that each plate is unique. For the mains, they use the “Pure” line of illustrious Serax tableware by Pascale Naessens.
The menu has been beautifully crafted by Chef Deepak Malhotra Chief Culinary Designer at Honk. Chef Malhotra, who has an impressive CV, which 14 years of rich, culinary experience under his belt (including working at Chef George Blanc’s three Michelin starred Restaurant, Vonnas in France), feels it is crucial to not over-do things, and to have a few bold flavors that blend well together. There is also a lot of emphasis laid on procuring the right ingredients to provide an unparalleled experience. One can choose from the diverse à la carte menu, or go for one of the three degustation menus (called Inception, Innovation and Celebration) to experience a few items from each section of the menu. We chose to go for the Celebration menu, which had some really interesting options.
Our experience at Honk started with an amuse bouche which did exactly what it was meant to- tantalize our taste buds. It consisted of a toasted piece of bread topped with apples and mangoes marinated in a citrusy dressing, sprinkled with some rice flour dust, and was really fresh and delicious. As we waited for our first course to arrive, we munched on the house crisps which are served at each table. The crisps come in three different flavors- plain, wasabi, and one with spices. These were so delicious that they were gone in no time.
We were then greeted by Mr. Topesh, a master at creating unusual and amazing drinks, who suggested we go with the Honk Sour (their signature cocktail) and the Honk Lemonade. The Honk Sour had a nice mix of gin, with kaffir lime, camomile tea, and egg white, and the citrus notes balanced very well with the alcohol. The Honk Lemonade was also a nice concoction of soda infused with Thai lemon, galangal, and lemon grass, and none of the elements were overpowering.
The first course we had was the tempura. The non-veg one was truffled salmon, yuzu, cream cheese, eel sauce, and crispy panko sushi roll with spicy mayo. The salmon was really fresh and the yuzu brought a nice zing to the dish, accentuated by the spicy mayo, and the crunch from the panko was simply brilliant. The vegetarian one had the subtle flavors of cucumber and yuzu mayo, with the honk sushi sauce and was really well made too.
Next came the dumplings, wherein the vegetarian one had a stuffing of edamame beans and shallots, topped with earthy and robust-flavored truffle oil, while the non-veg one had a filling of chicken and chives, and had a lovely, mild flavor. What brought these dumplings to life were the spectacular dips served with them- from the super spicy Cantonese chili dip, to the tangy and supremely delicious broad bean dip, and the piquant soya yuzu, they were so good that we found ourselves hoping we could somehow get the recipes.
From the “Raw and Nibbles” section, we had the Fried Chicken Wings with House Sambal and the Crispy Peppered Tofu with Thai Basil. The chicken wings had been marinated for 24 hours to let the flavors seep in and then double-cooked, to get a thin crispy crust on the outside, while the meat inside remains moist and juicy. The tofu was so soft and silky, and had been infused with Thai basil from their very own in-house garden, and kaffir lime and chilies. It was served with some orange marmalade and spicy mayo, so with each bite, we got the mix of sweet, spicy and tangy flavors.
We then moved to the skewers, which was chicken breast in case of non-veg and eggplant in case of vegetarian, marinated with a miso garlic sauce. The chicken was really juicy and the eggplant had a creamy texture with a thin skin around it. The miso garlic sauce was really pungent and provided a nice punch of flavor.
We were then served another of Mr. Topesh’s creations- the Shanghai Bell. The concept behind this drink is to use ingredients that are present in the main course (such as bell peppers), so as to complement those flavors. The mix of red and yellow bell peppers with galangal, lemon grass puree, and basil leaves worked surprisingly well together.
From the “Wok and Fried” section, we had the Kung Pao Chicken, Sichuan Dandan Noodles, Vegetables in Thai Red Curry and Stir Fried Vegetables. The kung pao chicken was a brilliant example of how a few ingredients, balanced well together, can work to create magic. The chicken was juicy, and was coated with a Sichuan pepper corn and dried red chili based sauce, and it was just adequately spicy and tangy. The cashew not only provided crunch to the dish, but the essential oils from the nut also worked to put everything in balance. The dandan noodles was also an exquisite dish, consisting of thin noodles in a lovely savory broth infused with pickled radish and chili, topped with some minced lamb. A typical street dish, this portrayed elegance in its simplicity. The stir fried vegetables had crunchy lotus root, broccoli, and sugar snap peas, all cooked al dente in a mild broth infused with shoaxing wine. The dish was topped with fried garlic which really enhanced the flavors. The Thai red curry was zingy and vibrant, and the coconut flavor, through present, wasn’t overbearing. The curry had a mélange of vegetables such as baby corn, broccoli, peas, aubergine, and mushrooms and went well with the Steamed Jasmine Rice served alongside.
Along with these dishes, we also had the Kimchi Fried Rice, which is a dish which simply should not be missed. The rice was flavored with house-made kimchi which was piquant and zingy and the rice had broccoli, edamame beans and spring onions.
Finally, we closed off our brilliant meal with some spectacular desserts, which again carried forward the same philosophy of using a few flavors that combine beautifully together.
Caramel Chocolate & Peanut Parfait: The plate presented in front of us was pretty as a picture. The chocolate dome made of a thin sheet of tempered chocolate, on top of which hot chocolate sauce poured, which melted the chocolate dome to reveal a chocolate and peanut parfait which was light and airy and was absolutely toothsome. The dome was surrounded with dots of raspberry and yuzu curds, so that the citrus cuts through the richness of the chocolate. A heavenly dessert and a must-have for chocolate lovers.
Ginger Cake with Ginger Ice-cream & Raspberry Sauce: This is a must-have dish at Honk, and if you like the heat and earthiness that ginger imparts, this will be bliss! The cake was so moist and buttery, and had a strong ginger kick. It was served on tart raspberry sauce, which added color and brightness to the dish. The cake was served along with a quenelle of house-made ginger ice-cream on a bed of chocolate soil, and the hot-cold effect of the warm cake and the ice-cream worked wonders.
Overall, it was an experience par excellence, made even better with the splendid service, which was courteous and professional. Chef Malhotra personally visits each table and the interaction with the chef always adds a lot to the overall experience as you get to understand the thought-process as well as the care and attention behind each dish. Honk certainly is one of the best Pan-Asian restaurants in the city and warrants multiple visits!
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Location: Hotel Pullman New Delhi Aerocity, Asset No 02 GMR Hospitality District IGI Airport, New Delhi
Phone No.: (+91)1146080808
Open for dinner only: 7pm-12pm