Contemporary Indian Cuisine at Rahi (NYC)
A few nights ago, I had dinner at Rahi with a friend (and a skeptic on Indian cuisine). My sole intention was to have both hopes that this contemporary Indian restaurant would change my friend’s mind on the many great things about Indian cuisine, primarily for its bold and mostly spicy flavors. Did the restaurant change his mind? In the end, yes.
My friend is started off with a glass of crisp, clean white Burgundy and I had their homemade ginger beer that was extra ginger-y in a great way. Not too long after our food order was taken, an amuse bouche of paneer tart with a five-chili blend sauce with cherry compote arrived. The cheese tart was nicely baked and the cheese worked well with the spicy, slightly sweet sauce. The little sliver of pickled shallot added a shot of sour that tied up the flavors nicely.
We had ordered four appetizers to share and we have agreed with our waitress’ idea to course it out to have two at a time. However, I didn’t expect the heavier dishes to come out before the ones that I would consider as lighter (as in flavors). The nicely seared and tender octopus tentacle in a pool of squid ink upma dotted with calamansi aioli was lovely and the chef manage to bridge the roots of Indian cuisine and meld it with global flavors like the calamansi, a Filipino citrus that is akin to lime. The slightly briny ink sauce melded with the calamansi wonderfully and added a touch of creaminess. The lamb loin kebab was a delicious as its bold curry worked nicely with the finely ground pistachios in the sauce. The caramelized peach added a beautiful bright, sweet and slightly smoky bite to the savory lamb.
When we received our next round of appetizers ― edamame artichoke chaat and black pepper prawn, the course order (for me) felt out of order. The artichoke chaat was a large serving of beautifully fried baby artichokes and leaves of spinach, with a sprinkling of shelled edamame. While this chaat has the signature sweet, sour, tangy, spicy, and crunchy flavors and texture but it’s too sweet for what I was anticipating. The black pepper prawns were butterflied and fried and covered in what tasted like hoisin sauce, ginger, and green chili. There was heat from the chili but the sweetness of the hoisin sauce dominated our palates and unfortunately, it wouldn’t let the freshness and the inherent sweetness of the prawns shine.
The Sigdiwali Macchi was a beautifully roasted Branzino (it was the fish of the day), topped with a spicy heirloom tomatoes salad on one half and the other half topped with a pineapple fermented chili. The fish was moist and the flavors were wonderful and boldly spiced yet profoundly it let the fish’s clean flavors shine.
The Mangalorean duck breast, with gassi curry on a bed of cornmeal was my friend’s favorite dish and it chose to pair with Amity Vineyards’ Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. The pairing worked well with the fruit-forward black cherry flavors. The duck was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the soulful curry was delightful to dip with the garlic naan.
To finish our meal, we had this dramatic dessert of Chocolate covered fig leaf set in a shallow bowl of dry ice with cold plumes of smoke wafting out. It’s a very Instagram-able dish and it’s definitely a dessert for the chocoholic. The herbaceous flavors of the chocolate enrobed fresh fig leaf contrasts nicely to the creamy chocolate ganache. Given that it’s a warm, humid summer night, this chocolate dish could easily melt in your hands if you don’t eat it fast enough. It’s a lovely ending.
The food was very good and it interesting to taste the melding of Indian cuisine with the various ingredients that might not necessarily be traditional (e.g. octopus, duck, hoisin or oyster sauce, etc.) and tastes good. The servers are friendly but not exactly on top of things like they left our finished dishes on the table over ten minutes and haven’t asked us if they could clear the table unless I asked them. I would still come back to this place for creative Indian food and the restaurant itself is lovely.
To view more photos of this visit, please view the gallery below or CLICK HERE for the photo set:
60 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011
Phone: (212) 373-8900