The moveable feast: Menu of Rox’s memories
Chef Vikram Ganpule is one year young in The Hyatt Regency, but a richness of experience gathered in his postings and a mind that revels in experimentation, have him keeping you guessing in a menu that is extraordinarily inventive.
“Rox is built around a wood-fire oven. I have tried to get as much as I can out of it.”
And his success staggering.
He comes to Kathmandu from Sheraton Delhi, Middle-East and at least two Hyatts — last one in Bombay but his discipline with the wood-fired oven and all it’s capable of has him expanding
Rox looks fresh with immaculate white napery and the finest China and food that is as taste-filled as it is tastefully presented like the appetizer, the Rox Étagère for two which has three platters on a especially created three-level stand.
There is a Salmon platter with Salmon Seviche, which is marinated raw salmon with the taste of lemon juice and olive oil, Salmon Tartare and Smoked Salmon. Each has distinct flavours and you can’t get enough of any. They are so good.
Chef sees to it that his appetizers are not too much and not too little.
The lemon in the Seviche wakes your taste buds up and you are into the second layer. They look like small round crumbled balls and are called Chicken and Fontina Cheese with Tomato Sauce. The whole dish is subtle made mellow by the Fontina Cheese which is delicately nutty and originates in the Aosta Valley in the Alps. You dip the roundels into a herbed tomato sauce and you are in heaven.
Says Chef Vikram, “We have a herb garden between here and Bouddhanath and it flourishes and often the aromas float across to us as a sort of air bond appetizer.”
The last of the three appetizers was very fine Carpaccio, which is a marinated meat served cold in creamy vinaigrette that was created between the wars at Harry’s Bar in Venice.
“My menus depend upon seasonal availability so I always have the freshness that my customers want.”
Using his wood-fired oven, we had Lamb Chops which were marinated and cooked into tenderness and served with an unusual ratatouille and a quite extraordinary polenta, the maize dish from Italy that is herbed. The ratatouille which is from France has olives and a rich tomato paste. We had our New Zealand Lamb Chops with Rosemary and wine sauce and I thought of Ophelia’s line in Hamlet, “Rosemary is for remembrance”. For sure, we won’t forget.
Neither will we forget the Milanese Osso Bucco, the lamb dish whose name literally means
‘bone with a hole’. It’s a rich stew with onions and wine and tomatoes cooked to softness and a thick reduced gravy. It was served with a saffron risotto which added an undreamt step to Jamie Oliver’s four stages to making the dish. And such a delicious step.
The Smoked Chicken and Tomato Risotto was Chef breaking the rules — here was a non-classical red risotto tomato infused with a riot of red, yellow and green peppers and chopped smoked chicken.
Unusual too was the Feta Cheese from Greece and Artichokes Ravioli that took us back to the Greeks who pre-Christ used to call their little children “Little cheeses’ and took us back to Catherine de Medici who introduced the artichoke to France and the world.
Before leaving came Chef’s delight. “It’s my slightly warm surprise, a small chocolate cake, which when you cut into releases a lava of chocolate.” And Ophelia’s saying about rosemary remembrance and now Rox follows you all the way home.