Four Seasons is perched in a quaint and lush locality of South Mumbai, which, is why it’s always a pleasure to keep returning here, for dining and more. San-Qi being our favourite as it offers an expansive view of the stunning lush scenery from inside of a stylishly modern restaurant. That along with, indulging culinary magic, and warm hospitality. Whether you want to savour a Pan-Asian culinary tour or embody the specialities from North India, Japan, and Thailand, SanQi offers a long menu of delicacies and wines to complete your meal. Recently, SanQi hosted me and my dining companion, Mantra, to wallow us in their elegant brunch featuring the best from each of the restaurant kitchens.
As for the restaurant, San-Qi (the three energies) spans across 2-floors of idyllic-spaces, pulsating the vibe of a modern Asia. Therefore, a visit makes ‘certain’ that you have an eclectic culinary experience, as you traverse through the most-famed cuisines of the East. While the lower level exhibits the Tandoor and Wok kitchens, the open upper level mirrors a contemporary Japanese setting with a lavish Sushi bar and a Teppanyaki table. By and large, San-Qi, is a contemporary food theatre, serving a melange of delicate and robust flavours of the four Asian cuisines, each crafted by a Master Chef, hailing from the region. The sleek decor matches the exceptional Asian fare with accents of glass and natural woods. Ingeniously curated to leave your visual sense and taste buds spellbound!
The exciting interplay of wholesome cuisines was marshalled by Executive Sous Chef Vikas Singh who enlivened our meals with a global twist on fresh, and natural flavours. We had the pleasure to experience the magic of Chef Singh’s culinary skills that varied from ocean-fresh Japanese Sushi to the authentic Cantonese cuisine. The afternoon was well-spent lounging inside the quiet, private dining restaurant that bathed in natural sunlight and the moving shadows of tall trees. Just about when we finished admiring the rustic bottled-wall décor on our side, our creative, handcrafted cocktails arrived on the table.
The bar chef Lalfak Zualzela was kind enough to mix me a Signature (off the menu) cocktail, that goes by the name Sin Apple. This alcoholic beverage was a creative take on a summer-ish tall icy-drink with a whiskey base. What can I say, except, this ‘seriously irresistible’ concoction infused with intensified flavours of Jim Beam Bourbon, apple, cinnamon, mint leaves, pineapple juice and gingerette, was the most refreshing cocktails I have had this season.
Mantra, on the other hand, settled on the Signature Mumbai Sour (Four Season’s twist on the New York Sour) engulfed with hints of cinnamon, mulled wine and lavender.
On this day, our brunch kicked-off with a traditional Chinese dim sum savoury, the very palatable, Turnip Cake. As, a matter of fact, the master chefs at San-Qi, dished out the ‘softest and crispiest’ turnip cake I have ever munched-on. From the first until the last bite, I was protruded, in a time machine that took me back to my Michelin-starred experiences in Singapore. Except, there the turnip cake is called a carrot cake. Irrespective, this nostalgic throwback was yet another reminder of how beautifully San-Qi has ingrained the authentic flavours from the Far East. The secret of the cake’s delicate texture flings down to how, well the shallots are fried and the accurate precision with which, the dish is cooked. Moreover, the turnip cakes were served with a shedload of garlic and chilli that ‘certainly’ enhanced the taste on a whole new level. What, an ambrosial unfolding, I’d say!
The second course to tantalize our tastebuds was, Chongqing Chicken, a traditional, spicy ‘Sichuan style’ preparation Wok’d up with dried red chillies. This dish is a myth-breaker! Cantonese cuisine, as many of us think, is not just a bland fare instead, Chongqing province in southwestern China demonstrates generous use of red chillies and Sichuan peppercorns in whatever they cook. (Which, makes their food the spiciest in China)Taking its inspiration from southwestern China, the crispy stir-fried Chongqing Chicken at San-Qi stimulates the exact similar palate with subdued ‘spicy’ notes. On the whole, it tasted gloriously peppery, hot and revelatory treacly.
Next up, was our third-course, a Sashimi platter amongst many other signature delicacies. We were served, 2pcs each, of Chutoro (belly area of Tuna), Hamachi (yellowtail or Japanese amberjack fish), Botan-Ebi (pandalid shrimp), Tataki Tuna and Tataki Salmon served with a dollop of refreshing scallop salad. Love the way the Chef set out the salad in a hollowed-out orange cup and further garnished it with Tobiko, the ‘orangish’ flying fish roe with a natural smoky-salty taste. Japanese culinary art at its best; simple yet, satisfying.
For the fourth course, we were presented, with a revitalizing Thai Pomelo Salad accompanied by assorted Dumplings. Pomelo resembles a giant grapefruit, and when used in a salad, it instantly invigorates a tourist palate. It’s like taking your tastebuds on a trip to Thailand! This salad, in particular, had a toned-down hint of fruity, sour and salty fusion of mind-blowingly delicious flavours put together.
The Dumplings basket included Crystal veg dumpling, Edamame dumpling, Chives dumpling, Asparagus and lotus root dumpling, Chicken shumai, Prawn dumpling, and steamed chicken dumpling.
That was followed by the fifth-course, from the Indian section boasting mouth-melting Galawat Kebabs and Highway Murgh Tikka served with Chur Chur Naans. The tender Galawat Kebabs divulged the authentic Awadhi essence, as if, they were served right out of a Nawabi Lucknow kitchen. With every bite, I could taste the overwhelming luxurious lifestyle once relished by the Kings of Awadh. Similarly, the infamous Highway Murgh Tikka is a culinary delight, which is prepared by overnight marinating the chicken in hung curd and then slathering it with chillies, garlic, and ginger before placing it in the Tandoor. The smoky flavour of Tandoor blends so well with the authentic taste of the Indian spices that it is bound to become one of the best Tikkas you will come across. ChurChur Naans were just the right choice to go with the kebabs and the tikkas. While Chur Chur Naan is ‘originally’ an Irani leavened bread, it’s also one-of-the-most preferred tandoori bakes of North India. On the whole, a great amalgamation of traditional flavours!
The sixth in order was our main-course from the Cantonese section featuring, Yang Chow fried rice and Hunan style steamed Chilean sea bass. Coldwater Chilean sea bass or Patagonian toothfish is the food for seals and whales, making it one of the most nutrient-packed meals. When stirred with Asian vegetables, herbs and sauces, this fish soaks in all the natural flavours, and in return, becomes one of the healthiest and flavoursome main course worth indulging.
The Yang Chow fried rice was yet another surprise, more so, because it had a bit of everything – prawns, chicken, pork and all that with subtle Asian spices to keep it light on the stomach.
Our brunch concluded with signature dessert Timeless Chocolate and Chinese last-course, Mandarin Cheesecake. It was tempting to watch Mantra, slice into his ganache filled ‘Fondant’ sponge cake, that comes across as an entertaining gooey preparation, at first glance. This hot and intense dessert was served with sous-vide mandarin, sorbet, mandarin star anise, chocolate soil, and mandarin gel. Further garnished with a sprinkle of Cantonese spices and mint! Much enticed, I took a bite of the meltingly soft centre of the fondant and to me that, was a ‘devilish chocolate’ romantic entanglement. Together with the underpin-elements of this last course, this dessert is another level of deliciousness!
Coming to my dessert, the Mandarin Cheesecake, much like fried ice cream was so darn good, but wait until you slice through the outer coating. It’s then that the cheesecake bursts with juicy mandarins and mango filling. I call that, “sunshine on a plate!” This vibrant dessert was ladled out with embellishing charms, such as Mango bavarois and sago pearls, with an alluring topping of white chocolate structures. Indisputably, one of the most refreshing Chinese desserts I have tasted this summer!
On Sundays, San-Qi offers “The All-You-Can-Eat,” A La Carte Brunch for food connoisseurs where you can taste either of four cuisines, namely, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Indian. Don’t forget to pair your meal with San-Qi’s exquisite wines or spirits, for their extensive wine list offers a rich collection of Bordeaux and Super Tuscans that I highly recommend. The restaurant’s wine collection is a good mix of old and new world wines catering to different palates and to have the best dining experience at San-Qi, you must check with their sommelier for recommendations on pairing wines with the dining options for the day. In cocktails, San-Qi’s “B-Fashioned,” a classic (Old Fashioned) concoction is something you shouldn’t miss. The mixologist will surprise you his innovative take on the cocktail by lavishly slathering it with salted banana syrup and dehydrated banana chips.
Before leaving, we spent some time chatting with the Executive Sous Chef Vikas Singh, who has 11 years of working experience in the culinary space with high-end luxury hospitality brands, such as, the Four Seasons, Mariott and Accor Group. Chef Singh told us that he is largely focused on modern European and Asian cuisines and his culinary vision for San-Qi is to curate authentic, regional recipes with a contemporary touch and his gastronomy demonstrations boast only premium quality ingredients. Big thanks to Four Seasons for having us over.