Asian food, innovative cocktails, stylish decor, high energy music and the showmanship of serial restaurateur Zorawar Kalra all add up to make the newly launched Bo Tai, a swanky new addition to namma Bengaluru's culinary canvas. The restaurant menu showcases modern Chinese and Thai cooking techniques with full-bodied dishes bursting with fresh produce, herbs, spices and that extra zing. Complementing the food repertoire is an equally impressive list of fruit-forward cocktails which balance sweet and sour flavours with that refreshing boozy punch.
Housed in the precincts of the JW Marriott hotel, Bo Tai exudes an edgy, casual vibe with indoor and outdoor seating, two bars, and an extra dose of greenery under a balmy Bengaluru sky. Designed by a Japanese architect, Bo Tai is built around a magnificent 200-year old fig tree which has witnessed some interesting history and helped shape some. Natural shades of brown, beige and mustard dominate the restaurant with a smattering of copper and rose gold for that uber-chic look both indoors and in the al-fresco area.
With groundbreaking concepts such as Masala Library, Pa Pa Ya, Kode, Tygr, Younion, Made in Punjab and Farzi Café, Zorawar and Dildeep Kalra of Massive Restaurants have been pushing the envelope to establish newer food and beverage concepts for the discerning diner's palate. Bo Tai first debuted in Delhi near Qutub Minar, quickly becoming a favourite hang out for the best food and drinks in the city. Bengaluru turned out to be the next logical stop for Bo Tai, given the city's appetite for all things nice.
Revolutionising the dining experience, executive chef Sahil Singh has created a menu comprising of Thai and Chinese flavours with his signature modern twist. Using the freshest of Asian ingredients, the dishes were developed over several months of trials before making it to the final cut. Of course, chef Sahil is no stranger to the world of progressive Asian cuisine given his earlier stint with F&B landmark restaurants such as Tian and Shanghai Club at ITC Hotels and Wasabi at Taj.
Laced with Thai and Chinese dishes, the menu at this 130-seater is extensive and definitely requires repeat visits to try out all the specials. We fell in love with the Raw Mango Soft Shell Crab bursting with spicy and tangy flavours, the delicately sliced Avocado Carpaccio, the Crispy Beancurd with ginger garlic and crushed black pepper and the Steamed Prawns with a Thai lemon relish. The delicate dimsums in the Chinese section are a delight and we settled for the Crystal Radish Dumpling served with mee krop, pan seared Chicken Gyoza, and the Lamb Mandarin Bee Hun.
The cocktails at Bo Tai are a star attraction which is not a surprise since some of the best bartenders from London have lent their creative juices to design the bar menu reflecting the restaurants Thai and Chinese leanings. So we have the Naga Fireball, a blend of Chivas 18 yrs, chilli cacao bitters, cold brew coffee, ginger and Thai red syrup served under a smoky bell jar. Then there is Macchanu's Riddle with a heady mix of Absolut vodka, lemongrass, Thai green syrup, guava, kiwi, citrus, basil and saline. And, the elegant Bangkok Boulevard with Chivas 12 yrs, house-made tropical vermouth, honey lime and sparkling wine. Of course, there is a full bar menu showcasing a whisky collection, gins, vodkas, wines, beers and more. Bliss!
We quizzed chef Sahil on his thoughts behind the Bo Tai menu, to which he said, "We wanted to do Thai food with a mix of the classic and our own innovation without compromising on the flavours and ingredients while ensuring it is acceptable to our dining audience."
Back to the menu, this time we chose the Kung Pao Mushrooms, Crispy Fried Snapper topped with a dried seafood sauce and the Chili Basil Mock Duck with bird eye chillies, all three turned out to be a favourite at our table. Then came the sumptuous Thai Massaman Duck Curry which was best enjoyed with steamed rice and the vegetarians amongst us settled for a healthy dose of Stir Fried Morning Glory accompanied with Truffle Scented Corn and Spinach Fried Rice.
Like I usually say, there's always room for dessert and Bo Tai does not disappoint in its sweet offerings. The Kobocha Custard, Mango Ice Cream and the Coconut Creme Brulee hit the right spot. In Zorawar Kalra's concluding remarks, "Given our reputation for giving a contemporary twist to popular cuisines, Bo Tai will add an exciting new option for diners in Bengaluru." We couldn't agree more.
— Aslam Gafoor is a Bengaluru based hospitality professional, food lover and travel enthusiast
Bo Tai, JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru, Vittal Mallya Road
Timing: 6.00 pm to 12.30 am
Average price for two: Rs 2,000+