The bartender Varun Walia is a short, slender man with a Paul Bunyan beard. He carries a wooden tray to the table with some difficulty. What’s weighing it down is a skull-shaped glass brimming with pinkish liquid, ice cubes, and slices of California orange. As fearsome as it looks, its accomplice is the true star of the show: a shot glass, also skull-shaped, filled with whiskey. Walia grabs it, draining the contents into one of two metal drinking cups, the kind you might find on the street. In his wispy patois, he says something about flames and suddenly lights the booze on fire. He starts transferring it from cup to cup, higher and faster with each pour, the blue line of liquid reminiscent of pulled tea.
With extravagant, show-stopping cocktails on the menu (B249 for signature drinks), some of which involve liquid nitrogen and parlour tricks, it’s easy to mistake Indique for Bangkok’s most recent molecular mixology bar. The cocktails, without question, are a major attraction — not only do they come with a performance, they also taste spectacular, especially the Chuski Margarita and Green Apple Martini with Mojito Foam — but it would be criminal to ignore what’s going on in the kitchen.
Full of creative energy and passion for their work, Chef Sidakpreet Singh and Director Gurveer Sachdev are leading this ultra-modern, black- and gold-clad restaurant into exciting territory. They aren’t turning Indian cuisine on its head, but rather crafting a bold, provocative interpretation of its traditions. Take, for example, the duck samosas (B159). Outside of Kerala, duck remains a rare ingredient in Indian cooking, but the appetizer’s popularity suggests it should perhaps be used more frequently. The dish consists of four goldenrod triangles stuffed with shredded duck, chillies, garlic, and ginger, as well as two dipping sauces: a spiced mayonnaise and an Indian salsa. The samosas have a piquancy best described as “authentic.” They’re hot, in other words, and fantastic.
In the chicken tikka cornetto (B209), the fusion of international muses really comes to light. Modelled after the ever-present ice cream cone and served in a white rickshaw (how ice cream is sold in India), the starter incorporates Thai style and one notable surprise, with Indian flavours. The chicken is cooked in a clay oven and shredded, giving it a texture like larb gai, and the cornetto is cold, thanks to a blast of liquid nitrogen. Similar techniques transform the fish n’ chips (B279). Deep-fried dory filets get a splash of colour and zing from mint foam and pickled onions. Eaten together, the flavour is like chutney; it contrasts the heat lurking in the Indian-spiced batter.
Emblematic of the playful makeover of traditional dishes are the dahi kekebabs (B249). Three spiced patties made from hung curd rest on of saffron- and pomegranate-tinted sauces, and pomegranate “caviar” sits on top of it all. The little red pearls erupt like roe when bitten. It’s a potpourri of flavours and textures, the tangy yoghurt contrasted by the sweet fruit balls and the cool chutneys that accompany the dish.
Those who appreciate experimentation, but vilify a loss of authenticity, will love Indique. This isn’t molecular Indian food, and it isn’t very expensive, either: the pocket-friendly food and drinks are bursting with modern touches without eschewing India’s rich culinary heritage.
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28 Park Avenue, Sukhumvit 22 | 08 1425 4422 | facebook.com/indiquebangkok | daily 11am-1am