Cou Cou by Oberoi was The Oberoi Group’s first dining venture outside its elegant hotels. Amadeo by Oberoi, its second outing, is at Mumbai’s newest cultural outpost, Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC).
You enter into what looks like a Parisian-style café. But then, you walk through a corridor flanked by a fine wine collection, into a spacious restaurant with a soaring ceiling, bathed in natural light.
It has been a while since Mumbai has seen a fine dine restaurant, with the focus having shifted to casual cafes and bars. Amadeo by Oberoi is one of the finest openings of 2023, positioning itself as both a café and a fine dine, located within the snazziest cultural hub in the city. The restaurant is a perfect evening place, when the lotus flower-inspired Fountain of Joy situated at the nexus of NMACC, from where you enter the modern cultural centre, powers on to offer an enchanting view.
But even in the day, the natural light-filled interiors designed by EDG Singapore, with thoughtfully placed green fronds, comfortable seating and a few swish-spot lamps are perfect for loungey meals, business meetings or intimate gatherings. There are private spaces separated by fluted glass for those who want a modicum of privacy. The coffee station within the café you enter first, after walking past art-filled corners, is a good space to catch up with friends or get some reading done in between watching art shows or a concert/musical/theatre spectacle that may be playing.
For the aficionado, the restaurant is a showcase of the world’s best cooking techniques: wood-fired oven for pizzas, otoro at the sushi station, bao steamers, and such.
Amadeo by Oberoi eschews the tried and tested: no butter chicken, no ramen, and no tempura. Instead, it focuses on the classics and the gourmet. The team has brought into play Counter Collection, or a cluster of micro-concepts of Japanese, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and Indian cuisines.
The pleasure of dining at Amadeo by Oberoi is heightened by the show kitchens, where guests can engage with chefs and watch their food being cooked. The sweep of the micro-concepts straddles a handmade pasta bar, Japanese sushi, grills, Italian small plates, Chinese wok preparations, and bao buns. The focus is on heritage cuisine, rather than experimentation. The interiors are pared down, but the menu is exuberant and long, the result of the restaurant’s multi-cuisine offering, orchestrated by a team led by Chef Kayzad Sadri.
I am a big fan of the pizzas at many of The Oberoi Group restaurants, and at Amadeo by Oberoi, they serve wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas — the way pizzas are meant to be eaten. Regina Margherita, my absolute favourite, is topped with San Marzano tomatoes, Fior di Latte (mozzarella made from cow rather than buffalo milk) and basil. Others, too, are equally tempting: White Asparagus and Black Truffle Bianco with Kalamata Olive Tapenade and the delicate Mortadella with burrata and pistachios.
Beyond the Italian are their expansive Japanese and Chinese menus. Amadeo Tukubetsu Maki, a sushi roll of prawn and crab, is surrounded by slivers of avocado and caviar flecked with gold. The baos are house favourites, particularly the tender pork belly bao (the pork comes from Belgium). The goat cheese pasta has handmade beetroot pasta. Instead of the buttery black dal, the Indian menu has Dal Marwad, redolent with a rich aroma and flavours of ghee and spices.
My top pick from the Small Plates Menu is Truffled Baked Potato with an earthy texture and umami, nutty flavours. It was my day to pick everything earthy and umami. From the Asian menu, I chose Three Mushrooms Bao served with chilli and soy, a blend of soft and pillowy bao and the rustic flavours of mushrooms.
From the Japanese menu came Sakusaku Gohan or crispy rice and a choice of toppings. My vegetarian version had Yasai, zucchini, carrot and cucumber. No Japanese meal is complete without a Gohan. Amadeo by Oberoi’s version is fluffy, crisp, slightly sticky rice topped with a variety of veggies (Yasai) and pickled cucumber.
The dessert is a final crescendo: a delicate Tea and Chocolate, with flavours ranging from warm earl grey ganache to berries that work beautifully together. The sweetness of the berries, the delicateness of the earl grey ganache and the richness of chocolate makes this the best dish on the table.
The Amadeo by Oberoi experience cannot be complete without the cocktails. The curated cocktail menu is inspired by the high-brow art world (given the surroundings). The descriptor states: “The menu showcases Theatre through Chinese flavours, Paintings through Indian flavours, Music and Cinema through Italian flavours and the precision of Sculpting through Japanese flavours.”
The crowd favourite Fuji San is a white rum and umeshu (plum wine) based cocktail while Warli is a tequila cocktail with coconut water and chilli cordial. They enhance the flavours and experience that define this conceptual restaurant.