An ancient art gets a modern twist to sate the palate
India is not about Curry and Kebab, and the Butter Chicken that one tastes in New Zealand is not the ‘real thing,’ says Aditya Sudan, the owner of a new Indian Restaurant in Ponsonby, Auckland.
‘Epicer’ opened its doors to customers on March 1, 2019 with a promise to make its precincts (110 Ponsonby Road) not only to live up to its meaning (Spice) but also an epitome of modern Indian food, honesty and integrity.
Rich and Diverse
Aditya said that Indian cuisine has since long been, erroneously, perceived as a cheap, family takeout filled with heavy, oily curries, despite the richness and diversity of its culinary history.
“Indian cuisine is versatile, unique and extensive, and goes beyond the ordinary,” he said, speaking to the media at the launch dinner on February 28, 2019.
“At Epicer, we are coupling ethically-sourced proteins and a commitment to organic produce with a first-rate international chef, some of the best mixologists New Zealand has to offer, sommelier-trained staff and excellent service,” he said.
Michelin Star Chef
The Restaurant’s Executive Chef Manjunath Mural agreed, saying, “This is a journey to India, with genuine Indian dishes with a modern twist. At Epicer, we will offer healthy and tasty food with a difference,” he said.
Manjunath, who runs the famous ‘Song of India’ Restaurant in Singapore, knew what he was talking about, for in the 20 years that he has spent as a Chef (ten of which have been in Singapore), he has brought innovation and quality food from the kitchen to the dining table.
In doing so, he created a hattrick at ‘Song of India,’ by winning the ‘Michelin Star’ in three successive years. He was the first Indian Chef to win the accolade.
Michelin Guides are a series of guide books published by the French tire company Michelin for more than a century.
The term normally refers to the annually published ‘Michelin Red Guide,’ the oldest European Hotel and Restaurant Reference Guide, which awards up to three Michelin Stars for excellence to a select few establishments.
The acquisition or loss of a star can have dramatic effects on the success of a restaurant.
Michelin also publishes a series of general guides to cities, regions and countries, called the ‘Green Guides.’
About Aditya Sudan
A graduate in Business Administration, Aditya stumbled upon the culinary art, although cooking was always his passion. He won the ‘Commercial Chef of the Year’ Award in Australia in 2009. With eight years of experience in the hotel and hospitality industry, he now sees the need to accept a greater challenge.
He said that it took him several months to put together the Epicer team.
“Our aim is to give modern Indian cuisine the respect and platform it deserves. Guests will find an European influence in the plating, culinary techniques used on the menu, and the cocktail list based on Indian flavours,” he said.
Epicer is an expression of his experience and reflects his vision of opening a top-level restaurant, showcasing the soul of colourful Indian cooking in an elevated dining experience.
More about Epicer
Pitched as a high-quality offering (the sommelier is a New Zealand Wine and Food pairing champion), Epicer aims to be “everyone’s restaurant.”
“A huge part of Indian hospitality and culture is feeding everyone with love. While high-end degustation and a-la-carte menus are available downstairs, while our lounge area upstairs offers guests space to enjoy a cocktail and smaller, accessibly-priced sharing plates. A separate takeaway menu with tiffin-like eats supports this accessibility ethos with the same high-quality our kitchen demands. We also have a commitment to sustainability: we use wheat straws and our takeaway containers are made of recycled materials,” he said.
This Reporter was the only vegetarian at the event, devouring a plate of delicious vegetarian biryani with potato baked in cheese and other vegetables.
It was an exquisite dish, and very exclusive.
“Everyone gets exclusive food at Epicer,” Manjunath said, taking away my short-lived joy.
The Menu here is indeed special.
Cocktails with Love
The guests at the media launch began their ‘Culinary Journey’ with ‘Love in the Air’ (a Mocktail of Seedlip (alcohol-free) with Passionfruit Syrup, Cranberry Juice, Lime, Soda, Gold-coated Pomegranate Seeds; ‘Moonshine,’ Sadda Adda comprising Whiskey, Honey Water, Smoke and Spices, all served in a traditional (desi) flask; Tamarind and Margarita (Tequila, Cointreau, Tamarind and Date Puree); Lacha Noodle (Gin, Feijoa, Lime and Rose Syrup and Lacha Noodles); and ‘Think out of the Box,’ with Golden Run, Indian Gooseberries, Pepper and Honey Water.
The dishes served were Slow Cooked Lamb Chop Kashmiri (Single Bone Lamb Chops, Homemade Garam Masala, Coriander, Fennel); Mysore Lamb (Lamb, Garlic, Curry Leaves, Cashew Nut, Cashew); Miramar Pork Vindaloo (Pork Belly with Sous Vide, Rock Salt, Goan Vindaloo); Lamb Shank Lucknavi (Lamb Shank, Onion, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cashew Nut); Lobster Mangalorean Gassi (Pan-Seared Lobster, Gassi Sauce, Green Chilies, Mustard Seed); and Chicken Biryani (Skewered Chicken Tikka, Whole Spice Flavoured Rice, Gorang Spice, Rose Essence, Brown Onion, Served with Espuma Yogurt Raita, Sago Crackers).
There was no dessert at the launch but we were told that among the many specialities of Manjunath is ‘Kulfi,’ described as the ‘Traditional Indian Ice-Cream.’
Epicer Indian Restaurant
110 Ponsonby Road, Auckland
Sunday to Thursday 12 pm to 1130 pm
Friday-Saturday: 12 pm to 12 am
Phone: (09) 3766477