Set in a posh, commercial complex in Gurugram, Whisky Samba rose to prominence when the highway booze ban sent drinkers rushing here to quench their parched throats. Prominence it totally deserved, of course, thanks to an impressive 50-foot-long bar, where over 180 whiskies and whisky-based cocktails were on offer. The liquid offerings were evolved and innovative. The food focussed on local ingredients and progressive cooking techniques, and the bar garnered some loyal patrons.
What next, proprietors Ashish Dev Kapur and Joydeep Singh, who also run The Wine Company and Antares (the latter in Goa, in collaboration with Australian chef Sarah Todd), must have wondered. Enter Vikramjit Roy (pic), the group’s new corporate chef, who is quietly reinventing Whisky Samba, making it dance to a new tune. Regular guests might crib slightly about their favourite comfort foods going AWOL but I think they’ll eventually come round to the bar’s fresh, new culinary emphasis.
Chef Vikramjit Roy’s strength is Pan-Asian, especially Japanese, and he’s honed his skills in many fine kitchens. But apart from these, the true showcase of the new menu really is ‘The Chef’s Nostalgic Journey’, which brings together recipes that Chef Roy grew up with, many from his grandmother’s kitchen. Says Roy, “Food is an amalgamation of memories, today’s day and age and sustainability. I have grown up eating my mother’s, grandmother’s and my aunt Mrs Wong’s delectable food. That’s where ‘The Chef’s Nostalgic Journey’ comes from. For instance, my grandmother’s Pumpkin Curry features on the menu, presented in my own way with baked pumpkin compressed with flavours and smoked, with goat’s cheese, served with avocado flatbread.
Yes, there’s always a chef’s twist, but the flavours are spot on. And the plating is gorgeous. Some of the dishes look so good, digging into them feels like a violation. Standout dishes include the aforementioned pumpkin curry, cholar dal, aam kasundi fish, and the homestyle dhakai chicken. There’s an emphasis on healthy eating—ingredients like avocado feature prominently—and the chef has shied away from using refined sugar and flour. They’re calling them ‘gourmet bar meals’ and we can’t help but agree.
Whisky Samba, Shop No. 103, 104, 1st Floor, Two Horizon Centre, DLF Phase 5, Sector 43, Gurugram; +91-11-33106208 (reservations); 12–3.30pm, 5.30pm–12.30am; INR 3,500 for two