Culture & Lifestyle / ROOH Chicago Delights The Palate With Their New-Age Indian Cuisine

ROOH Chicago Delights The Palate With Their New-Age Indian Cuisine

Culture & Lifestyle Oct 01, 2019

Where innovation and tradition meet for the ultimate culinary experience (and bragging rights for their recent Michelin star designation) we went to Chicago and checked out ROOH. 

ROOH, which translates to soul or spirit, is centered around renowned Executive Chef, Sujan Sarkar’s interpretation of new-age Indian cuisine. A new installment to the Indian fine dining experience in Chicago, guests can anticipate a blend of flavours from the motherland prepared through his signature style of gastronomic techniques that have been enjoyed around the world, notably at the Michelin-starred ‘Galvin at Windows’ at London Park Lane.

Opening their doors in May at Chicago’s west loop, it didn’t take long for ROOH to be legitimized by it’s peers with a Michelin designation. Recently awarded Times Chef of the Year in India and famed for his progressive take on traditional flavours, the “farm-to-table” advocate has been busy spreading his sensory delights as this serves as the second location in the US, (in San Francisco in 2016)  with the original based back in Delhi, India.

ROOH
ROOH: Executive Chef Sujan Sarkar. Photo Credit: roohchicago.com

Speaking on his signature style Sarkar says, “I don’t want to overwhelm the incredible ingredients by drowning them in heavy sauces or overwhelming spice.”

The vibe at ROOH is surprisingly relaxed, not pretentious and the décor, not heavily Indian other than a striking wall length mural of an Indian woman created by artist Jenny Vyas framing the picture window store front.

The charming street view of ROOH. Photo Credit Monika Bhondy

Outside you’ll hear pleasant Indian music which flows throughout the venue creating a calming yet inviting ambiance, all through the acoustics of VOID speakers.

Ambiance at ROOH. Photo Credit: Monika Bhondy

 

With two floors and bars on each, there is a total of four unique spaces but my favourite is hands down the main level that is host to grand chandeliers.

Showstopper chandeliers adds to the warmth. Photo Credit: Monika Bhondy

Whether you’re a meat eater, vegan or in need of gluten free options, ROOH has you covered. Catering to all with separate menus makes them not just a great date spot, but also a stress-free family night out or business dinner spot guaranteed to impress.

Me (right) with my sister-in-law taking it all in at ROOH. Photo Credit: Monika Bhondy

I took my sister-in-law with me for a girl’s night out ready for some honest feedback and like myself, she was as much flawed as I. While dishes turned into courses of eye-candy that surprised our taste buds, we were amazed at the delicate yet flavourful blends of recognizable spices and interesting combinations that fused perfectly.

From the small plates: the textured Dahi Puri with avocado, tamarind, mint and cilantro chutney, yogurt mousse.

ROOH’s delicious Dahi Puri. Photo Credit Monika Bhondy

Their version of veggie Ceviche — the Avocado and Edamame Papdi Chaat that was a refreshing blend of green mango, sunchoke crisp, mint and cilantro.

 

ROOH’s Avocado and Edamame Papdi Chaat. Photo Credit Monika Bhondy

We couldn’t get enough of the green pea and goat cheese kulcha that melted in our mouths with shaved fresh truffle, goat butter and pea shoot but our hands down favourite dish was unanimously the sea bass (Patrani Machi) that came plated whole and prepared in cilantro, poppy seeds and smothered in Bengal mustard cream.

ROOH: My favorite dish hands down, ROOH’s Patrani Machi. Photo Credit: Monika Bhondy

Co-owner Manish Mallick says the response to ROOH has been phenomenal with guests varying in ethnicities. This falls right into line with ROOH’s vision to not target the Indian market and be the best Indian restaurant, but instead to be one of the top restaurants period.  To “bring Indian cuisine onto the international map in a way that has never been presented before [by] blending modern cooking techniques applied to Indian cuisine with a tradition going back more than 2000 years.” 

I’m with Manish Mallick the co-owner of ROOH. Photo Credit: Monika Bhondy

During my tour Mallick opened up about the diligent process at ROOH. There are not one but two kitchens at ROOH, prep begins at 7am and close out doesn’t kick in before midnight to 1am where cleaning staff work their magic ready for the new day.

I asked Mallick about why Chicago was the destination for ROOH he answered that it was because of the city’s “dearth of upscale Indian dining.” Coming from India and living in the United States for almost twenty-five years of which eleven of those have been residing in Chicago, he was faced with demand. Surrounded by a slew of buffet style set-ups with no fine dining experience, Mallick quickly recognized the gap in the market and became motivated to bring India’s advanced culinary arts to Chicago. After meeting with such a progressive team of Indian Chefs, Mallick fell enamoured and knew he had to bring the Sujan genius back to Chicago, dubbing him more of a food engineer than a chef.

The Ek Bar Experience. Photo Credit: ROOH

If food isn’t your thing and you’re more of a happy hour, cocktail connoisseur, the EK Bar experience is a must for any girls night out or date night. Masterminded by Sarkar, ROOH’s Chef De Cuisine, Sahil Sethi explains the ideology behind India’s first Artisanal Cocktail Concept stating that there is an Ayurvedic story behind the mixes where each rasa (taste) is examined and understood. An example being the Hyderabadi tonic that involves infusing fresh turmeric into a more balanced, Japanese gin overnight giving it that signature flavour.

These drinks were fantastic (l-r) Mango Mule and Kerala. Photo Credit: Monika Bhondy

Having a sweet tooth, I sampled the Rasa of Kerala – the Ayurveda inspired cocktail infused with rum, hibiscus, aloe and pineapple foam. Delicious and refreshing but not sickly sweet, it received a thumbs up from this cocktail lover. The signature drinks are categorized according to the age-old ayurvedic thought process of the six rasas: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent which help to achieve balance of body, mind and spirit, in essence a soulful cheer.

I’m with ROOH’s Chef De Cuisine, Sahil Sethi with Monika. Photo Credit Monika Bhondy

I could not leave without asking Chef De Cuisine what he thought the masterpiece on the menu is, he told me it was his Jackfruit Kofta that comes prepared in tempered spinach sauce and Lotus stem crisp.

What can you expect from ROOH in the near future? A menu that evolves with the seasons due to the Sarkar’s mantra of cooking with local, in-season produce. What does that translate to? Me coming back again and again for more palatable surprises.

Cheers with my drink of choice The Kerala. Photo Credit: Monika Bhondy

 

Main Image Photo Credit: ROOH 

 

Monika Bhondy

Monika Bhondy

Author

Monika Bhondy (@monikabhondy) is one of the original editors at ANOKHI. She wore many hats through the developmental years including creating the first Holiday Gift Guide as The Style Editor, putting down the first building blocks of ANOKHI's global blog community, handling the video department and ...

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