Zen 6, The Park, Kolkata.The bustling park street of Kolkata needs no introduction. When in Kolkata, it is one of the foremost places I visit. Not only it hosts numerous scrumptiously delightful restaurants, it is home to one of the best hotels I have ever visited. The Park hotel originally opened in 1976 but was redesigned and given a contemporary and a very interestingly classy look by Sir Terence Conran. The hotel boasts of the best nightclubs in town (Tantra, Someplace else and Roxy), one of the best Indian restaurants called Saffron and undoubtedly, one of the best Pan Asian restaurant – Zen 6.
Nestled inside the hotel in a very fashionable and yet urbane is the Zen 6. The moment you enter its dominion, you are escorted into an impossibly lavish and sumptuous world of gastronomically apt pleasures. The restaurant itself is an identity. Everyone who ever visited this restaurant left with nothing but excellent words for its delectably luscious food.
It is the first Sir Terence Conran restaurant in Kolkata and it consists of a Japanese bar counter and a brilliantly decorated show kitchen. The attractiveness increases two folds with its dim lighting making it seductive in its own way. Regrettably, I do notice that it needs more space. The tables and chairs are arranged too close to one another thereby giving it a slight heaving feeling. Every time I tried to indulge in a conversation, I was deplorably pulled into eavesdropping on other’s conversations.
As always, first thing I notice about a restaurant is the quality of its service. The staffs are very courteous and chivalrous. However, one thing I couldn’t help but observe was their explanation about the food served on the table. It was short and they barely explained anything. I would encourage them to give details about the ordered food which would be more appropriate assuming there are many items on the menu that lack those information.
Coming to the food, the vegetarian and the non vegetarian sushi platter was a pure delight. The vegetarian
consisted of a cheese sushi that I absolutely loved. It felt like a regular veggie sushi until the cheese hits your taste buds and it lingers to give it a very subtle hint of silkily creamy cheese. The non vegetarian platter was a hit for me. There is nothing but praise in this case. The crabstick sushi was perfect without the crab being too overpowering, the prawns were absolutely faultless, the tuna was one the best I ever ate and the salmon was the winner for me. I tasted the freshness of the ingredients in tuna and salmon. It was melt-in-your mouth consistency and somehow I found it to be beautifully creamy. It felt like silk on my palate. I should, though, put forward a suggestion that the quantity was a little less compared to what you would expect in a platter and may be increasing amount of the astonishingly brilliant display of sushi just by a piece or two would do the trick.
Next came in the glass noodle salad. Oh! What a joy. It was like a medley of beautiful, melodious music. It was fresh, vibrant, sweet, sour, spicy, garlicy all at the same time and none of those overpowered one another. I specially loved the hit of chilly once the sweet taste settled in. A melange of vegetables were used that were just right. The sweet lime dressing was a wonderful match with the glass noodles. However, I wish the onions were less in the salad as it left a very unsettling raw taste in my mouth.
At this point I was quite impressed with whatever was served in front of me and may be this is the reason why I had even higher expectations from what came out of the kitchen. The Indonesian fried rice/nasi goreng had excellent flavors. I was particularly impressed by how thin the omelet was made and cut it into beautiful strips that were incorporated with the rice. The chicken, however, was a little dry and I somehow wish the prawns were without the tails. Also, for me it was a bit under seasoned.
Next was my favorite course. Given a chance, I would actually love to start with a dessert and also end with it. In this case, I decided to stick to the norms and end with the dessert. Fried ice cream was very different from what I had before. They batter fry a thick slice of ice cream and serve it with salted cashews and chocolate sauce. I think the batter was heavy for my liking and the ice cream had completely melted inside the fried batter.
Another dessert was the Thai coconut milk and palm sugar custard with banana ice cream topped with fresh grated coconut. This dessert looked beautiful and I was sure that my sweet tooth would be wholly satisfied. However, it failed to give my imagination any kind of reality. It was bland, very thick and sluggish custard, not at all smooth. The banana ice cream had a very subtle hint of the flavor and I think it needs more banana flavor to it. The oomph was completely missing in the desserts.
After much thought and much more tingling taste bud suggestions, I think this restaurant is still a must try. It might be pricey but it is still worth trying.