Food review: Shibuii — a prism for Asian food

The ambience of the almost-empty Shibuii in Bandra was almost as confusing as its menu. This pan-Asian cuisine restaurant had palm leaves plastered across its walls and Devil’s ivy creeping out of its ceiling, with a few stray, metallic mushrooms hung like a work of art on an accent wall, accompanied with mood lighting. Each dish on the menu had its place of origin — Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, among others — mentioned right next to them. Also keeping in mind Indian customers, the menu specified ‘Jain’, ‘Vegan’ and ‘Gluten-free’ options as well. At first glance, the plethora of choices Shibuii offers could well be defined as ‘all things Asians’. There was Spicy Tokyo Ramen Pork soup, Chinese Pokchoi Dumplings and the Indonesian Sambal Goreng Ikan and we hadn’t even got through half the menu yet.

The courteous waitstaff were all too attentive, though one might have to resort to hand gestures and pointing at the dishes’ names to convey their order. Sifting through the many options, we ordered Shibuii’s signature cocktails Blue Pea Tini — a gin-based concoction with blue pea flower (₹350), and a vodka-infused lemongrass and galangal concoction, Lemon Grass and Galalgal Tini (₹300). Both were tasty drinks albeit watered-down. We started the evening on a high note with the Chargrill Pork Belly with Jim Jeaw starter (₹490) that wafted a delicious aroma. The succulent meat was flaky and had been topped off with fish sauce, which was spicy, sweet and a little overpowering. We washed that down with a Spicy Vietnamese Pho Tenderloin soup (₹650), which had flat rice noodles and chunks of pokchoi, which made for the ideal comfort food and proportions that were enough to serve two.

The restaurant, quite unlike others, also offers Isan Style Spicy Seafood Pot (₹850), which is served with clams, prawns, squids and other sea creatures, that is made to feed a family of four, or more. Then came a serving of Chicken Dumplings in Curry (₹390) — another dish with generous portions in a creamy, cheesy sauce with a hint of garlic.

With diminishing room in our bellies, we dared to turn over the main course page and found our appetites begin to resurge. Ambitiously, we opted for the Chargrill Chicken in Singaporean Chilli (₹450), with a serving of Thai Red Curry with prawns (₹590), accompanied with Steamed Thai Jasmine Rice (₹180). Not surprisingly, the servings of the main course were both delicious and enormous, enough to feed at least four more hungry souls.

But the dessert depictions looked inviting enough for gluttonous tendencies to rise up again. We opted for two archetypal Thai desserts. The first: Tob Tin Crob (₹290) was water chestnuts jellied with coconut syrup and crushed ice that had a rather chemical-flavoured sweetness. The second: Mango Sticky Rice with Coconut Syrup (₹490), was a feast not only for our taste buds but also our eyes, with the yellow of the mango, blue coloured sticky rice, roasted white bits of coconut and pink of the crispy plated atop the dish.

All-in-all, an outing to this casual dining restaurant must mean a family affair. Or is ideal for those whose appetites are not easily satiated.

(HT Café reviews anonymously and pays for its meals)

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