Chutney Tandoor House: Undisputed Crown of Indian Spice in Hong Kong
July 26, 2022
Chutney Tandoor House presents a warm embrace of India’s coloured regions and cuisines indigenous to specific locales of the flavourful sub-continent. Named after the fundamentally sweet, nutty Indian condiment, the youthful eatery is placed to disrupt contesting for the city’s finest Indian tandoori kitchen.
Centred at the heart of the Wyndham Street F&B powerhouse strip, Chutney shines as a unique venue to expose the authenticity of Indian cuisine, driven by following heritage recipes influenced by British cultural forces and local Indian preservation.
The independent eatery is led by chef Virender Kumar, by way of the Maldives, Dubai, Riyadh, and Mumbai, manning operations in international Indian kitchens, curating a familiar palate of north Indian cured meat, curries, and innovative vegetable dishes in Chutney.
The 68-seat Chutney dining room is exquisite with its sophisticated architectural design, taking on a familiar gold, honey-hued brown, and vibrant red colour scheme familiar with British-inspired Indian interior on the mainland. Gold lighting drops down from lamps hanging from above to soft- illuminate shimmering tikkas, curries, and chaats whilst emanating a soothing romantic ambience from within.
The main dining room, sharing tables of two and four for intimate dining, offers a sneak peek into neighbouring Tai Kwun, prompting a connection of shared colonial history and its variant culinary offerings. Chutney’s open kitchen houses two tailor-made tandoor ovens polished with a silver finish defining the eatery’s elevation of Indian cuisine to a fine dining prospect.
Food and drink
The ethereal entrance of Chutney — adorned in draped gold curtains and studded Mehendi facades as one exits the elevator in the non-descript Wyndham Street building housing the tandoori house — inaugurates a typical palatial dining experience dedicated to a deep cultural lesson on Ayurvedic spices and folk Indian cookery.
Manning a glass of New Zealand Chardonnay and a smooth Earl Gray tea-infused Desi Collins (HK$115) to tease our palates for a night of tangy, creamy delights, we set in flavouring Chutney’s signature plates. We began with the Raj Kachori (HK$138), a mix chaat of diced potatoes, cinnamon-infused apple, bhel puri, moong dal, encased in a semolina-produced kachori and topped with mint chutney, pomegranate, and yoghurt.
A side dish hailing from Rajasthan, beginning a tasting at Chutney with the raj (royalty) of delectable sweetness and tangy sauces, draped onto a buttery deep-fried pastry dough, sets a standard for following Chutney dishes: a melange of earthy Indian spices, strong cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamon, and garam masala, revealing a distinct smoke and aromatic herb, mixed delicately with sweet chutney mixes that tease the tongue.
With a swift rotation to the tandoori ovens, where vegetables, naan, fish, and meats are prepared in one of Hong Kong’s sole charcoal-licensed ovens imported from India, we tucked our forks into the Tandoori Cauliflower (HK$168), a lightly charred cut of turmeric- infused cauliflower with a piquant buttermilk and cream dressing with pomegranate and microgreens dusted on top.
A bite, and other mouthfuls that duly followed, released a pleasant honey-charred flavour in my mouth that was followed by a strong charcoal aroma wafting through my nasal passage. Pops of pomegranate left the acidic red juice to coat my tongue, matching the smokiness of the tandoori-cooked vegetable and washing the palate in preparation for creamier relishes.
Ending our starters with style, a plate of creamy, shiny Mughlai Jheenga (HK$188) fell onto our table with smiles stretching to each corner of our matting. A dish with Indo-Persian cultural placing and northern Indian history, the fried shrimp platter is paired with a delicate curry mix featuring ginger, onion, turmeric, and masala, sitting in a bright bed of beetroot and guava chutney.
Caught fresh in the Indian Ocean, the lightly sauteed shrimp pieces, five in total for a consummate sharing between friends, produce a welcoming light curried aroma teasing before a considered pairing with the tangy and umami punches hailing from the juiced guava and beetroot. It’s a colourful plate that serves well for balance in the meal.
Putting the tandoori ovens to our personal application with a serving of the Tandoori Masala Lamb Chops (HK$398), we were introduced to a chef signature first with the penetrating charcoal aroma that snuck into our nostrils, wafting through the air of Chutney, before the charred meat hit our tongues. Raita, tomato and mint chutney, and a light yoghurt with pomegranate is served alongside the lamb chops, marinated in masala, chilli powder, and cumin.
The lamb chops stole the show at present of eating (not before the curries were ushered to our table) with a tender texture, oozing a salty juice, and earthy aftertaste that performed well with singular bites on its own. Soak each cut in lemon juice and dip into the chutneys to cut the fat and lessen an oily coating, infusing with sharp herby flavours to elevate the umami flavour. Alternatively, we recommend the yoghurt to mix the umami with a soft honey tang for an explosion in one's mouth.
Too few words will be dedicated to the ultimate highlight of our consummate night at Chutney, too few to magnify the almighty flavours that have been poured into the God-like creation of the Chutney Butter Chicken (HK$198), charring local yellow chicken producing a vanilla aroma and mixing with a cashew-base fenugreek-infused tomato sauce base, and the Achari Beef Short Ribs (HK$238), U.S. prime beef short rib cooked to tenderness with a tomatoey, slightly spicy, mustardy achari sauce.
With Truffle Cheese Naan (HK$52) and Garlic and Butter Naan (HK$48) in hands to scoop up gravy, each curry and bite and savouring was better than the last. The delicate orrange-creamy sauce coating the butter chicken with a crispy charcoal honeyed lets the Chutney special shine on the menu with an herbier, lighter, and addictive alternative to the popular Indian curry. However, salt comes into play with the central Indian achari curry, combining with earthy spice mix of cardamon, star anise, cinnamon, and cumin to penetrate the prime rib with a strong peppery flavour and a honey aftertaste.
As polished as the menu exists at Chutney, presently only months after their soft launch in late May, equally has the service and cool atmosphere reached a high standard in respect to the birth of a new restaurant. From entering the house of Chutney, the maitre’d and assistant manager greet guests with a homely comfort before the chef and server team take considered attention to explaining the strengths of their menu, catering an experience for the spice-lovers, curry-fans, naan-eaters, or meat-snackers.
Hosting a chef team hailing from all corners of mainland India, their wealthy kitchen knowledge translates effectively to a restaurant cheering for quality in taste. A night at Chutney is for celebrations and indulgence, whilst brunch and lunching at the Indian eatery exists for the chef team to curate special events and flavours to keep Chutney fresh and relevant.
Chutney Tandoor House is the ultimate Indian restaurant existing across the city’s three territories, taking the royal crown for an eatery that masters complex flavour combinations, skill in tandoori oven work, and an impeccable atmosphere and experience in Indian fine dining.
We predict a visit to Chutney is due as soon as physically possible to sample the remainder of tandoori and curry dishes, paired with tangy additions in the starters. We will order the Chutney Butter Chicken (HK$198) again purely to sample Hong Kong’s best butter chicken, Keema Pav (HK$188), Hariyali Fish Tikka (HK$228), Malai Paneer Tikka (HK$188), Rajasthani Laal Maas (HK$208), and a couple Tandoori Roti (HK$30) to soak up floating juices.
This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by Chutney in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.
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