South African chef Guy Clarke finished 11th on Masterchef South Africa’s last season. He was rather popular on the show—mostly because he is cute as a button. Now, he is set to have the folks of Delhi eating out of his hands at Uzuri, the new restaurant in town that he has crafted the menu for, in collaboration with Michelin starred chef Rishim Sachdeva, one of Heston Blumenthal’s sous chefs, who has worked at The Fat Duck and The Savoy (UK) in the past.
Uzuri has had a lot of people eagerly waiting for a while now – not only for the brand names attached to it, but also for the kind of experimental, never-seen-before cuisine it has on offer. They call it ‘Euro-fusion’, which basically means African and European sensibilities on one plate. This, obviously, promises to be quite a novelty for an audience that has practically no exposure to African food.
But there’s no yams and foo-foo to be found here. On their brief but drool-worthy menu, you find staples of European cuisine – steaks, tenderloin patty, quinoa salads, pastas, an abundance of meats, seafood and vegetables – but then, there’s something different. For example, the salmon fillet salad comes with a pickled kohlrabi (that vegetable that looks like Sputnik) which is super-tangy and spicy at the same time, thin slices of cucumber, fennel, sesame seeds and horseradish vinaigrette. On the whole, this makes for a really sour dish which, for a country that eats pickles with every meal (sometimes even as a tea-time snack) is quite palatable. Then there are the artisan breads – three kinds of breads, one made of sourdough that is left to rise for 48 hours, with toppings of wild mushroom and truffle ragout (perfect for ketchup lovers), cottage cheese and chilli, and smokey coleslaw and chilli garlic infusion.
For mains, there’s a variety of meats where the African influences rise to prominence. The tenderloin steak comes glazed in a film of coffee powder and paprika, with a chunk of truffle butter smoked a moment before it arrives at your table, marrow roast potatoes and vegetables — and it is pure rapture slicing through the perfectly roasted meat.
This goes for the sous vide chicken breast too – the meat is wonderful, but this dish disappoints because it is too dry. The truffle gnocchi and wild black cabbage sides can do with a thinner sauce, or a glass of wine on the side. But, as chef Sachdeva informs us when he arrives with dessert (a dreamy dish involving strawberries, lemon marshmallows, berry and basil coulis and pecan ice cream) for a chat, they’re still experimenting and fine-tuning their dishes to Indian tastes. This, then, is perhaps why we’d urge you to try Uzuri (Swahili for goodness) – for artistic food at a no-reservations, humble space.