While Mumbai’s Four Seasons outpost, courtesy its popular lounge Aer has long been the place to see and be seen, making its way up that very same ladder is the sprawling property’s Asian eatery, San-Qi. “Qi” as in “Chi”, ‘San-Qi’ signifies the three energies. Its kitchens, however, go one beyond that number, including Indian, Japanese, Thai and Chinese. And we were lucky to scuttle in, one windy afternoon and explore some of the most abundant flavors of the east, right before its closing.
While we were sold on San-Qi’s décor over the opening episode of Zee Café’s Look Who’s Talking, apparently also its shoot location, our efforts to see beyond the show’s host and guest, Niranjan Iyengar and Karan Johar, respectively, were awarded when we got a tour of the massive, Super Potato designed property.
Spread over two levels, the restaurant bears all the Super Potato signatures, read: airy, with accents of glass and natural woods, yet modern.
But with the Indian, tandoor kitchen and the Chinese wok station on the lower level, the Thai and Japanese kitchens on the upper, and all of them open-plan it’s quite a wonder that the restaurant manages to bear an overall spa-like ambience.
What we found most notable, however, was that the two Private Dining Rooms we saw – one even decked in swabs of fabrics – do tremendous justice to the very foundation of the PDR-concept, literally giving one the sense of having come someplace far, far away, yet very conveniently within food-ordering distance.
Luckily for those who don’t always move in more than groups of twos or threes, San-Qi boasts enough cozy nooks for a smaller number to also find a similar experience.
And then there’s the bar. Surrounded, on all four sides, by a sake wall-see through wine cellar hybrid, the bar at San-Qi is nothing short of an enclosed, drinking oasis.
Food & Drink
We started with some steamed dumplings.
Packing slivered veggies in a deep brown sauce, these were delicate, yet bursting with the flavors of The Orient.
The Spicy Wasabi Prawns, which followed, however, managed to make even these seem quite tame. The third, Baked Barbecue Pork Puffs were perfectly porky, smoky and sweet at the same time. Our appetizing trio, washed down with some refreshing Sol was great prep for the next course, which comprised a simple chili fish and Egg fried rice with prawn. If anything, both these dishes played a balancing act together.
While one’s muted flavors were held up with chili and a coriander garnish, another’s ingredient-overload made sure the meal never felt boring. Speaking of boring, the desserts could be called anything but. After a meal that had been delicious yet not unusual, the last course, of Pan Ice cream and Pandan Crepes, felt like it hit us out of nowhere. The first had actual pan bits and was elevated a wee bit by buttery biscotti whereas the second, crepes made with pandan leaves (a popular ingredient in Thai cooking), filled with palm sugar and coconut cream, and served with mango sorbet, didn’t quite cut it. On it’s own though, we’d say that sorbet is fantastic.
It’s nice to see pan or paan’s gradual climb into cooking. And if you’re an existing fan, you might want to see what San-Qi’s done with it. Along with eating an interesting dessert, you come out feeling refreshed at the end of your meal, as a bonus. But the star of our meal remains the fish. Subtle yet fiery at the same time, it led us back to the same point we’ve always made- there’s nothing like Thai food when it comes to perfectly composed, wholesome cooking.
We’d go back. To celebrate, to spot a celebrity. To get high at the bar, to get the high table and chairs under the staircase, to stare at the wine-racks-lined dramatic staircase. Whatever the reason might be, we’ll return to San-Qi for reasons that go beyond the obvious, such as light, comforting, home-style Asian fare. Next time though, we’d probably do it over their Sunday Brunch or Yum Cha Saturdays.
The critic was served a tasting menu
Sunday Brunch: Every Sunday from 12:30 to 3:30 pm
INR 4,500 plus taxes for adults, including free-flowing Veuve Clicquot Champagne, mojitos and daquiris, Kingfisher beer, Indian red and white wine and cocktails and mocktails to order
INR 3,000 plus taxes including free-flowing mocktails and soft beverages
Yum Cha Saturdays: Every Saturday from 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm
INR 2,000 per person plus taxes for unlimited servings of food, mocktails and teas only (an additional INR 1,000 per person plus taxes for unlimited sparkling wine and beer)
San Qi – Four Seasons Mumbai,
114, Dr. E. Moses Road ,
022 2481 8000