POH, Lower Parel | All The Deets
In an age of loud, shiny, and over-the-top branding, it’s refreshing to see the elegant façade at POH – short for Progressive Oriental House. The dark green exterior whispers of understated mystique, minimalism and modernity. On walking in you’ll find a wall of emerald green lanterns, mostly decorative, in a space lit ambiantly as clear lamps hover over each table.
One of the most striking features about the use of space at POH is their private dining room. The blue corner seats up to 8 diners, all of who are treated like royalty even before entering POH. Details for each diner are taken from the host, who are then individually interviewed for flavour and textural likes and dislikes, favourite ingredients, resulting in a completely custom individual menu for each diner.
We opted for a more commonly available tasting menu, a rarity in most restaurants around the city.
Our meal began with brightly plated, cheekily named Not A Caprese Salad, where the elements that look like tomato are light, silken-textured tofu. The sesame elements make their presence felt delicately in the playful course.
Next, we receive a Banana Flower Salad cut into thin tendrils cooked for a slight crunch, further layered with varied textures of flowers, coconut, peanuts, and onion. A curious lemongrass flavour emerges as an aftertaste.
Poetically named First Drops of Rain on A Barren Land appear next, consisting of generously sized juicy prawns, tangy brown sauce and the contrast from dehydrated pineapple.
Our courses are coming in at near bullet speed, as the next dehydrated plate is placed on our table. Lotus stem is dehydrated and served with a rich, tangy yuzu sesame cream is immediately polished off for the sharp contrast in texture complemented by two curiously complementary flavours.
The meal was due to take a sharp dive into seafood territory. Our next dishes were surprisingly spicy Sichuan Style Prawns with the bells and whistles of cherry tomato with chilly, dehydrated pineapple, and a Japanese trio of ikura, miso, and yuzu.
An impressive Chilly Basil Squid came next, garnished with the spectrum of onion textures.
Our best dishes of the night came to the table back-to-back: Hokkaido Scallop, with a turmeric and curried coconut broth that could have come straight out of a grandmother’s kitchen, topped with a charcoal baby corn. The slow-acting bird’s eye chilli delivers a smashing burst of spice as a short-lived aftertaste.
It’s difficult to not marvel at the sight of the size of the Baked Alaskan King Crab Leg, which is de-shelled, cooked, and put right back into its covering. Presented with caviar aioli and tobbenjan, eating this dish in an exercise in warmth and teamwork, as diners dig into the shell for their taste of some of the most sophisticated seafood one can import into the country.
After this, we quickly polished off Crab Cakes, which offer a transition from crunch to nearly cloudy crab meat in the span of a simple bite.
It would be fascinating to eat the Fish Dumpling on a table with a guarded vegetarian, for reasons that become clear on ordering the dish. The base of a yuzu soya sauce definitely encourages coming back for more dipping of the remarkably slight texture, a product of high quality seafood and dough of the finest technique and ingredients.
Sushi platters here are generous, offering a selection of octopus, salmon, and tuna nigiri along with fresh wasabi, showcasing a dedicated attention to detail.
As we neared dessert, our stomachs were beginning to close shop. From the POH Mess, Banana, and Caramel, we’d vote for the last for its balance of chocolate with the sweet sauce, slathered over the plate in aesthetic circles. The Banana is definitely a surprisingly pleasant rendition for a fruit our continent grows in abundance, but doesn’t use in much mainstream cuisine.
Other noteworthy aspects of POH include a bar with two distinct and sophisticated functions. One involves high chairs and the sushi bar, the location for a Sushi Omakase meal. This involves a conversation with the sushi chef to ascertain your likes and dislikes, before he plies you with a selection of their freshest, finest rolls as per your preferences.
The cocktails at POH come from a series of drawers that house ingredients, activated by picking a drink on a tablet computer. Be prepared to see furniture move around before you sip on the drinks here, inspired by ancient Chinese medicinal practices.
In another delightful example of attention to detail, the food here can be paired with tea, juice, or wine. While an à la carte meal here is likely to be worthwhile, the thoughtfully prepared tasting menu is our recommended way to go.
POH is an interesting space for many reasons, but it’s also a partnership between chef Vikramjit Roy, who’s best known for Tian at Bangalore’s ITC hotel, and Speciality Restaurants, best known for high street F&B brands like Oh! Calcutta, Hoppipola and Mainland China. The fine-dining space is a natural expansion for them, and with chef Vikramjit at the pass, they couldn’t have asked for a better collaborator.
POH opens for dinner from 21st July from 7 PM onwards at Gate 4, Kamala Mills Compound, Lower Parel.