New age Indian cuisine is not commonly seen in Auckland and with my palate preference, Indian food is seldom on my priority list when it comes to cuisine choices. Yet, with my exceptional meal at Gaggan in Bangkok where chef Gaggan Anand used his genius interpretation of Indian flavours to create an unforgettable meal, I was amazed at the potential. So when news came about that the amazing Sid Sahrawat, the mastermind behind SidArt, has opened up an Indian restaurant which showcases his talent by combining traditional Indian flavours with local produce and modern techniques, I know instantly that we had to go and try.
Taking up the spot of Mandarin Dumplings, Cassia can be found on Fort Lane. We arrived early on a Thursday night without a booking and we were seated quickly as we were one of the first to arrive. Our waitress gave us a quick rundown on how the menu worked, offered us some of her recommendations and then brought over a plate of onion kulcha while we studied the menu and decided on what to eat. The side of coriander relish with the kulcha is worth raving, it starts with a subtle amount of heat and slowly builds up to a hot eruption of flavours.
We ordered two entrees and a main to share so we could leave some room for dessert. The scallops, plump and juicy were lightly seared and served with juliennes of apple, radish and dollops of foie gras. It was paired alongside a subtle curry emulsion that was masked by the rich foie gras. The lamp chops, heavily seasoned with assorted spices were seared and remained pink on the inside. It was presented over a bed of pickled onion and coconut chutney and topped with giant crispy onion rings.
Our Bengali-style fish main was a surprised as we expected more of a curry-styled dish (as described by our waitress) but it was beautiful nonetheless. Nice texture contrast between the crispy kale, the fish was moist and the mustard seeds provided plenty of heat. All their curries are served with a side of basmati rice and we also order a portion of garlic naan to accompany our curry.
Although there were some dishes where the Indian inspiration didn’t shine as much as expected, I throughly enjoyed my dinner at Cassia. Unlike typical neighbourhood Indian restaurants, the dishes are comparatively light/mild and great for people that enjoys the ethnic influence without being overwhelmed by the different spices.
Cassia | 5 Fort Lane, Auckland CBD