Behnaz Sanjana savoured a riveting culinary performance at Teatro and is counting the days before she can return for an encore.
You may remember Downtown Rotana’s Teatro in all its theatrical glory by night in its pre-Covid heyday. Glitzy. Luxe-lounge. A show full of swagger. The stage however, has had to walk with the times, and the curtains now go up every afternoon instead, with a set-menu deal that sounds too good to be true, but is not. Hear me out.
Teatro seems to have missed its patrons much, and shows it by offering a four-course set menu at BD7. And get this – guests get a voucher for a complimentary meal on their subsequent visit. I’ll wait till you do the math. And now for the ultimate wow-factor – there are five, yes five, different set menus to choose from: Italian, Asian, Arabic, Indian and Vegan.
Scanning the menu virtually, the Asian menu vied for my attention. As there were more of us at the table, we ordered each of the menus so we could share in an array of cuisines, of course, being extremely mindful of our actions in keeping with new table etiquette. #newnormal
We waited for the show to begin, watching the culinary champs at work backstage through the glass panel while sipping on our summer coolers from the extensive beverage list. The opening act of starters, followed with hearty soup, quelled those 1pm hunger pangs and whetted the appetite for more. My Asian plate was Som tam Thai - long yard beans and shrimp with chilli and peanut goodness. Crackers and sweet chilli dip gave contrasting texture and a piquant kick. The lamb kibbe from the Arabic menu was melt-in-your-mouth meat, flavour packed with Arabic spices. India gave a street-side bite of tangy papadi chaat, and lamb seekh kababs. I shamelessly also helped myself to the moreish Vegan panko-crusted vegetables with fluffy garlic dip and Italy’s aromatic focaccia.
Downing herby Tom Yam Kai with chicken for soup, I heard slurpy sounds of approval for the other varieties all around the table. But the loudest was for the Vegan wild mushroom soup with vegan cream and truffles.
Headlining the show came the mains. I dug clean disposable wooden cutlery to sample all of them. My Asian Pla rad Prik - Thai reef fish coated in spicy-sweet tamarind sauce spiked with basil was a runaway hit, but the Indian Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani and the Italian Fusilli with beef ragout, salsa verde and onion crisps were equal winners. Special mention to the vegan burger here. Sandwiched between pillowy grilled buns, the patty was a delicious meaty texture, colour and mouthful, leaving us guessing the ingredients.
Onto the finale; the Italian Tiramisu struck the delicate balance between lightness and decadence. India’s Gulab Jamun was a pleaser, while the Um Ali’s yielding filo pastry in creamy richness did the Middle Eastern menu proud. Vegan dessert was palate cleansing tropical fruit with a zesty mango sorbet and Asian flavours took over the senses with Tab Tim Krob. Everyone savoured its unique flavours of water chestnuts, jackfruit, melon and sago in sweet coconut milk.
With stomachs satiated to the core, we ambled out, each one secretly scheming about what we would devour on our next visit to Teatro. I know I was.