Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The New Malaka Spice

The new Malaka SpicePune's popular Southeast Asian restaurant, Malaka Spice, moved into a new - and much larger - space in Koregaon Park. Having spent the last couple of months eating European food, I was eager to get back on the spice trail, so here I was! Malaka Spice is now in Lane 5 right where Karen Anand's Merlot and Mauve once stood - neither reastaurant lasted very long. Malaka Spice, with its name recognition and die-hard fans, ought to have no such problem.

The restaurant has an outdoor al-fresco option as well as an indoor section. Given the soaring heat in Pune, we took a table indoors. The decor is minimalist (like Indus Kitchen) but brought to life by the bright paintings on the walls. Malaka Spice has a unique concept of combining art with food. This display of works of aspiring painters on their walls are for you to admire and buy off their walls if you so desire - the prices are discreetly tagged on the paintings. They also have a caricature artist who can capture the moment on paper as you wait for your food. I only wish they had chosen a more lively or an Oriental look-and-feel indoors. However, the ambiance outdoors is probably better, especially on a pleasant evening.

Malaka Spice MenuThe menu is very creatively designed, taking you through a visually appealing culinary tour of the Far East. The chefs innovations have been called out with little icons - I recommend you try them.

The chef's Pho Chiru mutton soup , described as a fragrant melange of star anise, basil and coriander with mutton, set the tone for the evening. The soup was flavorful, spicy and excellent!
The Chicken Momos, dumplings stuffed with herbed and minced chicken, is a delicacy from the lands of the Himalayan north of India. They were delectable with the unique onion-based dip.

Pho Chiru Mutton Soup at Malaka Spice
Momos at Malaka SpiceWe also ordered a portion of the Thai Papaya Salad. The tangy and spicy salad with shredded green papaya, chilli, lime and crushed peanuts was good. However, I have had even better at Krungthai in the Bay Area and at Baan Khanitha in Bangkok.

Raw Papaya Salad at Malaka SpiceOur starters ended with the interesting Lamb Pepesan, a tweaked Vietnamese dish by the chef. This starter of ground mutton with spices steam-cooked in banana leaves was very tangy in a nice sort of way and went well with the lime-and-chilly dip. It tastes much better than it looks (in the picture below).

Lamb Pepesan at Malaka SpiceWe then moved to the BaBeOS mutton - spicy strips of mutton tossed with basil, beans and oyster sauce. Other than the unusual name, everything about this entree was good. We had paired this dish with the Mee Siam rice noodles with tofu, celery shredded chicken and garlic chives.

Mee Siam Noodles at Malaka Spice
BeBeOS Mutton at Malaka SpiceThat was a lot of food, but I had to try the desserts too. On the waiter's recommendation we picked the Mango and the Watermelon sorbets. They were amazing, especially the mango! Smooth and a particularly satisfying end a great meal.

Mango Sorbet at Malaka Spice
Water Melon Sorbet at Malaka SpiceA key fixture in the Pune's dining scene for a long time, this interesting restaurant finally has the space it deserves. Malaka Spice is located in Lane 5, Koregaon Park, opposite Oxford Properties. For reservations, call: 9923329299, 9823064050.

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Sharmila said...

This is our fav haunt for South East Asian food ... and have found them pretty stable in quality food and service. :-) Incidentally this is one place where we have actually liked that Thai preps too ... other places are still experimenting.
Your travel posts have made for interesting reads.


I should have ordered Thai Papaya Salad. If you book tabel on net, then draught beer or mocktail is on house.

Now I have to take my son to Malaka Spice. He missed it last time

Anonymous said...

@Sharmila: Thanks for sharing.

@Harekrishnaji: Since you loved this place, that shouldn't be a problem. :)

Indraneel Majumdar said...

Malaka has been an old fav, some pointers - don't order wine by the glass..they don't store open wine very well.. and do not order the Indonesian stuff!

Shantanu said...

@Indraneel: Thanks for the pointers. As for wine, most Indian restaurants (other than the five-star ones) have this problem. However, with more Indians taking to wine, the common vareities of whites and reds don't stay opened very long.

Anonymous said...

hmm. I have a question:
Are you by any chance planning to start up your own chain of restaurants, with yummy desserts and great wines?? :)

You already got a few patrons! :)

Shantanu said...

@Nikita: Thank you, but I would rather stick to the job I do best - eating!