May 11, 2024

Leeloo Leela

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Foursheets and I haven't had a proper catchup with DaRC and Ro Ro in a while, so we arranged a date for ourselves. Ro Ro suggested that we check out Leela, run by Chef Manav Tuli who used to helm the kitchen at Chaat. We did enjoy Manav's cuisine on a few occasions, so it would be interesting to see what he's doing in his new digs.

DaRC just got off the plane earlier this morning and is clearly suffering from jet lag. I expected him to fall asleep at the table and do a faceplant. I guess it's a good thing he was seated in a chair and not on the banquette.

I didn't tell anyone that I was coming tonight, but as I did make the booking using my own name, I guess they figured it out. Which was why we ended up getting some extras...

The snack was made with fenugreek seeds and topped with mango chutney and chopped chives.

Lucknowi tokri chaat - from the chef. Tokri chaat (टोकरी चाट) is a popular dish where ingredients like lentils and sev (સેવ) are served in a tokri basket where the deep-fried potato basket is edible. Covered in tamarind sauce, sweet yogurt, mint chutney, and topped with pomegranate seeds and micro greens like coriander and amaranth.

We were advised to mix it all up. I liked the combination with sweetness and acidity.

Boneless masala chicken wings - this looked very interesting on the menu, but I was taken aback by the presentation. Not only have the bones been removed but the whole thing has been reformatted. There was now also a glaze of tamarind and kokum (कोकम) on top.

This was OK la... The taste was fine, but honestly the texture just wasn't as good as a deep-fried wing, even though the exterior had been crunchy before softening under the sauce.

Chicken baida roti - with a stuffing of minced chicken and duck egg. Nice and spicy.

Honey sesame pork ribs - this looked so AWESOME! Such a big hunk of pork! Manav did explain to us later that he had tried, unsuccessfully, to downsize the dish, but so far the optimal results required that the pork remains this size.

This was definitely very nice, especially with that sauce and all the spices at the very top. The pork was tender overall, but parts of it were showing texture that was a little more dry, and almost approaching the texture of cured pork.

Chestnut paneer tikka - these came from the chef. I could taste the acidity inside, without putting the chutney on top.

Smoked butter chicken - we have always loved Manav's butter chicken, and this version now comes smoked with cloves and ghee, which definitely showed. We were too cheap to pay an extra HKD 70 for a shot of Laphroaig, which would turn the dish into a flambée and add more peaty, smoky flavors. There's heat here, but nicely tempered by the rich and thick sauce.

Lamb nagori korma - wonderfully creamy and nutty.

The neck of the lamb was really, really tender as it still has some tendons.


Saag paneer (साग पनीर) - Foursheets commented on the vibrant green of the spinach, and Manav seemed very proud of it. This was done with onions, garlic, cumin, and ginger... so it gave us a little more spice on the palate than I had expected.

Bone marrow biryani - from our experience at Chaat we know that biryani (बिरयानी) is a "must", and this was definitely impressive.

James cut open the top, scraped out the marrow from inside the bone, and mixed it all up for us.

Inside we also had beef cheeks and short ribs which, needless to say, were very, very tender. So sinful. So tasty. I wish I had more stomach space.

Kumaoni raita (कुमाऊंनी रायता)

Masala chai (मसाला चाय)

Coconut sorbet, Alphonso mango - mango is one of my favorite fruits so I would never say 'no' to the famed Alphonso mango, and it really was very lovely. Love the coconut gelatosorbet and the coconut tuile, too.

Restaurant policy only allows 1 bottle for BYO, so I brought something I know DaRC would find tasty.

2003 Kongsgaard Syrah - decanted and served immediately. The nose was really fragrant, with good amount of sweet fruit along with eucalyptus and spices. Drinking really, really well now.

A delicious dinner and a little bit too much food, but we all left with smiles on our faces. Three of us called it a night and went home, while the most energetic one just kept going...

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