By : JOHN GRANVILLE
12 February 2019
About: Dramatically located in the cantilevered appendage atop the Holiday Inn Sukhumvit, Maya is one of Bangkok's newer Indian restaurants, having opened in 2013 in a neighbourhood that has a concentration of Thai Indian families and consequently a large number of Indian outlets. Executive sous chef is Hardip Bhatia, who joined Maya following a stellar career at some of India’s top hotel groups, including the Taj Group, the Oberoi at Shimla, and the Westin Hyderabad. He has also worked in London, Bermuda, and China. Chef Hardip roots his cuisine firmly in North Indian traditions but adds his own distinctive touches and an artistic presentation style.
Decor: Exit the lift on the 29th floor, walk past an open kitchen with three copper clad tandoori ovens and several chefs hard at work, and then the restaurant comes into spectacular view. Shiny black stone, black steel latticework with Indian motifs, huge shimmering chandeliers, and gorgeous views from the floor to ceiling windows set an exciting scene for the cuisine. The room is divided into three areas: a large bar surrounded by tables with a small stage for musicians; an elegant but relaxed dining area; and an outdoor bar area where drinks and fine cigars can be enjoyed.
Menu: Panch phoron scallops (500 baht) demonstrated the chef's use of non-Indian ingredients, because while the pan-seared scallops were dusted with the traditional five spices of panch phoron, which is based on seeds from the subcontinent, the accompanying cauliflower was infused with truffle. Another appetiser, Afghani salmon (500 baht), clearly referred to the cooking technique rather than the origin of the fish, chef having marinated it in cream cheese and dill, and adding a hearty berry chutney. A number of courses appear on the menu under the Heritage listing, and we had chooza khas makhani (425 baht), a boneless chicken simmered in tomato and fenugreek, served with home-churned butter. Under the same listing was lobster butter masala (1,500 baht), a whole Canadian lobster that had been simmered in a rich masala gravy. Rogan josh (475 baht) is a speciality difficult to resist at any Indian restaurant, and here the New Zealand lamb was cooked Kashmiri style, simmered overnight in a fennel and ginger curry. A side dish of ripe mango curry (350 baht) was a lovely yellow creation tempered with mustard seeds and sprinkled with green coriander leaves, while a second side was dal makhani (275), a robust dish of black lentils that had been placed on a slow burner throughout the night with tomatoes and garlic. We stayed with beer throughout the evening, finding that Beerlao (180 baht), with its gentle taste, matched well with all the dishes.
Evaluation: Maya has some tough competition around this area, but the cuisine is impeccable and the dramatic decor and view add an extra element that makes this very much a restaurant for a special occasion. The bar is a splendid rendezvous point, and the music provides an atmospheric background.