PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston September 2020

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Page 45 of 99

MUSAAFER S t y m i e d b y c o u n t l e s s construction delays — not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic, which put a halt on many exports and imports worldwide — the much-awaited Musaafer opened quietly in late spring. Many in the food world had heard rumblings about the exotic Indian escape: a spectacular space painstakingly under construction at The Galleria for nearly two years. Rumor had it that everything was crafted by artisans from across India, from the elaborate mirrored and painted walls in the opulent elevated dining alcove called The Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) to the pierced-metal lanterns that emit decorative shadows on the stark white walls of the private dining area (see Summer 2020 PaperCity). The rumors were true. The ambitious project could only have been undertaken by veteran restaurateurs such as owners Mithu and Shami Malik of The Spice Route Company, a restaurant group with 15 eateries in Dubai and West Africa. This is the couple's first fine-dining ventures that showcases all of India's culinary regions — and their first concept in the U.S. They collaborated with New Delhi-based Chromed Design Studio, which conceived every inch of the seven different environments within the 10,000-square-foot space that allows diners to indulge in a completely different aesthetic experience during multiple visits. Hindi for "traveler," Musaafer is personified in the form of a larger-than- life shepherd sculpture metaphorically wandering the 29 states of India that chef Mayank Istwal explores on his menu. An alum of the Taj Hotel group, Istwal spent more than 100 days roaming through his homeland (including the North, where he hails) to develop the first iteration of his seasonally changing menu. Begin your vicarious travels with a cocktail called Adraki Sutra ($18), a sweet/ sour turmeric-infused vodka tincture with a glowing yellow hue and bite of ginger beneath its foamy cap. Move on to the inspired ceviche built upon cured scallops with kokum (a mangosteen member), mango, coconut, and curry ($19), or the tuna chaat, raw tuna slices laid upon a glowing stone topped with spiced mango, shallots, tamarind, and avocado with drops of cream cheese ($23). Vegetarians will appreciate the mushroom galauti eclair with meaty-like mushroom duxelles in lieu of spiced goat with beads of yogurt JULIE SOEFER I t's a melodic sounding name that rolls off the tongue. Thai for "to eat well," the moniker for this exciting new 2,500-square-foot eatery in the Heights derives from the traditional blessing "Yoo Dee Kin Dee." As I pull away from the table, sated by the feast I've shared, the name feels appropriate indeed. Thai-born Lukkaew Srasrisuwan and chef Miranda Loetkhamfu, the owners of Kin Dee Thai Cuisine, authentically replicate the fare of their homeland on Houston terra firma, while giving both the interiors and menu a modern edge. Guests are seated on what may be the most comfortable restaurant chairs in Houston. They're custom- created in Thailand, as are many of the fixtures, from the marble-top tables to the brass cutlery and the magnificent mural depicting three icons that signify Thailand: elephants, the masked guards, and Grand Palace where Thailand's now symbolic king once resided. Many of the dishes — particularly the noodle-based mains — will be familiar, but the goal is to recreate them here as they were done back home for centuries. Take, for instance, the Thai flower dumplings (Chor Muang, $14.95), a labor-intensive dish served to the royal family and created here by hand daily. Shaped like lavender-colored flowers, the rice-flour dough bites are tinged with the extract of the purple-hued butterfly pea herb and stuffed with minced vegetables. Take a bite of the red Thai chile pepper, then gobble the dumpling followed by a sprig of fresh cilantro; the flavors simply sing. Don't miss the spicy sushi-grade salmon served with slices of cucumber and Thai chili lime sauce ($16.95). KIN DEE Qubani with flaked apricot, lavender, and vanilla whip Malwani lobster curry Mangalorean chicken curry with pickled mango emulsion MICHAEL ANTHONY (Continued on page 90) (Continued on page 90) Money Bags at Kin Dee

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