Ayna, the exquisite Indian cuisine restaurant at The Hilton, is one of my favorite places to dine out if there is something to celebrate, especially, if family is involved and Indian food is the way to go! Friends who have gone there have always come back with positive experiences and recently a friend who celebrated his anniversary was also pampered well.
So when I was invited to try out their kebab fest, by the wonderful and down to earth Chef Vijay Singh, I was rather excited and that too, this time, they were open to a bunch of bloggers attending the fest and boy, did we have a gala time. With a rather small menu, Ayna's chef believes that the menu is only a reference point and that anything can be cooked up for the guest. The waiters were well trained and knew the food and were able explain the dishes in detail. The fact that the manager of the restaurant is always out, attending to the guests is a wonderful thing. We were served the gulkhand mojito, a signature creation of Ayna, it is still not on the menu, but if ask for it. If you don't like it, they will take it back!
So after being teased with some 'Pre starter', a term that I am hearing for the first time, the Kakori kebab, a different form of guloti kebab, where it is shaped like a sheekh kebab and served on a small roti and just melts in your mouth, was served. It flew both from the plate and from our mouths and in no time was already digesting. The Tulsi Jhinga, a superbly flavored prawn was the next on my plate and it was an amazing dish. Good sized prawns, perfectly marinated and grilled to perfection.
The Barra kebab, which was lamb shanks cooked in the tandoor, was another favorite among the guests, while the black chicken tikka was a huge hit. It's the regular chicken tikka, but slightly different in flavor and yes, black in color. The chef refused to tell us the 'trade secret', but we could not care less. And then came yet another different kebab called the Babri Sheekh, a sheekh kebab coated with minced egg whites, a hit among all of us. The fish disappointed me and my vegetarian friend did not turn up, so it was an all out carnivore feast and though we all had the veg kebabs, and the peas potato kebab was really icek and others were pretty decent, but I am not sure if I will do any justice in attempting to write anymore about them, so I will refrain.
What is not to be missed is their Jafroni paratha, a wonderful paratha, soft, tasty and again melt in the mouth type of paratha. I goes well with the kebabs and we did not even ask for a side dish, and after all the kebabs, yes, they were the main course too. We opted to go straight for the desserts, and the malpova, was a little dry that day, I have had better ones at Ayna earlier and the other Bengali sweet, I forgot the name, was superb.
All in all it was a great meal. The ambiance of Ayna, is one of the best in Chennai, top notch with a palace feel to it and great service to match. And I was told that the kebabs are making their way into the regular menu as well, so that will be great. You can ask for a platter of kebabs and you will get an assortment for Rs. 999 for veg and Rs. 1200 for non veg.
Chef Amit's kebabs at Paprika used to be my favorite, but he has met his match with Chef Vijay Singh! If you love kebabs and want a five star experience, then, head to Ayna!
What I would order:
Kakori, Basil Jhingha, Zafroni Paratha and Babri Sheekh.
Hilton is near Kathipara Junction, next to Olympia Tech Park.
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