After working with some of the top restaurants in Dubai, Thailand and other parts of the world, Gurmehar Sethi came back to India opening his Thai restaurant ‘Ziu’ in Delhi. Being a chef Gurmehar had an eye for detail when it comes to ingredients. Witnessing that there was not a good Thai restaurant in Delhi and the one available were inside a five star hotel in the form a pan Asian menu which used to serve red or green curry in the name of Thai food. Here are excerpts from the interview:
The whole idea of starting this restaurant was to take all street food from Thailand and the whole menu would be complete Thai. We brought food from Thailand and gave it an innovative touch. And, as people are turning health freak they want to eat health food so we do a lot of health food including brown rice cracker which we do air fry instead of deep frying in the restaurant. So, a lot of the different kind of cooking method, ingredients which we are flying down from Thailand, the chef garden where I grew my own ingredients is smallest thing that we have included in this restaurant. Ziu in itself means cultivation. So, that’s where I get the name, the menu and the design giving the restaurant an innovative, modern kind of design. We have an open kitchen at the restaurant, the interaction with chef, pairing of food; drink and wine all have been taken into consideration when opening this brand.
Why a Thai restaurant
Pan Asian is very over rated and every restaurant you go to is tagged as a pan Asian restaurant. Even if you go to a food fest you see most of the restaurants serving Pan Asian food and we are very innovative as we are doing very different menu and are different from any pan Asian or Thai restaurant. We do not do a raw papaya salad instead we do an air fryer or the crispy version of papaya salad. The whole papaya is crispy and we sauce it in chilli, lime and peanut. At the end of the day you have to work with the taste of Indian Palate but the taste has to be authentic.
Keeping vegan in mind
People in India like spices and Thai food is spicy. As there is lots of vegetarian client in India what we do is we avoid using fish sauce, shrimp sauce and we make our own curry paste and sauces. We make pure veg for people who are vegetarian because it is important. Today anything can happen to a person because he is allergic to any ingredients so there is no ajinomoto and any MSG in our food.
Catering on numbers
The response has been good. We have actually managed to get repeat guest which I am very happy of. 80 per cent of our guests are repetitive because they love our food. We have 100-120 people coming in a day with an average ticket size of anyway between Rs 1200-1500. In today’s time you have to see the pricing and I being a chef have to spot on the food. Since it is a price sensitive market you do not want to go to a five star restaurant and get a standalone restaurant. So, the pricing matter a lot.
Playing with flavours
Our restaurant is a luxury dining place. When somebody enters in he may think that this is very expensive restaurant but what we do is when the guest live they are surprise by the food, the kind of experience, presentation. Our aim is to provide quality to the people in affordable price where people can afford to come. It is for people who have good knowledge of food and the understanding of the ingredients we are doing, they will understand our food.
Design is the key
If you see the wall it has very raw stone, all the graphics are very thai looking (fish, the snake skin) also the roof is modern kind of roof which is wooden kind of thing in old days in Thailand. I have taken old Thai look giving it a modern touch.
We will be doing restaurants expanding to Bengaluru and Hyderabad and Delhi. We will open two more by this year. We will look at Dubai as well by next year.