A 360 dining experience
From Perth, Australia, and across Southeast and South Asia, to Radisson and finally, Dhaka, former musician-turned chef, Jed Archdeacon has certainly had an eventful career. Having made the transition from Radisson Blu Water Garden to Amari Dhaka, he has been busy working with the management, shaking things up, and with the launch of Amaya’s new live buffet experience, it seems that all the hard work has paid off.
On a humid Sunday evening, my colleague and I set out to give this new experience a try. Before we went to check out the main event, we made a quick stop at the Cascade Lobby Lounge. This cheerful, 24 hour bistro recently launched its new menu, with an emphasis on farm-to-table meals, handmade fresh with homegrown produce and premium ingredients sourced from around the world. “We’re incorporating a retail aspect to the dining experience, which means you can buy some of the ingredients we use to create the dishes” the fast-talking Chef Jed says. “Basically we are re-creating the traditional lobby style favourites with an emphasis on quality of product and how to prepare each item to maximize the full potential of that product for our guests” he adds.
In addition to fresh flavours and healthy options, the items on the menu have a visual appeal. From edible flower arrangements to charcoal buns, it’s a treat for all the senses.
Cascade Lounge’s mouthwatering summer-inspired Luxe menu, unveiled this month, features a different limited-edition dessert each month. “This month we’re doing an authentic French Opera cake” says Augustine Gomes, Pastry Chef, with an infectious grin.
Our next stop was the revamped Amaya restaurant, whose lovely dark interiors have been given a sleek upgrade. The restaurant has been divided into sections based on the type of cuisine offered - Indian, Japanese, Cantonese, Thai, and Italian, with subtle touches, such as clay mugs in the colours of the Indian flag being used as wall decorations for the Indian section, or bamboo basket lids painted in the Thai flag colours in the Thai station, or little paper lantern centerpieces on the tables in the Chinese section, or even freshly handmade, colourful pasta hanging from the Italian section.
The changes made didn’t stop at fancy décor. Amaya is introducing to Dhaka its fully interactive buffet, which features the five live stations, each specializing in the cuisines from a different region, as mentioned above. You can watch the chefs cook up their magic from wherever you’re sitting, and a continuous live feed of the action gives you a close-up view of the entire cooking process, which not only adds a wonderful participative element to the meal, but ensures complete transparency and confidence in hygiene. We stopped in front of the Thai station to watch as the sous chef poured some hot oil onto a giant wok and showboated some pyrotechnics for us to ooh and awwh at.
Patrons can now walk around the stations, note the fresh ingredients on display and place their orders at the stations to be freshly made for them. It’s the perfect marriage of the buffet and a la carte systems. “You want something a little more exclusive than dipping a serving spoon into a bowl that’s been sitting out for hours as other people dip into it” says Chef Jed.
We proceeded to do just that, sampling from each of the stations. From tender tandoori kababs from the Indian section, to Peking duck tapas and an assortment of dumplings from the Cantonese section, to a glorious sweet and spicy fish dish and shrimps from the Thai station, an assortment of sushi and sashimi from Japan, and some Italian desserts – each morsel was an explosion of flavour. The staff assured us that only the highest-quality ingredients were sourced locally and from around the world, and it was palpable with every bite.
When prodded for the reasoning behind this new arrangement, Chef Jed mused that Bangladesh’s emerging economy means more people have access to a disposable income. “There are people who are perfectly willing and able to fly off to Bangkok to enjoy a meal. Our intention is to tap into that market and offer them all those premium services right here in Dhaka.”
Meals consumed, our final stop was upstairs at Deck 41, the rooftop bar and restaurant. Towering high over the Banani Lake, the deck provides an unbeatable view of the city. Replete with mood lighting and tasteful music, with a quiet pool on the other side of the roof, it was easy to forget for a minute what country we were in.
“It’s relatively chill now, but wait till midnight when people come in. There’s dancing, laughter, and the whole atmosphere is transformed into that of a luxury club. It’s wonderfully energizing,” informs MD Masud Rana, the Assistant Bar Manager. He offers us a look at the comprehensive beverages and sheesha menu, which promises a sublime evening for those choosing to partake.
With our stomachs full of the finest flavours of Asia and Europe, ears filled with good music, it was time to call it a night.
Amaya’s Fully Interactive Live Kitchen buffet offer is now available at Tk4000 per person, with BOGO and complimentary dinner offers for select cards. Call +8801777719319, or email [email protected] for reservations and inquiries.