Founded on five flavour profiles, sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter, Asian cuisine requires a delicate balancing act, distinguishing the cooks from the master chefs. When achieved, the harmony of flavours presents an unsurpassed taste experience that not only brings one’s taste buds into balance, but also the mind and body according to ancient Eastern medicine.
At Indochine Restaurant, one of SA’s three-plated restaurants, Executive Chef Virgil Kahn works with the traditional principles of Asian cooking and skilfully adds a sixth element, introducing an innovative African influence. Since joining Indochine almost a decade ago, Kahn has had an insatiable appetite for authenticity, but has always endeavoured to add a distinctive contemporary twist to each dish. He pushes the boundaries of flavour, texture and presentation using modern cooking techniques and creative combinations of ingredients with artistry and flair. Indochine’s progressive Afro-Asian cuisine is influenced by Thailand, Japan, Cambodia and India, but is unconventionally filtered through a South African lens. With a vibrant local food scene serving as rich inspiration on Delaire Graff’s doorstep, Kahn builds on the heritage of well-loved Asian dishes.
At Indochine Restaurant, Executive Chef Virgil Kahn works with the traditional principals of Asian cooking and skilfully adds a sixth element, introducing an innovative African Influence.
To master this craft, it is vital to understand the nuances of these five flavour profiles, variations of which reflect contemporary French fine dining with Asian flare.
Chef Kahn spent his time tasting his way through internationally-acclaimed restaurants including Nahm and Paste Bangkok in the city of the same name, as well as Belon and Ronin in Hong Kong and many humble street food stalls that were equally dynamic and alive with punchy, flavourful dishes. A true highlight was the 25-course ‘emoji menu’ at world-renowned Gaggan in Bangkok (now closed), a restaurant that held the top spot on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for four consecutive years.
Inspired, Kahn returned to craft a gastronomic experience with an entirely new menu at Indochine Restaurant. Artful dishes present layers of intricate flavours, beautifully balanced and prepared with the utmost precision. Exotic Afro-Asian flavours dance across one’s palate and fragrant aromas invigorate the senses. The dashi features miso-glazed scallops, shitake jelly, fennel and West Coast tempura oysters, while the natural earthiness of the Karoo lamb cutlets are enhanced by black garlic purée, falafel, fritters and tomato bean sambal. A signature new starter takes its cue from an authentic dish that left a lasting impression on Kahn in Bangkok: chilli-pickled tuna served with watermelon, ginger salmon floss, caviar, Thai basil, coriander, caramelised onions and garlic. A complex dish, yet elegantly simple and freshly redefined.
Relais & Châteaux describes the unique pleasure of dining at Indochine Restaurant: “Each colour, each flavour, each texture, each ingredient on the dish is chosen with deep consideration for taste, for sustainability, for character and charm, with the special inflections from a life immersed in cuisine.”
While immersed in international flavours, bountiful care goes into sourcing local ingredients. Indochine’s menu is anchored by exceptional farm-to-fork provenance. Each day, chefs pick herbs, microgreens and vegetables from Delaire Graff Estate’s own greenhouse, and every season the garden is brimming with new verdant gems. There’s an acute awareness of sustainability, and high-quality produce is chosen from reputable suppliers who passionately follow the same ethos.
Essential ingredients to the experience, the tantalising flavours at Indochine Restaurant are complemented by striking art and panoramic views. Guests dine beneath Swallows in Flight, an exceptional installation by acclaimed South African artists Lionel Smit and André Stead. In a perfectly balanced swirl of tranquil colour and light reflections, over 1 300 birds become part of the views stretching all the way to Table Mountain.
Elevated on the picturesque slopes of the Botmaskop Peak in the Cape Winelands with a world-renowned culinary scene often acknowledged for its European roots, Indochine is something truly unique under the guidance of Kahn. With cuisine that almost defies categorisation, Indochine is a breath of fresh air.