Since the advent of Bangkok’s revolutionary new Indian cuisine at Gaggan, all claimants to the title of ‘Modern Indian’ food in Asia have a very high bar to reach, and it’s safe to say that in the case of Saffron which opened last November, the modernity it claims is more in the presentation than in the dish itself. That said, this elegantly-styled new addition to Shanghai’s Dongping Lu scene certainly has been racking up some admiring comments from diners in a city not normally known for its Indian cookery.
Blessed with a chic and contemporary interior of ambient warm woods and a pleasing eye to detail that incorporates gilded ceiling lamps and carved fretwork, Saffron’s tables are adorned with fresh flowers and plum napery. Simple dishes like samosas appear on slate tiles, curries nestle in chic, handcrafted earthenware bowls, and while an attempt to spice up the cocktail list (Tandoori Tequila, anyone?) might be misguided, there are enough standout recipes worth trying. In particular the chunky Salmon Tikka makes a welcome respite from the normal mackerel, the crispy spinach side dish is a knockout, and the cold lentil salad tossed with tangy onions, coriander and apples is as unusual as it’s refreshing. Chef Gaggan won’t be losing any sleep over in Bangkok, but Shanghai definitely has a new contender for ‘Best Indian’.