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Raasta, the new Caribbean-themed resto-bar in Hauz Khas Village, swings in terms of menu planning and execution.
Given that the West Indies cricket team just won their first world championship after several years, it seemed a propitious time to visit Raasta. The interiors of the restaurant are among the most spacious in Hauz Khas Village, and there is a nice division of space into inside and outdoor seating areas. The décor is rather trite, what with the token Bob Marley murals and posters as well as the patent Jamaican flags. The music is a combination of reggae (only of it's patron saint Marley) and dubstep, which makes for a pleasant, if somewhat discordant, background score.
The food menu, however, is like a second-generation immigrant kid, flatly denying its heritage. There is almost a flagrant absence of Caribbean food, and instead, the menu meanders around the world like a pirate without a compass — landing up at shores as disparate as Greece, the Indonesian archipelago, Louisiana in America (represented by a few Creole dishes) and, of course, India. There is no sign of the famous Jamaican Jerk in any form or the equally celebrated spicy rice dishes.
After much page flipping (given the wide variety of dishes), we decide to go with Caribbean Chicken Strips — the one item that's representative of the restaurant's theme — and Seafood Treasure, which comprises basa, jumbo prawn, squid and river sole accompanied by a (misspelled) 'pepprocini' sauce. We then proceed to wait for an inordinately long time for our food to arrive. Thoughts that the chef was perhaps out to catch fresh seafood for our order disappear as our starters finally start coming.
The chicken, tasteless and covered with bread crumbs and shame, is about as Caribbean as an Indian guy who one day decides to grow dreadlocks and call himself McMarley. After a single bite, we abandon it to its own affairs. The treasure meanwhile is decidedly counterfeit, with super chewy squid rings and an insipid jumbo prawn. The one saving grace is the basa fillet, which is light and well-flavoured.