There is a lot that is different about ASAP – The bistro. For starters, the acronym doesn’t quite mean ‘As soon as possible’. As the owner Rehan Guha, who is also a professionally trained chef with international experience, says, “It stands for As Social as Possible because I personally am like that and love to socialise.” That said, a wall near the entrance of the all-day diner which has a comic book themed décor, has graffiti with several words starting with the letter ‘S’ in place of social. From sexy to sozzled, they are all up there.
But, that is not the only thing that is different about ASAP. It is an all-day diner with the vibe of a nightclub. Pool tables, dim lighting [too dim for my liking but I am not your average party person who probably likes it that way] and live music in the evenings with a bar in the centre, this 90-100 seater with its booths and tables easily stands out. Located in Hitech City, this place has many takers from the IT crowd as it is a convenient venue to hang out or party after work.
As for the menu – yes, like the ketchup ad that ran a few years ago – it’s different. Finger food from world cuisines, the portions are fairly generous. Rehan has, on the first page of the menu, invited feedback from guests. That indicates an open mind in my book coupled with the confidence that comes with a deep knowledge of what one is doing. This is a good thing because patrons can recommend good local bands for live performances or even additions to the menu to keep things dynamic.
The drinks’ menu encompasses cocktails and shooters to beer and wine; plus the Scotch, rum, vodka, gin options. There are mocktails for the teetotallers and the Guava Mary – a guava juice based, non-alcoholic take on the Bloody Mary is an interesting drink. Served in a salt rimmed glass, it comes laced with tabasco and a green chilli for garnish.
As for the food, it has the usual finger food popular across the world like onion rings and nachos, there are options which are definitely worth a try. For starters, pun intended, the Thai Pai Chicken – fried chicken strips tossed in a spicy onion and chilli sauce; the Panko Prawns – prawns marinated in Cajun sauce, panko crumbed and deep fried; and the Chicken Wings served with a choice of barbecue or Louisiana hot sauce – are tasty options. There are combination platters with veg and non-veg options also available. Prices are fair and will not burn a hole in your pocket.
We skip past the salads, burgers, pastas, risottos and pizzas though they are all on offer on the extensive menu. I tried the Chef’s Special Baked Basa – a filet of fish marinated with Dijon mustard and topped with a delicious mix of herbs, leeks, celery, olives and mushrooms along with panko breadcrumbs served on a bed of spaghetti tossed in tomato sauce. Baked fish variants I have tried aplenty, but the crunchy topping on this one makes it a winner. The starters were quite filling so I couldn’t do justice to the spaghetti below, though it was equally flavourful.
My friend tried the Beef Tenderloin Steak, again, a generously sized steak served with mashed potatoes, butter sautéed vegetables and rosemary jus. The steak was well done and he relished it which was obvious from the empty plate at the end of the meal.
Coming to my favourite part of the meal – the desserts – we sampled the Pancake with Chocolate Mousse – wafer-thin pancakes with a creamy chocolate mousse filling and Bites of Heaven – bite sized concoctions made with condensed milk and a biscuit like base. The latter was a refreshing burst of sweetness in the mouth while the former demanded that each spoonful of the mousse be savoured slowly to prolong the impact of the chocolatey goodness on one’s palate.
It is a must-try venue and I am happy that a place serving food of the quality and proportions of ASAP – the bistro is part of Hyderabad’s dining out scenario.