Zega by Sheraton Hyderabad is the newest hangout spot in town. Zega inhibits the same space on the tenth floor that previously belonged to InAzia and Chime. However, Zega is a different beast altogether. The suave InAzia and the dynamic Chime at Sheraton has made way for a modern, laid-back cafe. The Asian theme continues, but the change in vibe is apparent the moment you step in. InAzia & Chime bled into each other, yet each had a very different and often conflicting character. Zega with its casual ambience effortlessly embraces both the bar and the dining space. The motto of ‘Eat, Drink, Socialise’ feels apt.
Eat, Drink, and Socialise we did at the media and blogger table hosted by Sheraton. The bar whips up a range of classic and signature cocktails. I began with a refreshing mix of Vodka, Angostura Bitters, and Pomegranate Juice (Monroe Wink) and moved on to the classical combination of Whisky, Bourbon, Angostura Bitters, and Vermouth (Smoky Manhattan) later in the evening. Zega stocks an impressive range of Scotch including my Islay favourites like Lagavulin, Caol Illa, and Laphroaig. Fans of Speyside single malts will be happy to see Cardhu and Balvenie in addition to Glenfiddich and Glenlivet.
Zega opens at noon with a selection of quick and light meals that are perfect for a working lunch as well as an afternoon Yumcha. Dimsums and Sushi are accompanied by other small plates and several ‘meal in a bowl’ dishes like Khao Soi and Nasi Goreng. In the evening the menu grows to incorporate grills and speciality dishes. The kitchen at Zega is now being shepherded by Sous Chef Ming from Kolkata. Since it was just the second day of operations for Zega, my expectations were tempered but By the end of the meal I was quite pleased and pleasantly surprised. Zega delivered significantly more hits than misses. The Crystal Dumpling with celery, black mushroom, asparagus, and water chestnut impressed with its burst of flavours and the occasional crunch. I’d have loved a bit more sear on the Chicken Gyoza and a thinner pastry on the Hargao but all the dimsums were enjoyable. The dimsums were followed by a platter of vegetarian and non-vegetarian sushi. I love my Nigiri and Sashimi, but I mostly skipped this course as Zega mostly showcased modern interprerations of sushi rolls with cream and assorted stuffing that I’m not a fan of. In the mains, the Yang Chow Fried Rice with bits of bacon and prawn was quite easily my favourite. This is a dish I can devour any time, any day. Thai Curries inevitably steal the show and the perfectly executed, aromatic Yellow Curry was no exception. The best, though, was perhaps reserved for the last. Oriental desserts can be a bit of a hit and miss, but I loved all the dishes on the dessert platter. Creme Brulee is quite obviously not Asian, but it didn’t seem out of place thanks to the inclusion of coconut. The Tim Tum Krob was the only classical Oriental dessert on the platter but Sheraton pulled off a twist here too by replacing the crunchy water chestnuts with the in-season Litchi. It’s not often that a simple scoop of ice cream ends up becoming the highlight but I absolutely fell in love with the aromatic, bitter, and intensely tea flavoured Matcha Green Tea ice cream.
While some of InAzia’s favourites have been retained, InAzia patrons might be disappointed as many of its signatures have been pushed aside. But then, Zega is not just InAzia re-branded. Yes, it’s still serving an Asian inspired cuisine. However, Sheraton is positioning Zega to be an upscale cafe instead of a high-end, speciality restaurant. Mocktails start at just ninety bucks and cocktails begin as low as Rs. 225 (signatures can go up to Rs. 725). A meal for two without drinks should cost around two thousand bucks. From dimsums and sushi to grills and woks, Zega has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to merit a spot in your weekend hangout list.