First there was Koregaon Park’s most well-known restaurant and landmark, PREM’S. Then came one of our absolute favourite bars in the city, SWIG. But, the man didn’t stop there; he launched another massive gem in Pune’s food and party crown, EURISKA.
You’d think he would be satisfied with three of the most outstanding hangouts in the city. Nope! In January 2017, Sandy Singh masterminded and introduced KINKI – Modern Asian Kitchen & Molecular Bar, to Punekars. Being a huge fan of Sushi and Pan-Asian food in general, I was beyond excited. The special aspect about this place is its Molecular drinks (Molecular Gastronomy: the application of scientific principles to the understanding and development of food preparation.) WOAH, right?
I’ve known Sandy for a while now, worked with him even. In all this time, not once have I seen him frolic in the much-deserved limelight. Never have I witnessed him talk to the media, but this one just had to be done. I FINALLY got the man to speak with me about Pune, his motivations, inspirations and his new baby, KINKI. Boy, am I glad he did. Excerpts…
What was your initial motivation behind launching Kinki?
Pune needed a Pan-Asian Resto-Bar desperately. A place where one could go and get their fill of Dimsums, Sushi, Bowls and good cocktails; a place to unwind. Almost all of the resto-bars in Pune have a similar menu and Asian food has always been available in a fine-dine (Royal China) or casual dine (Malaka Spice) kind of space.
Also, Kinki is the first of its kind in Pune that does molecular drinks. I did my initial research by traveling to Hong Kong and Singapore and checked out both, restaurants and bars, to understand the vibe and how they got the perfect balance between casual dining and a well-stocked bar.
We have done just the level one of Molecular drinks to see how it is received in Pune. We have a lot of plans to keep upping the game at Kinki by introducing higher levels of molecular cocktails. Even the wares that we have used are all tailor made for us. It gives us that edge and a special feeling, which in turn does the same for our customers; they too feel special coming to us, as we are quite different from most of the places in Pune.
According to you, in the past 5-7 years, how has Pune changed in its acceptance towards unconventional international cuisines in the city?
Pune has come a long way in the F&B scene in the last 10 years. Its amazing to see that both restaurant owners and guests are open to trying new stuff and are not afraid to experiment. Pune predominantly has been a very safe space, so to say when it came to food and beverage. But I think with people traveling much more now, it has helped broaden their vision.
When we opened Euriska back in 2013, we were not sure how a Greek restaurant would fare. We tried to be as authentic as possible and didn’t want to add that Indian touch to it. We did fairly well keeping it authentic and it worked!
Today we have so many unconventional international cuisine restaurants and so many more opening. Big restaurant chains are all lining up to open spaces in Pune, which is very good news for Pune foodies. We don’t have to travel to Bombay or Delhi to get our fill of different stuff. Pune is growing very fast!
What do you love most about Pune? Especially when it comes to your work and vast experience in the F&B industry?
I love everything about Pune. I keep saying this to everyone I meet that Pune is the best city to live in, in India. The weather is great, people are chilled out, the whole vibe is very easy going. It can make you a bit complacent at times but who is complaining?
Work wise, again, Pune lets you be. Unlike other cities like Bombay or Delhi, which can be very unforgiving if you fail, Pune gives you many chances. Let me explain… the cost of setting up a restaurant is almost half of that of other cities. Our rents are way lower so are our salaries and other over head costs. I agree, that at the same time , we don’t have the spending power like they do but that’s still ok. If you do it right, or at least have the intention to do it right, there is space for everyone.
Name one (or two) restaurant/s in Pune (leaving out your various properties) that you love dining at.
I really like TVUM a lot. I think Praful (Chandawarkar, of Malaka Spice fame) has once again done a amazing job with the menu. Savya Rasa too is a superb place!
Your message to Punekars.
Open up more, experiment more, get out of that comfort zone. Only when you do that will we get out of ours and be able to bring you much more. Seeing you eat and especially try the more unconventional cocktails will only push us harder in bringing the world to you here in Pune.
Punekars, if you’ve been to Kinki, share your experience with us. And, if you haven’t, OMG what’re you waiting for?