A love letter to chef Sanjay Rawat's native India, Kahani is a new pop-up restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel debuting Saturday, Oct. 7. Here's what to expect.
A selection of dishes at Kahani at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel; ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE RITZ-CARLTON, LAGUNA NIGUEL
Following the success of sushi pop-up Taikun, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is continuing its culinary adventures with Kahani. Open Saturday, Oct. 7 until Thursday, Dec. 14 (and tentatively longer), the pop-up restaurant, whose name translates to "story" in Hindi, is the vision of chef Sanjay Rawat. Rawat joined The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel as its chef de cuisine in 2022 and quickly amassed a following for his authentic and thoughtful take on Indian cuisine, highlighted in the stunning menus he's curated for the Dana Point property's multi-day Indian weddings. Now, he'll bring the flavors he's become known for to his own restaurant, a space tucked within a private dining room off the hotel's lobby. Awash in colorful hues, the pop-up will immerse diners in the vibrant culture of Rawat's native New Delhi.
Chef Sanjay Rawat
“When I immigrated from India eight years ago, I never imagined I would be given the opportunity to helm a restaurant at an iconic resort like The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel," says Rawat, an alum of the five-star Taj Hotel in New Delhi. "I am grateful for the team’s support for my creative vision and investment in my talent. I want Kahani, my story, to inspire other chefs to dream outside of their parameters and have trust that their journey will come full circle like mine.”
Backed by the resort's newly formed Indian Cultural Committee, Rawat wil be joined by assistant director of food and beverage Sanju Beri, who will execute the restaurant's wine, beer and cocktail program. The committee includes employees from food and beverage, finance, operations and banquets, who all share in Rawat's heritage and are helping to bring his vision to life.
Chef Rawat puts the finishing touches on Chennai sea bass.
Cardamom cheesecake with laddu crumbs, kala jamun, almond tuile and blueberry
That vision includes a flavorful menu of Indian staples alongside more rare specialties. Naturally, Southern California's bounty will also be utilized in Rawat's curated dishes. Menu standouts, which embrace India's love of spices and bold tastes, include corn and cardamom bisque, saag lobster risotto, Rogan Josh short rib and a curry sampler paired with naan. On the sweet side, dessert lovers will discover cardamom cheesecake and gajar ka halwa cake, an Indian iteration of carrot cake.
Join chef Rawat for his second annual Diwali Mela dinner at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel on Nov. 4.
While Kahani will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 6 to 10PM for dinner, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is offering a unique package leading up to Diwali on Sunday, Nov. 12. Available from Nov. 3 to 5, the two-night package includes dinner for two at Kahani, a Bollywood fitness class, daily yoga and meditation, and two tickets to chef Rawat's second annual Diwali Mela dinner. The festive dinner will take place on The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel's outdoor bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where chef Rawat will present live food stations featuring modern and traditional Indian cuisine. Expect pani puri shots, mithai and a decadent display of brightly colored sweets. Dinner will be paired with energetic Bollywood music, a live dance performance (and tutorial!), and other fun surprises. Let the celebrations begin!