Rooh Restaurant – A Regionally Diverse Culinary Experience

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Chicago’s new West Loop Michelin Star restaurant, Rooh, delivers the spirit of Indian cuisine to the Windy City. The restaurant’s bold Indian flavors with modern gastronomic techniques, beautiful ambiance and interiors and a colorful cocktail menu, all offer an elevated night out on the town. 

Entrance to Rooh on West Randolph

ROOH is owned and operated by the husband and wife team Manish and Rina Mallick, located at the edge of the crowded dining strip of West Randolph in Chicago’s West Loop. ROOH’s menu draws inspiration from all of India’s 31 diverse states, which encompass hundreds of languages and regional cuisines. 

The kitchen is run by Head Chef, Sahil Sethi, who expertly showcases dishes popular in South Asia, not American spins on Indian cuisine. ROOH offers a full bar and cocktails based on ancient Ayurveda wisdom and categorized by its six tastes: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent. 

One of the second floor dining rooms

Rooh is known for stunningly plated and presented dishes. The restaurant incorporates the freshest local ingredients with authentic Indian flavors to create wonderfully artful plates. The menu is inspired from all of India’s 31 diverse states, which include hundreds of languages, dialects and regional cuisines. 

Rooh’s renowned food program has resulted in the restaurant earning Michelin Guide status since four months into operations, beginning in 2019.

One of the many beautiful dining booths at Rooh

The restaurant space was its own star, complete with floral wallpaper, wall decor, vibrant colors and lighting. The space was located in a 100 year-old narrow building with two floors and 20 feet high ceilings. A lovely, mesmerizing mural of an Indian woman that greeted us in front when we entered the building for dinner. 

The lovely mural that greets you in the front of Rooh

My guest and I were seated on the second floor, which had a lovely skylight you could look out of. It was a beautiful room with round large lamps and had a  private VIP feel, for an intimate dining experience. Relaxing music played in the background and it was not super loud. (However, as the evening went on and the dining room became packed with more diners, the volume went up quite a bit. My guest and I then had some issues talking and hearing one another). 

Our dining room with the skylight

The service overall here was excellent. Our server, Nevena, was very welcoming, professional and attentive. When we asked her for menu recommendations, she described her personal suggestions, as she brought me my earthy, Japanese sencha hot tea in a beautiful tea pot. 

Japanese sencha tea served in a beautiful tea set

We observed that Nevena really seemed to enjoy her work at Rooh and had a passion for it. She happily discussed and explained the dishes we ordered, as well as knowing everything about the prep and spicing of the dishes. 

There was no rush at Rooh – we took our time enjoying our meal and the dining experience. Service did not hover, while we were always asked how much time we wanted to ourselves between the cocktails and food courses. Nothing was served while we were eating the previous course. 

Grilled Prawns

Wonderful appetizers began the meal with large, spicy grilled prawns (Mangalorean Ghee Roast Masala, Fennel) and luscious chickpea curry with ginger. 

Chickpea Curry with Ginger

Next, my guest had Bengali lamb shank (Kosha Mangsho, Pearl Onions, Cilantro). The meat on the bone was so tender that he did not need a knife to cut and eat it. The dish came with a side of saffron rice, which was perfectly spiced. 

Bengali Lamb Shank

The chickpea curry that I ordered also came with saffron rice, which went perfectly with the garlic naan. I had a grand time dipping the naan into the curry and scooping it out to wet it. My fish dish I ordered, the Whole Sea Bass Wrapped In Banana Leaf (Malabar Sauce, Polichattu Masala) was perfectly portioned with a crispy skin and lovely cooked, spiced fish. The Malabar sauce was a sweet, spicy curry I poured over the fish before consuming. 

Whole Sea Bass Wrapped In Banana Leaf

My guest also ordered the popular butter chicken (Red Pepper Makhani, Cashews, Cilantro), which was heaven on a plate for him. 

Butter Chicken

Now, I need to discuss dessert! Our dessert was unique, delicious and a memorable finish to our incredible meal at Rooh. It was Saffron Cheesecake (Baked White Chocolate Saffron Cheesecake, Motichoor Ladoo, Warm Cardamom-Saffron Cream, Rose). I have never tasted anything like it before and my palate tasted several smacking flavors all at once. 

Saffron Cheesecake

Indian cuisine is one of my favorites and I am always seeking out new restaurants or trying new recipes at home. The meal we had at Rooh was my guest’s first time eating Indian cuisine or visiting an Indian restaurant. He was beyond impressed and intends to dine or at Indian restaurants again very soon. As for myself? Let’s just say that the food I experienced at Rooh was some of the best Indian cuisine I have ever had. Highly recommended!

Photos: Jennifer Lunz 

ROOH also offers Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 5-6 p.m. and Sunday from 3-5 p.m.

ROOH can be found at 736 W. Randolph Street. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 5-9:30 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 5-10 p.m. and Sunday from 1-8 p.m. 

For reservations, visit the restaurant website

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