Rooh - San Francisco
Summary Rating: 4/5. Refreshingly creative menu with modern concepts such as ghee fat-washed whiskey and the use of aquafaba for texture (in lieu of egg whites), but needs some tweaks to further balance out the drinks. The flavor profile of the drinks all tend on the sweeter side. Excellent place for business or romance but not a place to make new friends.
Rooh already sold us on being a "must visit" when we saw its cocktail menu online. The intriguing menu is shaped like a wheel, with the 6 tastes, or rasas, of Ayurveda (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent) at the center of the wheel. Each rasa has two associated drinks that capture its essence, with drink components featuring Indian fruits, spices, and ingredients.
What to Order
Mustard Old Fashioned: Fantastic twist on an old-fashioned. The mustard is subtle and the ghee wash adds a rich creamy mouthfeel to the old fashioned. Everything is remarkably balanced and stays true to the “old fashioned” taste, but tastes elevated and modernized.
Pink City: The menu says “salty” but a more accurate description would be a "refreshing melon-like rum-based tiki drink". Extremely easy to down.
What was Interesting
Delhi 6: This was a split decision between a strong recommendation and a moderate endorsement. One of us loved the drink (“the essence of rose!”) – while the other one felt it was “too much rose, a bit too sweet, and too unbalanced”. The rose shrub was from fresh rose petals. Whatever the imbiber might think about the cocktail – we both agree: the cocktail tastes like a rose in a glass.
Beetroot Kanji: If you like beets, this is your tipple. If you don’t, you’ll at least appreciate where this is coming from. The drink has a savory beet component. I personally find it delicious.
What to Skip
Mumbai Sharbat: This drink is Paloma-inspired, with blood orange simple and a kokum (garcinia indica) shrub. Kokum is a tamarind-like fruit indigeneous to Southern India and related to the mangosteen. The use of the simple and shrub was a bit-heavy handed and the drink ended up being saccharine instead of the sour smoky drink we had hoped for.
Ambience and Food
Ambience & Food: The lighting and decoration of the main dining area is quite luxurious, with large red curtains and dark wooden tables, while the bar features lighting reminiscent of a Vegas night club. The night we came (Monday), it was quiet with groups of couples and coworkers. The food is small-portioned but phenomenal – especially the naan, which is light, piping hot, and melts in your mouth. This would make a superb choice for a work dinner.