It's exactly 30 years since Nisheeth Tak arrived in Dublin from his native India. A graduate of the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering & Applied Nutrition in Mumbai, he'd been enticed to Ireland by a London-based restaurateur who had said he was opening a chain of restaurants in Europe.
The job, however, was not as portrayed, and Nisheeth found himself working in a small, family-run place in Dublin, where the owner's brother, who had zero cooking experience, was the chef, while two other brothers, with equally little hospitality experience, were front-of-house.
Accommodation was provided, but it was almost impossible to get paid, and for the first three months, Nisheeth really struggled. A big culture shock for a young man who'd worked in the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, one of the most famous hotels in the world, loved by celebrities, royalty and heads of state, from Jackie Kennedy to the Prince of Wales. It was also the Taj that was targeted by terrorists in 2008, with one of Nisheeth's great friends, executive chef Vijay Banja, being shot dead.
I first noticed Nisheeth in the former Saagar Restaurant on Harcourt Street, before he moved to Poppadom in Rathgar, where I enjoyed regional Indian food the like of which we'd never had here before.
Nisheeth then met Asheesh Dewan, which was a turning point in both their lives, as they had similar ambitions to open a modern Indian restaurant that had nothing to do with the traditional Indian curry house. In this ambition, they've both been hugely successful, changing the face of Indian cuisine in Ireland. Asheesh went on to open the stunning Ananda restaurant in Dundrum Town Centre, as well as Jaipur in Dalkey and Malahide, and Chakra in Greystones.
Nisheeth, in turn, opened Rasam in the SoCoDu village of Glasthule in 2003. It was an instant success, and attracted a hugely loyal clientele, from rock stars to radio broadcasters, to techie billionaires, actors and politicians - even the domestic goddess herself, Nigella Lawson, has visited.
I live nearby, and love Indian food, so it's a bit of a home-away-from-home for me too, and, with a new menu having just launched, I couldn't wait to try it.
Starters (€7.95-€16.95) include street food favourites, such as a Sev potato galette; Lucknow-style Adraki lamb chops flavoured with royal cumin, fennel, ginger and tabbouleh; coastal dishes such as tiger prawns with avocado, mango and curry leaf chutney; crispy squid with gooseberry chutney; or Keralan duck rolls with star anise, figs and tamarind. The Rasam platter (€16.95) is a great way to try a selection of starters.
To start, I had divine spiced Mumbai-style pan-seared scallops (€14.95), which were served on a green pea puree and mango chutney; while Bayveen's Delhi Magic Mushrooms (€8.50) had a variety of confit wild mushrooms, served with ginger, garlic and a creamy morel sauce - both heavenly.
Mains (€19.95-€22.50) included Keralan mango prawns; the delicious Old Delhi Butter Chicken; fresh fish of the day; lamb cooked in a variety of ways or Beetroot Chicken with dry pomegranate seeds and coriander leaves.
Bayveen had the Manshari Thali (€31.50), pictured left, a complete meal served on a silver platter, of course. It included a rich lamb curry, Chettinad chicken, prawns, potatoes and spinach, pulao rice, naan bread, home-made pickles and yoghurt. They also have a vegetarian thali at €27.50. Meanwhile, I decided to go with a second starter, opting for Malai Jhinga (€16.50) - great big pan-seared Indian Ocean prawns, flavoured with mace, green cardamom and cream cheese, set off with mint, avocado and greens. With my prawns, eschewing rice, I had a side dish of Kairi Bhindi (€5.95) - stir-fried okra with onion, tomato and cumin - another favourite.
A glowing review
To finish, we shared Kesari Kulfi Falooda, (€8.95) a home-made saffron-flavoured Indian ice-cream served with sweet vermicelli and shiny basil seeds which actually glow from the plate.
With a bottle of Galician Terras do Cigarron Godello 2016 (€34) and service, our bill came to €132.
Suffice to say, I'd eat in Rasam every night if I could!
18-19 Glasthule Road
Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.
Tel: (01) 2300-600