Savour Kyoto delicacies and concoctions from the ‘Prohibition Era’ at ZLB 23, a secret speakeasy restaurant

If you long for quick evening escapades where you can indulge in some jazz music, old-school cocktails with a twist and some delectable quick bites, then ZLB 23 is a noteworthy destination

Srushti Kulkarni Published :  17th March 2023 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  17th March 2023 12:00 AM

ZLB23 restaurant Bengaluru

While the city is busy being populated by fancy bars and breweries to savour the most scrumptious cocktails and small plates from, The Leela Palace Bengaluru ventures on a different culinary route to present the audience with an authentic and historical establishment from the Prohibition Era. Replicating
Japanese speakeasies, the Leela introduces a secret retro-style bar hidden away on their premises.

When we first heard of this new place, we were pumped to discover more but it turns out that one can only access the place through a mysterious lady who is the sole guardian and curator of this Kyoto speakeasy restaurant. And one can do so by dropping Zia a text on the spot’s Instagram page to get access to the secret hideaway — ZLB 23. We followed suit and found ourselves in the hotel’s lobby as soon as we heard back from her. Curious to uncover its offerings, we followed our escort who directed us through a secret passageway from behind their pan-Asian restaurant, Zen and then onto an elevator providing only three stops — Z, L and B. That was our first cue on the inspiration behind the name of this spot.

The doors threw open to a rouge-hued dimly-lit verandah boasting a life-size mirror placed against the
wall next to a royal wingback chair. On the right was a wall with built-in shelves where one can keep their alcohol bottles and enjoy a drink from it every time they visited. We headed forward towards a small staircase that led us onto a deck that opened upto a speakeasy restaurant dotted with cosy couches clad in intricate upholstery such as Gulab Velvet from Sabyasachi for Nilaaya by Asian Paints, a 100-year-old sword, Japanese art, antique chests with pearls and crystal chandeliers — you get a drift? Run by a team of women, the new place with a dedicated space for transcending genres and styles of jazz music, flaunts a bright bar and an open kitchen.

Also read: The Leela Palace explores holistic fine dining with its new Aujasya wellness programme

Curated to reveal lost recipes from the East, the menu offers Japanese finesse and ‘prohibition’ cocktails that tell a tale of a bygone era. We sampled a few dishes and concoctions from the menu upon Zia’s recommendation. While we munched on the complementary Japanese puffed rice crisps, a couple of finger foods and mystical potions made their way to our table. The Japanese Old Fashioned (a late 19th-
century concoction crafted with whiskey, tenjaku, angostura and homemade fennel syrup) was presented in a glass dome while the Shisho Negroni flavoured with roku, campari and vermouth was a clear version of Negroni with Japanese shiso added.

We first tucked into the Burrata and Broccoli Toast topped with edamame and hazelnuts (were a creamy and crunchy delight) before reaching for the small yet yummy lobster bites wrapped in kataifi and served along with a laksa and orange yuzu gel. We also tasted Kyoto Tartare, plated with three crackers, each with a different spread — avocado, Japanese akami and salmon. We followed these up with a pair of sweet treats — Torched Rambutan Creme Brûlée and a scoop of White Chocolate and Mandarin Ice Cream.

If you long for quick evening escapades where you can indulge in some jazz music, old-school cocktails with a twist and some delectable quick bites, then ZLB 23 is a noteworthy destination.
₹5,500 onwards for two. At Indiranagar.