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ZEN and the ART of good eating



The restaurant is for the gastronomically adventurous.

WHAT DO you look for when you go out to dine? Excellent food? Attentive service? The perfect ambience? Or a perfect balance of all three?

Zen restaurant, the Leela Palace's most recent gastronomic enterprise, successfully combines all three ingredients. With a menu of sumptuously adventurous foods, a spacious venue that offers a variety of seating options to suit each individual's preference, and helpful chefs willing to prepare food according to your taste, the restaurant's flexible arrangements skilfully adjust to fulfil the well-heeled person's criteria of the perfect meal out.

The menu covers a range of pan-Asian specialities, tracing the journey through which the teaching of Buddhism and the way of life of Zen passed through South-East Asia, China, Korea, and Japan.

Many of the dishes on offer are not readily available in the city and may even seem dauntingly out of the ordinary to even knowledgeable diners. Specialities such as yakitori, a Japanese culinary tradition that makes delicacies out of the parts of chicken most of us would discard, such as the skin, liver and gizzard, might not be to your habitual taste. Zen also boasts an alternative to traditional sit-down table dining with a live Japanese teppanyaki bar where the chef prepares and cooks meats right in front of of diners with the advantage of preparing each dish according to the individual's specifications.

If you're still suspicious about entrusting the geographical expansion of your taste buds to another, what could be more comforting than the chance to cook your very own speciality — grilling your food, Korean style, on traditional barbeque hot plates wired into selected tables? Zen permits that too.

Master Chef Bambang Soeprijono is confident that diners will be willing to try something a little different. This belief and his commitment to preserving the authenticity of each recipe is the reason why he steadfastly refuses to tweak his culinary creations to the Indian palette and imports over 80 per cent of the food and ingredients he uses at Zen.

The restaurant is designed to relax you on your voyage of taste exploration with a variety of dining options. Formal seating arrangements are available in abundance for those who like to dine in the traditional manner but the more casual noodle bar and yakitori counter are ideal for diners who prefer a more relaxed arrangement. Zen seats a total of 143 people, whether outside in the peaceful and natural surroundings of the Leela Palace gardens or in the simply elegant and sharply modern interior.

The higher you go in the restaurant the more upbeat its character becomes with the upper floor housing a DJ corner, bar, and friendly group seating possibilities around the live teppanyaki bar. However, even here, the Zen principle of balance is not forgotten and cleverly placed mirrors ensure more lively diners a view of the relative calm below.

Zen is open for lunch from 12.30 to 2.30 and again for dinner from 7 to 11.30. Phone: 51091520/24.

Ambience: Elegant

Service: Very good

Dress code: Smart casuals/formals

Specialities: Live teppanyaki, sushi, yakitori, Korean BBQ

Wallet factor: Rs.1,200 per person for a three-course meal

AGNIESZKA HINDLEY

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