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Romancing the evening

Planning a romantic evening? Try a drive in a Merc, champagne, chocolate, flowers, and Vietnamese cuisine

— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

The gracious interiors of Blue Ginger enhance the ambience. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

THE CITY'S well-heeled can now buy a romantic evening thanks to the Taj West End. Its Vietnamese restaurant, Blue Ginger, has on offer a special romantic evening drive for couples, with a dinner thrown in, with chocolate and champagne, of course. A Mercedez Benz turns up at the doorstep and chauffeurs the couple, knotted or otherwise, to Blue Ginger and back. The Merc arrives and Capt. Anand Rao does the honours of first presenting a bouquet: flowers in bright red. And grapes wrapped in chocolate. Champagne next. You can sip it at home, on the drive, or at Blue Ginger. It is best at the Ginger. Most couples like it that way, Capt. Anand says.

Traditional attire

Upon arrival, the lady from Vietnam, in her traditional attire, greets you with another bouquet. Ms. Van is charming. As you enter, it is hard to miss that great flame, a bonfire beholding lovely Vietnamese vases, and beyond — a sheath of glass that does not hide the kitchen where you see the soup happening. Then to a quiet corner surrounded by huge ceramic vases and the pond. The captain does the honours again: uncorking and pouring the tangy champagne. Cheers. In the midst of a shimmering candle, lit then and there, jazz, soft rock, and the South-East Asian chord. That's why the uncorking at Blue Ginger makes perfect sense. The fragrant, flowering frangipani and banana trees, lush greenery and the mild chill to the evening help the drink go down.

The restaurant, with its mood lighting, red, green and blue through fine lampshades hanging from the tiles, is classy, courtesy Tony Corbett. The garden, landscaped in South-East Asian tradition, is Michael White's creation. As you soak in the ambience, Manager Sandeep Dasgupta puts you through a menu you'll love.

The chefs then leave you to your champagne for just about the right time — till you get comfortable and before the starters come in: rice paper roll with tofu and vegetables dipped in Peanut hoisin sauce is perfect. The music, meanwhile, is lilting. It is live. Hazard by Richard Marx is a fine number and so is Fragile by Sting. . Then the menu — the very delicious asparagus and haricot soup, which we are told is very popular in Vietnam, and raw mango salad that is tangy — goes well with the champagne.

Chef Cheung will make sure you get the right main course.

Try this: broccoli, babycorn and bean curd in spicy red curry; stewed lamb shanks in chilli and oyster sauce; the steamed rice and baguette bread you can dip in the curry.

Classy dessert

The dessert is classy: crθme coconut custard with mung bean ice-cream, a Vietnamese delight. Even looking at it drives you crazy — especially the coconut custard. And then warm jasmine tea — you can drink it endlessly. The beautiful Vietnamese lady pouring it ifor you in delectable China helps.

The cake next: a beautiful chocolate one that will have anything you like inscribed on it — anniversary, birthday or your love for someone. They'll pack it home for you.

The drive back home is music. Piano on the Mercedez audio.

* * *

The Blue Ginger Romantic Evening for Couples

Mercedez Benz transports you to Blue Ginger and back

Menu can vary as per guest choice

A wide choice of vegetarian and non-vegetarian

Popular dishes in Vietnam apart from soup are king prawn in tamarind sauce, spiced chicken curry in clay pot, grilled prawns with lemongrass and chilli, stir-fried greens with garlic, toffeed banana fritters

Vietnamese cuisine emphasis is on fresh vegetables, herbs, wheat and legumes, meat and seafood, minimal use of fat, and a blend and contrast of textures and flavours

No meal is complete without fresh vegetables and herbs, and a key platter on every table consists of cucumbers, bean threads, slices of hot pepper, and sprigs of basil, coriander, mint and related herbs found abundantly in South-East Asian markets

Tableware in complete Vietnamese blue and white

Classy display kitchen for an interactive experience; open bar to begin from November 10 though there is a dispenser bar

Fire torches for mood lighting within the restaurant and in the lake

Solid teak flooring with exotic South-East-Asian inspired floor tiles as accents

Specially designed furniture reflective of regional style with water-hyacinth fibre chairs, leather ottomans, dark silk furnishing, natural stone tables

Water hyacinth pool surrounding the dining experience.

Cascading natural stone waterfall with additional party area by the lake

Artefacts and hanging lanterns sourced from Vietnam

Three musicians from Vietnam to perform live soon

Bose speakers and portable audio-system for performances

Package is Rs. 4,500 per couple for the evening, inclusive of taxes

Advance notice of one day to the hotel required and conditions apply

For information and booking, call Sandeep Dasgupta at Blue Ginger on 56605660

PRASHANTH G.N.

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