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A meal for the rains

— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

While waiting for your food to arrive, you can catch the chef handling live crabs and lobsters with a huge boyish grin. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

HERE WE are, fighting over water, while some countries have festivals to thank the life-giver. Loy Krathong is one of the most popular festivals of Thailand, celebrated annually at a time when the monsoon is over and there is a high water level all over the country. A candle, incense sticks, some flowers and coins are placed in a lotus-shaped vessel made of banana leaves and floated on the river. Of course, a feast is the first thing you expect in a festival. Thus, The Oberoi is hosting a week-long dinner at its Rim Naam restaurant.

Walk across the lake

To get to your table, you walk across a little lake where children are driving themselves into a frenzy feeding fishes. And you notice the Loy Krathongs floating along, and throwing dim shafts of light on the faces of people digging into their food. For Loy Krathong, Chef Boonsong Keawlawieng (just say "Chef" if you don't want to run the risk of insulting him) serves up the most exotic Thai cuisine this time, which includes crab, stir fried quail and rabbit meat. Chef says that these items are not on the regular menu because the meat is not easily available. "Many people are also a little nervous while eating rabbit," he says. So, the festival brings the regular a la carte menu along with an exclusive set selection for dinner only.

For starters, the crab claws stuffed with chicken and crabmeat is superb with the hot and sweet sauce. For vegetarians, Phak Panhoy (minced vegetables coated on sugarcane battons) is quite appetising with the garlic pepper sauce. Everything laid out in front of us has the distinct aroma of red chillies and the freshness of Thai herbs. None of it tamed with masala or cream. The clear, spicy soup with baby corn, broccoli, mushroom, tofu and spinach, isn't something you can finish in a hurry, given that you have to keep stopping to wipe your watering eyes and running nose. The non-vegetarians have a choice of braised beef, chicken or pork with mushroom, bean sprouts and lettuce.

Typically, the main course is a series of wonderful sounding curries with steamed rice. It doesn't live up to the promise of the starters, but is exotic nevertheless. The catfish in spicy green curry is very Thai, but after all the spices from the soup, this falls flat. The prawn stir fried in Paneng curry paste is perfect for the Indian palette, though. Thai cuisine is popular for its seafood, but in Rim Naam, it is the vegetarian that scores high over the meat. A simple stir fry of water spinach and mixed veggies is fabulous in that it combines both with hot basil, but keeps each one's distinct flavour intact.

Thai cocktails

While waiting for your food to arrive, you can catch the chef handling live crabs and lobsters, all with a huge boyish grin, as if even 100 million dollars wouldn't convince him to do anything else. Special Thai cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages are also on offer — Chendol Ice, Ruam Mitr, Nam Manao, Aloha and Mai Tai.

To top it all

However much you love your cream and butter, the Thai experience is complete only with a muskmelon sorbet (just fruit and ice, smoothened to perfection) or Mandarin basil sorbet. If your meal is never finished without chocolate, there is dark chocolate rice croquant ice cream.

The festival is on till November 28, and the dinner from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. In addition, the regular menu will be operational. You can call Rim Naam on 25585858.

Ambience: Festive

Service: Friendly

Wallet factor: Rs. 1,000 plus taxes (veg), Rs. 1,600 plus taxes (non-veg)

Specialty: Depends on your taste

ROHINI MOHAN

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