Twin sea flavours
K. Bhagya Prakash
Chinese and Thai food is so light one can go right back to work after a meal.
AFTER THE tsunami, even a sworn seafood lover will think twice before digging into a crab or a lobster. But that isn't stopping the The Oberoi, M.G. Road, from launching not one but two simultaneous seafood fests. "Our seafood comes from Kochi and Vishakapatnam," assure the people at the restaurant.
The fest commences on January 25 and continues till February 13 at the Szchewan Court, while the other is at the hotel's Rim Naam restaurant. The main idea, explains Pinky Mukherjee, Manager-Marketing and PR, is to offer customers two different flavours. We got into serious business eating, of course. And we were served a combination of the Thai and Chinese cuisine and had both the chefs, Chef Anthony (Chinese) and Chef Boosong Keawlawieng (Thai), explaining to us the ingredients that go in to the making of every particular dish and the method of cooking. But what was interesting was not just the lunch that was not only a battle of flavours but also a battle of wits between the chefs, who kept giving explanations as to why one particular dish was better or good for health.
Though the ingredients are similar, there is a slight difference in the cooking style, said Chef Anthony. And Chef Boonsong, in his own signature style (he has an extremely expressive face and a typical accent, which is accentuated with animated actions) that Thai people prefer to add ice to everything from tea to coffee to beer! And that a Thai meal is incomplete without lemon grass or the fish sauce. To which chef Anthony added: "Being in the food business, even I find the fish sauce flavour a bit overwhelming: the flavour lingers even on your fingertips for six hours! Whereas the Chinese cuisine is mostly stir-fried and we do not have anything as gobi manchurian or chicken manchurian."
But there were also several areas where the chefs agreed, especially when it came to the choice or the combination of food to be served or the way it is presented. And do not add chilli paste or vinegar to any of the food as it is an "insult to the chef's seasoning and also takes away the original flavour of the food".
As we talked, first came the hot jasmine tea, which is supposed to act as a mouth cleanser and "prepare you for the food that comes along". For starters, we dug into the crunchy lobster and scampi, which were savoured with their respective sauces created by the experienced chefs. Then came the soft shell crabs that were batter fried and served with a spicy yellow bean sauce. This is a real speciality claimed both the chefs as "these crabs are reared in Mumbai and are caught alive when they shed their shells".
Then came the main course, but surprisingly, it neither had noodles nor the strong coconut or lemon grass flavours. "Because Chinese goes beyond just noodles," declared chef Anthony. And the steamed rice goes well with the Thai and Chinese delicacies, added chef Boonsong.
Hence, the steamed rice was served with pomfret with samros (spicy sweet and sour curry), crab with sambal sauce, and steamed garouper with chilli sauce (just let go of the cutlery, for crab is best enjoyed eaten with your bare hands).
It was interesting that the choice of food selected by the two chefs, served with their characteristic sauces, complemented each other and did not create any war inside the tummy. "Our food is so light that it is designed to help the customer to feel light even after a meal and go back to work," said chef Anthony.
After a quick discussion, they zeroed in on two dishes for the dessert sticky chocolate a combination of hot chocolate served with banana caramel ice cream and tuille cigar (made from maida and sugar syrup) mmmmm and the other was toffee banana, which is nothing but caramelised bananas served with sesame seeds. They were sinfully rich.
The fest is open for lunch and dinner. For reservations, contact 25585858.
SHILPA SEBASTIAN R.
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