Showing posts with label Seafood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seafood. Show all posts

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Very few cuisines can tingle the childishness in you and for me Thai is one such cuisine. Being introduced to mainstream Thai half a decade ago by my wife, I took an instant liking to the cuisine. Barring one or two, most restaurants in Chennai produce what I call ‘Fake Thai’ cuisine as they buy curry powder or paste and do the rest claiming it to be a Thai curry. April being the month with the Thai New Year aka Songkran, many restaurants wanted to catch the Thai bus. As always the handful always prevailed to be the best till the festival started at Park Hyatt. 

True to their standards, Park Hyatt had flown down  Chef Supattra from Park Hyatt Dubai who happened to be a Thai and has been dishing out Thai food for the last 23 years. This intrigued me as all restaurants in Chennai do not have a Thai chef but rather talented chefs trained in Thai.


As usual, the festival took place in the ever vibrant and vivacious restaurant in town ‘The Flying Elephant’. Being a restaurant where most cuisines get closest to authentic, I kept my expectations very very high. This time around, we got to sit next to the Chef’s studio and mistake me not, it resembled like a high end street food cart that one can see in the streets of Bangkok.


The thing that impressed me the most was how precise and coherent the entire festival menu was. The menu was divided into different categories such as Wok, Salads, Noodles, Grilled, Claypot, Steamed, Fried and Desserts. Basically in the streets, each of these would form a cart by itself. 
(Tom Yum Goong)
To start the evening, we went in for the ever classic ‘Tom Yum Goong’. This is one soup that is quite synonymous with Thai soups yet most restaurants fail to hit the mark. But the soup here was probably even better than most places in Bangkok. Couldn’t think of anything else as I kept sipping the soup because it truly put me in a state of trance.
(Sea Food Salad)
The soup was followed by a ‘Seafood Salad’ with Scallops, Prawns, Fish, Thai Celery and Tomato Cherry. The salad was screaming of freshness every bite. The salad had the perfect balance of chilliness and sourness that instantly hits the mark. If the flavour was to be compared on a scale, the balance was right in the middle, Spot on.
(Pad Thai Prawns)
(Minced Beef with Basil)
Next up was from the Wok section. First dish that made its way was yet another Thai classic, the ‘Pad Thai’ with prawns and bean sprouts. Being a big fan of Pad Thai, I was quite kicked to dig in. The first mouthful truly brought back memories of my first Thai meal which incidentally happened to be in Bangkok. The flavours were amazing and each element complemented the other in a harmony. Following the Pad Thai was the ‘Minced Beef in Basil’. This dish had no complains at all. It was very refreshing in the mouth courtesy the strong infusion of basil along with a very tender minced beef.
(Shrimp Toast)
(Shrimp Toast)
Just to bring in some crunchiness, we were served a plate of toast. Yes, a ‘Shrimp Toast’. This was a completely new dish for me and was an instant hit. Its basically small triangles of croutons deep fried with a layer of shrimp paste on the top. The triangles by themselves were too yummy however when dipped in the accompanying apple sauce, the flavours accentuated many-folds.  
(Thai Green Curry)
Following this, it was time for the mains and in true Thai style ordered for a ‘Green Chicken Curry’. To be honest, I would rate this green curry as the best tasted so far in my culinary journey as it was just mind boggling. Together with sticky rice, the curry was just fantabulous. No amount of praise can justify the emotions. My next visit to Dubai will definitely have a pitstop at Park Hyatt Dubai at least to savour this curry again.
(Tub Tim Grob)
(Sticky Rice with Mango)
Having had a very gratified savoury session, it was now time to do the finishing touches. The desserts we went in for the evening were again the classics. A ‘Water Chestnut Dumpling’ aka Tub Tim Grob. Tub Tim Grob ranks way high in my list of all time favourite desserts that I took the initiative to learn how to make it by myself. And must I say, I can replicate it close to 90%. The Tub Tim Grob here had a small twist to it. There were slices of Jackfruit that were added to keep in with the season. This additional sweetness did provide a unique taste and was very welcoming. The next dessert was the ‘Mango with Sticky Rice’. I’m pretty sure nothing can go wrong with such a simple dessert. The sticky rice was well drenched in coconut milk and the perfect sweetness of the mango provided for a very subtle end to the meal.


The icing on the cake at this Thai festival was the pocket friendly prices. With dishes priced from Rs. 495 – Rs. 895, a meal for two should set you back by about Rs. 2500 – Rs. 3000 for two.


The Flying Elephant is located at Park Hyatt Chennai in Guindy adjacent to the Raj Bhavan. I would strongly recommend a reservation for meals on weekends.

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Thursday 11 June 2015

With more and more people travelling abroad now, international food chains have felt the need to start their outlets in India more so than before. I don’t know why the case is so, the irony is that Chennai never gets to witness the bloom of any international brand. More so these brands come to Chennai only after establishing at least a couple of outlets in places like Mumbai, Bangalore, etc, which can take anywhere between 6 month to a year. I’m sure there are several reasons to this equation but being an ardent foodie nothing gives me immense joy than knowing that an international chain has finally chosen Chennai as their launch city. 

After establishing a niche for themselves with over 50 outlets across half the world from Oman to Japan, the famous speciality sea food restaurant ‘The Manhattan Fish Market’ has opened up their first outlet in India in namma Chennai. Bringing us the American style of sea food cuisine, this place created quite a pre-opening anticipation thanks to the early announcement of their arrival along with some great social media buzz.

Coming to the experience of the evening, first things first. The restaurant is situated across two floors with the first floor has a live kitchen space in addition to the tables while the second floor consisted of a few tables and around 3 private dining areas. The ambiance was on the lines of the food they dish out. Once we were seated, the person waiting on us explained their elaborate menu to us. To put it in a nut shell, the seafood on their menu can be cooked essentially in five different techniques, viz. Deep Fried, Poached, Baked, Grilled and their signature Flame style. As we were in a group, we decided to order a couple of platters to experience their different cooking styles and also savour most of their offerings. As we had a vegetable loving friend, we needed to cater to her requirement too which wasn’t much difficult considering there was only about four vegetarian dishes on the menu. 
(Creamy Mushroom Soup) 
(Garlic Herbed Mussels)
(Fried County Mushrooms)
The first up was the ‘Creamy Mushroom Soup’, which turned out to be a different interpretation of the classic Mushroom Cappuccino. Nevertheless, it tasted quite good but personally felt the cream to be a bit heavy along with the saltiness of the mushroom being a dominant flavour. For starters we had ordered, ‘Fried Country Mushrooms’ and ‘Garlic Herb Mussels’. Being a very choosy seafood eater I only eat sea food that are placed on the opposite ends of the spectrum, either Sushis or Crustaceans, along with the occasional Salmon. So I gave the Mussels a miss while I thoroughly enjoyed the fried mushrooms. It had a very light batter that elevated the flavours of the mushroom right enough to strike a chord in making you forget you were consuming a vegetarian dish.
(Fish N Chips) 
(Flaming Manhattan Star Platter)
(Flaming Manhattan Star Platter)
(Grilled Flaming Lobster Platter)
With the starters done, it was time for the mains. I couldn’t go past the page that had ‘Fish N Chips’ as this was my only source of seafood protein during my stint in UK. On rare occasions that I wanted to have something different, I would head to the corner place and pick up a take away of some Fish N Chips. Just love the way, we get it in UK with the fish wrapped in a parchment paper that would drip with oil. Having made up my mind on ordering this, I left the other mains to the choice of my buddies. After some deliberations, it was decided to also order a ‘Grilled Flaming Lobster’ & ‘Manhattan Star’ platters. The Fish N Chips arrived first and on initial looks didn’t resemble my corner shop one. But it aint’ fair to expect that as I’m sure people will run screaming oil, oil if the same is served here. However the flavour of the fish and batter made it up. Probably my preferred choice now in Chennai for Fish N Chips. With regards to the ‘Grilled Flaming Lobster’, it was a visual treat to experience the way it was being served. The platter comes with a serving of Grilled lobster, some garlic mussels, Fried calamari and fish fingers. The waiting staff that brings an industrial size blow torch and turns the heat up in the room flamboyantly by flaming the lobster. I leave it to the photos to do the talking. I loved the Calamari and the lobster over the fish fingers while I chose to forgo the mussels. On the other hand, the ‘Manhattan Star’ platter consisted of a Grilled Calamari, Fried Oysters, Poached Mussels, Flaming Prawns and Baked Fish. My palate preferred the fried calamari over the grilled version while the flaming prawns was just too good that I had to fight for more portions with my friends because I had to skip the mussels. Overall the star platter provides an opportunity to savour all five cooking techniques in a single platter.
(Manhattan Mud Pie)
(Tuscan Tiramisu)
(Oreo Kaboom Shake)
To bring closure to the evening, we decided to order their signature ‘Manhattan Mud Pie’, ‘Oreo Kaboom’ shake and a ‘Tuscan Tiramisu’. The mud pie lived up to the expectation by being the best dessert of the evening. The shake unfortunately lacked the characteristics of a shake and felt more like an Orea Coffee flavoured drink while the Tiramisu definitely did not par to the original Tiramisu as it again seemed to be their own interpretation and had a different twist. But we fell in love tremendously with the mud pie that we decided to order another portion to offset the mild disappointment with the other desserts.

Overall, The Manhattan Fish Market would be a paradise for ardent sea food lovers looking to savour and experience the best of catches using different cooking techniques. Joining the ranks of just a handful of stand-alone speciality of seafood restaurants, I’m sure this fish market is bound to last long in namma Chennai and provide us with this differential experience.

The Manhattan Fish Market is located on RK Salai opp to Marvel Wedding cards. A meal for two should cost you around ₹ 1500 if it’s the regular fare. If lobster is a preferred choice then be prepared to splurge as the Grilled Lobster platter is priced at ₹ 2490 but is worth every penny.

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