Showing posts with label prawns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prawns. 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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Friday, 27 March 2015

The first thing that hits you at the thought of dining in a Japanese restaurant is the thought of Sushi and raw a.k.a cured meat. But on the contrary there also exists a different avatar of the Japanese cuisine namely the “Teppanyaki” which will suit the Indian palate more. This style involves using a girdle to cook the food. Wiki says that “The word teppanyaki is derived from teppan (鉄板), which means iron plate, and yaki (焼き), which means grilled, broiled, or pan-fried”. Folks in Chennai are lucky in a way as India’s first stand-alone Teppanyaki grill restaurant opened here. Named “Teppan”, they have been catering to Chennaities teppanyaki needs over the last couple of years.

Having had my first teppanyaki experience in the middle east many years ago, was truly excited on hearing about Teppan opening and visited them on their first week itself for a truly fabulous experience. Was surprised when I learned that they were having a “Makizushi” festival. One thought that ran through my mind was that how can restaurant that is already well renowned for Japanese cuisine have a dedicated festival for a staple dish. This intriguing thought was set aside the moment we saw the menu as the amount of research that has gone in to designing this festival was clearly evident from the offerings that were as part of this “Makizushi” festival.

The menu was clearly divided into three sections, namely ‘Gunkan Maki’, ‘Te Maki’ & ‘Maki’.If you are wondering what these are then to put them in perspective the ‘Gunkan Maki’ is a variant of sushi that comes in big portions such that two pieces can satisfy even the biggest appetite while the ‘Te Maki’ is a cone shaped sushi equally big in portions. The ‘Maki’ is your regular sushi roll. 
(Tempura Wasabi Mayo salad)
(Palate Cleanser drink)
(Gunkan Maki)
For the evening we ordered the ‘Tori Soboro’ and ‘Kanishake’ from the Gunkan Maki section. The ‘Tori Soboro’ was a Chicken version of sushi that was seasoned with tongarashi and wrapped with sushi vinegar rice and nori. Being my first chicken sushi, I somehow felt that it did not do justice as there were confusing flavours that did not pair with each other. This re-instated my belief that sushi should never be made with anything other than seafood. The ‘Kanishake’ on the other hand was one of the best sushi’s of the evening. It was made of tempura fried crab stick tossed with spices and wrapped with sushi vinegar rice and sliced salmon. This was just mind boggling.
(Te Maki)
(Te Maki)
The next up was ‘Shake Sarada’ and ‘Karai ebi’ from the Te Maki section. These were humongous cone shaped sushi. ‘Shake Sarada’ was a marinated salmon wrapped in nori with avocado, lettuce, cucumber and vinegar rice while ‘Karai ebi’ was a prawn sushi seasoned with mild spicy mayo and tongarashi, spring onion, tobiko and again hand rolled with sushi vinegar rice and nori. Both of them were equally good with a subtle flavour of the meat owing to the enormous proportions of the accompaniments. From the Maki section, we ordered for some ‘Furai maguro Maki’ and ‘Takayama Maki’. The former was a seasoned tuna sushi with cream cheese, avocado then rolled with sushi vinegar rice and nori and finally deep fried with breadcrumb. This was truly outstanding as one can feel the heat of the deep fry yet savour the freshness of the sushi all at one go. The ‘Takayama Maki’ was a tempura fried sea bass with carrot, avocado, spicy mayo, rolled with sushi vinegar rice and nori then topped with tuna, sea bass and spinach. This too was equally good but my bet is on the ‘Furai Maguro Maki’.
(Tempura Fried Prawns)
(Fried Rice)
With the heroes of the festival dealt with, we decided to order for another dish which was a hard recommendation from another foodie, the ‘Tempura fried prawns’. My oh my!!! Hands down, this is the best tempura fried prawns I’ve ever tasted. It was as light as it can get while being the crispiest it can get too. It is already in my must taste dishes in Chennai list. Just to bring closure to the evening’s meal, we had some sautéed vegetables, chicken and a fried rice that was prepared right in front of us in the teppanyaki style.
(Dessert Platter)
(Wasabi Ice Cream)
One we were done with the savouries it was time for the desserts. Having savoured fresh produce all through the evening, I really wasn’t in the mood for desserts even though I’m a dessert freak. But one stop at the dessert counter and it all changed. In a short while I found myself in the company of an amazingly silky coffee chocolate mousse, a soft and crunchy nutty brownie, a delectable pie and a well-balanced Wasabi ice cream. Glad I didn’t miss the desserts as they brought about a perfect curtain closure to the amazing evening of sushi.

Teppan is located on TTK Road above Benjarong and a meal for two should cost about ₹ 2500.

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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Chennai being a city encompassing people from all across India, there is no void of any particular cuisine in the city. This provides visitors and Chennaities with a vast array of restaurants to choose from when it comes to dining. Although Chennai is home to numerous Kerala cuisine restaurants, it’s a rarity that I visit them as most of the Kerala delicacies are readily available at home for me, thanks to the influence of my extended family members.

One prominent restaurant that has established itself a name for the Kerala cuisine in Chennai has to be ‘Ente Keralam’, which is part of the Oriental Cuisines chain of restaurants. Oriental Cuisines has played an integral part in shaping up the restaurant scene in Chennai by bringing a host of varying cuisines and being consistent in their offerings. So when a fellow foodie asked me if I would be willing to try out the “Kuttanadan Food Festival”, I jumped in as I knew it would definitely be different to the regular fare.
(Tender Coconut Water)
(Kappa Cutlet)
Upon being seated, the very enthusiastic Chef Jayaprakash gave us a brief overview of the Kuttanadan specialities. He revealed that Tharavu aka Duck is the main protein next to fish in this region as it is surrounded on three sides by water bodies. With the pleasantries exchanged, we were served with the signature ‘Tender Coconut’ drink. This was followed by the ‘Kappa Cutlet’, which was the regular cutlet made entirely using Kappa aka Tapioca. I’ve had kappa in many forms including the famous ‘Kappa and Fish curry’ but this was completely different. I liked the way the cutlet had a very crispy coating while the tapioca inside retained its flavour. 

(Karimeen Polichathu)
(Konju Ularthiyathu)
The next up was the ‘Karimeen Polichathu’ which is a signature Kerala dish. The dish being cooked in a clay pot had all its flavour incorporated into the fish and the masala that accompanied it made it a stand out. The last of the starters was the ‘Konju Ularthiyathu’ which was basically jumbo prawns grilled in a stone pot that provides it with earthen flavours. Although mine was a little dry the flavours sure made up for it.

(Kuttanadan Tharavu Mappas)
(Kozhi Curry Kuttanandan Style)
(Pineapple Puttu & Parotta)

With the starters all done, we ordered for two curries, the ‘Kozhi Curry Kuttanandan Style’ and ‘Kuttanadan Tharavu Mappas’. To go with the curries, the accompaniments were a ‘Pineapple Puttu’, ‘Malabar Parotta’ and ‘Appam’. The chicken curry was rightly spiced and also had the essence of the clay pot incorporated into the gravy and proved the perfect accompaniment for the Parotta while the Duck gravy was perfect for the Pineapple puttu. Puttu being a regular fare at home, the pineapple puttu was different in a way that the flavour of pineapple was completely infused into the puttu. The chef did reveal the secret but unfortunately it shall remain a secret as a mark of recognition to the hard work put in by the Chef and his team. The evening was brought to an end with two type of Payasam. These were from their regular menu as the Kuttanad cuisine provides more importance to the mains rather than desserts.

The Kuttanadan Food Festival is on at all Ente Keralam outlets across Chennai until the 15th of Feb. A meal for two should set you by ₹ 1200.

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