Monday, May 3, 2010

Bowled Over

This is the IPL season and I am not talking about the ‘groans’ of disappointment when Yusuf Pathan gets bowled out for a duck. I am talking about the ‘sounds’ of fulfillment that yours truly made as she descended a swanky new place at Miramar. You see she was literally bowled over after a meal (and she did not have a duck although one could order it) at the Pan Asian Bowl.

Now this very skeptic (who has worked for 18 years at the Taj…yeah a literal dinosaur…..who has seen masters like Franky Lok and Chef Brando dish out ‘savvy’ preparations that could titillate the taste buds of the most fastidious), would be a little cynical when told that the Pan Asian Bowl run by two veritable youngsters was the happening place in town. But the number of cars parked outside stood mute testimony to the number of diners within its very portals.

Attractively designed in bright hues of Orange, black and gold, we got a chance to meet with the ‘youngsters’ (the very MandoviQue Akshay, Anish and Natasha) now let me tell you that term could apply to age but not to the knowledge on the subject when quizzed about the food. ‘So why the name ‘Pan Asian Bowl’. ‘We wanted to create a brand name for price and taste,’ says Anish, ‘so we designed a menu with 40% Chinese dishes, 35 % Thai and the rest Malaysian.’

After traveling the streets of China they found the concept of unlimited healthy ‘stir fried’ food served in a bowl a novel one, so they decided to try it here. ‘Our policy for this concept is - eat as much as you can.’

Now I always knew that wok cooking was ‘quick’ but I wanted to test the fact that one could be served in 5 minutes flat and out of the restaurant in 15 minutes (depending of course your capacity for a second round and your speed at eating). So I moved onto the counter which had a vast layout of over 12 vegetables, over 12 non vegetarian ingredients (now this also includes squid and prawns), 4 different types of noodles…and about 18 sauces listed on the board…Beijing, Taipei, Teriyaki, Mongolian, Devil and the combinations they could go with. I watched a foreigner approach the counter with a bowl and superstitiously looked at my watch. He spooned in whatever ingredients he wanted (1 minute), stood by the board to decide his sauce (1 minute) and then handed it over to the two chefs in attendance with his requirements. Mixing time on the wok (2 minutes). And one could even ask for rice to be added or perhaps try out a different sauce and combination (remember I told you that it was unlimited?) and have a soft drink and dessert all in that attractively priced package. Whew! ‘Would you like to try it?’ asks Akshay after informing me of its popularity with young mothers after picking up their school kids in that area.

‘Perhaps,’ I state wanting to try out their elaborate a la carte menu, ‘maybe I could taste it the way they do it in China.’

And so began the Chinese Banquet…Sesame prawns on toast, Jade pepper chicken and General Mao. General Mao he was the ‘dude’ that ruled 3 dynasties but this was a chicken preparation with 3 flavors… Did I call them youngsters? Move over dinosaurs of the ‘true and tested’ mould. They had experimented with their spices. The accompaniments (they change them everyday), but I must mention that coriander sauce is a mind blower. And with that prawn sesame…that butterfly prawn spread-eagled on toasted sesame and deep fried…I took a second one. And with General Mao of the 3 flavors….a hint of lime, chilly flakes, garlic I could be marching along the Tiammen square singing praises if they would let me.

But I had to make place for the main course. Beijing Fish….a must for adults and children alike…the sweet and slightly tangy flavor is heavenly, perhaps they built the Temple of Heaven after eating this preparation, I would be motivated to do so, then came the Volcano chicken…if you are talking innovation than the foam on the plate, actually an egg preparation like a meringue…would have you foaming at the gills…a treat. But it is their chili coriander noodles that are a mind blowing dish. The noodles wriggled on the plate like the concubines of yore. Tempting and seducing, spicy yet demure, and a bite of that… Was that why it was known as the ‘Forbidden city’….thank heavens this innovation of theirs is there for the asking, and one that you can have alone.

For those who like their meats the spare ribs in Honey Hunan sauce is a delicacy. Every dish was a delight, and then Akshay brought in the ‘Bowl’ a la china. Now for those who do not know what the real ‘mackoy’ is here are the facts. He had put in 2 types of noodles…the flat and the glass, zucchini, Soya bean, prawns, squid, lamb and had tossed in the ever popular Beijing sauce. ‘For those who like it a little spicier we would recommend the Devil sauce,’ says Anish. ‘Why Devil?’ I breathe after spooning a few noodles mixed with prawns into my mouth….’it’s hot,’ he says, ‘like dragon fire…chili paste and black bean’.

Well a dragon would not be breathing as effusively as we were doing after that superb feast, but they have a wide selection of desserts…and popular ones too. The Darshan (honey noodles) with ice-cream, the toffee’s…. Apple, banana and pineapple, and fried ice-cream. Aha! I guess it is the only stand alone restaurant serving coconut coated fried ice-cream.

We sat back replete…words were not forthcoming. This trio has showed us how innovation and a tried and tested formula based on the client can make an institution. I for one was bowled over by the experience. A place to be recommended…cricket season or no season, for Taste, Price and Quality Pan Asian Bowl is the reason.

Address: Pan Asian Bowl
Next to Hotel Solmar

Telephone No:9822980762

Recommendation: For a quick bite ‘the Bowl’
General Mao is superb
The coriander noodles

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