Thursday, November 4, 2010

Little Lotus and soy sauce

In China or Japan…the word is the same ‘Tamari’ although the meaning might differ. In Chinese it means ‘little lotus’ in Japanese ‘soy sauce’. But perhaps this restaurant is aptly named because it showcases the ‘flavors’ of the Orient.
The new menu has a host of preparations….sushi, sashimi, Tepanyaki, Chinese, Thai-take your pick. We met with Executive Chef Gyanender, Food & Beverage Manager Shobit and the person who donned the mantle of explaining every preparation to us….Restaurant Manager Ryan Sequeira.

Now Sushi is a Japanese dish of cooked rice topped with fish and other ingredients. It is served rolled inside dried and pressed seaweed or nori. Sushi literally means ‘sour’ and we looked at Ryan as he spoke about the popularity of his preparations. ‘We have four types…the Pink Lily, Sumo Roll, Tuna and Avocado and Salmon and pickled ginger.’ Well the sumo roll sounded exciting. I could visualize the ‘Sumo wrestlers’ rolling around the floor heavily laden with… I stopped there. Sometimes my imagination tends to run riot.

Anyway the ‘sumo’ arrives….big rolls of prawn, tuna and ynagi eel. Well you are supposed to take your chopsticks dip the full roll in the soy sauce…the meat not the rice and with a little help of the wasabi (take care its dynamite) pop the whole roll into your mouth. If you do not get this right you will be writhing like a ‘sumo’ because Ryan warns that the Japanese do not like their roll broken in pieces. So with ‘mouths wide open’ we downed the preparations…with a nip of the orange slice to soothe the taste buds….if you want to know what ‘sushi’ is all about….heavenly. You might feel hesitant at the first mouthful but as you roll the mixture in your mouth you will be ‘hooked’ for life. Ryan says ‘if you enjoyed the Sumo roll you will like our Pink Lady too.’

Well although Joe would be ready for the lady…I shook my head. Here were so many attractive things to taste…besides his ‘lady’ of course. So we embarked on a voyage to Thailand. The Son Tom Salad…Raw papaya, Birds eye chilli and Tamarind sauce. ‘The papaya has to be chosen at the right stage,’ Chef Gyanendra states, ‘or else it could be too bitter or too sweet.’ This was perfection. Tamarind tangy,papaya crunchy and chilly spicy it was just great. Word of caution…don’t get bogged down by the names…unlike the Chinese, their dishes have an identity (name and taste wise) of their own. The Thord Man Khao Pod…Aha! What did I say…don’t get mystified…these corncakes are just what an Indian would like….deep fried the flavoring of red curry paste, Thai herbs and when dipped in that sweet and spicy red chilly sauce. The Oomph! Factor!! Means a little burp asking for more. Hang on to your seats. The Thai merry-go-round is still revolving. No Indianisation to this Yum Plamuk Yang…a squid salad. Roundels of squid in vermicelli...a tinge of Siamese ginger…takes a bit getting to but leaves a satisfied feeling afterwards. And then the ..thank heavens its in English….Fried stuffed prawns wrapped in flat noodles. That delicate marination and the crunchy feel after every bite…they have got it just right.

Now the usual red/green/yellow (traffic signal-you never go wrong) Thai curry is on the menu. But we wanted something different. ‘Try our Massaman curry,’ Ryan says. Now apparently in South Thailand the Malayam influence is strong. This dark brown curry…shades of Madras powder when had with sticky rice (marks recommendation) is a sure fix. The thinly sliced lamb and brinjal and the potatoes when intermingled with the rice…..Try it…you won’t regret it. Grreeeaat!

We moved out of Thailand to China. Uumpteen dishes to try…we decided on a duck and pork. Now I really am not a duck fan…I find the meat a bit too stringy…but the little roundels of duck breasts with fresh sprouts in Hoi Sin sauce…’I recommend this dish for weight watchers,’ Chef Gyanendra states, ‘no rice or noodles…just a pok choy’. He is right. A good combo indeed. And for the pork lovers…recommended the Five spiced Braised duck with seared Pok Choy.

There was stuffed crab…but I was more stuffed than that crab…I was given to understand that they had a new pastry chef in their kitchens. So onto the table came the Makroot flavored chocolate mousse and the rose spiced crème brulee. I looked across in dismay. Can anyone play around with the original and get away? Lime leaf in a chocolate mousse? And dried rose petals in my favorite brulee? The French would definitely say ‘merde!’ But the pungent and I am saying delicate flavoring of the Makroot did not detract from the soft smooth chocolaty taste…and the rose petals in the crème brulee…the scent of the rose wafted to my senses…the brulee soft, crunchy and great. Definitely recommendable!

Ryan did whisper that he has got a ‘Dessert Surprise’ - a package of sorts for dessert lovers, but I would spoil the ‘expectations’ if I write about it. All I can say is that this new menu has great things in store…from petals of the flower (not lotus here but rose) to the Soy sauce’. It is Tamari for you.

Address; Vivanta by Taj
D.B.Bandodkar Road,
St.Inez Junction,Panaji
Goa 403001
Tel 91 0832 6633636

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