Friday, May 27, 2011

Everybody’s Talking

Everybody is talking about a new place in town. ‘Town?’ I ask. The original Headquarters of Goa –The HQ in Vasco. Well for those who find it difficult to follow, let me explain. Around the year 1683 when the Maratha king Sambhaji marched towards Goa with his army, the Portuguese planned to shift their headquartes from Old Goa to Vasco. Now a few centuries later we do have The HQ in Vasco. Would it take care of the needs of the people?

‘Ori has fulfilled a need of a high quality Pan Asian restaurant in Vasco with specialities like Sushi, Dim sums, and Nasi Goreng which are delectable and authentic,’ says Vaishali Joshi. ‘The crispiest wantons in town,’ says R Ashok. ‘The food is good,’ says Kiran Shirsat.

They were talking about Ori…short form for Oriental at The HQ-the new hotel in Vasco. So we decided to check it out. Let’s talk about the menu. Extensive reserch done by Chef SK Raj and his team I realise. Forget about these Far East tours advertised for the summer. The chef has a ‘great repetoire’ quoting Vaishali, of Eastern delicacies…China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan. Where does one start?
At the very beginning…the starters also termed as small plates. ‘To tease the palate’ chef Raj explains. So we started with the sushi plate-the smoked salmon sushi. I watched Joe tentatively dip his sushi in the mix of wasabi and soya which I had prepared. Allowed him first because I had inadvertently added an extra dose of wasabi. Take care of that stuff it’s dynamite. But my wily hubby made his own combo leaving me to take my own medicine. But the taste of that sushi? Chef Tika had done it to perfection. The plate was wiped off in a jiffy.

But the menu has been cleverly planned…even for the ‘traditionlists.’ The Far East Mixed Non Vegetarian starters for two- the platter contains an assortment of old favorites. Calamari squid crispy fried, Tempura Prawns with the wasabi mayo, Chicken Dim sums and Chicken Satay. Like I said ‘old favorites.’ I look around the classy restaurant- napkin rings, glass underplates, comfortable seating..’Perfect for business meetings and entertainment,’ says General ManagerTanvir Singh, I could not agree with him more. But when the starters arrived and were polished off within a jiffy..well there was no one ‘talking’ at the table. There is a similar platter for the vegetarians too.

Now after having an assortment from China, Thailand and Japan I was determined to try out something from Singapore. The Fishermans Soup. Goans would love it. This creamy yellow soup has all the ingredients which we ‘die’ for. King prawns, squid, mussels, rock fish, slivers of crab in that spiced coconut milk. We slurped through that preparation longing for more till we were told that there was much more to follow.

The salad-this time from the Phillipines. Not very comfortable with this cuisine I looked at the smoked fish and peppers tossed in nam pla and a hint of sugar. Well the Filipinos know how to mix a bowl. A definite recommendation from us.
The ‘Mains’ were on its way. Chef Tika had planned an assortment. Gong Bao from China (wok fried chicken with dry chiilies, soy sauce and chillies) with Jasmine flavoured Rice. Now it is important to choose the ‘combo’ right. There is such a variety…you could get the flavor wrong. The mix was heavenly and a special recommendation for those who do not like too much ‘spice’ in their life. I looked across at hubby…enjoying the fare. The only extra spice he could stomach…well not much because he has got me. But the next preparation of Gang Phed Gong..the Thai red prawn curry with Phad Thai noodles from Thailand is ‘spiced’. Now another option with this curry is plain steamed rice…but these flat rice noodles are popular to the core. The Nasi Goreng from Indonesia could be considered as a meal by itself. Wok fried rice tossed in tamarind and egg and served with chicken satay….oohh! and belive me there is a lot more to check, but how much can one eat.

Now I am not a real lover of Thai desserts…especially the sticky rice preparations types. But the chefs have innovations galore. Even to the Chinese Date pancakes. Here he has created a minced nut wanton with ice cream, a Coin Mang from Thailand which is cointreau caramelised nuts with Mango ice cream, and Vodka lychees with ice cream. It will have you screaming with ecstacy.

I scream….you scream….everybody is talking about this new place in town!

The HQ- SwatantraPath,
P.O.Box 31
Vasco Goa 403802
Tel no: 0832 2500015/18

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