It’s an O...O...Ohh!! All throughout. O Hotel...O Asian...and the third ‘O’ with the ‘h’..’h’...’h’...let me tell you about that experience.
Candolim, the mecca of good food during season, now remains ‘wanting’. The reason being that most of the stand alone restaurants have closed shop citing ‘off season’. And yours truly was looking out for variety..say a good Burmese Khowsuey. By a stroke of luck we happened to meet with chef Pritam Executive Sous Chef of O Hotel. ‘Come over to Harajuku,’ he invites, ‘perhaps you could try out our Pan Asian delicacies.’
Now Harajuku literally translated means ‘fashion street’ in Japanese. So what would the fashion statement be there I wondered. We walked into the trendy lobby and looked in awe at the four large white pots stationed at the entrance. And the white canopies over gravelled stone and ‘sink-in’ sofas. ‘High-expectations’ was the reason for my first ‘O’. Yes with a look like this...standardized as with the other restaurants of the chain it is ‘fine dining’ to the core.
Chef Pritam offered us a taste of dshes from his menu. China...Thailand...Burma...Sri Lanka.synonymous with those four white pots....I thought to myself as we waited for the starters to arrive. ‘we have our recipes standardised across the chain,’ Chef Pritam states as the Chicken in RCP sauce arrives on the table. RCP I queried. I have heard of oyster, sweet and sour, hot garlic, schezwan, black bean for most chinese preaparations...but RCP? Its Roasted Chilli Paste I am informed. I take a tentative bite of the preparation...the sauce might be ‘innovative’ but the taste is traditional. Onion, pimento...the pieces of chicken were delicately flavoured...not too spicy...just right.
We decided not to eat too much as the Khowsuey promised(which is a full meal by itself) had still to come. So what is a Khowsuey? It is a traditional Burmese dish… essentially a one-dish meal comprising of noodles in a soup of curried vegetables in coconut milk, served with a variety of contrasting accompaniments. Each diner can individually mix the rich array of accompaniments to create their own original taste sensation. The ingredients that make the difference are fried garlic, coriander, lemon juice, fried onions and chillies. And as the waiter brought in the ingredients I realized that this kitchen had provided much more…besides those mentioned above. Potato crisps (salli), fried basil, fried crunchy peanuts, spring onions besides the fried variety…..
I worked on my mix. Definitely the fried onion, garlic, red chillies, lime and spring onions. I took a generous helping of that noodle and coconut milk curry with mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and gave it a good mix. Then went in the crunchy peants and garnish of coriander and crisps. And took a big helping…Heavenly…my second ‘h’.. Those crunchies with the slurpy curried noodles and the fred onion and garlic…I closed my eyes in ecstacy. Mmmm! Definitely recommended. If you see little kids on TV ads slurping their noodles till the last wriggle….well we were in competition.
But Chef Pritam was determined to kill us with kindness. The wriggle was still in his mind and this time with a flat variety. The Phad Thai…..one of Thailands National dishes. Now those who have been doing some reading on the subject would be aware that this dish has been known in various forms over centuries- it was thought to have been brought to Thailand by Vietnamese traders, but was only made popular in the 1930”s by the prime minister Luang as part of his campaign of reducing rice consumption. Whatever was his motive…..I looked at the preparation that was placed in front of us. Stir fried rice noodles with tamarind juice, red chilli pepper, tofu and crushed peanuts, coriander and lime. I wriggled in ecstacy…..simply great.
But the war was still not over. There was no cease fire in sight. Chef’s ammo was in full blast…the Sri Lankan Prawn curry with steamed rice. ‘No’, I protested verbally, but the Tiger in me roared as the aroma of the prawn assailed my nostrils. I took a small helping and then another and then another. Words cannot explain. That curry is one for the foodies. Onions, Tomatoes, Capsicum, garlic…no it is the methodology. No ordinary curry. If you have not had a whiff of this before..a definite recommendation.
It was a meal to remember. While I am not a ‘lover’ of Thai desserts..the Sago in sweetened coconut milk flavoured with lichees is refreshing on a hot day. But This Chef has a few aces up his sleeve. Onto the table came his special. Pannacota with pistachio on a bed of saffron….Holistic…another ’h’ attached to the chefs repertoire.
If those four white jars contained any treasures from Alladin’s Treasure trove these are definitely some of the treasures I would recommend they store.O…O…Ohhh!!!
Candolim, Bardez Goa
Tel no: 0832 3047000