The ongoing festival at Clarion Hotel lays out an array of Asian delicacies

It’s a delightful start with Singapore honey sesame balls. The sesame balls mimic gulab jamuns — soft and melt-in-the-mouth — and are made from mashed rice, honey, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Chef Arulselvan piles up the starter on to my plate and says, “I got a taste of this Singapore delicacy while working at P&O Cruise Line and Holland Cruise Line.” During the travels across Asian countries, he would often explore the streets to understand local tastes and flavours.

Now, those flavours come alive in the elaborate pan-Asian fare at Clarion Hotel. There is Korean kimchi salad, chicken adobo (chicken cubes sautéed with bay leaves, garlic and vinegar) from the Philippines, Singapore egg dosa roll, Thai yellow curry, Indonesian steamed fish rolled in banana leaves, Mongolian barbecue and a vegetarian sushi to round off the Asian experience.

The interiors of 24/7 bytes restaurant, where the festival is on, is done up with decorative red hangings, and the waiters are dressed in satiny red outfits to go with the mood of the festival. “There is plenty to choose from for vegetarians. In non-vegetarian, there’s more of chicken and lamb than seafood,” he says.

A live food counter buzzes with the sight and smell of food as cooks toss noodles with vegetables, bell peppers and sauces. At the Mongolian barbecue corner, they rustle up a piping hot barbecue in a jiffy as they mix and match vegetables, meat or fish, and sauces. “Diners can choose their choice of vegetables and sauces. It’s a favourite on the cruiseline,” recalls Arulselvan.

A live satay counter lines up tender marinated chicken and lamb meat on the skewer, which are then grilled and served with peanut sauce. For fish lovers, the tempura fish counter offers them deep fried fish cubes coated in tempura batter. And, chefs at the dessert counter whip up freshly sliced apple and pineapple fritters.

Arulselvan says he discovered the Singapore dosa roll at a local restaurant there. “They give a twist to our dosa by adding egg to it. They allow it to cook, add soya and garlic sauce, roll it, dip it in tomato ketchup and bite into it,” he smiles.

I begin my main course with the refreshing kimchi salad that has crisp slices of cabbage tossed in sesame oil, and wholesome oriental bean salad. Then, I have white rice with flavourful yellow curry that has chunks of yellow and red bell peppers and baby corn. I try vegetable gingnigang too. It has sliced beans, carrots and a host of veggies swimming in sticky gravy. Vegetarian manchurian gravy and fried yam yam mushrooms complete the vegetarian platter. For non-vegetarians, there is Thai fish red curry, Vietnamese lamb made with soya sauce, bell peppers and lettuce, and Japanese coconut fried chicken. “For dry and semi-dry dishes such as chicken adobo and steamed fish, we retain the authentic taste, but for the curries, we fuse them with local flavours,” he says. The menu is new every day. The buffet also has Indian food. I settle for garlic naan, mint roti and kadai paneer and round off my meal with apple fritters for dessert.

The festival is on till November 24 at Clarion Hotel, Mylampatti, Avanashi Road. The buffet costs Rs. 777 (nett) for adults and Rs. 399 (nett) for kids. Call: 0422-4523030 or 2626030 for reservations.