Tides, The Leela Kempinski, Kovalam, now specialises in Chinese and Thai cuisine

There is Chinese food and there is CHINESE food. A lover of CHINESE food, I often order dishes from that side of the menu. Unfortunately, most of them have an Indian touch to them. I have often wished to do what a man does in an advertisement; as thanks he kisses the chef for serving him authentic Chinese cuisine. Well, though I didn't go to such extremes, I did give the chefs at Tides, The Leela Kempinski, Kovalam, a handshake and heartfelt thanks. The food was as classic Chinese as it gets. Tides, the beach side restaurant that once specialised in Pan Asian cuisine has now changed focus. It now specialises in Chinese and Thai cuisine.

As starters

A waiter serves us a complimentary kimchi salad to whet our appetite. While most kimchi salads I have tried are sweet and sour with mostly thin slices of raw papaya in it, this one is spicy. It has Chinese cabbage, cucumber, spring onion, green chilli and garlic in it. We start off our meal with golden fried baby corn (Rs. 290) and crispy oat's prawn (Rs. 490). Dipped in a thin batter and fried just right (not dripping in oil), it is tossed with chilli, salt and pepper, which makes it delectable. Crispy oat's prawn has batter fried prawns coated in oats; this results in a rather crisp, slightly crunchy coating and the prawns retaining its juices.

The soup, pepper lemon coriander vegetable soup (Rs. 220) was refreshing with the aroma and flavour from the lemon coming through. Fried rice with chicken and salted fish (Rs. 390) was salty, savoury and addictive while Fukien fried rice (Rs. 490) was a meal in itself with vegetables and seafood in it.

This rice is almost porridge like with its use of a stock-based gravy and is definitely comfort food. Sweet and sour chicken with pineapples, tomatoes and onions is a must-try. While most eateries that serve this dish uses hot and sweet ketchup as gravy, the chefs at The Leela have a secret sauce. The pieces of beef in the tenderloin steak in Chinese barbeque sauce are succulent, the sauce lending it a touch of sweetness.

For dessert, Singapore bo bo cha cha taro (Rs, 290) is a must-try. A coconut milk-based dish, it has some chewy tapioca jelly, sweet potato and taro cubes and mango sorbet. Golden fried ice cream coated with breadcrumbs is equally good with vanilla ice cream oozing out of thick and almost buttery batter.

Those who would like to enjoy the catch of the day from the facing Arabian sea can do so. You can select your choice of seafood and create your own special meal. Choose the way you want it cooked: grilled, steamed, pan fried…, you can also pick the style of cooking: continental, oriental or Keralean. The dish is priced based by the weight of the seafood.