Enjoy grilled food under the open sky at Vivanta By Taj, Vazhuthacaud

There is a slight nip in the air, perfect for al fresco dining. So we decide to go for the Mongolian Grills at Vivanta By Taj, Vazhuthacaud. Smoke on the Water, the restaurant set by the pool, is teeming with chefs manning the girdles underneath a canopy. There are several counters near the girdles. While one counter serves soups and salads, another, holds desserts. The other counters have an assortment of freshly sliced meat, seafood, vegetables, starches and a variety of sauces laid out.

Customers turn chefs at this fete by choosing from the vegetarian and non-vegetarian items and have it cooked by the chef as per their orders. The chefs, however, will guide and suggest what combination of ingredients will work best and what sauces will help tickle the taste buds. Under the selection of meats, there are chicken, tenderloin, pork, squid, and egg to name a few, while in the vegetable section there are Chinese cabbage, pakchoy, chestnuts, haricot beans, homemade tofu…

Hakka noodles, Singapore rice noodles, Thai rice sticks and steamed rice are some of those listed under starches. To spice up or lend the dish flavour, one can choose from a selection of sauces such as Sichuan chilly paste, XO sauce, Malaysian dried fish sambol and Tepanyaki sauce.

Feeling a tad adventurous, I choose shrimp, bacon rashers, sliced chicken sausages, tofu, pakchoy, carrots, Sichuan chilly paste and oyster sauce.As we wait for our dish, we decide to have the soup. Ignoring the choice of vegetable soup, we fill our bowls with hot and sour chicken soup. The soup is nice and warm, but a bit starchy.

The selection of salads, although modest, is impressive. I try the Carrot and raisin in lemon honey, Aloo papdi chaat, and Squid and fish in French vinegar. The star of my platter is no doubt the squid dish with its delicate, fresh from the sea flavour.

Crunchy, tangy, hot and sweet flavours combine to make the chaat delicious. The carrots in the carrot and raisin salad were crunchy and the raisins giving the dish a slightly sweet flavour.

Soon our main dish, although the chef calls it a starter, arrives. Piping hot, the aroma that emits from the dish whets our appetite. Soon we are digging into the dish. Every ingredient in the dish is stir fried to perfection on the grill. The shrimps are still juicy; the bacon rashers are still crisp, the tofu melts in the mouth…

Finally, I try a Mongolian crepe that is made of egg, butter, sugar and a hint of honey.

The festival is open from 7 p.m. till 11 p.m. This buffet is priced at Rs. 1,000 plus taxes for each person. It is on until April 13.