Don't miss the authentic Oriental cuisine fete on at The Gateway

When hotels promote “authentic” global cuisine, I usually feel it sells better as a concept. Reading those exotic and often difficult to pronounce names and two-line brief on ingredients and recipes, makes you feel empowered. But happily eating a “truly real” authentic dish say from Thailand, Vietnam or Japan is a totally different game.

After indulging in selected items from a specially designed a la carte menu for the occasion, when I jokingly told the Executive Chef at The Hotel Gateway that I enjoyed the conversation on Oriental cuisine more than the food, he turned pale. I quite relished my journey into culinary language at the ongoing food festival at The View Restaurant.

Now, how would you decipher “gaeng jued tohu” or “pok ho choy ching thong” unless you are widely traveled and knowledgeable enough? I trusted Chef N. Krisshnakumar's recommendation, particularly after a plateful of tasty crispy fried and honey-glazed cauliflower and tofu (bean curd). And indeed, I did not regret. The first one turned out to be a silicon tofu soup with a liberal dose of vegetables. I cherished every spoon of the steaming soup as the restaurant temperature turned cooler by the minute. In fact, I also took a few sips of the second so-very non-veg sounding item which too turned out to be a delicious and delicately flavoured mix vegetable clear soup.

With the first round of starters and soups a hit, I now comfortably veered into a conversation on key ingredients of Thai and Chinese food, the two countries the chef and his team have chosen to focus on this time round as part of the Oriental food fete.

Kaffir lime leaf grown as backyard shrub in Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia is profusely used in South East Asian cuisine and finds prominent place in Thai curry paste adding an aromatic flavour. This native lime's skin is also used as a major ingredient in chilli paste for Phad Thai and noodles. Similarly the sweet basil adds an elegant taste to the usual curries, soups, stir-fries and good range of noodle and rice dishes.

Thai tastes

Doing the ‘eat the talk', I realized the chef's choice was too perfect in meeting my craving for sweet or spicy, salty or savoury Thai tastes. I simply loved the garlic-spinach fried rice and took several – albeit small (for record) helpings of it. It went perfectly well with “Yong ku moet tofu” – in case you are wondering, it is braised bean curd cooked with mushroom in a tangy chilli sauce. The other two side dishes were equally delicious. The pear aubergine with diced capsicum tomatoes, onion, baby corn in soya sauce flavoured with chilli called the “devil's choice” and the other being a whole lot of seasonal vegetables (from carrot, beans, peas and pumpkin to broccoli and zucchini) cooked in coriander sauce.

By now I was enjoying the meal thoroughly and barely gave an ear to chef's detailing of the non-veg choices, like the spicy stewed slice fish with a subtly flavoured wine sauce or the pan fried chicken cooked in sauce with crushed black beans and red chilli flakes.

Satisfaction writ large on my face, made him reiterate that Thai food had never got so authentic before in the city. Having specially trained in Taj Exotica in Maldives under a Thai Chef for two years, Krisshnakumar genuinely has tried to introduce the real flavours, aroma and tastes of the South East.

Yummy desserts

After the `devil', it was the turn of the ‘dragon' – or rather the “delagong luoer”.

A simply yummy dessert, it tempted me to a second piece. Thin layer of sponge cake tightly rolled with deep frozen vanilla ice cream and decorated with chocolate sauce, chips and nuts.

I wanted to try something new and so did not go for the usual “honey daar saan” – crisp ribbon noodles tossed in honey sauce and topped with flaked almond and ice cream – which was also available.

If at all I missed anything, it was the ambience or some music. Apparently, the group has done away with such exercises where it can be avoided.

What I loved the most was the smart pricing. Between Rs.150 to Rs.650, it offered combo meals and different packages with chef's choice.

Whether or not I learnt or pronounced all the names in different sections of the menu correctly, I surely got the taste right and will remember them for long.

The festival is on till October 31 (except weekends) from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. For reservations call 6633000.