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The flavoursome challenge

HOT AND SPICY The Kung Fu Panda Challenge is all about ambrosial fare from beyond the Great Wall’. Photo: Hari Shanker R.

HOT AND SPICY The Kung Fu Panda Challenge is all about ambrosial fare from beyond the Great Wall’. Photo: Hari Shanker R.   | Photo Credit: Hari Shanker R.

Savour juicy dim sums at an ongoing food festival at The Leela, Kovalam

If there is any international cuisine that has influenced foodies from our country the most, it would probably be the Chinese cuisine. Chinese recipes make their presence felt in almost every major eatery, with noodles, chop sueys, and chilli chicken becoming household names. Having grown up relishing the taste of a vast array of Chinese dishes, I decided to venture out to The Leela, Kovalam, for the ongoing Chinese food festival – ‘The Kung Fu Panda Challenge’, at their sea-facing Tides restaurant.

“The Kung Fu Panda Challenge is all about unlimited East Asian food,” says Dinesh Lal, Executive Sous Chef at The Leela. “We have handpicked an array of Chinese dishes and a couple of Thai dishes for the festival. Our USP is that there is absolutely no restriction on quantity: you can have as many dishes as you want,” he explains.

Does the restaurant follow a buffet system, one wonders. “The food is served à la carte, but that shouldn’t stop you from filling your tummy to your liking,” he smiles.

I make myself comfortable in one of the seats with a view of the sea, as a band plays soothing music in the background. I pick up the menu offered to me by a friendly waiter and start deliberating on my choice of dishes for the evening.

The menu, which featured mostly Cantonese dishes along with some Thai varieties, had ample options for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. I was pleasantly surprised to see varieties of Dim Sums in the menu.“‘Dim Sum’ – which means ‘touch your heart’ in Chinese is a quintessential Cantonese dish. It consists of a variety of dumplings and small steamed dishes served on a platter along with tea,” the chef explains. “Dim sums normally consist of steamed and fried dumplings. We’ve consciously avoided the fried variants for health concerns,” he mentions.

I start my meal with seafood and pepper spinach soup, which turned out to be refreshing. Having finished it in no time, I rushed to my favourite part of the menu – Dim Sums. They arrive without much ado – with vegetarian and non-vegetarian dim sums in separate platters. I chose a piece each of the mixed seafood, chicken and spinach, prawn and bamboo, Asian mushroom, pak choi with glass noodles and assorted vegetarian dim sums. They were served with soya, Singaporean and chilli sauces. All the dim sums were soft and delectable, each with a unique juicy flavour. Along with the sauces, they proved to be a veritable feast for my taste buds! My favourites were the mushroom and the prawn and bamboo dim sums. I ordered more of both, since I simply could not have enough of them!

Having had a fair share of dim sums, I proceeded to the main course. I had small helpings of the stir fried soy noodles and the jasmine rice, along with Thai vegetable green curry and stir fried chicken in black bean sauce respectively. The noodles turned out to be delicious when eaten with the stir fried chicken. The jasmine rice was well cooked, and the Thai green curry’s alluring aroma matched its taste.

The dessert consisted of date pancake (fried layers of dough with a date filling) and green tea crème brûlée (green tea prepared along with whipped cream, milk, sugar, vanilla bean and egg yolks). The delicious dessert proved to be a delightful conclusion to a memorable culinary experience.

Lunch is served between 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.. Cost factor: Rs. 950 for adults and Rs. 550 for children below 12 years of age.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 6:42:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/chinese-food-festival-at-the-leela-kovalam/article6245172.ece

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