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Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003

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Mouth-watering delicacies

There is an obvious Thai influence in everything — food, dances and costumes. Enjoy a unique cultural experience at the Myanmar food fest at Le Royal Meridien till March 16.

THE EXOTICA are in this season. When Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean, Middle Eastern and even Mediterranean becomes a passé what does one do? Get Myanmar fare, what else! Le Royal Meridien is having a Myanmar food fest, dinner only, at Cilantro (phone: 22314343) till March 16.

The `land of golden pagodas' comes alive with gold tinsel pagodas, waiters in lungis and black Chinese jackets and cap like headgear. Pretty dancers in traditional dances in beautiful costumes added to the ambience. It was difficult not to see the obvious Thai influence in everything. The lady master chef, Daw Khin Hnin Aye who has seen many moons looks lovely. So one couldn't carp with the "well sculpted" description attached to the dancers in the promotional material.

The food bears a Chinese imprint too. Though there is a non-veg slant to the fare, the vegetarian choices were simply lovely. Starting with the fried gourd to the noodles with veges and coconut soup, it was the night of the flora. A variation of our bajji, the fried bottle gourd strips captivate you with its startling simplicity and familiarity. The vegetable and rice soup was a nostalgic trip.

The prawn rice soup too was nice. It was just that the competition was stiff. The salads, tea leaf and tomato ones, were outstanding. A national speciality, pickled tender tea leaves or laphet will interest you at the first taste, then intrigue with the combination of flavours — toasted sesame seeds and oil and fried broad beans — it is presented with and then, before you take the next mouthful, you are hooked. Among the curries, the pumpkin, tomato and bean curd and stir-fried spinach were my favourites. These went well with the sticky rice.

The indisputable winner of the pack was Ohn no khawswe or the noodles with chicken/veg coconut soup. This meal-in-a-bowl has noodles in a coconut milk flavoured broth, topped with fried corn fritters, chilli flakes, a dash of fish sauce and fresh spring onions.

For the sweet ending, my vote went to the sticky rice dumpling. The small soft rice balls with melted jaggery inside, the Myanmar version of our kozhukattai. The other choices were Burmese faluda and agar agar chocolate. The cultural experience comes with a price of course, Rs.599 per person inclusive of taxes.


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