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Tuesday, Feb 08, 2005

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East's best

The food not only tastes good, but is also well laid out. -- Photo: Murali Kumar K.

WHY WAIT till Valentine's Day to make your loved one feel special? If you're thinking of a really cosy place, coupled with good food and a drink, head towards the Ashraya International Hotel's Oriental Spice.

The restaurant is done up in style — contemporary furniture, dim lights with green plants dotting the dining area. The buffet is an island, placed bang in the middle of the dinning area, making it easy for all diners to easily access the hot food. That's not all: the buffet also acts as a wall isolating the dining tables from the rest of the room thus making enough room for couples to get really cosy. (The buffet works only during lunchtime "to cater to the needs of the executives, who need their food really hot and quick," says Mark Fernandes, General Manager.) But there are comfy corners in the dining area perfectly suitable for families too.

The place is right now hosting the Grill Festival, wherein they serve a range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian grills. Why just grills? "To move away from the wok and explore the other aspects of Thai, Malaysian and Chinese cuisines," says Mark.

Though the vegetarian section offers a limited option, the fest is definitely a non-vegetarian's delight. "We also serve hot drinks (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) with the grills," explains Mark, who then adds that all the grills are made to complement the drink. I definitely second his opinion.

So, while you sip your chilled beer, you can start biting into the skewered cottage cheese with Szechwan dipping sauce, followed by grilled potatoes served with honey chilli sauce. Diners can choose from the range of sauces to go with the grills, but it's best to leave the combinations to the chef. For, both these grills served with their respective sauces were simply flawless. That's for the veggies.

If you are a teetotaller then you can satisfy your taste buds with one of the chilled fresh fruit juices. They go well with the grills too.

Non-veggies can simply feast on anything from prawns to fish to chicken to pork to mutton. The way these were grilled and served was not only a feast for the eyes but also to the tummy. We munched on the grilled chicken with chilli and basil, barbeque spare ribs, grilled ginger fish, grilled mackerel (crunchy and peppery), grilled prawns with XX sauce (yummm — soft and really juicy) and the exotic prawn wafers.

There's more...

If your tummy is still open to main course, then you can continue your rendezvous with the spices by choosing hot food served at the buffet. There is Thai, Malaysian and Chinese cuisine, all attractively displayed. This is the best way to eat as you not only read exotic names on the menu, but also get to see how your food will actually look when served on a plate. And on offer is a wide range of soups, rice and noodle delicacies and salads. So it was a mixed vegetable salad and a prawn noodle that we downed.

If your appetite is formidable, you can order from a choice of desserts served at the Oriental Spice. This section offers contemporary to the traditional ones. We choose the daarsan, crisp honey noodles served with vanilla ice cream, and fruit salads. That made one happy, complete meal.

Oriental Spice can be contacted on 51148989/51148409.

  • Ambience: Contemporary
  • Speciality: Grills
  • Service: Good
  • Wallet Factor: Rs. 140 upwards for two (only grills): Rs. 500 upwards for two. (grills, dinner and drinks.)


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