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The gourmand's delight

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ENJOYABLE There is wonderful attention to detail at Qi photo: murali kumar k.
ENJOYABLE There is wonderful attention to detail at Qi photo: murali kumar k.

Every dish at Qi is thoughtfully and intelligently prepared, making for a gourmet experience

The first thing you notice about Qi, the restaurant at Le Meridien, apparent almost as soon as you walk in, is the intricate but not excessive décor. And as you progress through the meal, you realise that it is this wonderful attention to detail accompanied by a disdain for over-the-top gimmickry that makes dining at Qi such an enjoyable experience. Take the coconut-based creamy spicy noodle soup, for instance. In spite of having a coconut base, the soup is lighter than expected due to the papery vermicelli instead of the regular noodles. And the spices used are blended in such a way as to be invigorating rather than oppressive. What's more, it comes in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions, with a choice of either crab and shrimp stick or tofu. In much the same vein are the various other soups on offer such as the tangy hot and sour mushroom soup, hot and sour prawn with lemongrass, the traditional miso soup or the thick and creamy Thai kwai.

Great starters

Among the starters, the laksa fish is a fascinating creation. Made with stewed spinach, this light snack has a pleasant, somewhat tangy feel to it. For vegetarians, the wonderfully creamy cheese rolls served with a garlic sauce are a must. The dim sums too are uniquely delicious, achieving a near perfect mix of filling and spices. The vegetarian dumplings, in particular, are steamed to perfection, with a soft, yielding exterior and a crunchy filling. Among the non-vegetarian dumplings, the smooth, slick chicken dumplings flavoured with asparagus are the perfect choice. And there's a host of other great starters to choose from, such as the kake aage (crisp shredded vegetables fried in tempura batter, served with a warm sauce) or the shitake yakitori (shitake mushrooms marinated in a special sauce and grilled) for vegetarians and prawn satay or the chicken or beef bulgogi for the non-vegetarians.

Very special

What makes every meal at Qi really special though is the restaurant's varied sushi, sashimi and makimono selections. Particularly, the sushi moriawase special, which offers up slices of red snapper, tuna, salmon, crab stick, Japanese omelette, prawns, salmon roe and caviar with vinegared rice, Kikkoman soya sauce, wasabi paste and pickled ginger, is nothing short of heavenly.With a subtle gradation of taste and texture, from the soft, almost insubstantial salmon to the chewy red snapper to the crunchy prawn, this dish offers up a delightful cornucopia of sublime flavours from the sea, unmediated and untarnished by the use of spice. The salmon roe, with its bursts of juice and the caviar, a tangy, crunchy delight are especial delicacies. While the sashimi is also non-vegetarians, vegetarians needn't fret. The restaurant offers a number of makimono options for vegetarians with cucumber, avocado, shitake mushrooms, lettuce, radish, tofu and spring onions. Among the main course options, the wasabi prawns are a sure bet, with succulent prawns doused in a refreshingly sharp, spicy wasabi sauce. Or try out the full-bodied chicken in basket or the straightforward businesslike chicken hot pot. For fans of the red meats, the sombre beef dishes with their heavier, fuller tone are wise choices. And vegetarians with a preference for tofu or mushrooms will surely feel at home here. Rounding off a meal as nicely balanced as this is a difficult task, but the white and dark chocolate sushi - a single column of rich, sensuous light and dark chocolate nestled in a casing of nicely bitter hard chocolate - does the trick. For the less adventurous, there are very competent desserts such as Mississipi mud pie, cheesecakes, white chocolate with rice pudding and a champagne and berry mousse.Qi can be contacted on 41131118.Ambience: Aesthetically pleasingService: Well informedSpeciality: Sushi, sashimi and makimonoWallet factor: Rs. 1,200 for twoRAKESH MEHAR

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