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Healthy street food!

A dish on offer at Ping’s Cafe Orient

A dish on offer at Ping’s Cafe Orient  

RAHUL VERMA skipped a soulful music concert to relish South East Asian street food at Ping’s Cafe Orient

It was a Sunday, and dinner was on my mind. We were going to the Habitat Centre for a music concert in the evening and thought we would dine out. The idea was to eat something good, but not go too far for the meal. That was when I thought of Ping’s Café Orient in Lodhi Colony.

I had heard about it from a foodie friend whose opinion I value. She was the one who had told me about The Bistro in Defence Colony. We’d had some excellent meals there and I was sorry to hear some weeks ago that the place had changed hands. So, anyway, when this friend told me about Ping’s, I thought that this was a restaurant that I needed to visit.

Ping’s is where Ploof used to be, if you remember that restaurant which served excellent seafood once upon a time. This is in the Lodhi Colony market — next to Mittal Tea and Lodhi Sports. The address is 13, Main Market, and the phone number is 011-33105456. It’s best to go there after booking a table.

We landed up there early for there wasn’t even standing space at the concert. The restaurant cheerfully done up — was empty, but the servers and the young lady at the reception were most welcoming. I had a glass of chilled beer, and absent-mindedly ate up an entire bowl of crackers dipped in a black bean sauce while I looked at the menu.

What I found most interesting was the fact that it served South East Asian street food. “It’s tasty yet healthy street food,” said Chef Pratyush Rai, whom I buttonholed when I saw him pass by our table.

The region is known for its most enjoyable street food. In fact, in many parts of South East Asia, people would rather eat out than cook at home. My lasting regret during a trip to Singapore was that I couldn’t eat street food there. I was on the jury of a food guide and my job was to eat only in high-end restaurants. But I made up for that during a trip to Thailand, where almost every meal consisted of food bought on the streets.

I found some of the old familiar dishes on the menu of Ping’s. There was street food from Chatuchak and Sukhumvit in Bangkok, Borobodur in Indonesia, Angkor in Cambodia, Gwangjang Market in South Korea and so on. We decided to have a plate of Krabbi’s garlic pepper prawns, Ebisu’s Ramen noodles with roast pork, snow peas, black mushroom and water spinach and Penang chicken curry with rice. All three dishes were for Rs. 545, before taxes. A meal for two at Ping’s, I reckon, comes for Rs. 2000 post taxes.

It was an Excellent meal, and I hope you’ve noticed the capital E. The prawns, with the complementary flavours of pepper and garlic, were just right. But what I really enjoyed was the roast pork noodle dish. It was deliciously soupy, the pork had been roasted well and the vegetables were nice and crunchy. The soup was so good that I drank it up after we had finished all the goodies in it.

Likewise, the Penang chicken curry was superb. The flavours, I thought, were just right — the coconut milk added to the sweetness of the curry, flavoured with kaffir lime, galangal, shrimp paste and tempered with peanuts. We had this with steamed rice, though you can opt for sticky rice, brown rice or red rice. The menu has all kinds of dishes prepared with chicken, lamb, tenderloin, fish and pork. And there are various kinds of options for vegetarians.

My foodie friend, once again, was bang on — the food at Ping’s is superb. I am glad we were there early, for I don’t think we would have got a table if we had gone after the music concert. Just for once, I was happy to have missed my friend, Madan Gopal Singh’s golden voice and Chaar Yaar’s soulful music.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 6:58:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Healthy-street-food/article14591316.ece

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