Pan Asian @ ITC Grand Chola
Seriously? A debate between Chinese and Japanese cuisine? So they fly down a famous Chinese chef, whose name I can't pronounce and they pit him up against Chef Vikramjit, who is slowly becoming my favourite Chennai chef? OK, chef Vikram might not like being called a Chennai chef, but, hey, he has the restaurant in Chennai! My first visit was invited, the next was on my own and both instances were mind blowing! So when yesterday I was invited again, I almost missed it due to a tight schedule but managed to land my backside there just in time! And boy, was I glad or not!
So this is a set menu albeit with a few options! Luxurious options! While the festival is mainly focussed on whisky pairing (yes, not wine pairing, but whisky pairing), the food was outstanding! Since I was a good boy and stayed away from the 'hot' drinks, I am not going to write about what all alcohol was served, but only about the food. There was this unique amuse-bouche, with a lot of stuff, but lovely stuff. Some alcohol, celery balls, tofu skin and soaked cherry tomato! Yum! And for starters, there were 2 options in veg and non-veg and I went with the crispy fried prawns from the Chinese chef, expecting a nice golden fried prawn, but what landed on the table was golden fried alright, but way different from any golden friend prawn in the city! Way, way, way different. The crumbs had, I think, garlic, fried onions and after the prawns were gulped down, I licked the crumbs clean too! Yes, in spite of the all the guests around and the General Manager of ITC Grand Chola right opposite me on the table! He didn't mind!
Can you believe I went for a vegetarian soup? I did so because I wanted to taste Vikram's food this time and I spotted truffle mentioned beneath the soup and it was only available in the vegetarian soup and where else do you get truffle in Chennai? The last time I had it was in Paris and having truffle in a Pan Asian restaurant was new to me! Lovely soup with flavours hitting you at various points, but as you dig deep, the truffle flavours started to show and they were just great! Followed that up with a superb Teriyaki preparation of Sea Bass - mind you, not the Viatamese Basa, but the imported Sea Bass! Licked that clean too and chef was kind enough to send us a sushi type salmon that was also gulped down. I chose this ahead of the Chinese chef's grilled beef prep, but I heard that was good too!
The only disappointment was the dessert that I chose - the fried ice cream! It was soggy and very average and definitely not Pan Asian @ Grand Chola standards. But Vikramjit being Vikramjit, also served us the best dessert on the house - his signature chocolate preparation, which he very modestly says that he did nothing with, but just served a chuck of chocolate plated nicely! Lovely way to finish the evening.
Pan Asian is starting a 12 course Japanese meal starting at about Rs. 3k and that is my next stop! Looks like I am not going to be eating at any other Grand Chola restaurants for a while!