If there is one restaurant in the city that lives by the 'quality of quantity' principle, it has to be The Dining Room at Park Hyatt. I've gone gaga over their breakfast many a times, but I was appalled that they too run a food festival via the buffet. When invited to try that out, I almost went there expecting the worst, but was super glad that they've stuck to their principles.
If you do take a chance and sit out by their Lotus Pond with mosquitoes for company, the live seafood action will catch your eye. A big boat with sand lobsters, mud crabs, king fish (that looked angry), prawns, lady fish and the likes, all waiting for you to pick and get cooked. Titled Coast to Coast, this is a celebration of coastal food of India, so there is variety right from Bengal all the way to Gujarat, via the coasts. Though what live counter you get depends on which day you go, they are happy to make something from another state if you ask. On Monday night, the focus was on Mangalore and Goa.
Susegado from the streets of Goa was our welcome drink, albeit (and thankfully for me), the sissy version! OK, that was mean, the teetotaller version. Cold and viscous with the lemony zest, it was both refreshing and slightly filling, though I wanted to keep going back to it right through the meal. I felt like having soup that day, something that I would normally skip in a buffet, especially a food promotion buffet, but I was glad I didn't miss it. The Shorba, from Hyderabad was warm and toasty, but only when I finished did I ask why was it on the menu? Hyderabad is not on a coast, I said. We are celebrating the coastal states and Hyderabad is in a state that is on the coast, he said. With a soup as light and refreshing and packing the right amount of punch, I shouldn't be worried where it came from and why it was on the menu.
Then from the live counters came the food that was, until recently on the boat. The prawns arrived with the fish and the crab came in next. With prawns and crabs on the table, I didn't even attempt the fish, so sorry, I don't have an account of the fish. The prawns were medium sized, with a red marinade that had gone well into the meat and thus ended up with a classical South Indian mild chilly flavour. The magic was how it was as comforting as home food, but something that would be quite difficult to replicate at home. The crab on the other hand was a completely comfort food flavour, with the usual dark masala mix that goes into most South Indian kitchens. You have to get your hands dirty for the crabs and you didn't need anything to go with it.
Again, I did something that I normally wouldn't do in a buffet, White rice. The mutter curry was uncanny in its appearance and it felt like it was asking me to taste it and I needed something for it, so I obliged and once again glad I did. Along with the South Indian stir fried chicken, the rice with the mutter gravy, which had the tangy tomato flavour along with the taste of peas seeping through was a great decision. It was only then that the sanas arrived with a Mangalorean gravy. Right at the end of the meal! I wish I had saved more space for it. I love sanas and all its variations. A fermented rice cake which is very similar to the Vattayappam of Kerala, for me, it is the fusion between idly and appam. When done well, it is soft and has a beautiful fermented flavour with a hint of sweetness for itself and pairs well with any red gravy. The sanas here was no different and it took away some of the space I had for dessert!
The festival is on till the 26th of Feb, 2017 and the menu changes everyday. If you want something from what you read here, simply ask for it. Priced at Rs. 1600++