As Restaurant Week India 2016 starts off with a bang in Kolkata, I feel that there are many interesting and exciting menus to pick from. So, with a considerable amount of anticipation, I reached The Oriental Express, Hotel Hindustan International, for a laid-back lunch with A and E. After we were seated, glasses of cold, sweet lime juice were put in front of us as we pondered over our choices, and then, ultimately picked a couple of things off the menu, and left the rest of the decision-making process to our server.
An assortment of starters came our way pretty soon: you can pick one from each segment: Starter, Main Course, accompanying Rice/Noodles, and Dessert. We pick something from both vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections. The Vietnamese Spring Rolls are deep fried and filled with a bounty of finely chopped and cooked vegetables (I was expecting a sort of summer roll, I must admit), encased in super-crunchy, but surprisingly light rice paper which shatters at the first bite. The sweet chilli sauce’s presence is required to balance out the slightly sour filling, and together, they make a pretty fun combination.
The Mountain Chilli Chicken is a safer choice, the soft meat of the chicken batter-fried and then tossed with a sweet and sour sauce which is not hot enough to set my tongue on fire, something which I generally expect from Chilli Chicken. However, it is something you would want to consume with endless bottles of beer on a hot summer night, so I am not complaining.
I am also quite pleased with the Salt and Pepper Fish, the flaky white fish batter-fried and tossed with diced capsicum, and served on a bed of purple cabbage which adds a layer of fresh crunch to it, which is much-required in my opinion.
However, surprisingly, the Tofu Takrai steals the show, and the deep fried tofu glazed with a bit of fermented bean paste and soy is just plain beautiful – the glaze barely softens the crunchy batter of the tofu, and the silky tofu is meltingly tender – I can have a few portions of this on my own.
For our mains, we pick the Shanghai Noodles, which is nice, but forgettable. It is paired with some Potato and Corn with Chinese BBQ sauce which is mildly smoky and sweet, and I like the texture of the juicy corn popping in my mouth.
The Chicken with Garlic and Egg Drop is, again, a simple dish, served with a Ginger Capsicum Fried Rice, and I like the fact that the chicken is tender and moist, and the sauce is kept simple and feels rather comforting. There are other choices to pick from, of course, including Thai Basil Fish and Chicken Teriyaki, but after the barrage of starters, we decided to stick to something simple.
For our dessert, the unanimous decision is taken, and platters of Fried Ice Cream come our way. I have a soft spot for this particular dessert, and it doesn’t disappoint. The batter here is quite cake-like, and there is a drizzle of chocolate sauce that I religiously mop up to make sure every bit of it is gone by the end of my meal.
Restaurant Week India 2016 will be on until the 1st of May, 2016, so if you are thinking about booking a table, simply go to their website and book your table for lunch or dinner right away. You can also follow me on Instagram to find out more about my food adventures.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to RWI by the management of HHI.