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At most Oriental (or Pan Asian) restaurants in the city, the dessert menu is disappointing. Things do not seem to move beyond the ubiquitous, sesame-sprinkled darsan and toffee walnuts. A few places have packed in a date pancake, but that is about it. But the Oriental repertoire of sweet some things is likely to blow your mind – and you will be more than eager to move over the dessert staples you readily wolf down. Here are a few Oriental restaurants in town that have a few stunning Asian-inspired sweet creations and classics on their menu.
Chinoiserie is the only five-star Oriental restaurant dedicated exclusively to Chinese cuisine. Their menu is stunning in general; the desserts are outright mind-blowing. Trust Chef Lian to craft a menu that has stunners such as crisp wantons stuffed with apples tossed in honey with just the right amount of cinnamon, spring rolls stuffed with chocolate and nuts and pancakes made with Adzuki (red) beans and Chinese pine nuts. Or let it all go and settle for some good old ice cream – only here the flavours include five spice, Sichuan pepper, and green tea. Cannot get more Chinese, can it?
Cut to Stud!o – The Pan Asian Gallery, an outfit at Novotel Kolkata, to indulge in their stellar dessert menu. There is the decadent kafir lime-infused dark chocolate tart, which sits on a pool of salted caramel and season’s fresh pears poached with galangal and served with mascarpone cheese and crumbly, dark chocolate soil. Or try the classic Tab Tim Samsee – a refreshing, coconut milk-based dessert studded with water chestnuts jellies, served chilled. This is one place where you want to have desserts for starters, mains and, well, desserts.
Zen’s signature Fried Ice Cream is perhaps the most popular pick on their dessert menu, but the list goes far beyond that. The deliciously dense flourless chocolate fudge served with their signature Sesame Ice Cream (they have a black sesame ice cream as well) and a generous drizzle of dark chocolate is as sinful as it gets. For a complete contrast in flavours, try the Khao Niew – a unique Thai style pudding made with black sticky rice and velvety coconut cream, topped with fresh lychees. For something lighter, try the Thai-style coconut custard that comes with a scoop of delicate coconut ice cream. And while purists may cringe, Zen turns out quite a neat tofu cheesecake.
At Baan Thai, the specialty Thai kitchen of the Oberoi Grand, the simple sticky toffee pudding served with a blueberry yoghurt sorbet is a near perfect way to end the meal. The perfect way would be to try the classic crème brûlée with an Asian twist from a dash of Kafir lime. The lemon and chilli granite it is served with, gives it that extra edge (and a subtly fiery kick). The crème brûlée, it seems, is also a muse for the chefs at ITC Sonar’s Pan Asian. They turn out wasabi-spiked nori crème brûlée and crème brûlée flavoured with jasmine tea. Plus, there are fresh rambutans (a juicy, fleshy tropical fruit) steamed and served in sugar syrup.
Benjarong, the specialty Thai restaurant at South City Mall, has a few classics worth checking out. There is the traditional Thai sticky rice served with coconut pumpkin custard or mangoes when they are in season. Or you can opt for tender coconut ice cream to go with the pumpkin custard. At Chilli Wok on Park Street, the dessert menu has fantastic crisp fried rolls stuffed with a dark chocolate brownie and finished with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a sprinkle of slivered almonds, in addition to date pancakes, fried ice cream and almond chicklets served with ice cream. (While you are at it, also check out the traditional Burmese khao pyin, a pudding made with indigenous red sticky rice, jaggery and coconut cream).
An independent journalist based out of Calcutta and a dedicated food enthusiast, she writes mostly about food and travel, and has worked and written for publications India Today, The Telegraph, Live Mint as also Lonely Planet India’s website. She also loves to experiment in her kitchen and runs a food blog – allthatsdelicious.com. But mostly she eats, frets about how much she eats and then eats some more.