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OKO, the fine dining restaurant housed in The LaLiT Chandigarh leads the list of speciality Oriental restaurants in the city. It is also known for plating up specials that steer away from the usual Chinese/Southeast Asian fare. Much of that can be credited to expat Thai chef Suriya. While his skills with fruit and vegetable carvings have given him a fan following in the city, the chef has now rolled out a Thai food festival that goes beyond the usual red-green-yellow curries. Looking to introduce the city to lesser known Thai delicacies, the chef offers a range of dishes but do not let the tongue twister names deter you.
The starters section offers a small selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes (mostly fish and chicken). The Kai Phad Med Mamoung brings in Thai style chicken tossed with cashew nut, spring onion, pineapple and dry chilli. Also, a chef’s speciality here is Kai Makharm – grilled chicken topped with tamarind sauce. It is indeed tangy. We also tried the Thai Fish Cakes served with Sweet Chilli and Cucumber Sauce that are made like cutlets and subtle in flavour.
Thai Pomelo Salad
Even if you are not watching your calories, you must try Yam Som O, a Thai Pomelo Salad made with a generous use of peanuts and tamarind sauce. The citrus flavours are refreshing. Those who would prefer a non-vegetarian salad, can opt for Yam Kai Yang – grilled chicken salad with tomato, mint and coriander.
Khao Tom Soup
The portions are generous and we realised that with the chef’s special soup – Khao Tom. Made like a stew, this high on ginger soup had a base of rice and fried garlic. It will more than fill you up. There is also the option of having it with chicken or prawn. Do make sure you get Chef Suriya to help you with recommendations. For mains, there are many new arrivals here. For those who relish pork, can opt for Kaeng Khua Moo – a pork belly curry with sweet potato, kaffir lime and basil made without using coconut milk. Those sticking to greens, will relish Phanang Tofu that teams silken tofu with a panang curry sauce. Pair the curry with either stir fried Rice Noodles or Sticky Rice.
For desserts, the chef made us try the sweet Rice and Corn Cake. Served steaming hot, the cakes were more like small balls and the perfect portion to end a meal.
However, those who like a more robust dessert should try the Chef’s Special Coconut Caramel topped with Almonds. It is sure to become your favourite.
A meal for 2 at the Thai food festival will cost Rs 2,500. The food festival is on at OKO till February 28.
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A seasoned journalist, Jagmeeta has worked with The Indian Express for 16 years writing extensively on food, popular culture and fashion. A Master's in English, she completed her honours in Journalism from Delhi University and started her career in journalism with New Delhi Television (NDTV) as a reporter. She was part of the launch team for NDTV.com. Having turned a freelance writer and editor in 2016, she has been writing for The Hindustan Times, Chandigarh and is also a contributor for The Voice of Fashion steered by IMG Reliance Ltd as well as Chandigarh's popular lifestyle portal - simplythecity.com. When she's not reviewing food or dissecting the season's trends, she likes to travel with her daughter and husband, a professional photographer. A photography enthusiast herself, Jagmeeta has also curated photo exhibitions and calls herself a collector of cookbooks and recipes and a proud 'fauji' daughter and sister.