Chef Kuan Lai and His Inspirational Pan-Asian Menu at Taj Krishna

A few weeks back, I was invited to a Pan-Asian food festival at The Sheraton Hyderabad which I could not attend as I was scheduled to travel to Bhutan. We were told that this was a festival with a difference as it was curated by the well-known oriental Chef Kuan Lai from Malaysia. I was feeling a bit bad for missing it as on my return I received extremely good feedback about the food served there. However, I was lucky that the chef was back in Hyderabad about a couple of weeks later to host another promotion this time at Golden Dragon, the oriental restaurant at Taj Krishna.



Chef Lai is one of those chefs who has travelled all over the world promoting the cuisines of South East Asia. He has had stints in the Netherlands as well as South Africa, and his dishes have more than a touch of experimentation. He is currently in India on an invite from Olive Tree Trading, a brand marketing a range of ingredients for your kitchen, such as olive oil, quinoa and truffle butter. (For more information, read: Olive Tree Trading: Premium ingredients for your kitchen)  At the preview of the festival at Taj Krishna, he presented an extensive menu curated from the best of his preparations.

Chef Kuan Lai

Among the appetizers served Chicken Satay Skewers had a darkish peanut sauce, which tasted very different.  The pickle achar with the Thai Red Curry Fish Cakes augmented the taste of the dish. The dips and sauces served with almost all the appetizers deserve a mention as they were extremely flavourful and diverse.

Chicken Satay Skewers

Thai Red Curry Fish Cakes
Chicken Satay Skewers (Top) and Thai Red Curry Fish Cakes

The Crispy Five Spice Crab Spring Roll deserves a mention here, as the well-stuffed crab meat retained its flavour.  Aromatic Crispy Duck and Mandarin Pancakes seemed to be chef’s favourite, though the duck was a tad bit dry, it worked well rolled inside the pancake with the accompaniments added.

Vietnamese Pho
Vietnamese Pho
I am a pork addict and was looking forward to the Hoisin Glazed Smoked Pork Belly. It turned out to be even better than anticipated. Other dishes served in the section were Grilled Spring Chicken and Roasted Sesame Chicken.

There were four choices in the soup section of the menu. The Vietnamese Pho with cinnamon and beef broth retained the flavours of the ingredients. Some of us requested for more broth. Tom Kha Hed, a coconut based soup with mushroom in it was colourful and delicious too.

Red Snapper

Nasi Goreng
Red Snapper with Three Flavour Sauce (Top) and Nasi Goreng

The main courses also had select dishes showcasing various countries in South East Asia. The Beef Rendang Curry with Steamed Jasmine Rice was my pick. Nasi Goreng with satay and fried egg is another dish which should not be missed here.

Steamed Tofu Black Bean and Chilli

Chiang Mai Curry
Steamed Tofu Black Bean and Chilli (Top) and Chiang Mai Curry

One must also talk about the presentation of the dishes which made them look colourful and extremely appetizing. Cases in point were Buddhist Vegetarian Money Bags, Chiang Mai Curry and the Steamed Tofu Black Bean and Chilli. In fact, the promotion has quite a few attractive dishes for the veg food lovers such as Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls, Malaysian Gado Gado, and Vegetarian Laksa.

Vegetable Money Bags

Money Bags (Top) and Rice Paper Rolls
Among the desserts, Eight Treasure Coconut Jelly with Goji Berries was a sugarless dish as per the chef. Readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of desserts in general, but this was a terrific preparation which was unputdownable even for me. My friends remarked that it was perhaps the first time they saw me finishing a whole dessert. The other dessert served was Sesame Peanut Dumpling with Red Bean Cream.

Eight Treasure Coconut Jelly
Eight Treasure Coconut Jelly

We had a long discussion with the chef after the meal. An extremely affable person, he spent a lot of time with us explaining the finer nuances of the food he prepared, as well as presenting many humorous anecdotes from his journey. I do attend a significant number of food festivals throughout the year, and Chef Kuan Lai’s festival will be one of my picks in the must-visit category. The a-la-carte festival is on until 20th of December.

Location:

Golden Dragon
Taj Krishna,
Road No 1, Banjara Hills
Hyderabad
Telephone: 66293309

Disclaimer: The review is based on an invite from the restaurant.



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