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    Experimental yet familiar, the new menu at Oko warrants a visit

    Ever since the homely Mandarin Room at the Lalit Ashok morphed into the contemporary chic Oko, it has reinvented its menu every now and again.

    page8lead1We checked out their latest metamorphosis recently and worked our way through the new menu. Pan Asian in essence, it is a blend of old favourites like the chilli crab, pla laad phrik (crisp fried fish in a tangy sauce) and kai haw bai toey (chicken in pandanus leaves) while adding a whole lot of new interesting dishes. It’s a good idea to enjoy a cocktail in the alfresco terrace and nibble on starters before settling down to serious tasting, which is what we did. We tried out a selection of sushi-California rolls, nigiri and kappa rolls, which were technically perfect, but my pick was the Szechwan spicy prawns and corn cake with cucumber dip along with the grilled John Dory flavoured with shallots, garlic and shrimp paste and skewered mushrooms marinated in shallots, garlic and chilli.

    The main course was preceded by two familiar offerings—som tam che and lab kai. The fresh raw papaya in a spicy dressing and the lab kai minced chicken with mint and basil was mild and flavorful. Between the two classic soup courses, tom yum kung or tom kha phak, I chose the latter. It was yummy with the smooth creaminess of the coconut milk pairing nicely with the crunchy veggies. The mains were a mix of Thai and Chinese—crisp hot koong pao prawns, crispy with bokchoy and leeks sauteed with garlic, chickenThai green curry and tenderloin with dried chillis, galangal and lemon grass had a delicate sauce.

    The subtle flavour of the wok tossed ginger pork with celery and sprouts paired well with the aromatic jasmine rice and the Chinese hakka noodles with cabbage, carrots and bell peppers was a meal in itself. Dessert was the cool refreshing tum tim grob although I would have liked more of the water chestnuts in the dish.

    Rs.3,000++ for two. At Kumara Krupa High Grounds. Details: 30527777.

    — Frances Rao

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