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    Bringing back flavours from her travels, Jacqueline Kapur says Pondicherry is ready for Bay of Buddha

    hen Pondicherry-based Jacqueline Kapur wanted international quality clothing, she opened an export surplus store, Titanic. When she didn’t know where to exercise her horses, she opened the Red Earth Riding School. Now, thanks to her frequent visits to Asian destinations, the city is going to get a new restaurant, the Bay of Buddha,  replacing the rooftop eatery, the Lighthouse (that opened in 2005). ‘‘Dilip (my husband and the CEO of leather brand, Hidesign) and I like our Asian food. We both felt that between Blueline and Le Dupleix, and the other continental restaurants in Pondicherry, there was too much of an overlap. So to bring in something new was the main aim,’’ begins the entrepreneur.
    Travel diary
    Kapur is clearly well versed with Asian cuisine. ‘‘I have stayed in Japan and have studied the language. I go to China at least four times a year and 20 times to Bangkok. Wherever I go, I choose Asian cuisine over others,’’ she confirms. If travelling to Thailand, the street markets in Bangkok are definitely part of her itinerary as she loves the local soup. ‘‘While in Japan, I love my sushi and don’t mind having it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have tried sushi from the streets to the big restaurants,’’ says Kapur, who enjoys her Chinese as well. Her favourite is the Chinese mushroom salad that features white and dark mushrooms drizzled with spicy vinaigrette, which has been included in the menu. ‘‘The last time I went to China, I had chitterlings (pigs’ intestines)  in beef sauce, but it was terrible!’’ she says. When in Hong Kong, she suggests we visit any dimsum resturant in the city as they are all good. “The yakitori mushrooms and chicken in teriyaki soya sauce is what I used to eat every evening when I stayed in Tokyo, other than sushi,’’she says. At Bay of Buddha, which has Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Burmese, Indonesian and Japanese, one of the highlights is the pad Thai noodles. Slightly sweet with vegetables as one option and prawn and egg as the other. ‘‘Our spring rolls are made with rice noodles and are wrapped, not fried or cooked. It is a raw dish that is very healthy,’’ she says. Saying no to ajinomoto or preservatives, she adds, ‘‘We go with the right ingredients so we don’t need a flavour enhancer. We use a lot of lemongrass and ginger which is very Thai.’’
    Bay of Buddha launches today. Details: 0413 2227250

    Décor select
    Kapur didn’t want to make a lot of changes to the decor at the restuarant. ‘‘We first thought of a lot of red for the interiors, then decided to go with the old look because of its location. The most beautiful piece will be the fish tank that we are working on. We have imported the crockery form Thailand and have also given new uniform for the staff,’’ she says. The business duo plan to open a spa in the basement and also redo the Blueline menu.

    Chef says
    While Prabhu is the chef, Top Bahadur from Nepal is the sous chef. Prabhu is a pan Asian specialist with experience from ITC Grand Chola, and Bahadur has previously worked at the Crown Plaza, Kochi. According to Prabhu, the menu is elaborate and will include his signatures like the Teppanyaki style lobster, lemongrass creme brulee, date and banana spring roll, holy basil cheese cake and Khmer roast chicken. As for sushi, they have veggie rich platters and a seafood option that comes with red snapper and prawns. For the launch, there will be special dimsum counters, cold salad and dessert stations.

    —Mrinalini Sundar
    Pics: Pattabi Raman

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