The new menu at the Flying Elephant is one for discerning tastes, and considered appreciation
As daunting a task as it is to prepare the perfect salmon steak, dissecting and sampling the dish can be a tricky proposition — perilous even, for the emboldened food writer. It’s always touch-and-go, from picking at the meat with the tines of a fork, to carving out the right size of a chunk, and placing it on one’s tongue. One butterfingered move, or a bit much of lingering over a bite — quite like an accidental added degree of heat or an unwitting dash of seasoning in preparation — can lead the whole exercise to disaster.
It is one thing to be silver-tongued about a well-done salmon — and by all means, do venture a “bravo!” towards the kitchen. But, for a thoroughbred master like Teuku Syafrulsyah, the new Executive Chef from Indonesia at the Park Hyatt Chennai (say his name with élan, as he bids a broad, all-welcoming smile), the glossy accolades are easily told apart from honest-to-goodness appreciation.
The chef is not one for undue fusion experiments, and the dishes served under his aegis ring true to the originals — fair reason for cheer among purists.
King salmon’s mine
The charcoal grill salmon steak from Chef Teuku’s kitchens, flavoured with burnt fennel and leek broth, and served with an arugula and orange salad, is nevertheless, exquisite beyond comparison. The hush pink and orange shades of the cross-cut are worthy of Pantone grading, just as the after-taste conjures the airs of downtown Jakarta.
The gauze-like glaze is delightfully delicate, like a gossamer chiffon on a gusty summer morning, and the broth clings lightly to the meat, as loveable infants do, entreating attentive affection; the salad on the side adds an adequately tart bite to each forkful. The sea bass en papillote from the menu’s teppan section is as refined as the salmon — intended for a cultivated taste, and dished out to entice genteel preciosities around the table. Both dishes play up the revamped menu’s essence of sensorial tempering, coupled with Singaporean chilli prawns for starters — misleading in name and barely pungent; and the vegetable wanton soup — bracing, heartwarming soul fare.
Tales of outer spice
For spice-hungry palates, the menu makes room for a biting, mustard-heavy Kasundi Macchi Tikka, a mint-chutney laden Paneer Khaas, a nutty spinachy Subzi Maloni, an amchur and ajwain-loaded Pindi Chole (chickpea stew), and an aroma-rich Rara Gosht (lamb curry).
A noteworthy sidelight, presented by Chef de Cuisine Vamsi Krishna, makes clever use of the humble pomegranate seed, sprinkled generously on a cold mezza of Muhammara hot peppers in a pesto of walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic and lemon juice. The juicy crunch of the sourish arils, creamy piths and all, adds a distinctive touch, speaking for Chef Vamsi’s flair with natural ingredients.
The Snicker Mess Treat, a generously chocolatey dessert on a platter — another of Chef Vamsi’s chef-d’oeuvres — brings our meal to a decadent close. Leaving the affected banter of sublime emotions aside, this one is purely for toothy grins and gleeful mirth, indulging one’s inner child, if you like.
Meal for two approximately Rs 3,500. Details: 044 7177 1234
— Jaideep Sen