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    The new menu at Lotus gets a makeover, with contemporary ingredients and ancient recipes.

    THE CIRCULAR discs of the murals at the Lotus restaurant at The Park catch the light. They swirl with colours stitched onto the painted cloth. And once again, I am back to an early morning at the famed Floating Market on the River Chao Phraya at Bangkok. This is where the women wearing bamboo and cane hats with brightly printed sarongs and shirts jostle their boats filled with edible delights. They are fiercely competitive as they point to the freshly caught prawns, shrimps and eels still wriggling in their baskets, fish gasping with their glassy eyes open and fresh greens, herbs and roots that have just been plucked out of the wet earth. Others sell the food already cooked, still steaming hot in plastic pouches and bowls. The Floating Market is really one long feast of edible food items.

    Street retreat
    So it is with the new menu at the Lotus. The starters have picked their ingredients from the Thai street food stalls. There are angular slices of fried lotus root with bell peppers and basil with a spicy chilli sauce that you can have with your fingers. It sets the tone for the basil seed-encrusted fish that also has orange fish roe, or Tobiko, that the Japanese sprinkle on sushi — the Hong Kong style dim sums filled with crunchy water-chestnut and tender soya beans taken out of their pods — the Singapore style satays, with peanut sauce and rings of crispy fried calamari or squid.

    Sauce, anyone?
    All the items come with their own spicy-sour-sweet-hot sauces. It’s even better when they are paired with the cold salads, such as the glass noodles with coriander root, or the minced chicken served on a fried egg and a lime dressing. Do we mention the stir-fried “water convolvulus”, or stems of Morning Glory, that grows like the hair of mermaids on the banks of the River? Sous Chef Suresh Natarajan stir fries a batch with sliced garlic and nam plah, the fish sauce, just for us. Just as he gives us a recipe for the wonderful Chiang Mai-style hot and spicy soup filled with all manner of herbs and roots. After this the main course of jasmine rice and green fish curry is soothing but necessary.
    Do we mention the desserts? Yes, if you like sticky rice and coconut cream with a delectable choice of steamed tropical fruits.

    Rs 3,000 plus taxes for two. Details: 42576000

    —Geeta Doctor

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