THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Buddha bamboos, Chinese lanterns,wind chimes and moreover the faint Chinese music in the background - you get the feel of entering the lands of China. Chinese master chef Jack Subba awaits you at the entrance, showing you around and leading you to the dining table well set with sauces,chopsticks and other cutlery.
Glancing through the menu set for ‘Drops of Heaven’, the dim sum festival going on at The Leela, Kovalam, anyone would take a deep sigh on how they are going to finish it all at one go. Dim sum, a Cantonese delicacy which means ‘a little bit of heart’ and a must for the Chinese at tea time or ‘Yung Cha’, turns a main course meal at the food festival.
For starters you can have prawn crackles along with Kimchee salad made of Chinese cabbage, white radish, slides of garlic,salt, vinegar and sugar. “This is preserved for a week to get the flavour and has a shelf life of 60 days,”says Vijayan Parakkal, executive chef, Tides restaurant.
First to be served is the pan fried radish cake made of white radish, wild mushrooms and potato starch. Having this all by itself tastes bland. To better the taste add a bit of soya chilli, wild mushroom, black bean or sweet and sour sauce to it. It melts in your mouth and the pan fry makes it slightly crisp.
Jian Bao, a pan fried vegetable bun made of Hong Kong flour with Chinese cabbage stuffing, is the next in turn. Then comes the Chinese version of spring rolls, Quang Juan, made of chicken and mushroom deep fried and Syao Gua Jiao, a vegetable dumpling preferred to be had with wild mushroom sauce. The best of the lot is Xiao Jia, dumplings made of prawns and bamboo shoots.
Steamed regular prawns without loosing its crunchiness tastes best in this form. “The ingredients used are not available in the local markets, except for the spring onions, garlic and ginger,” says Vijayan.
A very unique taste is that of the steamy Xiao Mai, dumplings made of prawns, chicken and mushroom seasoned with flying fish roe mostly used in the preparation of Sushi. By then two varieties of tea - dragon well tea and Puerh tea - will be served in handle-less sipping cups (cha bei) which serves as a digestive. Those not for tea gets to have mugs of unlimited beer.
You are then served date pancakes as dessert, with butter scotch, bird eye chilly chocolate or mango sauce as toppings.
Tasting the sweet bird eye with the dessert gradually turns the flavour fiery and peppery. Drop in for lunch and dinner. The festival is on till April 22.