In a relatively short time, OKO, the restaurant at The Lalit Group of Hotels has seduced the palates of foodies that love Pan Asian cuisine. And it is truly PAN Asian. One of the most celebrated restaurants in Asia, the bouquet of cuisines served at OKO includes Japanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Malaysian, apart from the obvious Thai and Chinese. We recently visited the one located at The Lalit, Chandigarh.
OKO’s success can be attributed to its carefully crafted dishes. Crafted, is indeed, the right word – for at OKO, food is an art. It is also a science – because the ingredients define freshness and are used and cooked in such a methodical way that the palate is treated to an explosion of amazing flavours. Such is the focus on fresh ingredients – an important culinary practice of authentic Pan-Asian cuisine – that lemongrass, sweet basil and other fresh herbs are grown right inside OKO. I was pleasantly amazed to see several pots right next to the teppanyaki grill.
The other reasons are the authentic recipes, the best raw materials – roe, fresh eels, the most delicious crabs and amazingly crunchy vegetables and greens. The process of cooking is supervised by gifted chefs from various parts of India and this completes the fantastic and super delicious OKO story.
Chef Suriya Phusirimongkhonchai is at the helm of these culinary artists. The master chef at OKO was born and raised in Thailand and sharpened his culinary blades at Chumphon Technical College in Thailand. It is under his watchful eye that amazing dishes such as the Glazed Pork Belly, Laksa soup, and several others are sent out from the kitchen to the tables. It was this attention to detail that I witnessed at OKO at The Lalit in Chandigarh recently.
Before you dig into your meal, you will be offered this amazing cinnamon-infused water – OKO water – sweet only because of the cinnamon, to act as a digestive. I was tempted to ask for another glass of this delicious elixir.
The Rice Paper Vietnamese Roll is an amazing way to start the meal. The seafood salad had this delicious tang of sea salt and had a variety of ingredients from crab, shrimp, fish and eel.
The Laksa soup – a Malaysian coconut curry soup – lemongrass, chillies, shallots, galangal, turmeric, spices and dried shrimp all blended up in the food processor, then sauteed in a pot with a little oil to deepen the flavour – was a revelation and so full-bodied I was compelled to greedily finish it all. The piece de resistance was a starter – steamed tobiko prawns garnished with soy and crispy roe. I am mad about sushi and the sushi platter placed in front of me completely made me forget how stuffed I was already beginning to feel.The Kung Pao Chicken is a spice-lovers delight, and the Basil Fried Rice is a testimony to what difference fresh ingredients can make.
Despite pigging like Satan, I still couldn’t resist the charm of the jiggling-seductively Coconut Caramel Custard that was topped with flakes of the crunchiest toasted almonds.
This meal itself is enough to convince me to attend one of the Culinary Classes @ OKO, that are personally conducted by Chef Suriya. The next one is slated for October 1 at The Lalit in Chandigarh. In case you are in the city, and would like to attend, please contact 8288033894.
Text and images by Aarti Kapur Singh