It’s been a long, long time since I had some good (and I mean gooood) Pan-Asian food. So when I got an invite to come try the Mandarin Calling food festival at Oko in Hotel Lalit Ashok, I didn’t think twice before accepting.
I’ve visited Lalit Ashok several times before, but it’s been mostly on work – seminars and conferences, and the like. This was my first time there dining at a proper sit-down restaurant.
Oko is their Pan-Asian restaurant situated on the 6th floor of the hotel. Chef Luo Jinhong from China is their expat Chef and has designed the menu.
I don’t have too many pictures of the interior, but it’s magnificent, and really set the stage for a lovely lunch.
We were seated right at the back of the restaurant with huge windows facing both sides of the city. Normally, a 6th floor view is not very impressive, but there is a lot of greenery around – both within the hotel’s vast grounds and from the nearby golf course. So, the view was really serene and beautiful.
On the table were a couple of bowls of snacks to pacify our appetites until the food came.
We started off with a welcome drink – a watermelon and coriander cooler, which was really very welcome after the stifling heat outdoors.
We started off the food with a soup and salad.
The soup was an asparagus and corn soup and tasted like a variation of the regular sweet corn soup generally served in Chinese places. I don’t have a good photo of the soup to share with you here (because for some reason I just cannot take a good photo of soup 😀 ). Along with the soup, I tried a bit of the salad.
The spicy and sour cucumber salad was really spicy and was good eaten in conjunction with the tamer flavors of the soup.
Next up were some veg and non-veg dumplings.
I tasted only one of these, but it was enough to understand that these were too good. One of the best dumplings I’ve tried ever.
The rest of the dishes arrived in a quick flurry.
I absolutely loved the tofu chili black bean in Hunan style, and if I had to recommend just one dish from this place, this would be the one. I am not too fond of tofu, often find it pretty rubbery in texture, and somewhat under-spiced. But the tofu in Oko was A++++. Highly recommend.
The chung qing chicken with onion and dry chili was spicy and nice. The fish dish (pomfret in schezuan picked chili sauce) looked a bit scary, but the fish was perfectly cooked, and my daughter Snubnose really loved both these dishes.
The main courses arrived soon after. A fried rice, a noodles, and the most awesomest bowl of eggplant.
Doesn’t this look so delicious? The only beef I would have is that the eggplant was not sizzling. From the description, I expected a sizzler. But taste wise, this dish was perfect, and my second favorite dish of the afternoon.
It went perfectly with the main rice and noodles dishes.
I particularly recommend the combo of olive vegetable fried rice with the sizzling eggplant in barbeque sauce. Mouth-watering!
For the non-vegetarians, there were king prawns (in Xiang La sauce). Snubnose tried and loved the prawns. This was probably her favorite dish of the afternoon. She is anyway a massive prawn freak. The king prawns were indeed kingly – massive in size (any bigger and I would have thought it a lobster dish).
There was also a lamb dish – crispy fried lamb Beijing style. But by the time this arrived on our table, I was in a blissful food coma after the rice and eggplant that I completely missed photographing it. Considering how quickly this dish disappeared from the table, it must have been very good too.
Dessert was a steamed chocolate bun with honey butter sauce – kind of like a chocolate bau. On my plate, it looked like a serving of chocolate ice cream, or may be ragi mudde 😀 . Taste wise though it’s all bau. So, if you like bau, then you will definitely like this one.
At the end of the lunch, we were invited to come meet Burney – the resident mascot of the Lalit Ashok hotel. Burney is unsurprisingly a Saint Bernard, and we spent a pleasant half an hour or so making his acquaintance.
Burney is a rescue dog from a shelter. He spent his early years tied up in a garage. When the good folks at the Lalit Ashok adopted him, he was severely underweight and very unhappy. It was a really great feeling for us to see him now happy and contented, living a pretty luxurious life (air-conditioned kennel, off-leash walks around the grounds), and tons of people to meet him and love him.
I was so happy to hear all this. I was even happier to learn that Lalit Ashok offers a brunch on the grounds, where you can bring your pet with you. There are options of minders to take care of the pet if he/she gets restless. It’s rare that dogs are welcome in many public spaces in Bangalore, so I also wanted to put this information out there. If you are looking for pet-friendly places to go to, Lalit Ashok may be an option for you.
Overall, I’d like to summarize our lunch at Oko by saying: Amazing food, stunning decor and the service was just perfect. We ended up staying there just relaxing and chilling for almost 5 hours!
The Mandarin Calling festival is on from August 25 to September 3rd, 2017 and is open for lunch and dinner.
Offerings from the a la carte menu are available in addition to a 4 Course Chef’s Choice Menu which comprises of Starter, Soup, Main Course and Dessert, priced at INR 1350++
Call for reservations : 9980158286
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