Anyone who knows me knows my love for Asian food. There’s something I can’t quite explain about all those delectable flavours of lemongrass, kaffir lime, bok choy, tamarind, galangal and more, that makes me instantly gravitate to dishes from across Asia. Given my love for these styles of cooking, I readily accepted an invitation from Equinox at Double Tree Suites, Bengaluru for a sneak peek at their ‘Straight from the Streets’ food festival.
While the festival features some heavy duty main courses, the highlight is the delicious finger foods that one would buy off the streets of countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries in the region. After a couple of welcome drinks (which were shots… straight for the big guns) our evening kicked off with a traditional Chicken Satay in a peanut sauce. This was followed by a barrage of platters containing vegetarian and non-vegetarian snacks for us to try. The onslaught began with the bao platter that consisted of pork belly, minced lamb, yakitori chicken and spicy tofu. While everyone seemed to dig the pork and the lamb the most, my vote went to the humble vegetarian spicy tofu. As much as I love my meat, the tofu bao was the most balanced in terms of flavours which made it my pick. This was followed by dimsums, of which I only had a couple; because we all know how quickly those tricky buggers can fill you up.
The platters that followed included the Bakwanjagung (Indonesian corn fritter), The Begedil (Malaysian fried potato patty) and the Karipap ( Curried puffs filled with green peas). While I haven’t sampled too much vegetarian fare during my travels, the non-vegetarian platter held a lot more interest, starting with the delicious Nam Prik Pao, a Thai styled prawn dish tossed in a chilli sauce, which was immaculately cooked. This was followed by the Ayam Percik, a Malaysian style grilled chicken with tamarind sambal. While the dish is a bit of a mess to look at (like most street food), the chicken was cooked perfectly (Am I the only one who feels that off late , restaurants over cook the chicken till it goes dry?). The platter also consisted of some delicious fish cakes that sang with the flavours of kaffir lime, crispy chicken wings in a Thai chilli-herb sauce, and some Vietnamese style ground beef. My recommendation would be to go for the prawn and the grilled chicken.
The team at Equinox have also tried their hand at some “Asian-inspired” cocktails. I rather enjoyed the Frozen Mango Margarita, a concoction of tequila, mango juice and Cointreau.
The special menu also features some super bowls that have various Asian style curries served with rice or noodles. From Lamb Redang to Kyat That Si Pyan (Myanmar style chicken) to Singapore’s Char KwaiTeow (flat noodles), the menu had an equal selection of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. My top two choices would go to the Tom Kho Danh, a Vietnamese prawn wok-tossed dish and the Kapampangan Chicken form Philippines.
While dessert doesn’t seem to feature on the menu, we were served some. ( Paaah! These bloggers I tell you!) I was rather overjoyed with this particular dessert that was a twist on the classic mango and sticky rice from Thailand. While a tad too sweet, the dish was an ideal end to the evening.
The festival began on the 16th of April and runs all the way till the end of the month. Dishes are priced between INR 425 to INR 695 based on the type of protein. While the joy of eating in the streets of a night market in Thailand, or in a hole in the wall café with local folks in Vietnam can’t quite be replicated elsewhere, the team at Equinox have pushed themselves to replicate flavours that do bring back fond memories of backpacking through Asia.