Restaurant Week India: Zen, The Park

What : Restaurant Week India, Calcutta Chapter
When : On till September 20, Sunday.dealWho doesn’t fancy an evening of gourmet indulgence in a five star setting? The temptation is hard to resist, except for one deterring factor – it’s really expensive deal. Reflect on that and you think you’re bet

What : Restaurant Week India, Calcutta Chapter

When : On till September 20, Sunday.

Restaurant Week India: Zen, The Park

Who doesn’t fancy an evening of gourmet indulgence in a five star setting? The temptation is hard to resist, except for one deterring factor – it’s really expensive deal. Reflect on that and you think you’re better off ordering in some pizza for the night. However, when I tell you that you can enjoy a three course gourmet meal at some of the city’s best gourmet destinations, without burning a hole in your pocket, you better believe me.

It’s because Restaurant Week India is here. A concept introduced in New York way back in 1992, Restaurant Week aims at making ‘gourmet’ reasonable and affordable to more and more people while giving restaurants a chance to showcase their food and philosophy. So you can enjoy a three-course meal at a five star fine dining destination well within your means.

This week Calcutta is hosting the inaugural chapter of Restaurant Week India, which came to India in 2010. I was invited for a meal at one of the participating restaurants, Zen, at the Park Hotel Kolkata, by far one of the city’s best oriental cuisine destinations. (For details on other participating restaurants in the city, visit restaurantweekindia.com)

It was going to be a good evening. To start off with, I ordered for a classic Thai favourite, the Tom Yum Chicken Soup that arrived within minutes - piping hot, fragrant and delicious. The soup, packed with herbs, spices, vegetables and shreds of chicken, the degree of tang and heat just right, did wonders for my taste buds, numb from a nasty cold I have been nursing for a week.

The soup was followed by yet another Thai classic, Som Tam, a delicious Raw Papaya and Chicken salad. The crunchy papaya, tossed in sweet and tangy dressing with only a hint of heat, topped with crushed peanuts that gave it a nutty relief and chunks of moist grilled chicken with a beautifully caramelised crust, turned out to be the best dish of the evening. I couldn’t have enough of it.

After a brief struggle over the selection of the main course, the menu comprised absolutely tempting choices like Five Spice Tenderloin and Lamb with pickled chilli and oyster sauce, all served with plain steamed rice or burnt garlic noodles, I settled for the somewhat innocuous Burmese Fish Cake curry with some rice. I have had limited experience with Burmese food, and I was looking for something different. I could always come back for the tenderloin, I told myself.

The fish cakes, crusty and salty came in a thin, spicy soy-based sauce. The heat was refreshing and with some plain rice it made for a delicious course. At restaurant’s insistence, a kind gesture on their part I also sampled their Kung Pao chicken, also on the menu. To be honest I have a soft spot for Kung Pao chicken, and I have had this dish in almost every Oriental restaurant in town. Zen, slightly sweet version of this Schezuan classic was commendable.

My only regret that evening was that I had to pass on the desserts. I am off sugar for reasons I’d rather not get into, (it’s temporary of course) and it was a tiring battle I fought, with myself, to say no to Chocolate fudge cake with sesame ice cream, date crispellinis with vanilla ice cream and the delicious Thai Sang Kaya served with coconut ice cream.

The three course meal, you can pick your dishes from an extensive range of dishes, comes for Rs 900 sans taxes. And additional Rs 100 is charged if you order for the restaurant’s signature dishes included in the menu (clearly mentioned). The meal if available for dinenr only, book in advance for either an 8 PM slot, or a 10 PM slot. I say, this weekend, go and indulge in Oriental goodness.

Note. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore are also hosting the Restaurant Week right now.

For more details visit restaurantweekindia.com