5 Star, Chennai, Dessert, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Indonesian, North Indian, Street Food

From the street to the 5 star hotel

Street food is meant to be eaten on the street. No amount of five star intervention has traditionally added anything more to street food. If anything, it has only diluted it. Some say that the sweat plays a role in the flavour. I hope I never find out if that is true, though. Some say that the heat and the air play roles in the flavours of the street. Some say that it is all of the above and more put together.

Every once in a while though, street food gets a good variation. Not better or worse, but a good variation. The ongoing street food festival at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt hotel, is one such. While it is a part of their usual excellent buffet, there is enough from the street food counters that you could give the regular buffet (except dessert of course) a miss.

One of the tough foods to give a fancy make over is the vada pav and the pav bhaji. The chefs here gave the former a beautiful makeover and the latter a not so good one. The vada pav here with a nice potato patty was served with a fried chilly inside. With super soft buns and a nice tangy potato inside, this was a good makeover to the usually humble vada pav. The pav bhaji, though served with the same nice pav simply didn’t match the vada pav.  At the end of the first counter, scores were tied and it was Street Food 1, 5 star 1. The chilly not being super spicy helped!

Then came the variation. A keema vada pav. No, not keema pav, but a keema vada pav. Or should we call it a Shami pav? Unlike the keema pav which comes with keema instead of a bhaji, this was a mutton cutlet stuffed inside the buns and served with the chilly on the side. I stuffed the chilly inside the bun and burnt my tongue. I guess no two chillies are the same, since the first one was not hot and this one was burning every cell of my digestive system. The kebab inside though was beautifully flavoured and I took another piece and took my chance with another chilly. They were made for each other, this time. See? You only need to find the right chilly in your life! 😉

Then we came to the Laksa counter. An Indonesian Laksa, the pet food counter of the exec chef Teku. There was no blachaang in the laksa, but he was able to bring out beautiful flavours in Laksa without it. Yes, the coconut milk seemed a little thicker, but this was a richer laksa. No blachaang, so street food wins. SF: 2, 5S: 1. There was the momo stall next to the Laksa. Variations of momos, but the one that stood out was the pan fried momo. No street food momo (at least in South India) I believe can match the flavour of this pan fried momo that has Asian flavours and succulent meat inside the juicy flour! 5star made up and the score is now 2:2

It came down to dessert. There was only one sweet counter. That day, it was the banana pancake. It looked like it was straight out of the streets of Bangkok, but I wasn’t going to make any judgements till I ate one. We watched as a chef behind the counter carefully stretched out the dough and heated it in the tawa. He sliced bananas and added all the condiments. Once folded, he dressed it with various sauces and placed a dollop of ice cream and handed it to us. I took one without the ice cream. Yes, it was nice, yes, it was flavourful, but no, it didn’t match the banana pancakes you get in Thailand! So, it was street food 3, 5 star 2.

Dessert from their regular buffet was as excellent as usual and it complemented the meal well. While there were only four counters for street food (and the cuisine changes every day, so maybe some day there will be a Doner or a Wurst stall), but if you have two helpings from each stall, it can fill you up. There is always the rest of the buffet if you need more to fill you!

The festival is on till the end of May and is priced along with the buffet at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt. 

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