This Zen has nothing to do with the Mahayana school of buddhism.:) This Zen, is the pan-asian restaurant at the Leela Palace hotel, Bangalore.
A while ago, this ground floor restaurant was the chosen venue, to have an informal dinner with my team members after a loong day at work. We made our way directly to one of the Leela’s restaurants – Zen, as decided.
Overlooking the outdoor terrace and the hotel gardens, Zen is a thorough blend of space, symmetry, color and height. I remember reading somewhere that they had perfected the art of Japanese, Korean, Thai, Singaporean and Balinese cuisines, with their own twists. We decided to sit within the high ceilinged indoors and were amongst the first patrons when we arrived. We could choose where to sit and decided on a quiet corner.
The plan was to talk, unwind and generally shoot the breeze.
Chetan chose a melon drink and Manoj a guava mint lemonade as we settled in. The place is totally serene and the tables are adequately spaced out from each other giving you that valued privacy. We liked! It was already getting closer to eight PM so we decided to order. Regina decided to have a hot and sour soup, which when it arrived was declared as really good, while the rest of us decided to jump in directly into the main course. After going through the really interesting menu, we decided on getting a few dishes for the table and share. Kung pao chicken and Sweet and sour pork, Vegetable fried rice. Wok tossed black Angus and we decided to experiment with Fukien crab rice. (Fukien is a province in China – I later found out.)
Kung pao chicken is generally a spicy stir-fry dish made with chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers. This version had cashew nuts instead of peanuts and had less spice. Was delicious nonetheless! Sweet and sour pork may not appeal to the Indian taste buds that crave spices, but it was different and tasty. This is a perfectly good dish for western palates and I could taste the sweet pineapple along with the sliced green peppers and onion in the sauce. The wok tossed angus (beef) was bursting with oriental flavors which all of us liked. The rice dishes with the aroma of fresh ingredients were mouth watering. We were really enjoying ourselves with the food and the perfect service. The wait staff know their menu and were polite, friendly and prompt.
Once we finished the mains, the dessert menu’s were produced with a flourish. We saw, we deliberated and we ordered. We continued our talks where funny little incidents were shared while we waited for the desserts. Clearly all good things do indeed come to those who wait.
Their dessert portions are pretty big! Manoj and Chetan’s Yuzu crème brulee which had sake scented lychees and matcha icecream looked like a meal by itself. It was sublime! Yes I tasted it. How could I not! It looked so tempting! Regina’s Sao thome chocolate mousse with a pomegranate sorbet and kaffir lime cremeaux… “Awesome”, she said! 🙂 My Wasabi cheese cake was the last one to be served. I noticed it arrived, deconstructed. When I read the menu and saw it contained Valrhone white chocolate namelaka (creamy texture) and marinated wild berry compote, it sounded delectable. I am not much of a dessert person but when I saw the wasabi in there I just had to have it. Having tasted it I know now that wasabi in a dessert is not as great as I thought. For me at least. Interesting though! Their desserts are a lot of fun to look at and also to taste.
It really was one of the most pleasant dinners I’ve had in a while.
Note: “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” is a book by Robert M. Pirsig. I’ve just borrowed the title and added my own twist to it as this blog post title. 🙂