First let me give some information about the Spice Route to people who don’t know about it.
The Spice Route restaurant is located inside the Imperial Hotel, and has been constantly named in the World’s Top 10 restaurants.
For all the changes that the restaurant has seen the one person who has been through all the changes is the Chef Veena Arora the person who was working for the Imperial Hotel when the restaurant was conceptualized.
Chef Veena Arora is one the leading chefs in India who have been at the top level for such a long time and still has not lost the touch for innovating with dishes, this is the reason that today The Spice Route is amongst the best Thai and Oriental Food Restaurants in our country.
Here’s small brief profile of her- Awarded as the Best Lady Chef by Ministry of Tourism in India for my Outstanding Achievement and Contribution to the Promotion of Tourism in the Country, she was presented with this dream award by none other than the former President of India Ms.Pratibha Patel. She joined Holiday Inn (Now The Lalit) at Babar Road near Connaught Place, New Delhi as a Thai Food consultant during the year 1994 for their Thai Restaurant, SILK ORCHID. Thereafter she was sent to England for a couple of months by the management to train for their new restaurant, “Blue Elephant” to be opened in place of Silk Orchid in the year 1996. After the Blue Elephant was opened, she left the organisation to join HOTEL IMPERIAL as their Consultant Chef for the yet to be opened SPICE ROUTE – The South Asian Restaurant, in the year `1996. Ever since then she has been attached to the Spice Route Kitchen at Hotel Imperial as their Chef De Cuisine creating various Menus for different seasons and occasions all round the year. she has also continue to create different versions of the cuisine for the Neo-Thai food lovers owing to the ever increasing popularity of the cuisine.
They change approximately 30-40% of their menu when they switch from summer to winter and vica-versa, while retaining their main selling dishes.
I got the chance to taste their winter seafood collection with my highly esteemed colleague Ashmit Gautam who not only gave me his inputs but also took the photographs, first let me clear this thing; I had never tasted any of the seafood before in any type of dishes so this was as you can say my first time trying such dishes, and let me tell you I was not disappointed.
First of all the place was amazing with amazing murals and an amazing story that accompanies the place which you should go and experience for yourself and the place took more than 7 years to build and every section was paid attention to the detail. The restaurant was a stunner.
The dishes were made with so much thought and were prepared so well that I guess that if I ever have to eat seafood again it has to be at the spice route.
Now coming to the dishes that they have introduced for their winter collection, I’ll start with the appetizers first and then the other dishes and if you are looking for the final verdict just scroll to the bottom.
1) THORD MUN PLA
-Thai fish cake served with sweet chili dip and cucumber
2) FISH IN BANANA LEAF PARCEL
Vietnamese style steamed fish flavored with lemon grass, chilies
and pounded glutinous rice served in banana leaf parcel.
These two were amazing, soft and tasty and adding the sauces to them they were filling and the name of the 2nd appetizers suggest they looked so neatly done and the thing I can say is you have to try them for yourself.
Now, the season is never complete without having soups every other day providing warmth that provides a wonderful feeling, and if you are someone who likes soup as much as I do then you have to try Meen Rassam.
3) MEEN RASSAM -Mixed seafood rassam, tempered with Kerala spices its delicious and again soup between food is the best thing that there is to be, it was spicy and delicious.
Now moving on to main course, I had the honor of tasting 5 dishes of which all of them had such varied style and flavor that I did not have to take the 2nd spoon before the taste spread and you are wanting to try it again.
1) YERA MELLAGU
Prawn stir fried with Kerala spices.
It is as delicious as it looks in the photo, lip smacking and extremely well mixed with the spices.
Crispy fillet of sole served with phananeng sauce.
You can even try it without the sauce and it would still be taste nice, a really nice dish, crisp and soft inside, the phananeng sauce just enhances the senses and the taste buds.
3)KHAO PHAD THALAY
Stir-fried rice with prawn and egg in Thai soy sauce, I had never eaten prawns before so now I am only willing to eat it from this place, that should tell you how good it was.
Vermicelli rice noodles stir-fried with prawns and Thai Sri-racha sauce.
These rice noodles were a bit like hard, and when you started eating them you could feel the chili and sweetness at the same time, it was one the dishes that could have been eaten alone and did not need anything.
(Prawns served in Kerala Green curry)
From what I know prawns are not easy to cook and would leave a bad taste if not done properly but Chef Veena has worked her magic from inputs from my colleague who had eaten them before it was by far the best he had eaten.
The dishes now can be either discussed alone or they can be tried in a combination whatever might please you.
When I tasted them they were again done exquisitely and each one of them were made with great thought and immense care.
Khao Phad Thalay- Now we Indian have rarely eaten rice without anything to add on to it so, I tried it both Phanaeng Pla and Nilgiri Yera and both of them complement the food equally well.
It brings me to the part where every meal is ended by the ever so lovable Ice-Cream, and guess what they have done with flavors, its called
ICE CREAM TAUHU
Silky bean curd ice cream with the Choice of 4 flavors and we were served with an enormous scoop of each of the 4 flavors.
- Green Tea (yes Green tea !)- It was thick ice-cream and yes it looked green and was way more wonderful than the liquid form that I had been previously acquainted with.
Discussing here only green tea because, I was quite surprised on it turning out so good.
And if the green tea could turn out so well I really don’t think there is any doubt left on how good were the rest of the flavors were.
- Corn and Vanilla
There were a couple of more dishes that were present inside the main course but we could not cover like Phad Phirk Pla Merk.
I still can’t get enough of the food, it was amazing, it was delicious, it was made with such excellent care and thought that it was simply lip smacking and now as I start to run out of the syllables I suggest that go there while you still can before the summer kicks in and the menu changes and or else you’ll have to wait a few more months before the winter s kick in and menu makes a comeback.
The Spice Route Imperial hotel ( South East Asian Restaurant)
15th November 2014- 31stJanuary 2015
Timings: Lunch- 12:30pm to 2:45pm and Dinner- 7:00pm to 11:45pm
Food for 2 would cost-8000 rupees excluding alcohol