Of flying naans and the Flying Elephant

When a star hotel celebrates its 4th anniversary, you know food is in some way involved. The Flying Elephant, Park Hyatt Chennai has celebrated this milestone by revamping the menu as well as introducing an Asian dining section in the multi-tiered restaurant.

Table setting at the Italian section

An invitation to sample elements of the new menu just could not be passed up! Plenty of Asian-inspired food, new techniques in its Western fare and some twist to the Indian section. Oh man - this was looking quite interesting!

Singapore slaw salad

Executive sous chef Balaji explained the menu and we started with the table-side salad service. Like yusheng, the raw salad that's served on the eve of Chinese New Year, the veggies of the Singapore slaw salad were artfully arranged as a cone of crisp vermicelli, shredded carrot, cabbage and taro root. Unlike its Chinese counterpart where the diners do the tossing, here it was transferred into a salad bowl, mixed with a tangy apricot dressing and topped with toasted sesame seeds, fried shallots and crushed peanuts before being served. And it was delicious - crunchy, filled with the fuzzy warmth of ginger and the tang from the apricot dressing. Altogether a mighty yummy salad.

Charcoal cooked  tandoori watermelon

Tandoori tarbooza was definitely messing with my head. The portable brazier held sizzling pink cubes. They smelt like tandoori chicken and looked like them but they were cubes of marinated and grilled watermelon. Warm and spicy but the sweetness and juiciness of the melon helped the cool the fire on my tongue. 

Tandoori tarbooza

Wok-fried chicken in Nonya chilli sauce

Pork & prawn shumai

Wok fried chicken in Nonya chilli sauce had chunks of fried chicken in a sauce made of dried prawn, chili and kaffir lime leaf. It was delicious and spicy though the chicken was bland. I did wish there was steamed rice as accompaniment. However, the steamed pork and prawn shumai, topped with crunchy roe lacked for nothing, they were delicately flavoured and a delight to bite into.

Brazino in crosta di sale e erbe

The sea bass, baked in a salt shell and sliced open at the table revealed a beautifully moist fillet of the fish. Cooked to perfection, the fish was tender and paired well with the wilted spinach and crisp potato cubes tossed in parsley, a beautiful play of textures. It did not need any seasoning as the tiniest bit of salt was still discernible on the fish.

Ossobuco di agnello alla Milanese

Sitting in the Italian section of the restaurant, it would have been strange not to taste something from the region and the lamb shank ossobuco with saffron risotto fitted the bill perfectly. The meat, cooked for 7 hours, was just about ready to fall away from the bone by the time it reached the table while the sprinkle of gremolata brightened up both risotto and the meat.

Wok-fried silken tofu with chilli sauce

When a chef is inspired, there's no end to his creativity. The flying naan is the result of one such thought process. Naan dough is shaped into Turkish-style pide, smeared with harissa, a Punjabi onion kulcha topping and cheese before being popped into the oven to bake. It's brushed with butter when it comes out and sliced into triangles. What a fabulous fusion!

Making a flying naan 

The naan was served with Zaitooni khumb achari - an olive and mushroom gravy. A delicious pairing and the olives were actually pleasant to munch on. And that naan - perfect on its own too!

Flying naan with pickled olive and mushroom gravy

Chocolate & peanut butter brownie on a skillet

The first dessert was warm chocolate, almond and peanut butter brownie which was served with a scoop of peanut butter ice cream. The brownie, baked in a baby skillet was so deliciously fudgy. The toasted peanuts only added to the deliciousness of it all. Yum!!

Dessert No. 2 was a caramelised banana cake with soft serve ice cream. It came with a bit of theatre and my two dinner companions did enjoy it.

A meal for 2 at The Flying Elephant would be around 3500/-.  


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