When Uday Suites, the Airport Hotel at Shankumugham in Trivandrum, relaunched the a la carte menu of their Southern Express multi-cuisine restaurant after three years, it was an occasion to celebrate their culinary delights. I was part of a select few who were invited to taste some of their signature dishes.
After the welcome drink, Dhanesh Thampi, the Operations Manager briefed us. “It was Raja Gopaal Iyer, the UDS Group CEO’s idea to completely revamp the offerings at Southern Express. He inspired us to do something different and so we have replaced almost all items on the menu. Our aim is to create a visibility in the Trivandrum market rather than just catering to the in-house guests.”
Explaining the methodology behind the change, Faisal Basheer, Executive Chef said, “We went through our database of orders for the last three years to identify dishes which were liked by our customers. We have kept about 25% of the most ordered items including the Seafood platter and replaced everything else. The new menu is a mix of traditional and fusion cuisines, both Indian and International. We would be taking feedback from our guests about the new menu for the next three months and then make changes accordingly.”
We started the tasting session with the customary soup. It was the Italian Broccoli Almond Cappuccino (florets of broccoli cooked in cream and almonds) with a slice of toasted bread. It was rich, smooth and creamy with shreds of almonds and broccoli. I almost burnt my mouth trying to sip the frothy soup.
For starters, we had Travancore spicy Chicken satay which was spicy chicken breast squared and grilled with Chef’s special masala. It tasted like sheek kebab. We went into the next course with the Wild Mushroom Fricassee from the Western Food section. It was squire puff pastry filled with wild mushroom, bell pepper and olive with rich creamy gravy. I liked the puff which was buttery and crispy. From the Pan Asian Pot, we had Prawns in Chilly Coriander. These were medium prawns mildly cooked with garlic and chilly, flavoured with coriander leaves. Next was Broccoli & Shitake Mushroom in Honey Ginger sauce, a Thai vegetarian delicacy with broccoli florets and dried shitake mushrooms. The honey gave the dish sweetness.
We started the main course with Fish Tikka Pahadiwali, a novel dish which was Tandoori Fish Tikka cooked with creamy spinach gravy and a melange of coloured bell pepper. It was the surprise dish of the evening, very innovative indeed and reminded me of palak paneer. The Kashmiri style young chicken delicacy rich with saffron petal and cream – Kashmiri Murg Kesar Korma was really rich and creamy, and I enjoyed this with a fluffy appam, a perfect blend of Kashmiri and Travancore cuisine. I also had few spoonfuls of the aromatic Kashmiri Pulav along with Meen Ghee Roast, king fish chunks deep fried, tossed in Chef’s special masala and seasoned with ghee. We ended this section with some absolutely irresistible Rogan Josh though it was a bit salty for my taste.
English Apple Pie, Blueberry Cheese Cake, Walnut Cowboy Brownie and Orange flavoured Carmel Custard made up the desserts, each one of them par excellence.
It was an evening well spent in the company of few food connoisseurs. The whole experience was definitely beyond my expectations with a few surprises thrown in. I am going back soon to check out their buffet priced at just Rs. 499/-.
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