Two More On The Ashok Menu

Updated: Dec 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
Delhi's Ashok Hotel is a busy place these days. Not one, but two restaurants have opened here in recent weeks, Sagar Ratna and China Town. No need to explain what kind of fare is on offer herethe names are self-explanatory!

After ITDCs Lodhi Hotel was sold off to a Singaporean company, Sagar Associates, the owner of the popular Sagar restaurant chain, which specialises in south Indian cuisine, has now moved to the Ashok, also owned by ITDC, in Chanakyapuri. In keeping with chains popularity, Sagar Ratna has been going full house ever since it opened on November 29.

Weve a Mughlai restaurant and a North-West Frontier cuisine restaurant here, but not a good south Indian one, explains Manjula Arun, public relations manager at the Ashok. We have been looking for a quality south Indian restaurant chain to house in our premises on a lease basis as we want to promote the cuisine particularly among our inhouse guests. Sagar Ratna, with its quality food and services, was a natural choice for the Ashok Hotel.

The good news is that Sagar Ratna prices its menu at three star rates. The prices dont exceed Rs 65 for any single dish, the family dosa being the sole exception. The bad news is that it has stuck to the regular idli-dosa-vada fare, leaving the rarer offerings quite out in the cold. But we have a Days Special Menu, which we change every day, says K S Bhat, partner, Sagar Associates. Though one or two special dishes feature in the Days Special Menu, they are not too exciting. And, yes, all the fare is strictly vegetarian.

Start your meal with a fresh fruit juice. I can recommend the grape juice (Rs 60). It is soothing in its mild sweetness. Do remember though that only seasonal fruits are available here.

Ready to move on Try a Kanjeevaram idli (Rs 60), stuffed with thinly grated vegetables. Its delicious with the accompanying Kurma, a ginger-rich spicy chutney!

I would also cast my vote in favour of the Dahi Vada (Rs 55). You can taste the finely ground lentils, and it melts in your mouth to let the yoghurt spurt through.

Want a more filling dish Try the Pesrat (Rs 65), a dosa made of moong dal and filled with sooji upma and onion, cooked richly in ghee. You couldnt ask for more.

The Badam Milk (Rs 60) is a hot favourite among Sagar Ratnas regulars. Try it and youll know why!

The 110-seater China Town is an endeavour of a couple of first generation entrepreneurs, Kalyan Singh Gambhir and Surinder Kumar Malik. What makes this restaurant a safe bet is the cuisine offered here by Chef Sarabjit Singh Ahluwalia.

Start with the Chefs recommendation of Prawn Salt N Pepper (Rs 675). Try it with Cold Noodles Sichuan Style (Rs 165). The cold sensation left by the hakka noodles is soon overcome by the hot ginger and red chillies. Together, theyre sensational. The Dry Chilli Chicken ((Rs 295) was also quite good when eaten with the cold noodles.

Vegetarians could try the Fried Vegetables Salt N Pepper (Rs 195), Golden Fried Baby Corn (Rs 275) or Lotus Stem Honey Chilly (Rs 195). The lotus stems, which were crisp fried and dipped in honey and red chilly, had a distinctive taste.

Moving on to the soups, try the Yu Chi Tang, shark fin soup (Rs 225), if you are a seafood aficionado. However, the chef recommends the ChinaTown Steam Boat (Rs 195), a spicy prawn lemon soup.

Among the main courses, the Butterfly Prawns With Hot Sesame Sauce (Rs 675) was simply delightful. It goes better with rice than noodles, but remember that it is a bit bland. The Sauteed Chicken Hong Kong Style (Rs 295), succulent diced chicken cooked with dry red chillies in ginger flavoured soya sauce, is another Cantonese delight you can try here.

Vegetarians, go in for the Crisp Spinach Pepper N Salt (Rs 195). There is also a Pakchoy With Black Mushrooms In Oyster Sauce (Rs 225), which was decent.