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The quality of the cuisine is hotting up in the kingdom and 2018 looks like becoming the year of the flambé (French for ‘flamed’ or ‘flaming’) with presentational flair as the order of the day.
Only last week a culinary torch was used to produce a crust on a glorious crème brûlée at an Indian restaurant and this week a Polynesian paradise pulled off the party trick by the pool.
The technique is primarily executed for dramatic tableside presentation and brave food & beverage manager Bharathi Perumal, known as Barty to his friends, was on hand to perform the honours at Elite Crystal Hotel’s Waikiki Kitchen.
The aim, apart from the fun of the exercise, is to leave behind a subtle, sweet flavour without reducing the food to a cinder. Barty has clearly perfected the art when it comes to putting the finishing touches to Chef Mohan’s mighty prawns lovingly layered in a secret recipe spread of mighty buttery mustard.
Whether there is a change in flavour as a result of flambéing is unclear. Some claim that because the flame is above the food and since hot gases rise, it cannot significantly affect the flavour. Indeed, experimental work shows that most people cannot tell the difference.
That said, in an informal taste test conducted by one restaurant reviewer of two batches of caramelised apples (one flambéed and one simmered), one tester declared the ‘flambéed dish was for adults, the other for kids’.
I’d go along with that but readers can judge for themselves tonight and every Wednesday when this delightful dining out destination in Juffair delivers its Flaming Seafood Platter at just BD6++.
Chef Mohan, a native of Nepal, is one of my favourite chefs on the island who was introduced to the flavours of the South Sea during his 17-year culinary journey, and once presented me with the finest crab salad I have ever tasted.
His platter is cooked to perfection and apart of his star turn jumbo prawns, he delivers heavenly hammour, calamari and two varieties of marvellous mussels in the mix with small jacket potatoes and a tray of accompanying vegetables which were cooked to perfection.
Although I enjoy the South Sea Islands-inspired surrounds of the quaint restaurant, the pleasant weather made choosing a shaded cabana close to the pool the perfect place to dine with the good lady wife Kathryn and some friends.
The surrounding tall buildings offer a buffer to the wind and in the hot summer they even boast a clever air-conditioning chill for comfort if needed. Other nice touches included a beautiful basket of real flowers which added to the ambiance.
On the evening we visited an impressive guitarist/vocalist called Richardo was entertaining folk from the poolside stage. He played a superb version of Santana’s classic Black Magic Woman, which had us salivating in between courses for the real McCoy who will be headlining the Formula One party at Sikhir next month.
The big screen flickered on the water as Barcelona performed their magic on the pitch … what a perfect evening, marvellous live music, footy and fabulous fare!
The service was swift and friendly thanks to our waiter Ronnie.
Chef Mohan was not going to let me escape without tasting some of his other house specialities which included some cheeky little fried cheese balls, a superb salmon dish with smooth mashed potatoes, followed by the juiciest, chunkiest scallops possible. For those with a sweet tooth, a tray of bite-size chocolate treats was also presented.
Barty the party man has lots of other tricks up his sleeve for this special venue which includes a ‘Wings Is Back’ promotion every Thursday - apparently Waikiki Kitchen used to dish up unlimited Buffalo wings in the past, and regulars have demanded its return. For the uninitiated this is a hot favourite US cuisine featuring deep-fried chicken, coated in a cayenne pepper hot sauce and melted butter prior to serving.
Every Friday a Pool Party is also staged with a buffet and selected beverages included in the price.
Find out more by calling 17360390 to make a reservation.