On Invitation

Sublime Singapore - Oko, Lalit Ashok

Monday, February 04, 2013Me! In words

We normally do not step out for dinner on Sunday night. There is this nagging feeling that Monday is around the corner, school night and all that blah. But then when you get invited for a Sublime Singapore experience at Oko in Lalit Ashok, you make that exception and plunge in head first. The idea here for Chef Sanjeev Kumar, who has spent 17 years in various Asian countries amassing his experience, was to bring to the restaurant the hawker style food experience that is so well woven into the Singaporean life. The food is an influence of Malaysian, Indonesian, Indian and other migratory cultures, with each hawker having his own distinct style.

At the Sublime Singapore Festival, which began on February 1st and will go on till the 10th, you will find different stalls set up under white tents with those characteristic red oriental circular lampshades. Make sure you take a walk around all of the stalls which are placed on either side of the restaurant's main entrance. Only when you have seen it all, should you decide on how you would like your meal to proceed. Here is how our's went. 

We were served a Kiwi Fizz mocktail as the welcome drink. A very nice drink with a subtle taste of kiwi. We began our meal from the rojak counter where salads are tossed live any which way you like it. We had to have the som tam here and asked for it to come to the table. It was fresh, possibly could do with a little more punch, but woke the mouth up enough for what was to come next. 

The Rojak Counter

Next came the steam boat section. Traditionally steam boats are placed on your table and you drop in the ingredients of your choice, scoop, eat and scoot. The concept is more communal dining in nature. But of course for the Indian customer this has been changed a bit. The counter has two steam boats going, with vegetarian and non-vegetarian stocks. You choose your ingredients and the chef will have a steaming bowl delivered to your table. We went in for a crab cake and pork soup (hehehe, I told you, you could mix whatever ingredients you liked) and gave the chef a free hand with the veggies. The stock was really flavorful and that made the soup in itself. Our ingredients just gave it some really good body.

Pork and crab cake soup

Prawn and tofu soup

Next in line were dimsums and honestly this is something that you can go on eating forever. Chef Sanjiv told us of how the dimsum is usually never served past 5PM, but in India, things have been altered a bit to make them heavy appetisers. 

We were served a range of dimsums - vegetarian, chicken, prawn. Along with these were offerings from the Satay counter like Anoushka's favorite chicken-on-a-stick (satay), tofu and prawn. Each of the marinations were light allowing for the flavor of the core ingredient to come out. I could have made a meal out of only the dimsums. The veggie dimsum in particular gave me this slight hint of wasabi (or was it mustard). Whatever it was, it gave those veggies a wallop of great taste. 

Top to Bottom - Veg dimsum, chicken dimsum, Chicken satay, tofu satay and prawn satay

The curry counter is where the mains are at and I was saving space for all the good stuff - top on my list was the lamb rendang, Hainanese chicken rice, roti jala and roti canai. There was also the chilli crab, an item you just cannot leave out on the Singaporean hawker food scene. Roti jala (a reference to its net-like texture) is made from a batter of coconut milk and rice flour and is spread on the griddle with a perforated can. It looks almost like a dosa and tastes very coconutty. It goes brilliantly well with the lamb rendang which was thick and spicy to boot. The chilli crab had me wishing I was back home so I could roll up my sleeves and get all down and dirty with it. But I behaved and used just the tips of my fingers to pry out some surprisingly plumpy crab meat. The Hainanese chicken rice was moist and the elaborate cooking process was evident in the flavor. I wish I had pictures to share, but the lighting played spoilsport. My explanations, I hope works good enough.

The roti jala being made

Satay on coal fire

I headed on to the Mongolian stir fry section while Sudhakar went on to the Wok station. I wanted seafood and went with the chef's suggestion of clams (without anything else he said or it would mask the flavor of the clams). I was good to go on garlic, chilli flakes, a few more chillis for good luck and peanuts. With my nod of approval, chef clanked away on his grill and 6 minutes later I had my steaming plate of clam stir fried rice. The kitchen would not have much problem cleaning that plate up. 

My rice (basmati used here) on the left, with my clams and spice cooking away under the cloche

My choice of veggies

Finished with soy and oyster sauce and onto my plate

The wok station too gives you a great choice and you will see the chef toss up quite a storm and a few high flames as well. Sudhakar had the rice vermicelli noodles with chicken and veggies. Nice!

This was a vegetarian portion of noodles

Sudhakar's Wok fried noodles and chicken

And after all this, we still headed down to the dessert station (any reason you thought we wouldn't?). There were several of the exotic desserts that you usually see at such counters, but we had our eyes set of three of them - the oriental pancakes stuffed with coconut shavings, the coconut steamed cake with a touch of pandan leaf juice and another version of the cake, more of strong steamed coconut pudding with a layer soaked in pandan juice. All three were heavy no doubt, coconutty but not overly sweet and a perfect ending to a great meal. 

The steamed coconut cake in the leaf, the coconut pudding with a
pandan juice soaked layer and the oriental  pancake. 

What I loved about the festival is the variety of ways in which you could put your meal together. Vegetarians have as good a choice as the carnivores. Sublime Singapore is on between February 1st to February 10th for dinner. It is priced at Rs 1495 + taxes per head. This is not inclusive of alcohol. The festival is on at the hotel's restaurant Oko. 

You Might Also Like


Contact Form