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Wok On!! Delish trails from Saigon to Laos

Posted July 6th, 2018, 10:28 AM IST

Wok On!! Delish trails from Saigon to Laos

They came. They served. They conquered in their earlier stint with Asia in a Box. Then Gautam Krishnankutty, chef and founder of Cafe Thulps across the city, decided to give the city meaty manna with his new smoked wonder — The Smoke Co. That done, Gautam was not one to sit idle. So he went back to his chopping board and decided to give his most loved Pan Asian a shot in the arm, deciding to re-open Asia in a Box again across the city at three Café Thulps and as a home delivery. Yay! Good Asian fare at affordable rates that comes spiffily packed in a box with some interesting taste trails. The whole romance of chopstick-eating from a box is kinda comforting, and with Krishnankutty’s touch, an affordable meal of inherent South East Asian!

Gautam Krishnankutty and Padma Kumar, executive directors at Thulp Foods Pvt Ltd has initially started with AIAB. While the home delivery has been operational only at the Café Thulp in their Kamannahalli outlet, and for regular diners, this new kart of Asian is back in a new and ingredient-bursting avatar for all to chomp on. With a brand new menu that has over 90 percent new dishes, it has resplendent anecdotes of Gautam’s footsteps across Asian countries.

The travelling chef who always brings back inspired ideas, has been a constant street food seeker across South East Asia, where he travelled to Malaysian street corners and unearthed the Ikan Bilis - salted anchovies and peanuts in chilli. He turned to Vietnam, and added the Vietnamese Pork Pate and Banh Mi after spending a memorable sojourn in the historical cities of Saigon and Hanoi. And no menu can be complete without a mean Beef Rendang too. “There is so much from my travels in terms of new ingredients, so we got rid of the earlier menu and added new dishes, like the plantain, dry fish etc… to explore unique fare instead of the usual. For instance, the Green Banana Salad is more Indonesian, but is found in Thailand’s Chiang Mai too. We have a Beef Broth Pho, which I learned from a street vendor in Saigon,” says Gautam.

We started with a Papaya Salad, crunch-induced with a lemony punch, chilli hits and a drizzle of peanuts and beans to chomp on. Beautiful. Light and flavourful. We then went to the Lao special and it was as if we were on a street in Laos where the friendly Laotian lady with a wide straw hat served from her cycle cart, dropping fatty pork sausages on lettuce with slivers of chillies, garlic and ginger, and we sprinkled that deadly spicey chilli vinegar and burnt chilli with some honeyed sweet chilli sauce.

Street food yays! The pork satay was fatty, but good with a peanut and chilli sauce for extra flavour. Even the crispy plantain saw us being drizzle-happy with all the sauces wow. An interesting dish, especially for vegetarians who are a tad tired of the same ole routine… crispy balls of plantain mash. We dunked sweet chilly sauce, with its welcome punch on our slurping tastebuds – crusty and delicious.

The vegetable spring roll or The Poh pia could have a thinner wrap, and those sauces, they should be bottled and sold! Try the chilli vinegar one, it seems freshly ground. We also had the Beef Rendang, which is Gautam’s favourite. A beef cooked over seven hours in a spicy thick masala, it was average, we were expecting a more gravied coconut base to it.

The stir fried potato is a must must have. It came in a creamy subtle coconut gravy with large chunks of mushroom and coconut and went beautifully with the steamed rice and Pad see ew veg, a musroom, broccoli and a flurry of veggies in which we drizzled peanuts and chomped happily. It was simple and good though the flat noodles were overdone … We had the Nasi Goreng next which we loved as it was simple and not teamed with too much paraphernalia… it was perfect.

The bahn mi is made in house and so are the pork sausages and smoked meats thanks to Gautam’s meat expertise! Available in Grilled Beef and Chicken, Sliced Pork, Spicy Pork Sausage and a Spicy Char Siu Tofu, must must try this Vietnamese bread inspired by the French occupation!

We spotted the Radish Cakes, steamed and crispy fried topped off with a delectable tamarind chilli sauce and basil. There is an Orange Chicken, crispy chicken with basil, soy sauce fried garlic and chilli that is interesting and so is the Vietnamese Pork Pate. There are some very delectable salads on this new menu like the Eggplant and Tomato Salad or the classic Laarb, in chicken, beef, pork and soy nuggets. From Watermelon Ring, Chinese Cabbage, plantain, we liked the newness of ingredients.

“Asia in a Box has always been about affordability and while there are many places that are high end, here is a space where we serve wholesome fare… and even among home deliveries there are very few that have authentic options that are priced well,” explains Gautam who is already thinking of a new place, a Vietnamese barbeque space for grilled meat. We can’t wait!

Dakshin at the ITC Windsor, 25, Golf Course Rd, Abshot Layout, Windsor Square, Bengaluru - 560052
Meals per person: Saivam - Rs 1650+ taxes
Asaivam - Rs 1950 + taxes
Matsyam - Rs 2150 +taxes
Sampoornam (veg)- Rs 2150 + taxes
Sampoornam ( - Rs 2750 + taxes
Call: 080 2226 9898