The Sheraton Bangalore at Brigade Gateway is back with a food festival after a break of a few months. This time, the spotlight’s on Korea, with Chefs Sun Wan Kim and Dae Jin Kim (from Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel, Seoul) on hand to dish out delicacies galore. Korean food requires plenty of preparation and multifarious components, and thus it is that not one, but two chefs have been flown to Bangalore to preside at the festival. If you have eaten and enjoyed Korean food, or if you are curious about the cuisine, you must get over to Feast, where the special menu will be available as part of the extensive buffet, for both lunch and dinner. As always, there will be different dishes (including salads, mains and desserts) that will be rotated over the course of the festival, and featured at the live counters.
Korean food is distinct in flavor and spicing and is not rich or overbearing, but delicate, featuring varied ingredients. One thing that often pops into people’s minds at the mention of Korean cuisine is… barbeque; but there’s a whole lot more to Korean food than just grilled meats. Kimchee (a marinated cabbage salad/pickle) is a ubiquitous Korean side dish, and we witnessed the chefs make the dish in front of us! We learned that one does not consume it freshly made, but rather, it has to cure and ferment for at least a week to let those yummy flavors develop to their full potential. This did not mean we did not eat the dish; just not the bowl that was prepared in front of us. We were also given a demo of a sweet potato noodle dish called Chapchae, (I heart sweet potatoes, and love when it’s used for something unexpected, like with fries, so was super excited to see them in noodle form) which tasted and smelled divine, with the addition of sesame oil and crunchy veggies.
On arrival, we were offered a welcome drink that was a watermelon, musk melon and ginger ale shot, served with a scoop of each kind of melon ball in it…very refreshing! I also had a watermelon, vodka and lemon drink, with mint, and instead of watermelon juice, I loved that the bartender used diced melon. Along with fans and wall hangings, the décor also featured really cool wooden masks, that represent a 500 year old tradition of Korean culture; being a mask collector, I quite wanted to swipe one for my home! Kudos to the Sheraton for our beautifully printed menus which helped us anticipate our next course, for once the demo was over, we enjoyed a 4 course, sit down meal.
We started off with salads – Origui yachae cho jabchae aka duck vegetable salad that had crisp greens, succulent duck and sesame seeds, and Haesamul jatjubmuchin – seafood (squid, shrimp, scallops) salad with wasabi. The seafood was beautiful, but the wasabi taste was MIA. It was a very light and creamy dressing and I did like it, but having read wasabi, the expectation of that kick was not met. We also ate a Korean version of dim sum called Yachae samsaek milsam – three color pancakes wrapped vegetables that were little morsels of goodness. Next up was a pumpkin soup, Danhobak juk, which was thick like a gruel, and had an unexpected and completely wonderful blob of red bean paste in the centre. Now I am a huge fan of both pumpkin soup and red bean paste, so it was with great sadness that I found myself staring at an empty bowl in a matter of minutes.
The main courses we were served were Gung Jung maeun dakjim – braised vegetable and chicken with soy sauce that had darling little potatoes, mushrooms and cubed chicken in a delicate sauce that I could have gone on eating forever. The Modum haemuljeon – seafood pancakes with a garlic soy sauce, was another light dish, followed by Bibimbap (Korean vegetable rice; has a cult following in Korea) that was served to us in a bowl, with each ingredient (sticky rice, mushrooms, sprouts, two kinds of greens) nestling separately, until we made a big ol’ mess of it after being directed to dump in a little dish of chilli plum sauce and what a delectable mix that was! Next up were the Chapchae noodles which tasted as good as they’d smelt! For dessert, we were presented with Yaksik (sweet rice ball) and Siknye (rice drink) that eaten separately were blah, but put together could not but remind one of sweet Pongal, something I don’t like. So I for one, would have much preferred a red bean or sweet rice concoction.
You will come across dishes like stir-fried mushrooms, grilled vegetables, steamed prawn with veggies and nuts, various types of noodle and fried or sticky rice preparations, rice/pumpkin/sesame and ginseng porridge, a variety of chicken and seafood dishes, and even lamb bulgogi or pork ribs (they can’t ignore the barbeque aspect, now can they?!) and should you somehow find yourself still hungry, the length, breadth and depth of the Feast buffet will surely cure that! The festival began last Friday, the 15th, and runs through the 24th of March.
Ed: You can thank Ruth Dsouza for all the yummy pictures. Thank you Ruth!