With nothing much to do on a Sunday other than displaying his fly swatting antics on the upholstery, the zoman threw a cursory glance at his damsel hoping for some sort of a reaction.
“I want to eat some nice veggie food” the damsel cooed, setting off on Sunday planning mode. While he was OK with the idea at first, what she said next almost mortified him. The damsel’s obsession with flat noodles and khow sueys was almost fanatical now, and she even went ahead to suggest that we make our “all veg” lunch Asian.
Like the Pavlovian dog, the zoman’s senses were conditioned to associate Asian food with a non-vegetarian spread and going for an all veg Asian meal was almost blasphemous. But sometimes, life is worth the risk and like in a game of poker, you end up rivering it when you least expect to win. Precisely what happened on our lunch date at the Asian Street Kitchen – ASK.
ASK is the new boy on the block, in the vicinity that houses many stellar old timers of Bombay’s restaurant scene.
Close to Thackers, Bachelorrs, and Amar Juice Centre, ASK is quite easy to spot.
Despite the relatively small size of the outlet, the place doesn’t feel crammed. That being said, you won’t find a lounge’s leg room here either.
I’m not a huge fan of outside seating spaces, especially with the humidity index completely off the charts at a sea-facing location. But turns out, I was somewhat wrong. While I won’t kill for reserving a spot here, I reckon it would be nice to have dinner sitting at ASK’s outside seating space.
I like some music to be playing over the cacophony of my own blather and ASK has a decent music setup that mixes soothing and popular tunes without sounding like an oriental chanting mix played on loop.
OK, the food did take a while to come to our table, but the servers were quite friendly and courteous. It’s a small setup and I like that the staff know what’s on the menu as well as what’s included in the various preparations.
My acid test in terms of the service, is to see how well the servers recommend menu fare to patrons and while all else was fine, my server completely nailed it with the Massaman curry and jasmine rice suggestion.
Anyone who plays poker knows this. There are those days, when every hand is a great hand and no matter how blindly you seem to be betting, the river does its job in turning up a flush for you. My F&B experience at ASK was kind of on the same lines.
The town is teeming with great eateries and I can safely say I’ve had a few experiences where every damn thing was excellent. ASK, is another name I’m adding to that list.
Clearly, this is a global favorite and naturally tops my awesome list too. But why I was keen to get a serving of this, was to see how the whole thing tasted without the fish sauce and the shrimp paste. I must say, I am pleased at the outcome.
The papaya and peanuts retained their bite despite the pounding and the salad was moist without becoming too saucy / watery.
I liked the flavour balance between the sweet, salty, and downright sour. Just about where a good som tam should sit.
An absolute must have, if you’re looking to begin the proceedings with some healthy stuff.
CLASSIC SPRING ROLLS
It’s good to give new things a shot every now and then, but sometimes you just want the plain old classics for a comforting belly up meal, where you know exactly how the taste will play out.
I quite liked the thin pastry casing of the spring rolls. The less doughy the spring roll, the better chance all the ingredients have at taking centre stage.
Fried to golden perfection, the spring rolls were just as my mom would make for us when we were kids.
THREE MUSHROOM DUMPLINGS
Now there’s a serious character flaw in me as a foodie. Throw them in a mush together and I can never distinguish between the flavours of mushroom varieties.
Ditto in this case. The dumplings were delectable and the heady aroma of mushrooms wafted out in a sexy stream as soon as I put a fork in one of the dumplings. But per usual, I couldn’t individually make out the flavours of the mushroom blend that had been used. But then again, the word “umami” was adopted by the English dictionary for such very situations.
Just a minor niggle, I could have done with a little more seasoning in the case of the dumplings and the chilli oil only accentuated this lacuna.
SIZZLING COTTAGE CHEESE IN GREEN GARLIC SAUCE
This order was a result of my lack of sentence comprehension. I was far too curious to see what a green garlic sauce was. Turns out, it wasn’t a sauce made with green garlic, but a green sauce with garlic added in it. Anyway, there’s hardly anything in the world that doesn’t taste better with a hearty dose of garlic, and with all the garlic that went into the sauce used for tossing the cottage cheese, there was no way this could have tasted sub-par.
Not my favourite dish from the ASK meal, but not a bad call in any way whatsoever.
Marry a flat noodle! If my damsel could, she certainly would. The Pad Thai is my damsel’s go to dish and her extremely sated smile told me all I needed to know about ASKs Pad Thai even before I dove in for a bite.
The Peanut and sweet chilli blend was perfectly done. Thankfully, I couldn’t feel much of the tamarind and the late hitting sweet chilli did a perfect job at slowly adding heat to my palette, making me reach for the glass of water, close to the very end of my meal.
Absolutely loved this!
MASSAMAN CURRY & JASMINE RICE
This beauty came across as a suggestion from the service staff and boy am I glad I took the advice. I’ve had massaman curry before though paired with a malay parota and something was always lacking. Turns out, I found the answer on my trip to ASK – Jasmine Rice.
The massaman is the closest that Thai gets to Malay and the spice blend on this curry is quite unique compared to what Thai people generically use. Which, incidentally makes it my favourite.
The curry was mildly spiced and paired with the Jasmine Rice, the aroma in every bite was like an exotic love affair. Besides, the rice gives a neutral canvas for the flavours in the curry to play on, rather than when paired with a parota.
I guess by now it is clear, this was my favourite pick from the ASK menu.
For all that’s on offer and considering that Asian fare is generally all fresh produce, ASK is quite the bang for its buck.
Eating out at any other place in the vicinity would probably cost you the same, if not more. And for that reason, I’ve absolutely no complains about the pricing at ASK.
For a 3 person meal, a 1.7k tab is quite a reasonable experience, especially for lunch time.
If good vegetarian food comes in such forms, I might not take insanely long to turn into an herbivore. That’s perhaps the highest compliment a serious carnivore can pay a vegetarian eatery.
In terms of the experience, another townie joint that floored me with great grub. I guess being a vegetarian isn’t that bad a deal after all!
So, will I be back and do I recommend this place to others. HELL YEAH!
AMBIANCE – 4.5 / 5
SERVICE – 4.5 / 5
FOOD – 5 / 5
PRICE – 4.5 / 5