Blue Ginger is probably one of the most romantic dining destinations in Bangalore. Set on an island surrounded by dense green foliage, gurgling streams, lotus ponds and frangipani trees, this outdoor restaurant serves up delectable Vietnamese delicacies in the warm, flickering glow of candle-lights and flaming torches.
Located in the 100-year old Taj West End, this delightful place offers delicacies from the North and Central regions of Vietnam. I had already decided to try one of their degustation menus. As I sipped on a Chilean red, I noticed the chic decor around me: large Vietnamese urns, silks, leather ottomans, and stone tables - all arranged around the open kitchen. Seeing me alone, my thoughtful waiter decided to do something about it: he placed a large goldfish bowl on my table, beaming widely. "Now you have a friend to share the evening with", he said.
He was back soon with platters of wafers and my soup. The prawns in a lemon-grass chilli lime soup was tangy, hot and refreshing in the cool night air of Bangalore. Pune has been unusually hot this summer, and the pleasant weather here was a welcome change. The soup was followed by an excellent Mango and Apple salad with poached shrimp, cashewnut and mint. Crunchy, tangy and even more exciting than Thai papaya salad which I also like.
Next came the starters, three of them on a plate in small portions. These were the highlights of my meal togight. The Scallops in Black Pepper, Garlic and Oyster Sauce was brimming with taste and the mix of textures on my palate was delightful. The Grilled Prawn in Lemon Grass and Chilly was milder but very good too. The Grilled Chicken with Cinnamon Marinade was very interesting and unusual.
The entrees began with the Sauteed Lobster in Salt, Pepper and Garlic. I was amazed by how fresh all the sea-food here was; they probably fly them fresh every day. The King Prawn in Tamarind Sauce was nice and tangy. The Honey-Glazed Lamb Shank in Chilly Oyster sauce was oh-so-yummy and succulent, the meat flavorful and falling off the bone easily. The Stir Fried Chicken with dill, dry chilli and turmeric was a more ordinary end to a great meal.
Soft noodle with seafood, an egg and crab-meat fried rice, and a stir-fried vegetable fried rice accompanied the entrees.
I finished off with a Chocolate and Coffee Mousse along with a platter of fruit cut in fancy shapes. Great experience, would be even better if I had some company (no offense intended to the pretty little goldfish!). Blue Ginger is an expensive place but one which can make those special occasions really come alive.
Blue Ginger is owned and run by the Tan family in Vietnam, known for their upscale Ho Chi Minh City restaurants. In addition to being home to Blue Ginger, the Taj West End is a wonderful hotel for a short stay. A British colonial exterior coupled with rooms in low-slung wings in the middle of lush green gardens gives this hotel a resort-likel ambiance and quietness in the middle of this bustling city.
My room had slatted windows, a quaint spiral staircase leading to the bedroom on the upper level with a sloping roof. With its interesting restaurants and rooms, this hotel could be a great weekend getaway.
--Related Posts --
Vietnamese Restaurants: Slanted Door, Bong Su
Posts from my Vietnam trip: Arriving, Moments, Cruise, Dinner.