Lisa Ray’s Five Favourite Dishes
Lisa Ray has great taste. As the host of Top Chef Canada (Mondays, Food Network Canada), she knows just how much goes into a crowd-pleasing dish. Here, the stunning television personality fills us in on her most memorable meals.
Hello! Canada's Editor-In-Chief, Alison Eastwood, with Lisa Ray, at our Canada's Most Beautiful event (Lisa made the list!)
KESAR DA DHABA
While visiting Amritsar for work, a local suggested Kesar da Dhaba for a meal. Dhaba typically means roadside restaurant and often the best north Indian food is found in these stalls by the side of the highway. The restaurant is tucked into a winding, narrow lane behind the Golden Temple. We drove until the car simply could not continue, then walked a few hundred metres to the door. Inside, the restaurant feels like it hasn’t changed in a hundred years. Food is served thali-style and is vegetarian. I don’t know if it’s the ghee, or clarified butter, which is liberally used in the food or the fact that the menu has remained unchanged for decades, but I wanted to dive into the dhal. The parathas are crisp, hot and flakey. They were ideal for scooping up the flavourful palak paneer and aloo gobi. It was an instant affair for my taste buds.
AUBERGE DU SOLEIL
The first meal I had after my husband proposed was the three-course brunch on the patio of the Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley. I still remember easing in with a mimosa, and while I ordered the ahi tuna tartar, Jason ordered poached wild salmon with butter lettuce. I looked at him and realized we would have a stunning life together, eating our way across the globe. I clearly remember we both ordered the Maine lobster omelet and ate most of the meal with our eyes closed in quiet ecstasy and awe at the flavours and the view.
HAKKASAN HANWAY PLACE
The original Hakkasan Hanway Place in London is a complete revelation in Asian flavours. Peking duck with caviar is one of their signature dishes and I lusted for multiple orders (which, as a drama student, I couldn’t afford at the time). The Christian Liagre-designed interiors are so sexy that your experience is infused with a kind of Bond-esque Asian ambience.
Susur Lee is one of Canada’s most original chefs, and he runs his kitchen like an ashram. The flavours are always faultless and I remember ordering literally one of everything -- including the signature Singapore Slaw -- with a gaggle of girlfriends. Many of them were models who put their diet restrictions on hold for the uninhibited delight of throwing back Susur’s dishes.
Terminus Nord, the legedary brasserie just outside Gare du Nord in Paris provided my first experience of classic French brasserie cuisine. I remember watching in awe as the deceptively-simple plates of dover sole, steak and frites were ferried by well-dressed waiters. I had my first fruits de mer there, a towering seafood platter so fresh I tasted ocean. The choucroute was rustic in contrast to the overt sophistication of the joint. I chewed with my mouth open – a lot!