Chef Joe Thottungal of Coconut Lagoon has launched a downtown restaurant at L’Esplanade Laurier (136 O’Connor).
The 65-seat Thali, which opened Dec. 3, boasts an ever-changing menu of chef-inspired thalis featuring seasonal and local produce, paired with craft beers and Canadian wines.
Thali, for the record, is a popular lunchtime option throughout South and Southeast Asia and generally features six small tasting dishes served on a round platter. The dishes tempt the palate with a mixture of textures and flavours, including sweet, salt, bitter, sour, and spicy. Bring an appetite — the Thali lunch platter ($18) has eight little dishes, including a dessert (gulab jamun on our visit).
Thottungal is a wizard in the kitchen, having cemented his name in Ottawa after grabbing gold in the 2016 Gold Medal Plates competition before bagging a silver in the Canadian Culinary Championships held in early 2017. To make room for all his new fans, he renovated Coconut Lagoon in 2017 and added 45 seats.
Now, with Thali, he has an opportunity to expand his kitchen creativity with a very different menu and market: his daily thali menu promises to be subtle, spicy, and always surprising.
Hot Tip: Be sure to enjoy the design as well as the food. Inspiration for the decor came from the beautiful copper serving dishes Thali is typically served in. Project1 Studio, which helmed the Coconut Lagoon reno, created a clean and simple look, featuring subtle copper elements, including copper pendant lights throughout.
Hot Tip #2: Bring a few friends for lunch so you can share tastes from each other’s platters. While seven of the tasting dishes are the same, you choose your eighth — vegan, vegetarian, chicken, lamb, beef, or seafood.