Saturday, July 30, 2011

Exceptional Chinese Fare

The China Kitchen DelhiChina House and The China Kitchen: two outstanding Chinese restaurants, the former in Mumbai and the later in New Delhi. Both restaurants considered among the top Chinese restaurants in these two metros. While I have visited China House before, it was only recently that I tasted the goodness of The China Kitchen. Like always, I tried a few different things and came away happier for the experience.

The menu of China House is dominated by Sichuan dishes. The southwestern province of Sichuan is known for its bold and pungent flavors. These dishes with their liberal use of garlic and chili peppers are particularly loved by the Indian palate. The restaurant also specializes in popular China delicacies such as Peking Duck, Beggar's Chicken and Dan-dan noodles. But what impresses most is the elaborately designed interiors. Multiple cooking stations, semi-private booths and corridors lined with spices and cookware make for a very interesting dining experience here.

Xin Jiang pancakes with minced lamb at China House MumbaiOn this day, I decided to start with the Xin Jiang pancake stuffed with sauteed lamb, dried chilli and cumin. The dish turned out to be a fairly authentic rendition of the Indian kheema paratha! Having read Amitav Ghosh's River of Smoke recently with its detailed description of trade and intermingling of Indian and Chinese people and traditions during the early 19th century in the lead up to the Opium Wars, I am inclined to think there is a story in this somewhere.

Prawns with red peppers and wood fungus at China House MumbaiFor my entree, I picked a prawn dish that was rendered with red, fat and squat red peppers and wood fungus. I also ordered an interesting variation of fried rice with slivers of roast duck, shrimp and spring onion. Loved it!

Fried Rice with duck and shrimp at China House MumbaiFinally, some Jasmine 'tea'ramisu with orange vanilla ice-cream to round out another winning meal at this wonderful place.

Jasmine tea-ramisu at China House MumbaiI walked out through the throngs of Mumbai's beautiful people crowding the lobby area - there was a jewellery show at the hotel tonight that had brought Bollywood stars and celebrities here.

The China Kitchen Delhi
Mint soda at The China KitchenThe China Kitchen at the Hyatt Regency in New Delhi is located at the lower level opposite the swimming pool. It was lunch time but I was early and the restaurant was not very full yet. I took in the show kitchen and the large Chinese artifacts all around me, but I was in a hurry since I had a flight to catch.

I started with Cantonese style prawns siew mai and followed with a bowl of wok-fried shaved noodles, mushrooms, vegetables, and Sichuan spices. The shaved noodles was a first for me and I loved the taste.

The China Kitchen New DelhiA noodle chef making shaved noodles is apparently quite a sight to behold. I read a description of this style of noodle-making: "One noodle in the boiling water, one flying in the air, and one just being cut." The chef stands in front of a big pot of boiling water, with a piece of noodle dough about the size of a thick bamboo trunk in one hand and a special shaving knife in the other. He shaves off slips of the dough, which drop into the boiling water. An experienced chef can work very quickly, shaving off noodles 6 inches long, 200 a minute. People often say shaved noodles are as much a feast for your eyes as for your mouth. Check out this video.

Shaved Noodles at The China Kitchen New DelhiMade into a dish, shaved noodles are usually served Shanxi style: noodles mixed with fresh vegetables such as cucumber and soybean sprouts in a mild meat-based broth with a touch of Shanxi vinegar, all in a big bowl.

The China Kitchen New DelhiThe noodles taste different from the usual and I absolutely relished this dish! With this lunch, I would now rate The China House higher than My Humble House at The Maurya, but on par with the excellent Taipan at The Oberoi. Check it out when you are in Delhi.

No comments: