Saturday, October 24, 2015

Asia Box and Jimmy Hu

Khao Suey at Asian Box PuneFood and cooking styles from Persia and countries in the west entered India from the time Arab traders began landing on our shores. On the other hand, cuisines from the Far East got in only recently; the earliest among them, Chinese. The Chinese have been traveling to India since Buddhism began entering their country, but their food made its way to our shores only during the heydays of the British East India Company. Immigrant Hakka Chinese made their way to Calcutta whose port afforded them plenty of jobs. They brought with them their noodles, soups, sauces and woks. Chinese cooks soon opened eateries here, learning quickly to combine their sauces with local vegetables, spices and produce, even learning to adapt their menu to suit local tastes.

Asian Box Pune

As my generation knows only too well, Chinese cuisine went on to become a huge hit. Bastardised dishes such as Manchurian became popular through the length and breadth of the country, even as the two countries locked horns for long periods due to war and politics.  No childhood memory of mine can be complete without Chinese Egg-drop Soup, Chow Mein, Chilli Chicken or Hakka Noodles in them.

Satay at Asian Box Pune

Thai food, strangely, did not make it here until very recently.  Strange because of how familiar Thai food is to the Indian palate with its spicy sauces and rice-based dishes.  Until the 90s, it was difficult to come across restaurants that served Thai, Vietnamese or Malay food.  That is being rapidly rectified now.

In Pune, when Malaka Spice began serving Pan Asian food several years back, they were the only one in town to do so. Now, Asian Box in Koregaon Park is only the latest to bring Pan-Asian delicacies to foodies here.  Having heard so much from those who seem to adore this place, we decided to pay a visit on a weekend.

Thai Lettuce Wraps at Asian Box Pune

On a pleasant day, this place can be quite nice.  Most of their seating is outdoors and the menu quite exhaustive.  We ordered a selection of Thai, Malay and Burmese selections as we guzzled down chilled beer.

The Satay Ayam made of succulent chunks of chicken marinated and grilled with spices was quite good. The Thai Lettuce Wraps with minced chicken that had been wok tossed with basil and red chillies was very good.  The only unfortunate thing was the chef had overdone the salt considerably, thereby destroying an otherwise excellent dish.  Hopefully, this will be a one-time occurrence.

Prawn Tempura at Asian Box Pune

With the daughter with us, it was inevitable that she would notice and insist on the Tempura Prawns. She loved it, but then she would have no matter how ineffective the chef! ( Lies... btw this is ‘The Daughter’ ).  No surprises, the wasabi wasn’t exactly the kind I am used to.

The most memorable dish of the day was clearly the Burmese Khao Suey. Like the menu promised, the dish was a fantastic combination of noodles, Burmese curry and a variety of condiments with which to garnish the dish.  Both on the eyes and the palate, this dish was a winner!

Overall, Asian Box is a good choice when you are craving Asian food.

Getting the check at Jimmy Hu Pune

Jimmy Hu brings another twist to Chinese food.  Most Chinese food in India comes in two varieties: the the heavily localized street food variety at street corners and more upscale places that serve ‘authentic dishes’ in surroundings designed to evoke the real deal, but also spiced up for Indian tastes.  Jimmy Hu fits into neither category. They have created a bar/lounge that is both contemporary and youthful, but with a Chinese menu. What makes them stand out is how well they execute these dishes.

Jimmy Hu Pune

Hakka Box at Jimmy Hu Pune

Both the Hakka Box and the ClayPot rice with Chicken and Fish at Jimmy Hu have quickly become our favourite. We come here even when we aren’t in the mood for alcohol. I wasn’t too surprised then when I learnt the owners are the same ones who brought us The Brooklyn Shuffle and Bombay Bronx - two other restaurants with a youthful vibe, eclectic decor and an eye for quality when it comes to their carefully chosen food menu.  Highly recommended, when you want to chill out with alcohol but would rather partake on some Chinese food rather than the usual Indian kebabs and or Mediterranean fare popular at every other bar.


Pooja Pariya said...

Thanks for the great information. i like your blog..
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Shantanu said...

@Alisha: Thanks.