China House, Grand Hyatt

I have been to Grand Hyatt a gazillion times for meetings and events and I absolutely love spending time at their Gourmet Store. I adore their truffles, their pastry section and the fact that they are one of the very few who sell Wine Jelly apart from the variety of cold cuts and cheese. Even during meetings, I have always looked forward to the yummy melt-in-your-mouth mini coconut cakes which are wonderfully moist and light. I could go on and on about the awesome variety of food that they serve at the Grand Hyatt.

I love their breakfast buffet, they serve some of the best quality of meat I’ve tasted, the spread is simply superb. I am not boasting or being loyal here, it’s just that I’ve always loved coming to this place and I feel this is my way of thanking them for their lovely hospitality, service and the overall experience. And that’s exactly the reason why I chose the Grand Hyatt for my 30th “birthday dinner” too 😀 but will talk about that in another post.

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in Mumbai, China House at Grand Hyatt. I just got back from a two week long holiday in Malaysia and am still getting over the most beautiful surprise of my life. My beau, Joash, proposed to me on this trip. It was really thoughtful of the Grand Hyatt to congratulate us and invite us for dinner at their restaurant, China House. They are currently promoting the Chinese Hot Pot meal from the 1st to the 30th of November 2014.

We were greeted by the receptionist, who showed us the way to our table, we were then introduced to Chef Ranjan Rajani (Executive Sous Chef) and Chef Sushant Parab (Sous Chef) of China House. They welcomed us and soon Chef Hermann Grossbichler came to our table. It was really interesting how he helped us understand the whole concept, the use of the stove top, the temperature controls and the menu for the evening. The waiters then got the ingredients for the meal and laid it out at our table. A pot of the spicy Sichuan chicken broth was brought to the table.

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Chef Grossbichler also gave us tips on the order in which the vegetables and meats had to be cooked. It was interesting, and within moments we were at ease handling the food ourselves. He also introduced us to Chef de Cuisine Li Xiang Bin. We were then left alone to enjoy our meal.

Hot Pot, as a cooking method was initially started in Mongolia, which then spread and became popular in China. In other countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Japan it is popularly called Steamboat or Shabu Shabu.  It is mainly eaten in winters during suppertime. The method is quite simple, there is a hot pot kept on an electric induction burner (traditionally coal heated versions were used) with a flavourful aromatic broth, then raw ingredients are added and cooked together in the pot, the cooked food is then eaten with a dipping sauce. It is placed in the center of the dining table in a way that family members or guests can cook and enjoy their meal together. The meal is meant to be eaten at a very relaxed pace. The broth, after a while, tends to thicken due to reduction so more broth is added to the pot. The reduced broth is so flavourful that you might not even feel the need to use the dipping sauce to enjoy the meal.

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Coming back to our dinner, we were overwhelmed with the variety of ingredients that were placed at our table. They were shimeji and shitake mushrooms, lotus stem, chinese cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, bok choy, tofu, fresh scallops, fish and prawns, thinly sliced chicken, lamb and pork, cellophane/glass noodles and fresh handmade noodles. We were also served three dipping sauces, spicy sichuan chilli bean sauce, garlic sauce, sesame sauce, fresh coriander apart from chilli oil, soy sauce, fresh chilli and garlic. We couldn’t wait to start. As per Chef Hermann’s instructions, we added broccoli, tofu, lotus stem, bok choy, cabbage first as it takes a little longer to cook. We then added the noodles, mushroom and chicken. We were kind of creating our own blend of flavours not adding all the ingredients at once and savouring them in batches.

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It’s interesting how the food doesn’t take a lot of time to cook, approximately 7-8 mins in all for the first batch. I wanted to relish the flavor of the broth so I didn’t add any dipping sauce to my bowl. However, Joash absolutely fell in love with the spicy chilli bean and the garlic sauce. The broth was so aromatic and flavourful that I could taste the Sichuan pepper and the coriander seed distinctively. Chef Hermann told us that they drained the spices from the broth so that guests could enjoy the flavours of the aromatics without being disturbed by the whole spices with every morsel. The whole spices when bitten into release strong sharp flavours which could spoil the taste of one’s palate. Hence, the care taken to ensure that the guests enjoy the taste of the broth and also regulate their choice of flavours and pungency is commendable.

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We tried different combinations of seafood with noodles, then tofu and vegetables and then cabbage, mushrooms and meat, the balance of aromatics and how the broth works to enhance the flavour of each ingredient is noteworthy. The tofu was so fresh and it absorbed the broth so well, making it irresistibly juicy and delicious. The meat were sliced so thin that it hardly took 3-4 mins to cook so did the handmade noodles. It was our first time trying fresh noodles and don’t think we can go back to packaged ones from now on. For me the broth was more than enough to make my bowl of food delicious, so I hardly used any dipping sauce while eating. It suits the Indian palate very well as Chef Grossbichler gave us his insight on how after a lot of research and customer feedback, they were able to get the flavours of this broth right. However, I did try tasting the sauces so that I could give you a perspective of what to expect.

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The spicy Sichuan chilli bean sauce is robust, packed with bold flavours, pungent and spicy to taste. The garlic sauce is like a generic garlic sauce which is finely chopped garlic in oil. The sesame sauce was a little bitter to taste but had its own way of making a bowl full of noodles and meat tasty, I have tried the chinese sesame and peanut dipping sauce earlier but this was a bit different, the base of the sauce was oil and it was too thick for my liking.

Joash and I love Asian cuisine, and we had the opportunity to try lot of authentic Malay, Thai and Chinese food in Malaysia. So much so, that we were missing it after coming back to Mumbai. This hot pot meal was like a special gift from Grand Hyatt so that we could relive the wonderful moments spent in Malaysia. The warm hospitality of the staff and the genuine interest of the Chefs in educating and sharing ideas truly made this a complete experience for foodies like us. We had a wonderful time and really relished our meal, we couldn’t have asked for more. We were so full; that there was absolutely no room for dessert. It was not just about guests placing an order for their meal and waiters serving it, it was more of creating the awareness of Chinese cuisine that touched my heart of how the Chefs were genuinely spending time talking to the guests giving them insight, taking feedback and sharing experiences, all for the love of food. I can’t hardly wait to go back.

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I would like to thank the amazing team at China House, Chef Hermann Grossbichler, Chef Li Xiang Bin, Chef Ranjan Rajani  and Chef Sushant Parab for the amazing experience and Wilbur for taking care of us at the table.

The Chinese Hot Pot promotion is on till the 30th of November 2014, I highly recommend that you try out this wonderful meal. You won’t be disappointed

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