August Moon Festival, China Inc – Taj Santacruz Mumbai

 

Having celebrated Joash’s birthday a week ago, dining at China Inc at Taj Santacruz was a perfect way to end what was already an awesome week. We were so happy to be back, this time, to kickstart the mid-autumn festivities. Interestingly, the August Moon Festival is the second most celebrated festival in China after the Chinese New Year. Taj Santacruz Mumbai have once again come up with a promotion that celebrates just that.

The menu for this festival is specially designed to showcase the seasonal ingredients with a few favourites that everyone absolutely loves at China Inc.

We started off with an amuse bouche, which gave us a preview of how the rest of our meal was going to pan out. Here’s what we had and we highly recommend you to try these too.

Vegetable and Cheese Dumpling

Spinach and Crab Crystal Dumpling

Crispy Pumpkin Roll

Who doesn’t love a box of steaming hot dimsum? This menu has a clever mix of dim sum, with steamed dumplings, deep fried rolls and pan fried options. It would be difficult to pick out a favourite as they were all equally outstanding. At China Inc, we definitely saw more refinement in the way dumplings were made than before and boy they were sumptuous! The Crispy Pumpkin Roll and the Spinach and Crab Crystal dumplings are an absolute must have!

Crispy Supreme with Lemon Sauce

Lotus Root stuffed with Glutinous Rice

Silken Tofu with Tangy Peanut Sesame Dressing

Mountain Chilli Chicken

Mushroom in Black Pepper Sauce

Turnip Cakes

Winter Melon and Morel Broth

Peking Chicken Soup

Crispy Prawns with Oats and Curry Leaves

For appetizers, the Crispy Crumb Supreme served with Lemon Sauce had us weak at the knees; and the Lotus Root stuffed with Glutinous Rice left us wanting more. Both these dishes definitely stood out from all of the appetizers we tried. If you fancy soups, the light Winter Melon and Morel Broth is a clear winner. We just couldn’t stop ourselves from smiling when our favourite Prawns with Oats and Curry Leaves was served, some temptations are just hard to resist! If you haven’t tried this dish at China Inc, then we just gave you another reason to visit this beautiful restaurant.

Sautéed Crab with Snow White Bean Threads

Stir Fried Udon Noodles in Burnt Chilli, Black Bean and Vegetables

Wok Tossed Sticky Rice, Marbled Egg served in Lotus Leaf

Seasonal Vegetables in Lemon Chilli Sauce

The mains were simple yet so brilliantly put together. What we love about China Inc is how they treat each ingredient and showcase it’s honest flavours without being heavy on spices or sauces. The Wok-tossed Sticky Rice with marbled Eggs served in Lotus leaf is perfumed with a hint of truffle and simply elevates eating each spoonful a pure delight. The Sticky Rice went really well with the Chilli Hoisin Chicken and the seasonal vegetables in Lemon Chilli Sauce. Another favourite of ours for the evening was the Sautéed Crab Meat with Snow White Mung Bean Threads. Sublime!

We paired our meal with a bottle of ‘Nik Weis St Urbana-Hof’ Riesling.

King Longans

Mooncake

Sago Pudding

What’s an August Moon Festival without Mooncakes?! We enjoyed Moon Cake, which was a part of the dessert trio. It was simply scrumptious; crumbly on the outside, and dense with red bean goodness on the inside. (We’ve got a soft spot for moon cakes 😀 ) The red bean filling makes it perfect for those who enjoy their dessert with just a hint of sweetness. The King Longans were nice and the delicate flavours of the Coconut Sago Pudding was just the perfect way to end our meal.

This special menu is a perfect blend of the flavours of authentic Chinese cuisine during the harvest season. Chef Vikram Milhoutra’s team have yet again done an amazing job in executing these dishes. Every dish not only looked picture perfect but tasted absolutely delicious; Rarely do we have a meal where we’ve been impressed with every single dish that we’ve eaten. QWe highly recommend you to try the August Moon Festival at China Inc, Taj Santacruz. It lasts till the 9th of October, 2017.

Golden Dragon, Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai and Ming Yang, Taj Lands End Mumbai are also celebrating this festival with a special menu.

Grand Hyatt Mumbai

2015 was a fun year!

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We were awarded the IFBA award for Best Restaurant Review Blog, we got married (woohoo), and finally kicked off something we’ve been waiting for for a long time… We added in a ‘Travel’ section to our blog. 🙂

We started off with Goa in January, and we’ve got Calcutta, Chennai, Pune and Kerala on our calendar this year.

We got married on the 26th of December 2015 in a very private ceremony with just 12 people on the guest-list. So we were really happy that Grand Hyatt, Mumbai decided to host us for three days just a day after our wedding. We’ve had some of our most memorable dining experiences at their restaurants, so this just made it extra special.

We were won over with all the attention and warm greetings we got from the Hyatt associates upon our arrival. From day one we were made to feel like we were the only occupants in the entire hotel. But it was not just us, the staff there made sure that all the guests were treated warmly in a genuine way.

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Let us take you through the property! First, the ascending stairway to the lobby gives you a glimpse of how ‘grand’ it is going to get. Modern architecture fused with contemporary art makes for some really cool décor; all while fulfilling that expected 5-star flair. I have always wished to be around the team that handles the interiors; would love to watch them list, buy and place the beautiful pieces that adorn a 5 star hotel. Grand Hyatt, Mumbai has an impressive collection that of over 100 pieces of art. The hotel’s public area, sections of the lobbies and restaurants sort of transform into unique art galleries with specially commissioned installations curated by various artists.

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Our room. We were put up at a Grand Executive Suite. As you enter, you find yourself in a very cozy living room with a work desk and a window that gives you a good view of the city. The bath area looked really neat with the bathtub and shower, robes, toiletries, and everything required to ensure that you feel pampered at any given time of the day. Ah the Himalayan Bath Salts just works wonders if you just want to soak in and relax.

To our surprise, Grand Hyatt had a lovely bottle of Champagne placed in a bucket of ice, with two slender flutes and a platter of yummy chocolate cupcakes at our arrival. There was also a box of assorted chocolates that made us smile. We had three lovely days ahead of us and we couldn’t wait for it to begin.

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First stop! Lunch at Fifty Five East. Fifty Five East (FFE) remains one of our favourite restaurants in the city for brunches and buffets. With Indian, Thai, Lebanese and Japanese cuisine, you are spoilt for choice when you’re dining at FFE. The Big Brunch Sundays are the best thing to happen to any food lover. With a 50% discount on the rates, one can really enjoy their Sunday with a large group of friends or colleagues. They’ve also got a 20% off on online reservations all through the week. This time we had a light lunch though, had some amazing Sushi and Japanese food. Their Miso soup is to die for.

After lunch and a quick nap, we headed out for a tour of the hotel. We were mesmerized by the expanse of the property and how simple, yet artistic and modern the architecture was. The pieces of art in this hotel will have art lovers thoroughly engrossed; it is so beautifully showcased without disturbing the theme of the hotel. We were impressed to find out that the Grand Hyatt Plaza shopping center is spread over 100,000sq.ft. Be it haute couture, fine watches, exquisite jewellery and accessories, international fashion brands and lifestyle products, the Grand Hyatt Plaza opens doors to a whole new world of shopping. And hey, there’s an ATM too!

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We passed by the Gourmet Store and reminded each other to stop by later for their Signature Cold Coffee. We were told that it was something we had to try during our stay. We came back. Wow! We really recommend the Signature Cold Coffee. Their salads and sandwiches are hearty, healthy and delicious. The deli is stocked with an amazing selection of cheeses and cold meats; and even buy flowers. The choices seem endless. I reminisced of the time I used to rush to the Gourmet Store after work to pick up chocolate truffles for Joash. It made us smile. 🙂

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The next day started off with breakfast at Fifty Five East. Our first big breakfast as a newly married couple. It was GRAND! They really know how to bring their A game when it comes to serving kick ass breakfast. I think almost everyone who knows us knows how picky we are about breakfast, and we do take it pretty seriously; but one look at the beautiful roasted Ham and we know we are going to be defeated by that alone. J Here’s a picture of what went down that day, there were eggs, sausages, mushrooms, hash browns, cheese, ham, bacon, fresh fruits, juices, freshly baked croissants; the works. We were so full that we skipped lunch and ate dinner at around 11pm. #FoodComa

Our day was spent exploring the hotel. Climbing the 127 stairs that lead to the executive accommodation was one of the feats we accomplished. Here are a few pictures of the beautiful suites that you can check in to  and the lovely view of the Grand Hyatt Hotel–

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It was time for dinner, and Grand Hyatt’s Celini was on our mind. Celini opens for dinner at 7:30pm. Funny story, we had been trying to get our hands on the Paan Ice Cream that’s available at Grand’s Hyatt’s Indian restaurant, Soma, for a really long time. We inquired at Soma, but their kitchen would close at 11:55pm. So, we wouldn’t have been done with dinner at Celini by then, so we told them, maybe another time.

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We ordered our meal and completely lost track of the time; it was about 12:30am by the time we had finished dinner. As we were leaving Celini, our waiter asked us… “I heard you wanted to have the Paan Ice-cream at Soma. Their kitchen’s closed for the day now, but would you like us to send you the Paan Ice-cream to your room?” We were impressed. The restaurant manager at Soma had probably spoken to the manager at Celini about the Ice-cream. That’s excellent customer service. So we made our way back to our room, only to find a big bowl of Paan Ice Cream garnished with gooey Gulkhand at our door soon after we got back. We loved it. It was perfect for our late night movie marathon.

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At Celini we were left completely in awe of the décor. With paintings of moon dominating the interior, the cozy yet contemporary look makes for an ideal place for a romantic candlelit dinner. Known for it’s traditional Italian food with a modern twist, Celini tops as one of the best Italian restaurants in the city for us. The restaurant after operational hours transforms into an all night café. Here’s a gist of the meal we had.

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Besides Celini and Soma, the China House restaurant and lounge has won over many hearts with their spectacular food, great ambience and music. Chef Hermann Grossbichler does an excellent job overseeing all the kitchens at Grand Hyatt and ensures that the quality and the variety of dishes available are better every season.

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We also had a really good meal at the Lobby Lounge. They have premium selection of Eau de Vie and Indian single estate teas. We tried the Herbal Infusion Egyptian Camomile Tea with Herbs and it was unbelievably relaxing. We also had the Spanish Garlic Prawns and the Baked Cannelloni stuffed with Spinach and Ricotta cheese; and it tasted nothing like we’ve ever had before. Very impressive.

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A staycation is not complete without spending quality time at the spa. The Club Oasis Fitness centre & spa ensures that one is pampered and rejuvenated with their extensive range of relaxing treatments. The fitness centre is functional 24/7 and has the best equipment in the industry. The spa area includes beautiful spa suites, private showers, changing areas, steam and sauna rooms and whirlpool baths. They have various packages and some are exclusively for couples. We enjoyed 60 mins of pure bliss followed by some soothing ginger tea. We were transported to a place of complete tranquility.

Looking back at the time we spent at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai; I can only think of the lovely memories we made during our stay there. It’s a beautiful combination of excellent service, great food and warm people that would always bring us back. What truly touches your heart are the lil things, the attention to details, in everything they do that sets them a class apart. We love the spirit at Grand Hyatt and are happy to have experienced that first hand. Here’s to many more Grand memories at Grand Hyatt.

Sparkling Sunday Brunch, O:h Cha

If you’re ever craving Thai on a Sunday afternoon, head to O:h Cha for a fun, sit down Sparkling Sunday Brunch (Rs. 2000 all inclusive + a glass of Casablanca sparkling wine).  Last Sunday we had the opportunity to hold a small bloggers table here and it was one of the most fun lunches we’ve had. When you are surrounded with people who share the same passion for food, and are served food made by Chef Rakesh Talwar, you know it’s gonna be awesome.

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I remember how while we were at O:h Cha for dinner a few months ago, we wondered what the place would look like with natural light coming it through the skylights. Well, the moment we got to the restaurant we were surprised with how different the space looked in the day. Trust me when I say, it looked spectacular. The grassy green walls were so soothing to the eyes with the gray in the décor; the sunlight sort of lit the whole place up. And natural light just made everything at the table look refreshingly appetizing.

We all were warmly welcomed with a glass of Casablanca Sparkling wine, India’s first Prosecco styled spumante (fully sparkling wine).  It’s made by Good Drop Wine Cellars at Vinchur Wine Park in Nasik. Casablanca has a very fruity note, with floral undertones, acidic with smooth and lingering finish. It was great to try the wine that won the Best Indian Sparkling of 2015 at the Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Award.

Now for the brunch! O:h Cha has patrons who absolutely love the Krob Kream – the sweet & salty wantons, and we are one of them. It’s such a fun munch; it’s hard to stop once you start munching on these crispy wanton bits. The best part about a sit down brunch is that one doesn’t need get up from their seat; the waiters just keep filling your plate with yummy food.

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We started off with the Turnip Cakes. It might sound really cliché to say this but, it was love at first bite. Crispy Crunchy Turnip Cakes were served with fried spicy garlic and spring onion. Chef Rakesh Talwar had mentioned that it’s one his favourite dishes and now we know why. It was perfect.

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Then we had the Chicken Satay. To be honest, these were thinner than we expected it to be. Though it had a really good marinade and was cooked perfectly, we wanted the chicken pieces to be a bit thicker. It had a really good street food twang to it with the sweet and spicy peanut dipping sauce.

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We were then served the dumplings. Veg Chive Dumpling, Prawn Chive Dumpling, Veg Gyoza and Chicken Gyoza.

We loved both the chive dumplings. The veg one was filled with mixed veggies and water chestnuts. The one thing we loved about the veg dumplings is the crunch water chestnut adds to it.

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The Prawn chive dumpling was plump and oozing with prawny flavour. They were fresh and delectable.

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Chef Rakesh Talwar’s speciality, the Gyoza was a treat in itself. These dumplings, slightly pan fried played a trick on our palates with its thin, kinda crispy exterior, yet absolutely soft and scrumptious juicy filling. Nice!

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The Stir Fried Tofu with Sriracha was packed with a fiery punch. Get me anything with Sriracha and I am a fan. This was exceptional though. The tofu cubes were super soft and the sauce was lipsmackingly delicious. Everyone at the table loved it.

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We then had something French with an asian twist, Asian Mushroom Vol au vent. Vol au vent literally means “windblown”. To give you an idea of the lightness of the puff pastry. Sadly, it wasn’t light. The base of the puff pastry was not flaky and light. It was too dense to enjoy. Even the Sweet Corn Patty was decent, but we felt that it was more of batter than corn. The Stir Fried Chicken Black Pepper failed to impress us as it would’ve been good if it was dry.

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We were completely blown away by the Holy Basil Chicken Bruschetta. It looked like the normal Bruschetta, but when you bit into it, you were hit with the basil flavour that’s reminiscent of south east Asia. It tasted yummy and we couldn’t stop ourselves from having more. It is definitely a must try. We also loved the Lemon Grass Chicken, which was crispy deep fried chicken with lemon grass flavours; went really well with the dipping sauce.

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The sparkling wine was going well with everything we tried and we also tried a mocktail that knocked our socks off. The Orange and Kaffir Lime Caprioska. It was really refreshing and was kinda like a palate cleanser. Bold Kaffir lime flavours with a citrusy punch.

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Moving on to the main course. We had Som Tam, French Bean Chilli Bean, Four Friends, Thai Green Curry, Pad Kra Prow Kai, Steamed Dory Lemon Chilli Garlic, Steamed Jasmine Rice and Pad Thai Noodles.

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We enjoyed the Som Tam salad, one of the best we’ve had in the city. The French Bean Chilli Bean was OK, but we really liked how tender the French beans were. The Four Friends was dominated by white fungus, loved the crunch but the flavours of the gravy was weak. The Thai Green Curry was a lil disappointing as its consistency was too thin, we agree that the Chef wanted to use all natural coconut milk and not use thickening agents that restaurants all over use, but using coconut cream to make it a lil richer would’ve ensured that the consistency of the gravy would have turned out just right. The flavours however were bang on. We loved the crunchiness of the baby eggplant and the abundance of other veggies in it. The Pad Kra Prow was a bit salty but when had with the fragrant Jasmine Rice it was all good. The Steamed Dory Lemon Chilli Garlic was light but pungent coz of the chilli, the fish was steamed well and the lemon chilli garlic aroma seeped right through. The Pad Thai Noodles were delicious; we enjoyed it more than the Steamed Jasmine Rice.

Now for some dessert influenced by Thai flavours. This is what we love about Chef Rakesh Talwar, you can be prepared to be amazed by his creativity and innovation. The Tum Tim Krobe, a must try, was served in shot glasses. It’s a lovely blend of coconut, jackfruit and water chestnut that leaves you wanting more. The highlight of the evening was the Mango Sticky Rice Ice cream, an inhouse concoction invented by Chef Rakesh Talwar. It has a strong mango flavour with the texture of sticky rice that’s really smooth. It coats your tongue and the cold temperature hits the bliss point, heightening all the happy zones of your brain. We loved it. The Lemon Grass Crème Brulee was OK. We liked the hint of lemon grass that it had. It would have been nicer if the layer of sugar was a bit more caramelized. Call us fussy, but we love to crack the layer of caramelized sugar while having Crème Brulee. It’s like the classic ‘breaking a bottle of champagne over the hull of a ship’ ritual. 🙂

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We don’t want to say that it was all smooth sailing, considering this was the first Sunday Brunch held at O:h Cha. This review would really help when they are hosting a big group. The service was not up to the mark. A few of them didn’t even get to taste a few dishes from the menu. It was funny how we were a table of four and every time we called for dumplings, we were served 3. We had to wait for another batch every single time. It could be the pressure of hosting a blogger’s table, we are not sure; as we’ve never had a bad experience with their service before. We did love the pace at which all these dishes were served. The ambience is perfect for a lovely Sunday afternoon. There is a saxophonist who played really well and had a good set-list. He got everyone grooving to the tunes; it made the experience even better. The menu is designed in a way that you get some of the best dishes served at O:h Cha. We hope that the menu keeps changing so that guests can enjoy all the other dishes that O:h Cha has to offer. You can be rest assured with the quality of food that comes from Chef Rakesh Talwar’s kitchen as there would be no short cuts as far as authenticity and flavours are concerned. So give it a shot! 🙂 If you’re ever craving Thai on a Sunday afternoon, head to O:h Cha for a fun, sit down Sparkling Sunday Brunch.

Wok This Way

It gives me great pleasure to write about one of my favourite chefs, Chef Rakesh Talwar and his new venture Wok This Way! Chef Talwar’s personality translates into everything he lays his hands on. Be it The Spare Kitchen or The Curry Leaf… his creativity, passion for food and the eye for perfection and taste screams out of everything he does. I’d also like to congratulate him and his team for winning The Times Food – Best Modern Indian Award for The Spare Kitchen in the Noteworthy Newcomer category. Kudos Chef! Joash and I were very glad to be the first few invited to Wok This Way. Located in Versova, this eatery opened its doors in the month of January. As a concept, it is not exactly new and we do have a couple of eateries around the city that serve “southeast asian” fare but most of them are more or less a mixed bag of the usual run-of-the-mill sauces. So when we stepped into Wok This Way we were really relieved to see the variety of dishes that were served there. Their menu being diverse and authentic is creatively fresh, fun and interesting. In addition to soups, salads, starters, mains and desserts… they’ve got yummy curries, combos and an option to Make Your Own Wok. The décor is simple yet modern. What welcomes you is the bright and colorful display of the menu and a neat looking counter.Chef took us to the kitchen to show how he had combined modern techniques and equipment to make the lives of the “real men at work” easier. Chef Talwar has taken so much care to make his kitchen a very happy place for people working there and also to the neighbors around. Imagine ACs in the kitchen and a high-tech filtration system that ensuredthe cooking fumes were “cleaned” before it left the kitchen. Impressive! It was time for us to taste his creations! With Chef Talwar, there’s always something new to look forward to. He always makes me go “Whoa! How did he do that?!”.  Knowing him, we just let him choose the best he had to offer, so here’s what we enjoyed –

Gyoza

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photo 1 (3) I had a big smile on my face when the dish arrived, it was in a vibrant blue Chinese takeaway box with chopsticks. I will talk about the packing in a bit. These perfect Japanese dumplings filled with chicken also known as pot stickers were absolutely gorgeous. Pan Fried. Lightly crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, just melted our hearts. It came with two dipping sauces, totally amazing. We enjoyed every bit of it.

Noodles with Wok Roasted Lamb in Chef’s All In One Sauce

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I opened the box of noodles and the aroma just took me back to being in Malaysia. The noodles looked great, it was garnished with Thai Basil leaves. It was cooked so well, the Wok roasted lamb was succulent and flavorful and boy the sauce was just mind-blowing. I am still trying to make my rendition of this dish! Chef, someday I shall get it right 😀 I was very happy with the portion and every bite was just yummy.

Burnt Garlic Ginger Rice with Pan Tossed Chicken

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Garnished with freshly cut spring onions… the rice was beautifully cooked. The portion of meat was good and the Burnt Garlic Ginger sauce in the rice was robust and delicious. I totally recommend this to all those who love rice. The best part is when you choose the option to make your own Wok, the veggies and the garnish are unlimited so you can have fun with an array of flavors and can add textures to your dish. One of the items from the “Finishing Touches” menu-step caught our eye and it was the first thing I asked Chef about. It was Chef’s Spicy Dusting! I say this and I am not kidding, this was the best thing that I have ever sprinkled over our food and I recommend this to all who dine at this place. This magic dust will knock your socks off. It just took the rice and noodles to a whole new level. It not only enhanced the taste of the dish but made it lip-smackingly good. We left with packs of this special spicy dusting and have been using it at restaurants and in our meals at home all the time. It’s found two diehard fans who swear by it’s epicness. The great news is that it can be bought off the counter and I urge all of you to try a pack. We truly enjoyed our meal at Wok This Way and absolutely loved Chef Talwar’s company. One can never be disappointed with the service at this place as it has Chef’s warmth and care that comes out through his polite staff. The packaging is vibrant and fun, perfect for a fun party. The flap on the box turns into a coupon and when you collect 7 coupons, you get your next box absolutely free!

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If you want to try some authentic Penang curry, Mee/Nasi Goreng  and Chaufan Fried Rice with Dumpling – you have got to try Wok This Way. We totally recommend the Oyster Fried Rice with Breaded Chicken Escalope, it also has the mighty Sriracha Three Pepper Cottage Cheese for all who like to turn up the heat a notch or two.And, if you dare, Make Your Own Wok! Try the Mango with Sticky Rice Dessert. It’s out of the world. We would like to wish Chef and Wok This Way all the very best. P.S We also heard that Bandra will have it’s own Wok This Way soon!

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