Sharmi on the Trot

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Archive for the tag “chinese food”

Review: Chinese New Year Celebrations at ChaoBella

The Chinese New Year Menu!

The Chinese New Year Menu!

When we think of Chinese food, what is the first thing that comes to mind? I don’t know about you but my mind lights up with the thought of steamed dumplings in bamboo steamers. That’s what most of us immediately associate Chinese food with I presume. So, to celebrate the Year of the Rooster, ChaoBella at Crowne Plaza Today Okhla have decided to let patrons get a taste of authentic food, beyond the usual fare. Their Chinese New Year celebrations are on till February 13, 2017 and starts from Rs 450 onwards.

As I walk into the hotel’s Italian and Chinese restaurant ChaoBella, my stomach growls in anticipation. Chinese is an all-time favourite and actually works as comfort food. I think at least once I week I do indulge in Chinese food, homemade if not store bought. I’ve probably imbibed this from my father. He needs to try Chinese at least once wherever he travels to, even if in a place which has no Chinese connections!

Anyway I digress. So as I was seated by the window, I was presented with the menu. It looked tempting so with a glass of Limoncello Colin (so so good) I was set for an afternoon of indulgence.

Glassnoodles soup

Glassnoodles soup

First arrived a hot bowl of Glass Noodles soup. A light well balanced broth and crunchy vegetables and chicken was the perfect way to start a meal. As we are celebrating Chinese New Year, Hargow represents good luck and wealth. So, the chef specially sent over spinach and prawn dumplings to the table, which was consumed with much gusto.

Prawn Har Gaw

Prawn Har Gow

Prawns and cocktails!

Prawns and cocktails!

The starter that arrived was named Emperor Salt Baked Tiger Prawn. I must say I was extremely impressed as its aftertaste left me craving more.

Sweet and Sour Tenderoin

Sweet and Sour Tenderloin

The mains that arrived on the table were Sweet and Sour Tenderloin, Steamed Salmon in black bean sauce and Cantonese Chicken, accompanied by fried rice with olives and vegetable noodles. The outright star was the fish preparation. It was the first time I had the combination of Salmon and black bean sauce which left me feeling blissful. The fish was cooked perfectly. The tenderloin was a bit too sweet for me personally as I lack a sweet tooth but tasted well otherwise. The chicken had a very nice balance and combined well with the fried rice.

Salmon with black bean sauce

Salmon with black bean sauce

Cantonese Chicken

Cantonese Chicken

Fried rice and noodles

Fried rice and noodles

A full full plate!

A full full plate!

Stuffed to the brim, out came a trio of deserts – date pancake, black sesame ice cream and dumplings with a peanut coating and chocolate. The ice cream was outstanding. The texture was unique and paired excellently with the sweet pancake. The dumpling resembled the Rosogolla but when cut, out poured chocolate. The glutinous coating was very nice, something I tasted for the first time.

Sweet platter

Sweet platter

The well-thought of Chinese New Year menu is on for a short span (February 13, 2017). I would recommend not missing it because the flavours are an eclectic mix. And definitely don’t miss the Salmon. It’s been days but I’m still drooling at the thought!

A happy food blogger aka me!

A happy food blogger aka me!

Where: ChaoBella, Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi in Okhla Phase 1

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Review: Royal China

Table setting in Royal China

Table setting in Royal China

The elevator doors opened, I stepped inside and pressed on the 16th floor button. The contraption hurled upwards and my empty stomach churned with the sudden shift in momentum. “It’s the anticipation,” I thought. I love Chinese food and when I had the opportunity to review Royal China, I simply jumped at it. To relish a favourite meal and take in a breathtaking view of the city alongside, it wasn’t really a difficult decision to take.

Royal China is located in Eros Towers, Nehru Place, just beside Satyam Cinema Complex. On the top-most floor, it offers a calming view, away from the hustle and bustle of chaotic Nehru Place. The interiors are calm and soothing, the music playing in the background blends in and you immediately feel comfortable. Opt for a table near the glass windows because on a clear day the view of the Lotus Temple and its surroundings are lovely. The table is set with crisp linen, sauces that act as condiments, and chopsticks as menu cards are handed over with a warm greeting as you sit down. There’s so much to choose from!

Royal China has branches in Mumbai and Pune. I had been to their Mumbai branch years ago and remember absolutely loving every bite. Would this time round be just as good? Let me tell you right now, it was. Even better I might add. If you enjoy Chinese and you’re in Delhi, Royal China should be a must-visit. Right from the time you enter till the elevator transports you back to the ground floor, the staff looks after you, making sure you enjoy a lovely meal.

Royal China offers patrons an a la carte menu of course but those with a fixed idea of wanting to try a bit of everything, I would suggest try the Tasting Menu. It’s available for lunch (Rs 1550/Rs 2100 with alcohol) and dinner (Rs 1800/Rs 2500 with alcohol). They also have Set Meals on the lines of Seafood Gourmet (Rs 1950), House Dinner (Rs 1750) and Vegetarian Dinner (Rs 1500). They are best known for their dimsums. So, if you’re in the food to gorge only on different dimsums you can think of, definitely order the Unlimited Dimsum Menu (Rs 1750/Rs 2450 with alcohol).

The Lychee and Strawberry Martini is a delight to start the lunch with. Having grown up on James Bond films thanks to a fanatic father (who plays Bond best is a debate that rages every time I go home), I always end up ordering a vodka Martini (not in a deep champagne goblet though!). It was the first I tried a variation and was suitably impressed.

Set against the backdrop as seen from the 16th floor

Set against the backdrop as seen from the 16th floor

I like to try small portions so I ordered the Tasting Menu. It’s enough for two people and one gets a taste of what the fine-dining establishment offers. First came the appetizers. The Fried Soft Corn Curd with a mint and coriander sauce, Crispy Seaweed and Chicken with Dry Red Chilly. The Corn Curd is melt-in-your-mouth divine while the Seaweed is crisp as the name suggests. A big thumbs up to the two. The chicken is very good but I loved the vegetarian options more.

Chicken with Dry Red Chilly, Fried Soft Corn Curd and Crispy Seaweed

Chicken with Dry Red Chilly, Fried Soft Corn Curd and Crispy Seaweed

A full plate!

A full plate!

Then arrived the Roast Pork Puff. Take one bite and the puff flakes the right amount. The stuffing is on the sweeter side and the seasoning is spot on. It’s a good thing I stopped at one, else I could continue and fill up my stomach with just those tiny puffs.

Flaky puffs filled with roast pork

Flaky puffs filled with roast pork

Royal China’s stars are dimsums. They come in all fillings, shapes and sizes. Three bamboo steamers were placed on the table. As I lifted one lid, the steam escaped and left behind a gorgeous aroma of fresh dimsums. I have to say I’m biased towards dimsums because I can live on them. Every meal can be a dimsum meal, seriously I kid you not. Anyway I digress. The first steamer had Chicken and Chive, the second Chicken with Vegetables and the third Siu Mai. All three were juicy and tender as you popped them into the mouth.

Chicken and chives, chicken with veggies (background)

Chicken and chives, chicken with veggies (background)

Orange in colour but delicious in taste

Orange in colour but delicious in taste

Sui Mai

Siu Mai

The Crispy Aromatic Duck starred in the third course. The duck was golden and crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside. It’s best eaten rolled inside a soft and steaming pancake with cucumbers, scallions and hoisin sauce. The duck in all it’s glory is shredded by expert hands in a matter of seconds. Then the sauce is spread on the pancake, the raw vegetables are placed on a side. The meat is added last and the pancake rolled up. There was nothing else to do except bite into it. The duck lived up to it’s visual temptation. Crispy and soft; the sauce and the vegetables combined perfectly for my taste buds to go into overdrive mode.

Crispy aromatic duck with its condiments (Before)

Crispy Aromatic Duck with its condiments (Before)

Crispy Aromatic Duck (After)

Crispy Aromatic Duck (After)

By the time the main course arrives, I’m already stuffed but when there’s Chinese food, the motto is never say never. Bowls containing Egg Fried Rice, Vegetable Hakka Noodles, Sliced Fish in Black bean sauce, Stir Fry Vegetables and Chicken in Chilly Oil fill up the table. My chopsticks couldn’t decide what to dig into first. The fish was so soft and the black bean sauce perfectly harmonised. It paired well with the noodles. The chicken was spicy and tasted wonderful with the fried rice. My favourite, however, was the stir fry! If my stomach allowed, I would have nibbled on them all day! Sigh… if only.

A full table filled with main courses

A full table filled with main courses

I love my plates full! This time with fried rice, noodles, fish, chicken and vegetables!

I love my plates full! This time with fried rice, noodles, fish, chicken and vegetables!

By this time, after a Martini refill and stuffed to the brim, the Banana Toffee with Vanilla Ice cream was a perfect way to end the long lunch. The ice cream neutralized the sweet and the taste buds ended on a high.

Banana Toffee and Ice cream

Banana Toffee and Ice cream

I would definitely recommend Royal China if you like Chinese or specifically, suffer from dimsum cravings like yours truly. Good food, great atmosphere and a wonderful view, what more can one ask for?

Ambiance: 4/5
Food and beverage: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Where: 16th Floor, Eros Towers, Nehru Place, New Delhi
Follow Royal China on Facebook and Instagram

Food in Calcutta: Tiretti Bazaar’s Chinese Breakfast

 

Homemade Chinese delicacies

Homemade Chinese delicacies

The steaming bowl of broth and fish balls beckoned invitingly. The woman who had set up her stall by the roadside looked at her container on the fire that kept the soup warm for customers. She had just ladled out a serving along with handmade fish balls in a red bowl keeping up with the Christmas week celebrations. I bent down to smell the contents. All it needed was the customary decking with soy and it was ready. The table next to her is always kept ready with seasonings and cutlery. Break the generous fish ball and take a bite. Wash it down with the hot broth and that’s when you realise why you made that early morning journey to Tiretti Bazaar in Central Calcutta (Kolkata). (Do pardon me but I’m used to calling the city I grew up in Calcutta and not Kolkata).

The steaming soup container

The steaming soup container

Recently a lot has been written and discussed about the unique Chinese Breakfast in Calcutta. Many have called it a recent discovery while some have ventured out to try the food because of the visibility on social media. But for the old timers, it’s a matter of habit. I was introduced to Poddar Court about 10 years ago on a chilly winter morning by a dear friend. Having picked me up from home in the wee hours, we drove through the empty roads to reach the central part of the city.

Fish ball soup and Pork Bun

This time round when I visited home for Christmas and impromptu brekkie plans were made, I realised I was going there with the same friend. We were older but not wiser, yet our appetite for Chinese food remained the same!

Get them buns steaming hot. You get a choice between chicken and pork

Get them buns steaming hot. You get a choice between chicken and pork

You can shop for wallets as you devour pork spring rolls!

You can shop for wallets as you devour pork spring rolls!

Years ago, Chinese immigrants made Calcutta their home. They brought their food and culture to the expanding city and today, they form a unique part of Calcutta’s cultural heritage. As Chinese restaurants blossom, a visit to Tiretti Bazar will give you a taste into delicious homemade Chinese delicacies. From dumplings filled with minced meat to steaming buns with homemade fillings, sausages to prawn crackers, delicate broths to deep fried meat balls.

As you enter the road, you’re greeted with the view of a market. Fresh roses the flower seller sets up are gorgeous and red. Walk further down and you encounter fresh vegetables and greens – from bok choy to Chinese cabbage. Then you have the meat and fish sellers showcasing their wares and finally, the smell of steaming dumplings tell you you’ve reached your destination. The number of sellers has dwindled over the years but that does not stop a handful of enthusiasts from selling their homemade delicacies every single day no matter the weather. “Even if it’s raining, you will find one of us at least selling food so that no one goes back empty handed,” said the man who sells crumbed spring rolls along with wallets. The stalls are set up early in the morning, about 5ish and they wrap by when their stocks run out, which is pretty early if I can add. If you decide to come here at your leisure, you’ll be disappointed. The earlier you arrive, the more food you will get!

Steamed dumplings

Steamed dumplings

You want more? There's plenty!

You want more? There’s plenty!

Work never ends. Preps for the buns start in the evening while for items like dumplings and rolls, early morning plays a crucial role. As I dug into fish ball soup, prawn spring rolls, pork and fish dumplings and steaming pork baos, I craved roasted pork. If you want to try it, make sure you go there on the weekends because that’s the only time you’ll get it. If you’re in Calcutta and want to do something local, eating Chinese breakfast at Tiretti Bazaar must be on your to-do list!

Get some sausages to cook at home!

Get some sausages to cook at home!

Buy what goes into the sausage so you can attempt making them yourself!

Buy what goes into the sausage so you can attempt making them yourself!

After breakfast, why don't you complete your veggie shopping too?

After breakfast, why don’t you complete your veggie shopping too?

The roses that greet you when you enter and leave the breakfast road!

The roses that greet you when you enter and leave the breakfast road!

PS: Pocket pinch for 2 hungry eaters: Rs 300 approx
How to reach: Nearest metro station is Central. The food place is walking distance with the help of strangers whom you’ll have to ask for directions. If driving, then park in front of Poddar Court, near Lal Bazar

Nostalgic Egg and Vegetable Noodles

Bengalis have their quaint idiosyncrasies. We often get ridiculed for the ‘monkey caps’ in October or our love for Boroline (it IS a magic ointment, I swear) and of course the abundant respect for fish. Among all things, there has to have been that one moment when a Bengali child brought homemade Chinese to school which would be shared during a lunch break.
I don’t know much about other places but in Calcutta, one could buy these ‘Classic’ noodles from any shop. The maida (flour) noodles came in red coloured pouches which were about Rs 10 for a packet. When the tiffin boxes would be opened, a smell of homemade Chinese would engulf the air. With lots of vegetables of course, the noodles would be tossed with a dash of soy and vinegar and we would be very happy with that. The boxes would be passed around so all could take a bite. The days we felt rich, we would buy heavenly greasy noodles from the school canteen and share among us.
Recently, I had this craving for homemade noodles. As I searched the stocked shelves, I came across this red packet which instantly reminded me of school days and tiffin boxes. There was no question of not making them. But just to compensate for all the empty carbs, my fridge foraging led me to find lots of greens!

Ingredients
1 packet noodles (Use any sort – glass/rice/wheat/flour/egg)
1 egg (whisked)
1 carrot (julienne)
1 onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (smashed)
1 inch ginger (sliced)
1 capsicum (chopped fine)
1 bok choy (shredded)
3 button mushrooms (chopped)
1 small broccoli (chopped)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs dark soy
1 tbs chilly vinegar
1 tbs oyster sauce
Salt to taste

Favourite from the school days in Calcutta. Pix credit: Barnik Bardhan

Favourite from the school days in Calcutta.
Pix credit: Barnik Bardhan

– Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Drain and keep aside. Toss with a bit of oil to keep from sticking
– Heat 1 tsp sesame oil. Cook the egg tossing it about in the wok. When done, take out of wok and shred into small pieces
– Heat the remaining oil. Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute till fragrant
– Add the carrot, capsicum, mushrooms and bok choy.
– When the vegetables are slightly soft , coated well with the oil, add the vinegar, soy and oyster sauce.
– At last, add the shredded egg.
– Mix well and serve hot

A long view!

A long view!

Delicious dinner

Delicious dinner

PS: Best accompanied with a book, eating in bed!

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