Showing posts with label Chinese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chinese. Show all posts

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The word Chinese cuisine is so synonymous with dimsums & noodles. With the advent of the Chinese New Year, restaurants around the city celebrated the year of the Goat with much fanfare. However taking a cue apart, one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in Chennai, “Chinatown” decided to go a step further. Rather than opting for the regular Chinese celebratory menu, they dedicated their festival to the mighty noodles.  Some of the handmade noodles were also infused with different flavours to bring in the variety.
(Steamed Chicken Wonton with Hot Garlic sauce)
(Vietnamese Pho)
(Noodle wrapped Crispy Prawns with Spice Hoisin sauce)
The evening started with the arrival of the ‘Vietnamese Pho’, a noodle broth comprising of beef. This soup is supposedly a delicacy in Vietnam and had a strong domination of beef flavour. The noodles in the broth made the pho feel like a complete meal by itself. Following the broth, the appetizers that followed were ‘Steamed Chicken Wonton with Hot Garlic sauce’ and ‘Noodle wrapped Crispy Prawns with Spice Hoisin sauce’. Both the starters were excellent with the prawns taking an edge over the chicken wontons thanks to the crusty crispiness of the noodles that transformed as a batter followed by a very juicy prawn inside.
(Handmade Spinach Veg noodles)
(Thai flat noodles with beef in a black bean sauce)
(Prawn Mee Goreng)
(Chinatown Mee Hoon)
(Hunan Chicken)
With the starters done, the hero dishes of the evening were to make their grand appearance. The first of the lot to appear was the ‘Handmade Spinach Veg noodles’. This was a true hero as the spinach is pureed and mixed with the dough before the noodles is stretched giving a completely different taste and feel to the dish. This was followed by the ‘Thai flat noodles with beef in a black bean sauce’ which to me was a pale in comparison to the spinach noodles but nevertheless a yummy tasting dish considering the presence of basil in the black bean sauce which was complemented with the succulent pieces of minced beef. The next noodle dish of the evening was the ‘Chinatown Mee Hoon’ which is a vermicelli based dish. This felt very light in comparison to the earlier noodles and have loads of different veggies that packed the right amount of texture to the play in the mouth. The last noodle was the Indonesian classic ‘Prawn Mee Goreng’. One of my favourite far eastern dishes, the Goreng either Nasi or Mee always gets me excited. But unfortunately this one did not exceed the expectations maybe because I’ve probably had more flavour packed Goreng’s elsewhere. To accompany all the noodle dishes, ‘Hunan Chicken’ was served. This was another surprisingly amazing dish that gelled well with all the noodles that were served.
(Banana Wonton)
(Almond Darsan)
(Coconut Dimsum)
Once we completed our battle with the noodles, it was now time to indulge in some action packed desserts. The first to be savoured was the ‘Banana Wonton’ which was divine. The banana along with the crispy wonton wrapped infused with the honey just made it a wow dish. The next dish to wow was the ‘Coconut Dimsum’ which again was a surprise dish. The amount of coconut stuffing created the right magical balance that elevated the dimsum to a different level. The final lot of desserts was my all-time favourite in the Chinese cuisine, the ‘Almond Darsan’ served with a dollop of Ice Cream. How much can go wrong with a simple Darsan? The darsan was great with the right amount of caramelized honey to accompany it with the Ice cream. 

Chinatown is located on Cathedral Road with the Noodle festival scheduled to be on till the 8th of March. A meal for two should cost about ₹ 1200.

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Monday, 31 March 2014


“Fish??? Please no Fish for me”. Thanks to the Chefs at The Leela Palace, Chennai and the Master Chefs from Japan, this statement will no longer have any validity in my food blogging sphere. 

Being a foodie can be quite a task especially if you are into not just eating but also reviewing. The most significant is the ability to be willing to taste all type of foods. This is a department where I’ve always not been able to keep up as there two things that I have to avoid while considering food elements, Pork and Fish. The first due to religious beliefs while the second mainly because of personal choice. I love seafood though and can eat non fish ingredients such as prawns, lobster, crabs, and scallops. Very rarely do I consume fish and it is predominantly in the Asian form of cuisine as it masks out the complete whiff of the fish. Otherwise, it is a complete no-no and has often made me miss out dishes which I know would have tasted fantastic.

I’m sure you must be wondering, why I am talking so much about fish here. Well, beat the irony, a person who absolutely avoids cooked fish gets invited for an International Sushi Training Workshop. Yes, to be honest I was freaking out by the mere thought of Sushi. But being an invitation from one of the most prestigious hotels in the city, I made up my mind to honour the invitation and challenged myself to take it in my stride and try out the Sushi. But yet once again, the mere thought of a raw fish going down my throat was giving me the shudders.
(Sushi)

(Tuna)
The fear turned to excitement and anticipation when I attended the press meet for the workshop. The moment the Master Chefs were introduced, I was determined that if I was to ever taste Sushi then it better be from the professionals. Chef Masayoshi Kazato & Chef Hirotoshi Ogawa are from the “All Japan Sushi Association-World Sushi Skills Institute” and were here to train professional chefs on the art of crafting Sushi. Yes you heard it right the first time, to teach professional chefs. This new found interest was furthered during my post-meet conversation with Chef Dharmen Makawana, Executive Chef & Chef Avinash Mohan, Executive Sous Chef at “The Leela Palace, Chennai”. Chef Dharmen revealed what I felt was the most practical approach for those who are trying Sushi for the first time. It is always better to start with cooked Sushi before moving to cured Sushi and then taking the plunge into Sashimi. 
(Chef Masayoshi Kazato)
(Chef Hirotoshi Ogawa)
(Chef Dharmen Makawana)
(Chef Avinash Mohan)
The litmus test was during the luncheon hosted for us on the next day. After having been well informed by the Chef’s the previous day, I was looking forward to my first Sushi. The first thing I noticed on entering “Spectra”, Leela’s all day dining restaurant was their Sushi Bar which was right at the entrance and the two Master Chef’s handling the counters. Although the smell of fish was all around but it was not of the way that would put one off. Moving to the Sushi counter, I was shocked to see Chef Kazato using the arm of one of his assistants as a chopping board. This he says is a sign of confidence and control any Sushi Chef must possess. The way he chopped the vegetables on the arm, the vegies came out cleanly chopped with even a slight impression on the arm. It was nerve wrecking to see that as the knives used are razor sharp. 
(Nervous looking Human Chopping Board)
(Relieved looking Human Chopping Board)
(Assorted Plate)
(Beautiful Fish Cuts)
Chef Dharmen was very courteous enough and helped me plate my dish with a range of Sushi & Sashimi as I couldn’t wait getting into the action. I had an assortment of Salmon, Scallop, Squid & Tuna Sashimi along with some cooked Prawn Sushi and a single serving of a vegetarian Sushi just for the heck of trying it. For the first time in my life, a fish seemed tempting to me. The moment I picked up some Soy sauce along with Wasabi, I was all set to take the first Sushi bite. Everything around me became still for a second when the first Salmon Sashimi entered my mouth. I was shocked and surprised at how delicate and flavoured it was. My immediate reaction was, “How could I have committed such a grave mistake being a foodie?” Why did it take me so long to realize how amazing they tasted?
(My Plate)
One by one the other Sushi’s & Sashimi’s were being emptied of my plate with each providing a very unique flavour profile. My favourites of the afternoon were the Salmon Sashimi, Scallops Sashimi & the Cooked Prawn Sushi. Once I had the vegetarian sushi, I realized how there can never be a vegetarian sushi as it doesn’t do any justice to the authentic Sushi. One way I feel it was a blessing in disguise that I waited so long to venture into this unknown territory as now I’ve got the feel of what real and authentic Sushi is straight from the hands of world renowned Sushi Master Chefs. 
(Baked Yogurt)
As I wanted to relish the flavours of the Sushi, I just had a few dishes from their regular lunch buffet spread promising myself to return again soon to do full justice to their exhaustive lunch buffet. From the dishes I tried that afternoon, I loved their Hummus, Baba Ghanoush and the Pita. Their hummus is probably the only truly replicated hummus available in Chennai. How can a meal be complete without a dessert and to do justice I had a portion of the Baked Yoghurt with cracked French Macaroons on it. On our way back after the meal I bumped into Chef Dharmen & Chef Avinash who were very courteous in listening to my experience of Sushi and were glad to find out it was a memorable one. We ended up chatting for quite some time on various topics pertaining to food and the general restaurant scenario in Chennai. The Chefs were very down to earth and were open to giving culinary tips without any hesitation. The conversations really enlightened me on different aspects of food preparation, storage and cooking.

This amazing experience and training workshop was organized by The Indian Federation of Culinary Associations & JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) along with The Leela Palace Hotel, Chennai.
(The Team behind organizing the Workshop)
Whenever you feel the need for Sushi, hold no bar, head straight up to Spectra, the all-day dining restaurant at The Leela Palace Hotel, Chennai for a mind blowing experience.

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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Being a very cosmopolitan city, one thing that the food circuit in Chennai had been missing for a long time was the presence of an authentic pan Asian restaurant. We have some amazing Chinese, Thai, Korean & Japanese restaurants but no restaurant that serves all these cuisines without compromising on the authenticity But Chennaite’s the scenario has now changed. With the opening of ITC Grand Chola, there was great expectations in the food circuit about the amazing restaurants that were to be part of this luxurious hotel. One amongst them filled in the gap that we missed for so long. Yes the a pan Asian restaurant known by the same name as the cuisines it serves, “Pan Asian” in our own ITC Grand Chola.

Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing that hits you is the collection of Wines the restaurant boasts of. After being lead through some amazing shelves of Wines, the restaurant throws itself upon oneself with its rustic interiors and a fantastic open kitchen. Yes, the entire kitchen forms an integral part of the restaurant that provides a great experience seeing your order made almost in front of you. 

The menu was crafted keeping in mind the essence of the restaurant and true to its name had cuisines from three different provinces in China, a section dedicated to Thai and finally another dedicated to Japanese. The interesting aspect of the entire menu was the matrix arrangement of core ingredient against each cuisine. This I felt was quite innovative as one need not get confused with complex names but can rather select the core ingredient such as poultry, lamb, duck, seafood or vegetarian and then cross it with the cuisine to order your appetizers and mains. 
(Banana Blossom Salad)
(Steamed Duck Carpaccio)
(Pan Asian’s Som Tam)
The first to be served was the ‘Banana Blossom Salad’. The salad was served very aesthetically on a bowl made of banana fibres and had the right amount of crunchiness that a salad needs. This was followed by the ‘Steamed Duck Carpaccio’. I must admit that this was the first time I’d ventured out into unfamiliar territory of having a dish with duck as the core ingredient. Boy was I surprised, the duck was tender and at the right temperature being a cold dish. It was served along with some ponzu jelly and orange crushed ice which complemented the flavour well. Can’t wait to try another hot duck dish soon. The next to be served was the ‘Pan Asian’s Som Tam’ which was the restaurants own interpretation of the classic Thai salad. 
(Wok Tossed Chicken)

(Sichuan style Crispy Prawns)
(Stir Fried Squid)

(Californian Apple and Fresh Fennel Soup)

The ‘Wok Tossed Chicken’ was one of my favourites of the evening. The chicken was cooked perfectly with a sumptuous amount of nuts that truly elevated its flavours. The ‘Sichuan style Crispy Prawns’ was served next. The prawns were cooked in a succulent nut sauce that complemented the spice of the Sichuan style cooking. This was followed by the ‘Stir Fried Squid’, wherein the squid was crispy and coated in a nice chilli basil crumble. To end the array of appetizers, we were served with a ‘Californian Apple and Fresh Fennel Soup’. The soup served in Pan Asian has a twist to it. You are presented with a big bowl with the core ingredient and then provided the soup separately that can be poured in. This helps understand all the different flavours of the soup. The soup is so filling that it is a meal by itself. 
(Chicken Gaobao with Pixian Chilli)

(Phad Cha Talay)

(Asian Greens)
(Teppanyaki Fried Rice)

The mains started with the ‘Chicken Gaobao with Pixian Chilli’. The combination of leeks, nuts and peppercorns made the flavours stand out. The next was the ‘Phad Cha Talay’, which was basically an assortment of seafood cooked in turmeric and basil. This was followed by some Asian Greens in white garlic sauce. We were served with ‘Teppanyaki Fried Rice’ to go with the mains. The rice had a nice flavour of hotness in it while at the same time the hotness wasn’t too overpowering. 

(Serenity on Pebbled Path)

(Vahlrona Chocolate)

To sum up the evening, we were served with a ‘Serenity on Pebbled Path’ and a ‘Vahlrona Chocolate’. The pebbled path was indeed serene. It comprised of a nice pineapple orange pond with rock chocolates to make up the path. The chocolate on the other hand was exotic which went perfect with the dark cherry compote and spearmint ice cream that accompanied it. 

On the whole, my dining experience at ‘Pan Asian’ was truly Asian without any compromise on quality or taste and in my knowledge is the only authentic Asian restaurant existent as of now in Chennai. If you are a major lover of Asian food, then it definitely needs to be on the top of your must visit restaurant list.

Pan Asian is located at the ITC Grand Chola.

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