As strange as it may sound, it is not wrong to say that Chinese is the most popular Indian cuisine. It is after all India’s most popular food — from Gobhi Manchurian in Bangalore to Chilly Paneer in Lucknow, from Hakka noodles in Calcutta to cheese fried rice in Udaipur Chinese food is everywhere in the country, every street has a cart that makes noodles and every make has someone steaming dumplings. But what is real Chinese food? I went to look for the answers in one of the finest Chinese restaurant in India – The China Kitchen.
The China Kitchen is not only the finest Chinese culinary destination in Delhi but also one of the pioneers of the cuisine in the country. It brought real Chinese food to the capital when we were only privy to the chinjabi sauce laden Chinese food. The launch menu of the restaurant that included a stir-fried soft-shell crab, quite a novelty in India, is still remembered by the people of Delhi. While it has continued to serving some of the most delicious egg tarts and the best Peking duck in town for the past 13 years, the place also brings quite a few new additions to its menu every now and then — which is important because of the number of repeat guests who come in ( many of them expats from China) and the need to try new options.
And so, last month The China Kitchen launched a new menu, curated entirely by the MasterChef Zhang the new offerings are an ode to the Sichuan style of cooking. A delightful combination of succulent flavors, Sichuan cuisine has been popularly known and loved for its scintillating aromas which has always set it apart from the ordinary. Drawing inspiration from the Sichuan region and its distinctive flavors – some robustly spicy while others are delicate and savoury. It is the intensity of each flavour along with the interaction of different ingredients and the techniques of cooking that makes the cuisine so popular.
We started with some dim sums — some of which were expectedly steamed, but some were fried. The spicy chicken dumplings with roe were outstanding as were the fried ‘hive dumplings.’ The crunchy bean salad set the tone for the soup while the seaweed salad was the first of its kind that I ate. The menu showcases the subtleties of the the cuisine and uses all the techniques of traditional Chinese cooking: dishes like wok tossed chicken with fresh Sichuan pepper, Sichuan seafood, wok tossed Sichuan Tianfu lamb, all are characterised by their bold yet distinct flavours.
And so the mains that came in generous portions hit the right spot and balanced high spice and robust flavours with simpler subtle ones. The fish — flied in from Singapore was spot on as was the chicken with mushroom — but my favourite of the evening was the rice and noodles. Handcut (rice, not noodles!) were lovely starchy and so umami. The rice, fragrant, mild and just with the right bite made for perfect pairing with the fish. The stir fried bean curd was a robust and striking mix of textures and flavours and taste.
The evening ended with beautiful and innovative chocolate cigars. Filled with a delicate mousse, the cigar was made of lovely dark chocolate and served with coffee liquor.
Available at: The China Kitchen, Hyatt Regency Delhi, Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi
Lunch: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Dinner: 7:00 PM – 11.30 PM
Sunday brunch: 12:00 PM – 3.30 PM
Price for two: INR 4500 plus taxes
For reservations call Saurabh at +91 9818477234