We all have that favourite restaurant which is too far to make the trek often. However, Taj hotels in Delhi-NCR are sidestepping that dilemma with a fun 10-day pop-up, where the three Asian restaurants across their hotels in the region are switching addresses. The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) group that holds Taj and Vivanta properties started the ‘Treasures of the Orient’ yesterday, which goes on till next weekend. Effectively, what’s happening here is an interchange of kitchen hands, as Delhi’s House of Ming and Spicy Duck go to Gurgaon and Dwarka respectively, and Gurgaon’s Thai Pavilion heads to Delhi.
In Gurgaon for the inaugural luncheon, we tried the House of Ming menu at Taj City Centre, which incidentally completes 40 years this year. Bringing their Canton and Schezuan cuisines to the kitchen of Thai Pavilion, the menu is focused on comfort dishes done with a four-decades old expertise. Of the dim sums, the Prawn Har Gao and Mixed Vegetable Sui Mai are must tries. Both are bursting with freshness and flavour, and are served at an optimal temperature where you can savour the dim sum in that one-pop bite. The Golden Fried Prawn is nice as well, succulent till the centre and the fried outer layer crisp despite a 10-minute wait in getting to it.
The Sour Pepper Chicken Soup stands true to its name, and isn’t for the faint-hearted given that it’s highly pungent. But for those who enjoy that flavour profile, it makes for a hearty soup, with the crushed black pepper on top. The River Sole is wok-fried with black mushroom and oyster sauce, and carries subtle flavours perfectly. While the Crispy Konjee Lamb Beijing Style and Kung Pao Chicken could’ve been less greasy and centered more on enhancing the meat than ladening sauces, what won our heart was the Silken Tofu in Black Bean Sauce. The tofu is smooth as silk and melts in your mouth, and all the notes of the black bean sauce — spicy, sweet, salty, sharp — come together to lend character to the dish.
Giving competition to the main menu the dessert platter. The toffee banana here is definitely the best we’ve ever eaten – the tender, slightly tempered banana encased in a crispy batter and topped with toffee and white sesame seeds was a great ending. Flanked by vanilla ice cream and spiced figs, these gave a break to the sweet profile. All in all, this is a fun musical chairs of restaurants with an equally enjoyable menu to back it – the Treasures of the Orient is a new culinary idea and you’d want to be a part of it.
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All images: Courtesy Taj Hotels