Dim sums are probably one of the best inventions in culinary history, and it’s a known fact that the bite-sized dollops filled with vegetables and meat (it translates to ”touch of the heart” in Chinese) enjoy undulating popularity in the country. Now Michelin starred chef Andrew Wong, whose London restaurant, A.Wong has made headlines for serving rich Chinese food, brings authentic dim sums to Delhi. At The Oberoi, Delhi, Wong has restyled the menu and we had the chance to converse with him about his culinary creations.
Wong tells me that the history of the dish is a lot more intricate and layered than the ‘fun dough balls’ we typically think them to be. ” [There are] over 3,000 varieties of dimsums in China, and over 20 words just to describe the texture of food in their language…,” he says. The new menu seeks to bring out the story behind China’s food traditions, while at the same time balancing the preferences of locals. “There’s a big culture of everything being bespoke here [in India]. Replacing the vegetables with chicken, more seasoning, less spice…” he laughs, recalling the bafflement he faced when he started out as the mentor chef at Baoshuan two years ago. Coming from a city where people dine out to try the chef’s menu to one where personal choices can’t be compromised, it was quite the change, but one he adapted to.
The above reflects in his approach to food and restaurants. From respecting all cultures and what they’ve contributed to the culinary landscape, and building a community, to never forgetting the importance of what the diner wants to eat, are all intrinsic to Chef Wong’s work. He has a deep knowledge of foods and the culture they originate from, so when dimsums that look nothing like the soft white encasing of veggies or meats we’re used to come to the table, it’s no surprise.
A must-have on the menu is duck dim sums. Its nest-like structure is similar to a puff pasty made with egg, and a slightly sweet, chopped duck makes for a decadent bite. One of the prawn dim sums is akin to a prawn sesame toast with meat coating in fried bread, generously topped with sesame seeds. Another prawn delicacy to try is the caviar-coated dim sum. The shrimp dim sums, on the other hand, were glutenous, topped with burnt chilli. For subtle flavours, try the rice dim sums.
All meals, dim sums or otherwise, will be preceded by another new addition – pickles. Nothing like the ones we know in India. Chef Wong has used different vegetables to achieve a different texture, level of pungency, and overall flavour; they are traditionally to be consumed before the meal. Ladyfingers, beans, cabbage, lotus root, edamame, and more feature in this selection.
Good food is always welcome, but good food by a Michelin-starred chef is an experience worth trying. The Oberoi’s Baoshuan is a place for family dinners, romantic evenings, brunches with friends, or business meetings. Drop by to savour the food for the soul.
Where: The Oberoi, Dr. Zakir Hussain Marg
Opening hours: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm to 11:30 pm, all days
Price: Rs 5,000 for two, taxes extra
Ambient noise level: low
Dining experience: Helpful and knowledgeable