A Real Chinese Shangri-La!
Last Byte/Ravi V.Chhabra
The Chinese miniature terracotta warrior stood steadfast on the huge round dining table staring in my face as I seated myself and fiddled with the neatly laid out fine cutlery and chopsticks, awaiting the scrumptious treat.
The Capital's food aficionados gathered for the luncheon readied themselves to taste the Chinese cuisine to celebrate the Chinese New Year at the newest, sprawling and immaculately interiored Shangri-la Hotel. The venue was the hotel's Oriental specialty restaurant - 19 Oriental Avenue, which is segregated into three parts, the Chinese dining area, Thai and Japanese.
As the foodies awaited savoring the Chinese delicacies prepared for the occasion by Chef James Ng J.K, who is Chinese by descent, has perfected the art of cooking in Singapore and is humble to the core, he elaborated on how lavish and warmly the Chinese celebrate their New Year.
The Chinese New Year in 2006 (year of the dog) falls between Jan.21 and Feb.19 and is celebrated with weeks of preparation. Families and close ones congregate to honor their ancestors and prepare for a lavish multi-course meal as part of the festivity. Everything exotic is prepared - from sea food, duck, beef and pork, he explained.
Chef James is widely traveled and has extensively worked in Singapore and Dubai among other countries in a span of over four decades and feels Delhi isn' yet ready for the so-called world cuisine and its nightlife is still pathetic. He has visited some standalone Chinese restaurants in and around Delhi and feels they are far from good. One can only but agree with him on these candid observations. Even though vegetarians ruled the day at this fine luncheon at Shangri-la and were aptly pampered with delectable piping hot greens in oyster and plum sauce among other delicacies. It was a gastronomical delight for the carnivores like myself.
The meal started with Shark fin soup for us and hot and sour for the vegetarians. This was followed by colorful dimsums with varied fillings, including the ones with spinach. Before one could finish the dumplings arrived the Beijing duck rolls and steamed red snapper with spring onions. The hot favourite for the non-vegetarians turned out to be the tender most braised pork spare ribs. Though prepared at the hotel, they are sourced from south India. The fried noodles Singapore style were lacking in flavor and a rice-devout like myself missed a bowlful that wasn't pre-ordered!
The restaurant maintains a well stocked bar and offers a choice among its set menu at Rs 1,700 per person that includes among other dishes, delicacies like the Abalon, steamed fish and Mango pudding for dessert. A noticeable part of the interiors is its non-Oriental tapestry. The eclectic music in the backdrop compliments the fine array of dishes and a courteous service.