When the announcement goes viral,’ Sunset room at Sun N Sand, after 50 years, launches a new concept’, what does one expect? Magic. When you say that we were thinking to do something different, did you mean different than what’s happening around? Or merely different what the hotel team has ever done before? I gape for an answer.
Three of the eight culinary traditions of China- Cantonese, Hunan and Sichuan have been developed into a concept restaurant christened Haochi, which means ‘Simply Delicious’ in Chinese .
Visual delight of having an open kitchen is washed away by the tide as one spots a large cauldron of steamed rice stored over open garbage cans. Mediterranean oil and herb jars placed along the open kitchen, defeats the purpose of the thoughtful décor entirely. Thankfully, neither do we have a laughing Buddha welcoming us, nor the very synonymous red and gold artifacts.
Chef Gao specializes in dim sums, handmade noodles and moon cakes. Where is all his expertise in the menu? Chef Xiang has ‘Hunan’ hidden in his name, showers bursts of taste. And how?Do we want to veil authentic food to impress locales? Scream out on the beach and expect magic. Or one will upset the one’s coming in for genuine culinary traditions. Food, if it does not have a regional boundary is wonderfully sumptuous. Moment the culinary definition comes in the picture, I rest back on my chair thinking.
In most traditional Chinese dining, dishes are communal. They are placed on the table for the guests to help themselves. However, I miss ‘Lazy Susans ‘
Dim sums handsomely filled with spinach and black mushrooms, looked very appetizing with the required freshness, eye appeal and glaze was dry from within. Chicken in black bean sauce was too pronounced, yet great for the one’s who like it that strong. Can be masked with a lot of steamed rice though. Some one looking for authentic black bean in all its glamour will enjoy. Sesame crusted prawns was the highlight of the appetizers. Not too crusty, not too floury. Juicy yet crisp prawns, just the way one would imagine. Try it with the three accompanying sauces placed at the table. Chilly garlic comes out tops over chilly soy and honey chilly. Lotus steam was heavenly spiced, as hinted in the menu, was crisp, thinly battered and stings the back of your palette perfectly. The chilly quotient can be customized, if you like the stems and not very fond of spicy food.
Main course entailed butter garlic fried rice with chicken, which could be eaten all by itself. Brilliant on part of Chef Xiang to get this to the table in the times of chuan and burnt ginger doing rounds in other restaurants. Cantonese crisp fried noodles had a good amount of the nappering vegetable sauce, however, I expected Chef Gao’s handmade noodles, having heard so much about his caliber.
The beverage menu shows influences of the Carribean Islands with a few oriental ingredients splashed in at regular intervals, especially ‘Silk Route’. It gives a subtle oriental hint.
“Silk Route” is the conventional route through Central Asia linking the Iranian plateau with Western China; along this trade route passed exotic foodstuffs that greatly enlarged the potential for Chinese cuisines.
Dessert menu showers you with a very decadent chocolate lava cake. The server warns you about the hot bowl which comes straight out of the oven. It’s one of those only restaurants in the city that does not serve it with an ice cream. However, it isn’t required is what Haochi shows us, the right way. Mandarin scented crème brulee with the right notes of mandarin, follows the right style of cooking and serving. Simple, straight and chic. Almond yoghurt served with tropical fruits is their signature and rightly so. It’s creamy, like a tropical Almond Blanc Mange and will be enjoyed by the yoghurt lovers.
However, I quite miss the typically native red bean pancakes, sweet black bean moon cakes, jellied desserts like the Chinese would savour post meals.
Overall, the food was simple, tweaked to Indian tastes and a lot of worldly influences show all through the menu and taste. It would be just right for them to call it a contemporary Chinese restaurant and not proclaim to be authentic. It would just give them a free hand and not bind them regionally to the expertise of the chef. Today, any diner is an avid food follower. One cannot skim through by just saying we have Expat Chinese chefs , who know their chillies!
Article originally appeared on GingerChai.com