A charming custom originating in Chinese teahouses is now quite a charm amongst the Mumbai youth too. Is ‘yum cha’ soon going to be the next term used instead of “Let’s go for coffee?” Well, Buddha belly- the newest entrant on the steaming block aims to, atleast.
Who hasn’t spent lazy afternoons in their favorite Chinese restaurants, sipping tea and feasting on the innumerable assortment of delicacies that make up Chinese dim sum? Most of us have done it at some point in time.
But did we ever think that this one component in the menu could ever form an entire concept and evolve as a restaurant in Mumbai. It has and it has taken shape in the form of ‘Buddha Belly’
We met Mr. Raj Pandey, General Manager of Imperial group who has been one of the pillars in building this unique proposition called ‘Buddha Belly’. He takes us on a trip while explaining about these little pieces of absolute delight. He says, “Originally a Cantonese custom, dim sum is inextricably linked to the Chinese tradition of “yum cha” or drinking tea. Still, it took several centuries for the culinary art of dim sum to develop.” Chef Michael Swamy is quick to add, “At one time it was considered inappropriate to combine tea with food, but, as tea’s quality to aid in digestion and cleanse the palate became known, tea house proprietors began adding a variety of snacks, giving birth to the concept of dim sum.”
Today, dim sum is served throughout China. I personally on my trip to China, have memories of enjoying jiaozi, pearl balls, spicy huntuns (wontons),amidst a wide assortment of sweet and savory dishes ranging from meatballs to sweet cakes. Still, it is probably true that the best Cantonese dim sum chefs are found not in China but in Hong Kong, where restaurants begin serving dim sum as early as 6:30 in the morning and continue through mid-afternoon.
On my way back from Hongkong, we come across this quaint little place around Kemps corner and decide to continue our dim sum trail, which began in Shenzhen. Instead of ordering from a menu, we are requested to ‘tick’ from an assortment of dishes that are on offer. Not very experimental with their fare, but it clearly takes some inspiration from the bigger giants in the Mumbai circles ranging from baked, steamed, pan fried to deep fried dimsums. But that’s the end of the inspiration. Taste-wise nothing you would wish to carry back but you would be surprised by the shallow pricing (A meal for 2, would average around INR 600). This could prove to be their biggest USP apart from their range on offer.
Cheap (monetarily) dimsums, attentive team and a few cheap (qualitatively) twists to the traditional favourites. But what more does one expect at such low rates, a good time with friends, steaming conversations and dim sums off course. Cool your heals off with their lemon grass cooler through the fare.
A word of caution:
If you’re looking to have a romantic date, then ‘Buddha belly’ probably isn’t the best choice. First off, the atmosphere is hardly conducive to romance, with the clattering of trays, servers calling out orders, groups of people talking at each table. Besides, the best way to enjoy dim sum is with a group; otherwise you’ll fill up on a few items and miss the opportunity to sample everything.