‘Gong Hey Fat Choy’ will be the most used line across the world over the next fortnight. It is the Chinese New Year, the year of the ‘Horse’ and the line is ‘Happy new year’ in Cantonese. This period of the year is pure revelry in China and China towns across the globe. It is code ‘Red’, from the lanterns to the décor to the firecrackers, all throughout. We experienced once such revelry last night at the Emperor’s Court; the Cantonese and Sichuan restaurant at Hotel Renaissance in Powai. It was a preview of the Chinese New Year menu hosted by Chef Sandeep Pande, Executive chef of the hotel and organized by the Food Bloggers Association of India (FBAI).
No lanterns, no firecrackers, the focus was food and only food. A Td’H menu vegetarian and a mix n match (choice from a veg and a non-veg range) was specially designed for the festive season by Chef Rahul Khosla, who heads the restaurant. Apart from the food the USP of the restaurant is its 150 degree view of the Powai Lake making it a preferred shooting haunt for tele-ads and Bollywood. One visit to the place and you will easily spot their bulbous lamps.
Coming back to food, Cantonese cuisine is mild with use of ingredients lie Cornstarch, Red vinegar and sauces like Black bean, Hoisin, Oyster etc and Sichuan on the other hand is fiery, chilies, Sichuan peppers, garlic, ginger etc. Our menu was a mix of both cuisines. We started off with a mushroom and tofu soup, a thick soup with coriander and garlic and soy as the key flavourings with enoki mushrooms giving the crunch.
For starters we had Spinach and cheese dumpling, Mix veg Bao and Radish cake. Dumplings a classic for celebrations, Radish cake ( also referred to as turnip or carrot cake) a mixture of veggies and rice starch steamed and then pan-fried (optional) is had during the new year celebrations as a sign of good fortune and lastly the Bao a kid of Bun is a Yum Cha time( afternoon tea) dish a cross between bread and dimsum this one is steamed with a dense coating and usually comes with a pork filling. The dumpling was common place, the radish cake good and the bao very well done, soft and fluffy.
The mains Broccoli and Chinese greens in butter garlic were very mild, the Buddha’s delight – Mushrooms (Enoli, Shitake, Button and Shimeji) and greens in mild soy was full of Umami were served with some burnt garlic rice. I overheard my fellow diners go gaga over the pomfret in some Sichuan sauce. Sula Chenin Blanc, a white wine again worked well with the food, kept my palate up and going. Highlight from the desserts was the deep-fried banana and peanut roll, the seemingly pastry casing made it rich. The Nian(sticky) gao(cake) a classic festive time sticky rice cake was a talking point but did not like it much. A certain legend also mentions Nian the devil used to come out of his cave during new years to eat children and livestock and hence the red colours to ward off the evil and Nian gao as a sweeter option.
The festivities ended with us handed over a red ‘potli’ with Chinese coins, tangerines (Chinese decorate their house with tangerines for good luck) and fortune cookies exactly like a custom in China of handing over red envelopes with currency coins to dear ones for a good fortune. To the ‘year of the horse’, wishing us all prosperity, strength and grace.
Good food, authentic Cantonese style. Many worthy dishes.
Set Meal for 2 – Rs 3800, a little steep for vegetarians
Must go for the ambiance, the view and the Marriott hospitality.