I love the Indian version of Chinese food , Chindian as it is popularly called never fails to comfort you and mainly; one is hardly spoilt for choice practically ordering the same food every time. And on the other side is real Chinese food, where you have to wade through pages of menu to decide on the right sauce, the right combination of vegetables and the right kind of starch to go along.
Chao Ban in Kalaghoda, Mumbai is one such stand alone restaurant which attempts to lure people with authentic Oriental food. Split on two levels it is nicely done up with the settings which are contemporary but there still a lot of elements like the Chinese pots etc which still gives it a classic, old school feel.
The beverage menu is fair and represents all categories with a limited selection and has a decent line up of cocktails and mocktails. I chose the virgin lemon grass cooler (Rs 200) and it was extremely refreshing. The food menu in a leather folder looked very neat and it has a selection of Dumplings (Steamed, Soaked, panfried, fried), Cheung Fun, Appetizers, Soups, Mains, Rice, Noodles and desserts.
Mix veg crystal dumpling (Rs 265): Very nicely rolled and with a clear translucent skin these dumplings were moist with mushrooms, veggies with water chestnuts giving it a bite
Sticky rice in Lotus leaves (Rs 250): Also called Zongzi or Zong is staple Chinese food of Sticky rice stuffed with vegetables/meat wrapped in bamboo or other big leaves and steamed. This one was very filling with a stuffing dominated by fleshy and chewy Shitake mushrooms. The condiments on the table, spring onions and pepper and the sesame dip went well. Beware, its a meal in itself!
Soaked veg dumpling (Rs 320): I always maintain that innovation in food is good for it to evolve but this one is more of convenience than innovation, moreover an opportunity to charge more. Nonetheless I liked the steamed dumpling in a soy chilli sauce with crispy garlic.
Crunchy veg Cheung Fun (Rs 295): Cheung Fun literally translates and ‘Intestine Noodle’ because of its shape and the flat thick rice noodle it’s rolled up in. It is traditionally steamed and has a velvety texture. This one is a tweak of a spring roll wrapped in a rice noodle and hence ‘crunchy’. But I would prefer the traditional variant and also they could have done better than this lackluster presentation.
Four Seasons Beans (Rs 395): Never ever thought that I would like French beans as much. A dry preparation of steamed beans tossed in a ginger chilli soy and comes in a good portion.
Vegetable Pot Rice (Rs 525): Long grained rice in a light sauce with a dominant star anise fragrance and all kind of vegetables from carrots to lotus stems tossed in. This dish laden with Umami, soy does its bit to give you that but this hinted the use of MSG. The Chef denied it and I took it with a pinch of salt. Great portion size and tasted good.
After all the sweet, aromatic and pungent spice came the Lemon Grass crème brulee (Rs 200) which was relatively light but a good palate soother.
Meal for 2: Veggie meal for 1500 (including taxes)
- Good food and reasonable pricing
- A good choice of dimsums
- A Lunch buffet on weekdays for Rs 650++ and a dimsum dinner for 800++
- Rs 800 glass of Selbach Riesling served warm. The wait staff a little clueless on the beverage specially the cocktail menu.
- Dessert selection full with pastries and mousses with no Asian touch!
- I miss windows/daylight in the place.
They dole out a good experience of Asian food. They however require a lot of finesse if they aspire to come close to the best. Will go back to try the unlimited dim sum dinner!