Most of us will be amused if one had to open a place called ‘Mala’ and serve authentic Chinese food!! Mala is to Sichuan like Mustard is to Bengal or Makkhan is to Punjab! Ma for Sichuan peppercorns and La for dried Chilly is the most known flavour which represents the Sichuan cuisine but often overused just like the aforementioned Indian ones. Taj Santacruz the brand new luxury hotel at the domestic airport gets you ‘MaLa’ in moderation. Yes they now have their second specialty restaurant to public, the China Inc as it indicates serves Chinese cuisine but has more from the Sichuan sometimes called Schezwan region.
Sichuan is not just about chilli, like our local ‘schezwan chutney’ or the comforting ‘Triple Schezwan’ would indicate. Sichuan is a cuisine which shows spicy, flower, bitter, sweet, smoky etc aromas in one dish thus making it rich in flavours. The Spicy lemon coriander soup served to us one apt example to highlight the same. This clear and thin soup was bursting with vivid aromas and the interplay of textures with soft Goji berries, the chewy bamboo mushrooms and the crisp chilli was sublime.
Some of the most popular dishes of Sichuan cuisine which have entered the Indian mainstream dining are the Kung Pao , Ma Po , black pepper sauce etc and these can be seen on the menu albeit with more veritable in essence. Dimsums and Bao, one cased in potato starch sheet and the latter in Lotus flour duvet are an appetizer junkie’s delight. The edamame and truffle dumpling is a must try! China Inc also has specially created cocktails to pair with the cuisine; of course they have aromatic Asian influences. I loved the cocktail, made with Old Monk to enjoy the spice attack of Ma Po Tofu and the five spiced mushroom rice.
China Inc offers a menu which pampers vegetarian diners and also showcases bit of Cantonese for those with a lesser affinity to spice. I ended my meal with a fried milk cake served with condensed milk, would have loved it even more for Yum-Cha. Given the the Villeroy and Boch silver, the Zwiesels, the food and the warm service the price is affordable, affordable-luxury!
Will go back to explore more, crispy taro dumpling with fennel and veggies on my mind!
To Mala, Cheers!