It’s been some time since I logged on to my blog. And, then when I did, it was a rather pleasant surprise to see a little more than 20,000 hits! Thank you everyone who visited and commented on the blog posts. Its been more than one and a half years since I started the blog, and it has grown so much!
I know I’ve been missing in action, but there’s been so much going on. But, now I’m back. Over the past month, I’ve attended a lot of wonderful events – a day’s worth of food knowledge at APB Cook Studio on Mediterranean cuisine, a Thai food festival at JW Marriott, a wonderfully interactive Pizza-Off at Serafina, a small dinner at Pop Tate’s new branch at Lokhandwala, and a delicious introduction to a more authentic version of Chinese food that I have had in a long time at Sun-n-Sand Hotel’s Juhu’s newest kid on the block – Haochi.
While I haven’t had that much time to post about the rest, this post here is about Haochi and the meal I was invited to review last week. My friend Alisha and I visited the restaurant on its 5th day of opening and by the time we were done, the place was buzzing with people! We arrived quite early and very hungry and left rather late with our bellies full.
So, Haochi has replaced the ever famous Sunset Room that was part of Sun-n-Sand’s legacy since the past 50 years. This year, their 51st year, it was time to bring in a new legacy, and at the insistence of Senior Vice President Gulshan Arora, Haochi came into being. After all, as he claims, the Indian palate is more accustomed to Chinese and Indian food. After bringing in a specialty Chinese Chef and Dim sum chef from China, the restaurant opened on 1st December, 2013.
The space is dimly lit and has an intimate ambience. It is decorated with minimalism and straight lines and the muted browns and wooden tones add to the warmth. As you enter, you are privy to a lot of activity at the kitchen which is separated from the seating area by a glass. Pretty interactive, I must say! So, we were greeted and seated by a bevy of waiters and the Executive Assistant Manager Satish Fernandes, who were all very attentive throughout the meal. We started off with a drink – an iced chamomile tea with apple – it was delicious and certainly refreshing. While I had the virgin version, Alisha had hers with some vodka.
What is tea – even if it is iced – without some dimsums? So, we went on to taste some of the dimsums at the restaurant. Two kinds were brought to our table – Broccoli and Waterchestnut and the Chicken and Shrimp Sui Mai. We first tasted a portion of the Sui Mai. I found the skin a little doughy, but the combination of chicken and shrimp were wonderful. However, what took me by surprise was the Broccoli and Water Chestnut. I love these two vegetables as they are, but their combination in the dumpling was a marriage made in heaven. Whether it is the taste or the texture, this dish definitely scores a 10/10!
Then came the appetisers. We had Crispy Tianjin Prawn Rolls, Haochi Lotus Root, Chilli Eggplant, and Shredded Chicken with Spicy Salt. Of these, the Rolls and the Haochi Lotus Root topped my chart. The rolls are made of spring roll wrappers encasing prawns with julienned carrot and scallions and deep fried. The freshness (and crunch) of the prawns and veggies came through, despite the cooking method, which in my books, scores.
The Haochi Lotus Root was another star. The spicy lotus root (which I was informed is imported from Thailand) was marinated in a special chilli blend. It’s texture, crunch and spice quotient balanced each other perfectly. For me, the chilli eggplant was a tad bit too sweet, while the shredded chicken with spicy salt, although quite lip smackingly chatpata, lost out. The chicken was just too dry and the coating overpowered its texture. Nonetheless, makes for some good beer snacks!
We were then served the soups – Chicken Won Ton and Haochi Special – which were quite mild in taste after a fiery course of appetisers. But both were warm, and polished of quite quickly. (No pics here, since it was too dark to get a shot of the soups!)
We finally went on to the main course. The main course comprised Vegetarian Garlic Butter Rice, Chow Mein, Shredded Tenderloin in a Black Pepper Sauce, Shredded Lamb in a Black Pepper Sauce, Ginger Spring Onion Chicken, Red Snapper in Black Bean Sauce, and Five Treasure Vegetables. I loved the rice and the chowmein. The former could have done with a bit more garlic (but, that’s a personal preference) and the freshness of the vegetables, the crunch and the al dente ‘ness’ of the noodles were beautifully paired.
Amongst the mains, while I wasn’t very impressed with the fish dish, the rest more than made up for it. The Ginger Spring Onion Chicken stood out but required a bit more ginger, while my friend loved the Shredded Tenderloin – she found it beautifully cooked and had a combination of flavours she’d never tasted before. My lamb too was prepared in a similar sauce (at my request, since I wanted something sticky to go with my rice). It was a little on the sweeter, slightly peanutty side but after two bites, it grew on me. The texture (yes, texture and crunch score in Haochi’s dishes) of the Five Treasure veggies was spot on, and the gravy was quite mild.
We also had some lovely White Teas – the Jasmine Pearl and Chinese Flower. Both were distinct in taste and beautifully flavoured! They also served as palate cleansers before we started the main course.
We were pretty stuffed by the time we were done with main course (I actually got it packed!). Finally, came the dessert. And no foodie can walk out of a restaurant without dessert. We were served the Almond Yoghurt with Exotic Fruits, Mandarin Creme Brulee and the Chocolate Lava Cake.
The Mandarin Creme Brulee was quite disappointing. I love creme brulee, but the bruleed caramel should be spot on and the custard, light. This particular one at Haochi had none of that. The smattering of bruleed sugar was quite a turn off.
However, Alisha and I happily polished off the Almond Yoghurt. Accompanied by some dragon fruit, exotic lychees, and slivers of plums, the combination and texture of the ground almind wth the not-so-swweet yoghurt was perfect! And finally, bringing an end to the crescendo of sweets was the warm, crunchy-on-the-top Chocolate Lava Cake, hitting all the right spots! Warm, gooey, chocolatey, it was the perfect end to our meal!
Overall, Haochi has a lovely menu. The service was perfect as was the food. And, the prices are so reasonable. I would definitely visit the place again. Those Broccoli and Water Chestnut Dimsums and Tianjin Prawn Rolls refuse to get out of my head!