It is a well-established fact that Indians love their Chinese dishes. The fact these Chinese dishes come in myriad iterations,a lot of them far removed from their roots’ north of the Himalayas, doesn’t deter most. It is exactly the reason why authentic Chinese restaurants use the Chinese Lunar New Year as catalyst to push the flavour agenda to their patrons.
For the Year of the Rabbit, Chinese Lunar New Year 2023, ITC Grand Central, Mumbai’s Chinese fine dining restaurant, Shanghai Club, roped in Chef Liang to cook-up his classic and people-pleaser dishes. Chef Liang joined ITC Hotels as the executive Chinese chef and was a core member of the team that opened the then ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton (now ITC Maratha) in Mumbai and put the restaurant, Pan Asian, on Mumbai’s culinary must-do list.
His culinary journey, however, began when he was 19 years old, as a commi chef at the Great wall Sheraton Beijing. From there he rose the ranks by relentlessly honing his skills and techniques, including wielding the mighty rolling pin that led the way for delectable dim sums. Over the years he has catered to dignitaries including the Chinese premiere, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, The Sultan of Brunei, to name a few.
At Shanghai Club, Chef Liang is busy cooking up a storm that best showcases his proficiency in regional Chinese cuisines styles from Sichuan, Guangdong and Beijing regions. Our meal started off with a bowl of chicken meat ball in clear broth. The crystal-clear soup was soul-nourishing with its warmth and its delicate flavour. Chef Liang later told us that he uses a very traditional Chinese technique to get that perfect clarification—he throws in some raw chicken that sucks out the sediments from the broth. The soup came with melt-in-mouth chicken meatballs and equal pieces of shimeji mushroom.
For appetisers, batter-fried lotus roots with golden garlic hit the spot just right on a midweek dinner. The simple flavour of the fresh lotus roots stood out without drowning in oil; we recommend a cup of freshly-brewed, delicate and fragrant jasmine tea to go with it. It was followed by Chef Liang’s version of chilli chicken—the simplicity of the dish was its hallmark. But what took our breath away was the succulent chicken was a lesson in using quality produce used.
The highlight of the main course was the Chongqing spicy noodles with chicken, which is deftly put together on the tableside. The seasoning included soy sauce, scallions, chilli oil, fried garlic and minced chicken. At no point the balance of flavours veered towards extremes and if you do feel a lack of salt, its balanced with the side dishes of gong pao chicken, pomfret with bamboo shoots and garlic, and Sichuan double fried pork.
Chef Liang came out for the dessert, beaming with pride on the creation of his fried ice cream with strawberry sauce. As he cuts the dessert into four, he shares how he uses cake crumbs as the coating for the ice cream before dipping it into hot oil. This creates a unique texture that is unlike any other. Served with seasonal fruits it does have a curious and fun personality.
Address: Shanghai Club, ITC Grand Central, Parel
Dates: January 15-22, 2023; Dinner only (7:30 pm-11:30 pm)
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