The long drive from the heart of Delhi to Gurgaon can whip up the kind of hunger everyone pretends to fear but loves! On my way to the Chinese Street-Food Festival in Gurgaon, I had many mental images of what the event would be like – fake Chinese street, red and yellow lanterns adorning the place, and best of all – tables laden with street goodies (read the ‘unthinkable food’). Yes, I was beyond excited thinking about the oh-so-famous fried crickets, bugs-on-sticks and other steamed and fried crawlies.
So, that didn’t happen. Instead, I found myself in front of a behemoth of a building – the Optus Sarovar Premiere hotel; not a ‘Chinese’ street. The restaurant at the hotel, The Oriental Blossom, is spacious, has Thai-inspired décor and did play some Chinese instrumental music. I began my evening with a glass of the very fine Opera Cabernet merlot with tofu and nut salad in crispy cases (hands-down delicious), followed by some sour ‘n’ spicy cucumber and Chinese cabbage salad and soup (veg and a mixed soup of prawn, chicken and fish; because it’s only fair!).
The appetisers don’t stop here. The pokchoy and pepper crystal dimsum just melts in the mouth; the Szechuan flavoured lamb kothe was cooked to perfection; the crispy mushroom with crackling spinach was inspiring (inspired me to try that at home); then the stir-fried chicken with pepper corns; and the star of the evening, corncake with lemony chilli sauce. Not because I am a corn fan, but because the tangy and sweet sauce complemented the corn patties very well.
I needed something to wash down all the ‘appetisers’, so I asked for the Sarovar special: exotic mix of pineapple and lemon juice, gin and layered with red wine. My partner and I dreaded the main course after those very elaborate starters – the silken tofu with veg soy chilli sauce (could have been very nice if I were a tofu fan); chicken in dry red chilli Szechuan sauce; and the stir-fried prawn with cumin and chilli was very well received by us, then came the sliced fish in oyster and preserved bean sauce. But what made the main course shine was the unsuspecting stir-fried greens with woodears. Broccoli, sweat peas, lettuce and woodear mushrooms never tasted better. And all washed down by a glass of daiquiri – blend of white rum with Cointreau and choice of fruit. For those with a sweet tooth, try the vanilla ice-cream (it comes in a crispy case, so good!), pancakes and skewered fruits.
That’s how you do the authentic Szechuan cuisine in style.
Where: The Oriental Blossom restaurant at the Optus Sarovar Premiere, Plot no 43-47, Sector 29, Gurgaon (www.sarovarhotels.com)
Cost for two: Rs 1,800, including beverages