This two-level detached F&B venue at the characterful Andaz boasts a kerb-side entry, without running the gauntlet of the hotel lobby. On your way in, you get to marvel at the wine... well, cave, really. Upstairs is where you have the option to look down on the pretty bar or watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen. Downstairs, you can perch at the island bar or enjoy the more lounge-y seating for dinner. Artwork bows to chinoiserie but is a more contemporary interpretation. Prettily veined stone tops the tables, cut-glass barware, uniforms that make us feel a shade dowdy—no expense is spared to spell exclusivity, but minus the stiff upper lip, or any lip (service is almost casual, and waitstaff could stand to speak up a tad more). The private dining rooms are just that—private, carefully tucked away, with their own bar (and bartender). The Club promises creativity in spades—a fictional backstory of a lovelorn traveller who recreates the setting of a lost love (look for her face) backs up the name of an actual bona fide institution that is, in fact, a gentlemen’s club, but the ladies seem to love this version. The cooking is based in Cantonese traditions, with six expat chefs to support Chef Alex Moser’s vision of a modern Chinese table, dished up with local Indian produce (à la sister eatery Annamaya, Andaz’s main diner, which grows its own microgreens right on the 2018shelves). Why cart Pommery mustard from France, when you have kasundi right here, he asks—and we cannot but agree it is excellent with our pork belly (admittedly imported for the perfect crackle and ooze). Instead of the crowd-pleasing Peking duck, HKC does its Cantonese cousin, sandwiched in pretty scalloped steamed buns. And the seafood dishes, cleverly, do not name their fish—the freshest off Kerala’s coast feature, the recipes carefully chosen to go with red snapper or bass, whatever’s the catch of the day. The same goes for the greens, switched around seasonally. There’s adventure aplenty for those who favour the unfamiliar, though—ever tried chicken feet, or cuttlefish?
A zodiac in ceramic is the axis around which the bar revolves, literally and figuratively. There are signature cocktails for whatever animal you might be—or any you prefer—with lucite coasters to match. The Sleeping Dragon is smoking, quite seriously, orange-liqueur indulgent as the dragon-born purport to be, with chocolate bitters grounding all the Scotch and martini fumes up top. Chariot has smoke-smudged straw pegged on a champagne flute with a faux sugar cube dissolving, apple and clove liqueur fizzing forth.
At the bar, definitely beg for a taste of sister Juniper’s very own Delhi Sapphire—that cheeky bottle is a favourite prop for selfies, but the infusion of gin with orange, cumin, cardamom, coriander and vanilla is perfection alone, and sublime in a Qilin (with watermelon and gold leaf). Also delightful is Sun Wukong: the monkey’s concoction adds yuzu and banana liqueur, yet isn’t candy sweet—the banana chip, leaf and charred cinnamon stick garnish is a pretty decent clue of its balance (partner with the spiced nuts on the bar, naturally). You definitely want the fried rice (bamboo plus red) with preserved olive leaves, all the way from China, and the duck salad with pomelo, bean sprouts and peanuts, but those are mere sides. Trust us: get the crushed cucumbers with black vinegar and the asparagus with mustard oil first, as well as the pickled vegetables wrapped in more vegetable with peanut mustard to dip; also the veggies with onion seed. Dim sum: cauliflower, red and Chinese cabbage, yes, and also the lobster, crab and spinach. Definitely the pork belly and the Hong Kong duck, also the duck salad with pomelo. You can’t go wrong with any of the desserts, even the ridiculous-sounding tipsy brownie with Old Monk and hazelnut gelato in a chocolate bowl.
Occasion: For the evening to impress (on Friday and Saturday nights there is a couples charge of Rs 3,000 past 10pm, and it is mainly couples’ entry).
Ambience: One-stop night-on-the-town destination; dress classy smart casual; lively mood music and lighting deepens with the night; though spacious with a distinctly no-dance floor (so you can keep your heels on); dinner-only, open till the wee hours (entry closes at 1am but open till 4am); no sports shoes or open footwear.
Contact: Andaz Delhi, 1 Aerocity, +91-8588842919, thehongkongclub.in