The Pot Rice and Noodles Festival at China Bistro
The Japanese style windows, the welcoming Monk and the certain calmness that you feel here is almost parallel to the warm hospitality that is extended by the staff. The pungent flavors that come out so vividly in the food being served remind you of everything extraordinary that happens in the kitchen. Hello folks, this is what China Bistro is all about, an eatery that’s a favorite amongst people who love the Chinese, Japanese and Asian food and its culture!
Somehow for me Chinese tastes best in Winters and as I had a quick reminder of this one day, I got an invitation to witness the ongoing Pot Rice and Noodles festival at China Bistro. So one fine Jan afternoon, with a song in my head, my camera handy and an almost empty tummy I turned up at their Worli outlet. I was all ready to gorge and know everything that the Pot Rice and Noodles festival was all about after a warm welcome by Tanvir (the Manager) and the staff.
For the knowledge of everyone – the festival is a culinary experience that offers an insight into the traditional Chinese cooking methods and promises a mouth-watering fare of pan-Asian cuisine; a variety of rice and noodles, cooked and served in a traditional way.
It is a feast of delicious rice and noodles, which are cooked and served in traditional earthen pots with a freshness of ingredients sourced locally. The delicious flavors and combinations, infused with aromatic herbs and spices, are perfect to enliven your taste buds like never before.
I must say it’s a nicely designed menu and much thought has gone over to present guests with some really gratifying flavors when it comes to enjoying their most beloved rice and noodles. The menu includes preparations like Aromatic Hunan Sauce, Spice Superior Soya Sauce, Dungun Longevity Sauce and more. Ahh!!! what better than this, right?
As I gathered my space in the Asian-style interiors, it instantly evoke an image of serenity and utmost tranquility. With most of us engrossed in a fast-paced urban lifestyle, it helps immensely when we can come back to a peaceful place that allows us to escape this never-ending rush and relish some delectable food. China Bistro accomplishes this goal in an inimitable style by ushering in harmony and balance, not just in its interiors but also the food. Hardly ten minutes at my table, and the starters were there – crispy chili potato, hot and soft corn cubes, vegetable steam dumpling, crispy vegetable and pepper garlic fry. I expressed my interest to try everything from the buffet as well. I kept digging my fork into every piece as the staff gracefully placed the starters on my plate.
Frankly, the dumplings didn’t strike a chord, they were a tad bit flavorless I thought, the blend didn’t seem a good combo, but the crispy chili potato and the hot and soft corn cubes were at their best. The softness of the hot and soft corn cubes and the mild flavor made it irresistible and different. As starter you shouldn’t be missing this at all, it stands out for all the grace it portrays. As I enjoyed and relished each of the flavors here, what really added as a great add-on was their black pepper sauce. A blend of spring onions, fresh chilies, crushed black pepper and seasonings, it is an absolutely delicious sauce where everything comes across perfectly. Just have it with everything on the menu here, and I guarantee you will end up having many spoonfuls of it! It’s just so refreshing as well, you might just end up losing all your stress here!
As I was hobbling up the sauce and the starters, the pot rice arrived as well. We had ordered the “Aromatic Hunan Sauce” from the menu. Of course, minus the prawns or the chicken (me being a vegetarian), it came loaded with veggies. We opted for rice instead of the noodles. As the waiter lifted the lid of the cream and green earthen pot, the air was filled with fumes of pepper and tomato, and the mixed veggies with the fresh and exhilarating fragrance of the rice. Hunan is basically a red sauce. It is known for its hot and spicy flavors, fresh aroma and deep colors. As I had the first bite, I fell in love with the softness of this dish. The sauce mixed with the rice gave a mild yet interesting flavor to the dish. It wasn’t too chilly but it was comfortably spicy and a refreshing dish in itself. This is the first time I had eaten Hunan sauce pot rice and I am glad, it was everything I had hoped for. The pot rice festival is definitely a high point, I thought before I completed many spoonfuls of the lovely rice dish.
Since the starters and pot rice tasting was done, I soon headed towards the buffet. The vegetarian course here has assorted vegetables in Sichuan chili sauce, Vegetable dumpling in Chili soy sauce, Exotic vegetable Chinese parsley sauce, stir fried vegetable dry red chili and corn potato and chili mild chili vinegar along with vegetable Korean fried rice and wok tossed vegetable Hakka noodles.
However before starting off with the main course, my heart led me to the dessert section, for me practically everything starts with the desserts. There was Darsaan and brownie, Fresh fruits, pastry and choice of ice cream, caramel custard and fruit cake, I knew I had a lot to fill up and satisfy my sweet tooth here.
So, from the main course, I tried the vegetable Korean fried rice and the wok tossed Hakka noodles. I also had the assorted vegetable in Sichuan chili sauce. The noodles seemed to have been dried up and gave a little more of the garlic taste, the rice wasn’t something which was overpowering with flavors but perhaps it was made by being true to the Korean mix of vegetables and rice. If you are fond of the Chinese fried rice, you perhaps will take time to adjust your taste buds to this one. The assorted vegetable curry helped to give taste to the rice.
As I was enjoying some animated conversations with a friend who I took along, Tanvir the manager, peeked in with the menu. He said ” Would you not like to try something to drink?”.With an always exciting glance at the beverage menu, I thought to reserve anything chocolate based for the desserts and ended up ordering the Coconut and lychee mocker mocktail.
As it arrived and I ended up having my first sip, I should say, it seemed like a celebration of life itself! The most delectable drink I have ever had and if I had a Guinness Book of world records of my own, then this would have surely found its way there, I thought. We ended up having two and I couldn’t help telling Tanvir and the staff how delicious that mocker was. I was told it was Kanhucharan Das, the bartender here who was the mastermind behind this amazing cocktail. I would say, if you are coming here and you haven’t and this one, you are certainly missing one of the best mocktails available in Mumbai!
By now it was 3:30pm, and it was time for the desserts I thought. Before I could place an order, Tanvir gladly placed the desserts menu on the table. Knowing my fondness for chocolate, we mutually agreed on the chocolate tsunami. The “tsunami” indeed sounded like lots of chocolate overflowing here and I thought this was definitely not to be missed.
As we waited for the tsunami on our table, I gladly brought in all the other deserts from the buffet. The cute and small sized deserts in assorted colors could make me hold on for too long. As I dogged into the custard, which was crisply made and just the perfect texture, I wished it was more sweeter and had more of caramel to go with it. But alas if a caramel custard is in the dessert menu, its difficult to lay with the extra caramel as that would end up spoiling the presentation and all the other pieces.
The pastry and fruit cake were though mild and nice in flavors. They were moist in texture and visually appealing as well, just like all the desserts here. As we were relishing these sweet nothings, the chocolate tsunami found its way on the table. Ahh!!! it looked every bit like the visual I had in mind, and a pot that came with it, had all the excess dark chocolate to be poured over. I couldn’t wait to dig into it.
Basically the dessert carries a vertical piece of chocolate mousse with a thin plate of chocolate over resting like a terrace. The molten chocolate is then poured over it and as you have every bite of this dessert, the hot chocolate and the perfectly structured mousse align together to give you a piece of heaven in every bite. A big thumbs up to Chef Vishnu and his production team who should be credited for this marvelous creation.
Normally, a person would find it difficult to have all of it by himself/ herself, but since I am so famously known for having an appetite of an elephant, I didn’t find it difficult to finish it all by myself.
At the end of it, it was a sweet Thursday here at China Bistro….I wish there are more such sweet Thursdays for you guys as well 🙂