Ther’s something endearing about a dimsum,so its of little surprise that the portly appetiser has found popularity across continents. Of course,in the Indian context,the Tibetan momo comes close and there are enough stalls that dot neighbourhood markets to prove that. However,theres more to a dimsum than just a round dumpling filled with meats or vegetables. Showcasing that is Chef Li Yang from Shanghai,who has rolled out a dimsum festival at the Café@JW housed in Hotel JW Marriott. The festival is on till November 3.
Arriving for lunch,we are treated to handcrafted dimsums prepared by the chef. He speaks in halting English but we realise,as soon as we bite into the first batch of crystal prawn dimsums,that Yang lets his food do the talking. To appreciate this line-up of dimsums better,one has to keep in mind that the dimsums served in most Chinese restaurants in the city fail on two counts one,the bottom of the dimsum usually breaks before youve even brought it close to the mouth. Second,the filling never has its own identity. Having sampled the fare dished out by Yang,we admit it does require skilled hands to get a dimsum right.
The prawn dimsums served on in small steamer bamboo baskets were perfectly cooked. The delicate prawn filling with just the slightest of seasonings was a winner for us. Dimsums can be meals by themselves and come in various varieties. At the festival Chef Yang has brought in a range,from the Bao,big and fat dumpling,to Sui Mai,petite open bundles. Dont be surprised if you are served a sweet fried bun with condensed milk right at the start of your meal. According to Chef Li Yang,the Chinese prefer to have something sweet first as it opens up the palate to the flavours to follow in the rest of the course.
Another front runner in the array is the pan-fried chicken and mushroom dimsum. Bao comes with a cabbage and mushroom filling,something vegetarians will enjoy. Though back home in China,pork dimsums are quintessential,they have been excluded from the line-up here.
The stuffed chicken in lotus leaf with five spices was a bit too bland for our palate and for those of you who prefer stronger flavours,there are sauces on the table that can help you out. While the mainstay of the festival is the dimsum,Chef Yang has also put together a complementing main course menu which includes hand-pulled noodles,stir fries and curries. Do sip on the clear vegetable dumpling soup for its delicate notes and the fact that no cornflour has been added to thicken it. In a city where Chinese cuisine is essentially dominated by restaurants serving Indian-Chinese food,the authentic spread offers a refreshing change.
Meal for two: Rs 2,300 (including tax for dinner)
Location: Hotel JW Marriott,Sector 35,Chandigarh