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Past Perfect

A goldfish placed at the centre of each table welcomes hungry diners to the new and improved Sampan.

Written by PriyankaPereira |
October 5, 2009 2:10:30 am

A goldfish placed at the centre of each table welcomes hungry diners to the new and improved Sampan. A legendary name amongst Mumbai’s gourmands,Sampan was well-known for its Oriental cuisine when it was located at The Holiday Inn. With movie stars frequenting it in the ’80s and ’90s,Sampan was also rated among the more popular diners in the city. Now after a long haul,the restaurant’s back; this time at Novotel,Juhu,the newest addition to five-star hotels in the city.

Although the name remains the same and so does Chef Penpa,Sampan has changed a lot from its erstwhile incarnation. To give an authentic Oriental feel,the restaurant relies heavily on Chinese clichés. A dragon on the carpet,lanterns on the ceilings and use of chinois silk wherever possible,the décor is a bit hard to like. But it’s eerily quiet; there is some background music and the guests are far too few to enjoy a chattering crowd.

We started off with iced teas which needed some sweetening and a couple of cocktails—Black Russian and Blue Lagoon—which weren’t the best we had savoured. The wine list looked rather interesting and exhaustive.

While the menu from the earlier Sampan has been largely retained; the restaurant now serves sushi as well. Sampan was known for its authentic cooking methods and retains its original charm with Chef Penpa dishing out delectables like the Shredded Crispy lamb and Cha Chu Prawns. The old favourites Chef’s style Lobster Dragon Tail and Sesame Prawns Toast make a comeback and still taste as good. The Pepper Chicken Soup was piping hot and the starters deliciously comforting. Besides,there are a wide range of dim sums too,tasty and wonderfully textured.

Nostalgia creeps in with the first bite and by the time the main course arrives,you feel like you’ve been here before. House favourites Pan Fried Noodles,Clay Pot Rice and Chicken in Black Bean Sauce are those we knew and loved so well. The Sizzling Chocolate Brownie and Fried Ice cream did not disappoint us either.

It is often said that good things come at a huge price and this meal for two (with a drink each) cost Rs 3,000. Movie stars aren’t here yet but with the restaurant’s popularity rising owing to its good food and able service,the day doesn’t seem too far away.

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