We do not know what riches the Ming Dynasty’s treasure ship, Baoshuan, held. But its namesake, the recently-opened modern Chinese restaurant at the opulently refurbished Oberoi certainly holds its share of culinary jewels for diners in the Capital. Baoshuan, perhaps, outdoes its once-popular predecessor, Taipan, at the hotel’s rooftop. The menu is created under the aegis of Andrew Wong, who won a Michelin star for his eponymous restaurant in London last October.
Though born to London-based Chinese restauranteur parents, Wong took to the kitchen only after his father died and his mother began running their four restaurants. He travelled across China, swotting the country’s diverse cuisines before imbuing them with his own aesthetic. No wonder then, that the menu at Baoshuan draws from the kitchens of about 40 districts of the middle kingdom and proposes a more modern but no less authentic representation of the country’s culinary offerings.
The starchy, stiff vibe of the restaurant, with a contemporary bent and a monochromatic scheme, is off-set as much by the deep scarlet upholstery as it is by the playfulness of the flavours. Thin slivers of honey roasted pork accompany a pulverised foie gras that vanishes as soon as it touches the mouth, leaving behind sharp, gamey notes and a buttery texture that serves the sweet-smokey tones of the pork well.
Another appetiser, from the “shares” section, is the Xian city ‘lamb bun’ with sesame, coriander and chilli and a Xinjiang pomegranate salad that presents itself as a DIY bowl. The Xian city-inspired dish is introduced with the ingredients placed neatly around a puddle of pale orange peanut sauce and three leavened pieces of bread that look more like cousins of pita than of the Cantonese bun. It’s outside is slightly charred and its soft insides soak up the braised liquid of the lamb as soon as the meat is packed in — along with a mix-and-match or as many of the accompanying ingredients as your skill allows you to load in. The most intriguing option in the bowl is the Xinjiang pomegranate salad, which retains the bite of the raw onions but with the added zing of rice vinegar, pomegranate seeds and chilli flakes. These “pockets” are a thing of beauty, much like the virgin mojito that is infused with kaffir lime, mint leaves and chillies — that keep interrupting the spunk of the citrus fruit.
One is faced with an impossibly difficult task with the mains section. How to home-in on one? I settled for a vegetarian option — the baby bok choy, dried shitake, truffle goji berry casserole with puffed lotus seeds. It seemed to be a night of carousing for the mushrooms and the vegetables. Their poison of choice? Truffle oil. No charges placed.
The dessert, though not even in the vicinity of being a disappointment, is a little too inspired for this otherwise inventive restaurant. Tea smoked banana, nut crumble, vanilla ice-cream and chocolate was a recommendation I decided to follow. A chocolate dome, with a metallic Pantone shimmer, carried within it a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and was circled by the many accompaniments it could be paired with. The steward came and asked me if I would like to record the gimmick on my phone. I did. It wasn’t as magical as I imagined. The dome fell flat and didn’t open up to reveal the hidden scoop of ice-cream. The taste, though, worked marvellously with the almond crumble, phyllo pastry, the fruit and, most of all, with the citrus foam. There are no wimpy flavours here, and if you’re up to sailing through real Chinese food, hop on to Baoshuan.
Meal for two: Rs 6,000 (approx)
Must try: Cantonese honey roast pork with grated foie gras
Address: The Oberoi, Dr Zakir Hussain Marg, New Delhi