The Leela Palace's oriental feast makes us 'wonton' more!
Those who have been to one of those luscious champagne brunches at China XO at Leela Palace will understand our excitement when we tell you that they are now open for lunch through the week. Flooded with gorgeous natural light and offering a view of the shoreline, we wonder why they hadn’t made this 70-seater into a luncheon place sooner. Expect wholesome new four-course set menus that cater to the premise of both a working meal and also a weekday indulgence with a special spa deal thrown into the mix, starting this Monday.
Opulent, with spaced out seating and private dining rooms, China XO has quietly and quickly garnered a reckonable following in the city, and in the country too, even as we are told that they were recently awarded the 15th best in India by a restaurant awards forum. We catch up with Chef Dharmen Makawana, the Executive Chef, and soon understand why China XO in Leela Palace is running nearly full, on a weeknight. “It is all about being authentic,” says the chef modestly, adding that right from the meats and veggies to the wood-fire oven and high-pressure jet burners in the kitchen – it is about quality and sustaining the original Cantonese Sichuan cuisine.
We start with the dimsum baskets that arrive innocuously, though the drama begins soon enough. The Truffle & Edamame comes with frills literally, while the seafood sumai is the fancy one with delicate specks of dehydrated carrot. The former however is the memorable one, as we bite into the diaphanous pouch, the burst of truffle flavour and the crunch of water chestnut bits left us reluctant to move on to the next dish!
Flavoursome and soulful, the staple chicken wonton soup is anything but common here. Commanding a respectful silence as we savour the feel-good broth, between sips we fish out the evenly sized wontons and manage an appreciative sound for the fresh shiitake mushroom. The leaves of the baby bok choy reaffirm the merit of the chef’s insistence on importing fresh vegetables from Thailand, while the slivers of ginger at the bottom of our bowl explain some of that beautiful flavour.
We move on to the crispy batter fried calamari that is generously sized and juicy, while the garnish of chilli and garlic flakes gives it that addictive umami twist. For mains, the shredded lamb is saucy and goes perfectly with the sticky rice and has us gorging on the shiitake mushrooms again and picking all those sweet, startlingly green, snow peas. For those who crave spice, the Claypot Chicken with strands of enoki mushroom and bamboo shoot is a good pick. While the veggie-rich Hakka Noodles works well without a side, the steamed tofu packs some serious heat.
Finally, the fried pink-tinged pastry wedges stuffed with red bean paste and dotted with sesame, makes for a pretty-as-a-picture dessert option when teamed with some vanilla ice cream. And before signing off – yes, the regular a la carte menu is also available for lunch – so, if you want their famous Peking Duck, book it in advance, we suggest!
There are six set menus (veg and non-veg) from Rs 1,350 to Rs 1,550 plus taxes per person.