Golden Dragon in Chennai is celebrating Chinese New Year with a special menu
Dining with Executive Chef Sujan Mukherjee of Taj Coromandel, is always a delight. We soon find
that woven into his many fascinating culinary stories, is a passion for Chinese cuisine which dates back to his roots in Kolkata. “The Tangra settlement in the Bengal capital has ensured that Chinese food is part of our culture,” says the chef who is a strong advocate for indigenous and seasonal produce, and has a deep interest in the source of the ingredients on his kitchen table. As we scoop up the lime-soaked water chestnut and asparagus with a smear of bean sauce (the amuse bouche), we wait eagerly for what’s in store. “Master Chef Ho and I have culled down this menu to about 20-25 new dishes to celebrate the Chinese New Year — it will be available at the Golden Dragon for the next fortnight,” informs Chef Sujan who has been with the Taj group for the past three decades.
Roe your boat
We start off with a degustation offering that includes a variety of dimsums where the Chao-zhou Water Chestnut and Cashew charms us with a crunch in the filling and a burst of flavours that didn’t need any of the accompanying sauces. Meanwhile, the chef’s favourite is the carrot stuffed one — is pretty as a picture and those who go weak-kneed over puff pastry will love the delicious deep-fried, layered, wrap. The chicken dumpling topped with a smidgen of fish roe is strongly flavoured, and after a bite, you understand why you only need a smidgen!
To the tea
The Chinese tea menu at Golden Dragon offers flavour and drama when paired with your meal. While we began with the soothing Dragon Well tea, and moved on to the Aromatic White, it was the pot of Fortune Ball that had us reaching for our phone cameras, as a hand-sewn bud of leaves and petals was dropped into a teapot. When the hot water was poured into it, the tight bundle unfurled into a dense flower of long tea leaves. The brew is a combination of white and dark with a distinct taste, and makes for a robust cuppa to end your meal with.
What’s your hoisin?
Considering Chef Sujan’s draw to seafood — we are easily wooed by the prawn spring roll that lets the meat shine and a dash of sweet chilli sauce makes this one a quick favourite. But one has to concede that it is the prawn with chilli mustard that is the real delight, where the chef has played with flavours for the discerning palate. The crunchy Dan Bok String Beans packs some serious heat, while the Peking Konjee Crispy Chicken is sweet and sticky — and once we are done with the silky tofu wrap, we realise that we might be too stuffed for the mains!
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We take back that thought quickly indeed as we are soon smitten by the slippery, moist noodles — a Chef Ho special. Flavoursome and delicious, the Chi Huang Lo Mein works well as a standalone dish. Though the Shanghai style fish with bean sprouts and the Stir-fried chicken in Hoisin sauce were good sides to the veggie-rich dish, the stir-fried cabbage, and the braised seasonal mushrooms and bamboo shoot hit it off with the Kimchi Fried Rice.
Finally, the two desserts that we tried — both are interestingly packed with delectable surprises. The better looking one — the strawberry ice cream — is dainty with a flower on top and a spoonful saw an explosion of the strong flavour of ginger candy. And just when we thought it couldn’t get better — the unassuming and dowdier stewed chocolate dumpling is the winner with its stretchy, glutinous textured orbs, that oozes chocolate as you bite into it.
The festival is on from February 5 to 15, meal for two at about Rs 4,500.