The Big Fat Chinese Brunch at Zhouyu is about forgotten recipes along with exciting new flavours
From a French toast that is like bubble tea on a plate to a carrot cake that's more like a chilli chicken, Zhouyu's all-new The Big Fat Chinese Brunch promises to take your palate on a wild ride!
Last time when we caught up with Chindi Varadarajulu in the middle of the pandemic, she told us how she had researched and created many recipes during lockdown that she could open a new restaurant! She was not totally kidding. The new brunch menu at Zhouyu in Alwarpet boasts exciting new dishes showcasing exhilarating flavours. “I feel brunch is the big new trend in Chennai right now — and this I gathered from the crowd that I see over the weekends at the Pumpkin Tales (a floor below Zhouyu) for breakfast!” says Chindi who owns the restaurants along with partners Rajarajeswari and Bhuvaneshwari.
Right from the word go, the five-course degustation menu of The Big Fat Chinese Brunch is about delicious surprise. For instance, the humble sounding French Toast is anything but. The soft brioche is smoky with caramelised brown sugar and topped decadently with dollops of whipped cream and dripping glistening tapioca pearls with a garnish of fresh slices of kiwi. Did you know that kiwi is the national fruit of China? (Nope, they are not from New Zealand) Well, thanks to Chindi, now we do! Meanwhile, this course has a savoury option, where the toast is blanketed with a soft omelette and stuffed with mushrooms, protein of your choice and reams of green Gai Lan. For the mindful, the mung bean and millet crêpe that came next was wholesome and stuffed with veggies and protein of your choice.
That’s when, bang in the middle of the starters, we find an offering of Singapore Carrot Cake. Tossed in dark soy, sweet soy and chilli paste, with bits of garlic in it, this is no dessert. What arrived at our table was a platter of spicy chunks of steamed radish cake. “Carrot is not a Chinese vegetable. Radish and Daikon are. So, in Singapore the Chinese call the radish a white carrot,” informs the broadly smiling Chindi, who grew up in Singapore. Later she lived in Vancouver where there is a robust Chinese culture of dim sum breakfasts that finds place in the menu here.
“I remember how the Chinese roasts (like duck, pork and chicken) were common as a brunch option during my childhood,” she adds nostalgically. As we dig into the BBQ pork ribs, the meat slides off the bone and the sweet sticky sauce is just right — we understand the attachment! The seafood offerings are delightfully different from the usual tempuras and sweet chilli sauces. The prawns are in a spicy butter garlic sauce and the sweet meat of the crustacean shines through, even as we savour shelled delicately seasoned lobster meat alongside. For dessert the Vegan Sundae is deeply satisfying with ice cream smothered in brown sugar caramel boba, passion fruit agar agar, adzuki bean and crushed peanuts. For the sedate, there is the warm Adzuki Bean Porridge that is restrained in sweetness but big on flavour with pandan, sago and brown sugar.
Only on weekends, non-veg brunch at INR 1,700 & vegetarian at INR 1,200.
— Sabrina Rajan