Restaurant Review: Haaochi – Contemporary Chinese fine dining at Sun-N-Sand Mumbai, India
KISHORE AND SMITA IYENGAR indulge their senses with truly outstanding mainland China delicacies and delectable Thai cuisine boasting enticing aromas and authentic flavors.
As we walked into the semi-circular porch of India’s first five star deluxe beach resort hotel in Mumbai on the shores of the Arabian Sea, nostalgia waved its wand with merry musings. This is the ultra chic luxury hospitality hotspot frequented by grand celebrities from Bollywood, fashion, style, the arts, entertainment and the likes for over fifty years. Indeed Sun-N-Sand has been an unmistakable, unforgettable iconic seafront landmark on Mumbai’s colorful map reputed for its consistently high global standards.
The entry into Haaochi, the svelte Contemporary Chinese fine wining and dining address was paved with eye pleasing frames of subtle class. With wood ingrained teakwood walls to beige-grey charming seating covers to evocative and well blended customized circular patterned carpetry and breezy latticed-styled see through visual partitions, the restaurants emanates warmth in discreet appointments. A wood carved floral backlit wall display in black and fawn diffused glows lends unique symbolism to Chinese artistry in natural creativity. The end-to-end open display kitchen is abuzz with steaming ladles and woks tossing up those absolutely delicious mainland specialties we relished thoroughly.
LIVING UP THE ORIENTAL CHARM
Haaochi, literally translated as ‘Simply Delicious’ in Chinese lives up to the enticing aromas and inviting flavors across signature and popular dishes. The menu expertly crafted by Executive Chef Gautam Mehrishi respects diverse palettes and tastes. Packed with the choicest varieties in lip-smacking Oriental fare, contemporary Chinese cuisine rules the roost here. A comprehensive dim sum array and delectable Thai cuisine are complemented by a full service bar. The Chinese menu heralds regional cuisine from the mainland provinces of Xiang (Hunan), Chuan (Sichuan) and Guangdong (Cantonese).
Gourmet dexterity of the chefs come alive in full through the dining area, a sure shot appetizing USP which adds to the excitement of each course on offer. The erudite Chef’s creative wand stirred up some the finest dim sums this side of China. Special Phoenix Shrimp Dim Sums were mouth melting with the right mix of light-n-easy spices. The mind blowing Water Chestnut and Broccoli dumpling was the most outstanding we ever savored in any Chinese restaurant. The unusual Black Mushroom and Spinach dim sum, butter soft and teasing with lightly steamed finesse was smashing! We paired these miniature treats with a chilled citrusy and floral bouquet-scented Niel Joubert Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa with fine lily and green apples overtones.
For gourmands like us who delight in spicy and racy flavors on the tongue, the Haaochi Lotus Root cooked in special chili blend was intriguing yet sensational ! Our next presentation came in the incarnation of Fresh Asparagus –stir fried Dutch Asparagus with garlic spring onion sauce, a delicious dish with authentic flavors and organic aromas. The wine match was perfect with a light n peppery Paulo Malbec red wine from Argentina with black currant and light tannins on the palette.
On the seafood front, we were offered their Steamed Red Snapper on ginger and spring onions, covered with hot soya sauce. Marrying this fab dish was a Yellow Tail Chardonnay from Australia with peony, vanilla and mint flavors going onto a moist grass finish.
Another fabulous dish, -Shredded Tenderloin Black Pepper sauce – juicy chiffonade of tenderloin with garlic cloves, onion, green and red peppers, celery in black pepper sauce was a real Beluga among the dishes, Evocative yet enticing on the palate with diverse ingredients married into a fine platter, it blended superbly with a vintage Santa Cristina Toscana from Italy with a strong cigar box and leather nose, peppery and cinnamon flavors with hints of blue berries on the linger.
Poultry treats abound here at this amazing pad. The Kung Pao Chicken has chicken stir fried with peanuts, peppers and scallions, minimalistic but interesting. We took our time relishing two more contrasting wonders form the chef’s wok. Haaochi Tofu –sliced tofu with bamboo shoots, spring onions and bell pepper in the chef’s signature sauce did the well spiced vanishing trick with lingering admiration on our back palates! The other sensation, -the all-time hit Chow Mein –stir fried noodles with sprouts, onions and spring onions in light garlic and honey sauce was fantastic to the core. We picked a crisp red wine to match these dishes, -Chateau de Parenchere from Bordeaux, France with exceptional assertive tannins, robust yet smooth with complex nose of mushrooms, musk and oakwood.
TANTALIZING THAI HIGHS
The newly introduced Thai cuisine menu is appetizing and warmly welcomed by food buffs. Specialties include the spicy sour Tom Yam soup for starters including free range chicken and Thai ginger with vegetarian choice. Thai entrees like Fruit De Meer Phuket –stir fried sea tiger prawns with homemade yam chili paste and basil leaves or Wing Beans and Snap Peas in yellow curry and organic lemon grass lilt your tongues with kaleidoscopic tastes.
Thai cuisine main courses like Masaman Lamb – A tender lamb curry of dried spices in coconut milk, potato, sweet potato, boiled peanuts and cashew nuts are culinary symphony with myriad flavors. The irresistible Lamb Shanks Yellow Curry – Simmered lamb shanks prepared in coconut milk, homemade yellow curry paste with fresh turmeric and sweet potato matches …Their Pla Rad Prik – wok fried sliced sea bass tossed with chili, garlic and sweet basil is a wow on your palette….the wine by choice was a svelte Domaine Hemilin Chablis, a super Chardonnay with hay and grassy bouquet and floral aromas with peachy overtones.
The light and aromatic Benjarong Rice is a sinfully lip-smacking pairing of steamed wild rice with lotus seeds and black sesame seeds wrapped in a banana leaf, hmmmm! . Prawn lovers can roll over with delight as the Haaochi Phad Thai –a fascinating dish of fried rice noodles with prawns, ground roasted peanuts and home-made tamarind sauce makes sensory magic with an aromatic and well- heeled white wine -Mannara Grillo Pinot Grigio asserting vanilla, lemon and guava flavors in soft tones, the Mediterranean fruit aromas distinct with the seafood.
For connoisseurs of unusual tipples, there are fine Japanese Whiskeys and Tsing Tao, the light Chinese Beer. Sweetening our meal, we chose
two desserts. Caramel Cinnamon Banana Fritters and Mandarin Crème Brulee. The magic lingered on well into the night and the genteel waves beyond on the horizon.
Address: Haaochi, Sun-N-Sand, Juhu Beach, Mumbai 400049, India