I am sure it must have been a difficult task for Chef Yan Jun Jun to fit into the shoes of his predecessors at the Golden Dragon, Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai and carry on the 50-year-old tradition.
The Chinese restaurant at the oldest hotel in Mumbai is also the oldest Chinese restaurant in Mumbai. While Chef Yan Jun Jun admitted that he was aware that he has expectations to fulfill and huge shoes to fill, he also revealed that he was not all stressed. “Idea was to showcase traditional Beijing style Sichuan cooking and my own special delicacies. The menu was curated in keeping in mind our local ingredients as the main hero giving them a traditional Sichuan touch.”
For me, a meal at Golden Dragon was a nostalgic moment. For some reason, I had not visited the restaurant in many years. It was heartwarming to see a few old associates still in action as servers. Chef came for a chat, and we decided while I looked forward to tasting a couple of my old time favourite dishes that had made their way to the new menu, everything else was Chef’s choice.
Beijing Chilli Coriander Noodles | Pic: Shruti Pandit
While I waited for Chef Yan to serve me his delicacies, I chatted with Elvis who happily reminisced about the Imperial Crab soup that used to be served in a silver bowl and the unique Standing Pomfret. The pomfret used to be slashed in a particular manner and then fried. Result used to be a fish that stood on its tail and served on a bed of delicious sauce.
Keeping to the traditional Chinese style, I was served starters first and then the soup. Cumin Coriander Lamb and Sauteed Diced Chicken Sichuan Chilli Pepper — both served in a cup of rice crisp. The lamb was delicately flavoured and perfectly cooked. Chicken, a Sichuan delicacy, was perfectly spiced with the chillies adding the zing but not overpowering the taste. The Flaky Crab Claw dumplings that followed were a combo of textures. Crab meat covered with thinnest available noodles and fried to perfection. Edamame and Vegetable Cheung Fun came swimming in a soy-based sauce. The slightly salty sauce gave the thin Cheung Fun a fun and taste element.
Edamame and Vegetable Cheung Fun | Pic: Shruti Pandit
One of my favourites — Golden Fried Prawns was the next starter. The crispy prawns never fail to satisfy you. The soup was Haricot and Corn Egg Drop.
After the soup break it was time for Hao Shong Crab Meat. Chunky pieces of crab stir fried with green asparagus, red and yellow peppers. Subtle flavours that did not overpower the original taste of the crab. The dish was a perfect companion for the
Clay Pot Lotus Leaf Rice | Pic: Shruti Pandit
Beijing Chilli Coriander Noodles. The noodles by themselves were a tasty dish as well. It was followed by Summer Squash and Bambooshoot in fermented Lao Gan Ma sauce. The big chillies used in this ‘old grandmother’s sauce’ are usually more aromatic than spicy. The fermented Lao Gan Ma sauce lends any vegetable or meat it is used with a unique taste that can delight any palate. The Clay Pot Lotus Leaf Rice served with it came wrapped in lotus leaves. Vegetable fried rice with secret spices is cooked wrapped up in lotus leaves that impart its flavours to the rice.
Now was the time for my eternal favourite — Peking Duck. Peking Duck is a perfectly roasted duck, basted with honey and soy sauce, sometimes plum and hoisin, served along with Chinese pancakes, slivers of cucumber, spring onions, plum sauce, and hoisin sauce. The duck and condiments are wrapped in the pancakes to eat. As expected, the duck was impeccably crisp from outside and delectably cooked from inside.
DIY Peking Duck with the pancake | Pic: Shruti Pandit
The process of cooking, usually, takes more than 50 minutes. Therefore, if you plan to have Peking Duck, order it immediately after you reach or pre-order when you book your table. A group of three preferred to manage the whole duck. Rich flavours of tender duck meat combined with the crisp duck skin titillate your palate. You have a choice to have the chef roll your pancakes along with duck and the condiments, or DIY on the table. The duck bone and meat soup that follows the pancake ensemble is totally soul warming. However, fact that sauces are no more homemade, but imported, was a little disappointing.
Finish your meal with Beijing Milk Cake — the delicate condensed milk cakes sprinkled with desiccated coconut.
Average cost for two: Rs 4500+
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