in Mandarin ‘haochi’ means ‘good taste’ or more simply, ‘delicious’. In Mumbai, Haochi is also the name of the latest Chinese restaurant to open its doors.
In a city where the popular ‘Chinese’ restaurants pass off Indian Chinese cuisine as authentic fare, Haochi appears to be making a rather daring statement with its menu that has influences from Hunan, Beijing, Canton and Sichuan — the food here is simple and unadulterated with paneer or ‘manchurian’.
Housed in Sun-n-Sand Hotel in Juhu, Haochi gets the ambience right through the oriental lotus designs on the restaurant’s walls and German-imported apple wood chopsticks placed delicately on the custom-made cutlery. Sun-n-Sand group of hotels corporate chef Gautam Mehrishi tells us that the kitchen of Haochi is run by masterchefs and dimsum experts from Beijing.
Our plan to avoid anything healthy and stealthily work our way to the dessert go for a toss as we succumb to recommendations and order the Chinese Flower Tea (R250). Served from a small teapot with a sundried, exotic Chinese flower in it, the tea instantly warms our bellies. We order an assortment of dimsums such as Chicken and Shrimp Sui Mai, Broccoli and Water chestnut, Black Mushroom and Spinach, Beans and Bok Choy dumpling. The freshness of the vegetables cut through the taste of almost everything else. The Chicken and Shrimp Sui Mai are a letdown as the combination of two meats with very distinct tastes is a bit too experimental for us.
Next, we order the Sesame Prawns (Rs 650), Shredded Chicken Spicy Salt(Rs 600), Haochi Lotus Root(Rs 400), Garden Beans(Rs 500), Fresh Asparagus (Rs 550) and Chilli Eggplant(Rs 450). The prawns, speckled with sesame seeds and marinated with chilli, garlic, are suitably crunchy. The Haochi Lotus Root and Chilli Eggplant wins this round, though. Dangling at the end of a knife, the deep-fried eggplant is weighted down by its delicious batter, later tossed with sweet chilli sauce. The Thailand-imported lotus root is designed to be very spicy and enjoyed with a drink (which we do, with a lime martini). Tossed with onions and black pepper, the chicken doesn’t really stand out. The main course includes Five Treasure Vegetables(Rs 500), Three Mushroom Fried Rice (Rs 425), Crispy Noodles (Rs 400) and Chicken in Black Bean Sauce (Rs 650). It is the crispy noodles, coated with a special blend of sauces that leaves us impressed. Served with sprouts and a host of other elements, the crispy exterior and softer core of the fried noodles work well with the innate crunchiness of the sprouts. The soft, thinly sliced chicken, though delectable, doesn’t stand a chance of winning this round.
For dessert, we have Almond Yoghurt (Rs 350) with plum, Japanese melon, orange and dragon fruit, Mandarain Crème Brulèe (Rs 350) and Chocolate Lava Cake (R375). The chocolate oozes out the moment you try to scoop out a piece of cake. But still, we are floored by the yoghurt with its almond granules, served with slices and cubes of exotic fruits that lend character to the neutral yoghurt.
The bane of restaurants in Mumbai that open with a bang is its declining quality. A non-issue, says chef Gautam Mehrishi, if you are used to working in a certain manner. For its high-quality food and excellent options for vegetarians, Haochi is a must visit.
We cannot rate the experience, as it was a preview
Food: Loaded with flavours
At: Sun n Sand Hotel, Juhu