Mumbai Food: Juhu gets a posh new Asian restaurant
God is in the details for a new Asian eatery that launches today in the posh suburb
Attention to detail is as important in the restaurant business as, say, proofreading a page is in print journalism. The tiniest cog in the wheel can put diners off, like it is with typos and a newspaper reader. Your interior decorator might have done a stunning job, for instance, but that's no good if the music isn't in sync with the ambience. Or, a drinks menu full of quirky cocktails falls flat if the garnishing isn’t right. Opening a new eatery is in fact like putting a jigsaw puzzle together — if there’s even one piece missing, the game is lost before it starts.
The interiors with wacky panda art
So, it’s on this count that Chin Chin Chu — a new Asian joint in Juhu that opens its doors to diners today — scores top marks. We walk in there on a balmy afternoon ahead of the launch to be greeted by pictures of three wacky pandas framed on a wall, who play the role of mascots for the restaurant. And the first thing that strikes us about the layout, outside of a uniformly vibrant colour scheme, is how inclusive the seating arrangement is. Not a single table, even those in the alfresco area or smoking section, is isolated from the rest of the space. And we settle down on a sofa in one corner with co-owner Prashant Chaudhri when he bustles in with infectious energy, which marks the starting point of a sensory overload that eventually leads to a food coma, as plate after plate of delectable dishes are laid out before us on his instructions.
Chin Chin Chu sour and Kung Fu Panda
We begin with a range of signature cocktails, though, with the first one itself revealing how particular Chaudhri and Tanay Kapur, his partner, are about details. It's a Thai whisky sour called Chin Chin Chu sour (Rs 550), and given the fact that it's a drink with egg white, the glass it’s served in is shaped like a broken eggshell. The other cocktails that we try — such as an excellent wasabi and basil Martini and lemongrass mint mojito named Kung Fu Panda (both Rs 550) — have a similarly recurrent Asian theme. And that shows how this eatery isn't half-baked about its chosen cuisine. On the contrary, it wears it like a badge of honour.
That holds true for the food as well. But even though the soul of all the dishes we have is distinctly Asian, the chef has been bold with dressing them up in an out-of-the-box manner. A plate of colourful veg rainbow sushi rolls (Rs 395), for example, is presented in the shape of a caterpillar. And a sushi platter (Rs 1,195) is laid out on a board shaped like a cricket bat, which serves a dual purpose of innovative presentation and saving space on the table. But the "Virat Kohli of the menu", as Chaudhri puts it, is the burnt chilli pomfret (Rs 725). It's a dish that is appropriately subtle despite the dark bits of red chilli strewn all around. And even though we would have rather drawn a comparison with Sachin Tendulkar given personal preferences, we do get the point that Chaudhri is making here.
Veg caterpillar rainbow roll
In fact, the overall sense of contentment we are left with at the end of our meal mirrors that of a batsman returning to the pavilion after scoring a hundred. It means that this glitzy neighbourhood (Chin Chin Chu is located bang opposite actor Sanjay Khan's house) can now boast of something it was lacking before — a fun Asian restaurant with quality food and drinks. The two owners, however, do betray natural jitters that anyone in their shoes is bound to feel. But given how well they have fit this puzzle, so to speak, we are confident that they will sleep tight after the lights are switched off at their labour of love tonight.
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