Truffle and Edamame Dumplings
This city is no stranger to modern Cantonese cuisine, thanks to international brands like Yauatcha and Hakkasan having landed at our doorstep several years ago. And the fact that they're going strong is proof that Mumbai's elite loves the grub.
Enter House of Mandarin, a soon-to-launch fine-dine that aims to quell our dumpling cravings. A project by Rachel Goenka, this is a far cry from the European fare and dainty baked goods we have been treated to from her brands, The Sassy Spoon and The Sassy Teaspoon.
We visit one afternoon to scope out the new restaurant, standing at the same spot in Bandra where an outpost of The Sassy Spoon used to be. The interiors have been transformed — dark wooden accents, lamps, and Chinese murals adorn the elegantly designed space. We settle down at a table and begin our eastward journey.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Raise your glass
The cocktails deserve special mention. Created by mixologist Pranav Mody, each is a subtle nod to the Orient without becoming a cliché. The Crouching Tiger (Rs 399), made with a lychee green tea-infused vodka with a dash of cranberry juice, is for those who like their drinks fruity but not cloyingly so. The signature cocktail, the vodka-based Mandarin (Rs 399), is fruit-forward and bursts with flavours of citrus and aromatic basil. The tall glass filled with this chilled drink momentarily transports us to a beach deck on a sunny island.
Our favourite, however, is the Mandarin Mocha (Rs 339), which has a whisky base and comes with a dose of espresso and vanilla, topped with orange zest. This is a drink we could count on for that much-needed shot of caffeine.
The menu isn't trying to impress anyone by being out-of-the-box or innovative. Instead, what you get is pure comfort food, dishes that are flavourful in their simplicity.
Being a Chinese restaurant, you can expect a wide selection of dim sum here. The Truffle and Edamame Dumplings (Rs 440), which have become a regular feature at Chinese fine-dines, are sheer perfection — the film-like wrapping breaks open to reveal an edamame filling that feels like velvet and has a lovely umame flavour owing to the truffle oil. The Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun (Rs 540), served steaming hot, also wins our vote.âÂÂTwo glossy, translucent rolls hold juicy prawns and a layer of crunchy tempura batter.
Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun
A drizzle of soy sauce gives the dish a flavourful punch.
If you're visiting with the intention of shelling out the big bucks, don't skip the Aromatic Crispy Duck (Rs 1,150 for quarter, Rs 2,150 for half). Deep fried duck thighs are shredded and served with pancakes, a rich plum sauce and batons of cucumber and scallion. There is a method to eating this dish — place a light-as-air pancake on your plate, spread a dollop of plum sauce, place a spoonful or two of the shredded meat on it, throw in some greens, roll it up and tuck in.
Steamed Whole Pomfret with Ginger and Scallion
Pots of delight
Among the mains, you can't miss the soy-drenched Steamed Whole Pomfret with Ginger and Scallion (Rs 2,200). The seasoning on this dish is on the milder side, so if you're looking for something with a punch, this is not it. You can, instead, opt for the Sweet and Sour Chicken or the Sanpei Chicken Claypot (Rs 540 each), and pair either with a portion of the Spicy Vegetable Fried Rice with Taro (Rs 390).
The interiors are peppered with Chinese murals. Pics/Bipin Kokate
We can never have too much of the fare from the Far East, and if you're anything like us, you know where to look if dumplings are on your mind.