Wine Club Lunch: Hyatt Does an Encore

Hyatt has done it again, this time at a lunch organised by the Delhi Wine Club at the newly opened The China Kitchen which went off exceedingly well with the restaurant chefs proving 'Hum Kissi Se Kam Nahin'. Subhash Arora reports.

Kitchen of the China Kitchen

Hyatt has fast become the screaming choice of the majority of Delhi Wine Club members despite the higher costs even with DWC specials. The food quality, service with a smile, the personal warmth and the lack of 'attitude' have made it a Darling of the Club (the club boasts of many Friends of the Club).

When Sourish Bhattacharyya wrote an article on The CK (or TCK as the management would like to popularise the property) in this newsletter sharing his ecstatic and orgasmic (temporarily borrowing the term from another well-known food writer) experience with the food, the pressure was on for the Club to organise an event here.

With all good intentions and willingness of Prasanjit Singh, the affable EAM and the carte blanche offer of Roger Lienhard, the charming and generally-smiling General Manager, there was a problem of mechanics- how to find place for 30-40 wine guzzling aficionados when the restaurant is choc-o-bloc full on week nights and the Sunday brunches are packed with 140 visitors oscillating between various dishes and the Champagne Rose (which I would like to believe was based on my implicit recommendation followed by Team TCK).

With great deliberations, a compromise formula was worked out- a Saturday Lunch for 32 of the fastest-finger-first members, in the PDR (for some of us who spend more time in the public domain, it means Private Dining Room and with the spending power of the denizens growing exponentially, this is the fast-growing sub-set of any restaurant worth its Champagne).

The smiles of confidence on the face of every staff once you entered the restaurant seemed to be singing Hum Kissi Se Kam Nahin. The Menu was mind-blowing, the view outside the PDR was beautiful- there was natural beauty of trees and garden from one PDR and several sun bathing residents from the other- not to mention the perfect table setting in a classic style with the chilled Rolling Semillon-Sauvignon from Australia (importer: Sovereign Impex) in perfect attendance.

Takashi Sugimoto's Super Potato might not have this aspect in mind while designing the $3m restaurant but the foyer, carved out as the serving area, between the 3 PDRs, (each can seat 10 comfortably) 2 of which can be combined into one, was the perfect spot for aperitifs and tete-a tete as also a funnel that sucked in the unsuspecting members entering the mezzanine area where an informal wine related inanimate discussion was being held over this glass of dry Rolling Semillon Sauvignon.

Peeling of the Peking Duck

Champagne is usually the cooling act for our events and helps one get ready for the dinner coming up. But the Chinese food here goes so well with Rose Champagne that we had made it the queen of the show this afternoon and the main protagonist. The endless menu was divided into three parts; the Rolling Chardonnay shared the honours with the first set of Main Course dishes. Though a typical oaky Australian Chardonnay, it was adequately well matched with the food. .

Queen Laurent Perrier Rose was served with the second set of main dishes. LP is world's highest selling Rose and not without reason. Needless to say that the Global Tax Free- imported moniker was the beloved of men and women alike and there were shouts of ' dil maange more.' A pre-despatched memo to members that there might not be refills on this one, was a saviour. We are equal opportunity wine drinkers; we give an equal opportunity to tasting different wines. This dictum was grudgingly accepted by the club members at this event.

On an earlier occasion, while tasting some of the dishes I had felt that Champagne Rose was a perfect match with most of the dishes in the restaurant including Peking duck, crab, fish and beggar's chicken. I would still maintain that view if I didn't have their Fried Rice with Smoked Bamboo Shoots, Green onions, vegetables and fragrant garlic rice, the last dish on the course. The rice with smoky aromas paired so well with the Australian spicy, medium bodied Rolling Shiraz that it would make a royal combo-the equivalent of dal chawal when one is in a mood to devour light meal. It was also a very good match with the spicy lamb.

The Menu was a real saliva jerker even to look at- but if you were a non-vegetarian. The vegetarians did feel less salivated though they had the added advantage of going outside the box and order whatever they wanted if they felt the fare was not 'feasty' enough for them.

Dessert Platter

The distance and height from the kitchen did tell on the service to some extent. The food was not at its piping- hot best and the service was not as immaculate as it has been on previous occasions. One wondered if on earlier occasions the staff did walk that extra mile as the super boss-GM was present. We will just have to hold another event with exactly the same menu but with Roger present to conclude the experiment scientifically; he had just come back from his overseas trip the evening before and could not join us for the lunch this day.

David Briskman, designated as the official thanker of the club made it a point to walk down to the kitchen and thank the big team of the Kitchen for winning hearts of the members through the stomach.

The CK has a lot going for it and would be well advised not to let the Chinese chefs out of their site till they fully transfer their talent to the Indian counterparts. The quality and style has to be stabilised and standardised. Undoubtedly, the restaurant then will sustain its leadership for the next couple of decades. Just as Bukhara at Maurya Sheraton (oops, ITC Maurya now) has established its mark as the best Indian food restaurant and Hyatt's La Piazza hasn't gone out of style after serving Italian cuisine for a decade, The China Kitchen can look forward to stay the Hero No.1 in the 5-star category restaurants in Delhi for the Chinese cuisine.

Click Here For Menu

Subhash Arora



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