As the country continues to indulge in Hakka noodles and Manchurian dishes in the name of Chinese cuisines, EEST at Westin Gurgaon has launched flavours of Sichuan to overhaul this bias. Here is what our experience was. By Bayar Jain
When it comes to Chinese dishes, I wouldn’t lie about my lack of knowledge. To me, taking the safe route of choosing known flavours (read: fried rice doused in schezwan sauce paired with desi style Manchurian balls) comes naturally. On being invited to EEST at Westin Gurgaon to embark on a spicy adventure to the South Western region of China with Sichuan flavours, then, had me hooked instantly. Already known for its diverse cultural cuisine festivals, I was sure dinner at EEST wouldn’t disappoint.
At the dinner table, a rolled scroll await me, within which lay the magical menu of the night. As I glanced through the 11 items listed — divided into three courses — the culinary journey began. Crispy chicken with green chili and Sichuan pepper corns; crispy prawns with burnt garlic and five spice; double-cooked pork with dry red chili and black fungus mushroom; and wok-fried lamb in cumin, oyster sauce and spring onion were some of the dishes that featured in the appetisers. My favourite, however, was the stir fried green beans, black bean and cha choy.
Usually one to stray away from beans, this one had me digging in for seconds. Peppered generously with spicy kernels — evidently a major ingredient of the night — the beans were stir fried to perfection. The perfection with which each strand of the green goodness was cooked seeped into the vegetable’s skin, while the peppers left an addictive tingling sensation on my tongue. I soon learn that it is this tingling spice, which sets the Sichuan cuisine apart from the other Chinese versions of the same, is due to the liberal use of garlic, red pepper, and Sichuan pepper. On one end, it’ll render your taste buds momentarily numb, on the other, it’ll urge you to keep picking more. Fret not! A soothing cup of jasmine tea will cleanse your palette from this overpowering spice.
For main course, an equally long spread greeted me. Mapo veg tofu; stir fried shiitake, black fungus, and shimeji mushroom with golden garlic; and hunan style fish with pickled chili and chili oil; yang chow fried rice-chicken and prawn fried rice were some of the dishes of the night. While my favourite was the amazingly seasoned mushrooms, the star of the night was the Peking Duck.
Boasting of being the only hotel in Gurugram to serve this slow-cooked delicacy with the precise balance of crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, the Peking Duck is specially curated by the outlet’s Chinese Masterchef. An ardent lover of this particular set of flavours, and Multi Property Executive Chef Anurudh Khanna couldn’t resist talking about this featured delicacy. “Peking duck is a notoriously difficult dish to cook, so it’s no surprise that it’s a rare find. Crisp, golden-brown skin on the outside, tender meat on the inside carefully wrapped in a pancake, you know you are in culinary heaven,” said the Chef.
By now, peppers, and by extension — spice, seemed to have become a permanent resident on my taste buds. The Mango sago pudding for dessert, however, doubled as a messiah in disguise. Each dip into the layered fruity goodness brought with a taste of summer, while a refreshed feeling overcame me. When it comes to Chinese flavours, Sichuan might just be my new go-to.
While the Peking Duck stays on the menu as an all-time classic, EEST will see some Sichuan classics being added to the menu once the festival culminates. The delicacies will be served during lunch and dinner at EEST at The Westin Gurgaon.
From: Starting from November 15 to December 22, 2019
Timing: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm (Lunch); 6:00 pm – 12:00 am (Dinner)
Price for two: INR 2,500 approx with taxes, excluding alcohol