Wednesday, May 14, 2014

#ExperienceTaj - Golden Dragon

Disclaimer - This is not a review of Golden Dragon. When you visit a 110-year-old hotel's 40-year-old restaurant. it's not just food that you eat; there are stories, memories and anecdotes that create an experience worth remembering.

Last week I was invited for lunch at Golden Dragon, The Taj Mahal Palace's Chinese restaurant. The idea was to introduce food bloggers/writers to restaurant's dining experience with a menu including signature dishes and regular favourites. A small group of three food writers; Romi Purkayastha of Follow The Eaten Path, Roxanne Bamboat of The Tiny Taster and me joined by Nikhila Palat - Taj Mahal Palace's Public Relation Manager and Parveen Chander - the Deputy General Manager at The Taj Mahal Palace, was hosted at this 40-year-old restaurant. 

Opened in 1973, Golden Dragon was the first restaurant to bring authentic Chinese cuisine to Mumbai. At the time when Chinese food meant Indo-Chinese or Kolkata-Chinese for us, Golden Dragon introduced Mumbaikars to Szechuan and Cantonese cuisines. A fleet of five chefs was flown in from China to get the right cooking techniques and authentic flavours. They carried their own pots and ladles and no one except those five chefs was allowed to touch them, until an Indian chef convinced them that he was worthy of cooking their food.

With stories like these, our meal started with a cup of traditional Chinese tea which was served from a pot with an unusually long spout. This peculiar pot was used to serve tea in the times of war. It allowed the server to pour tea from a distance stopping him from overhearing the private (read top-secret) conversation. Tea was followed by a dimsum platter which had a mix of signature as well as new dishes. I loved the Flaky radish dimsum - grated radish wrapped in a flaky, deep fried shell, which has been on the menu since the time Golden Dragon opened. The other favourite was the crunchy Lotus root and celery dimsum. These were lapped up with sweet chilli sauce, the best I've had in Mumbai so far. Golden Dragon has one of the best dimsum selection in the city and has a special dimsum lunch menu on Sundays. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

An open letter to Rasna

Dear Rasna,

The other day I was in a supermarket buying summer coolers when I spotted you. At first, I couldn’t recognize you between the packets of Tang and ice teas; you all looked the same to me. I think that clarifies my initial indifference; I wasn’t trying to ignore you, not deliberately at least.

In order to reunite with you I bought a packet. It had a fancy name of a foreign kind of orange; looked like you were trying hard to impress. You were never about real fruit and added vitamins. Those fads are for juice companies. You were always about fun and taste and that’s what all the kids loved about you. You were our one glass of bliss after a game of langdi-kabaddi or kho-kho in hot Sun. You were the stuff all birthday parties were made of. We never had to buy Coca Cola or Pepsi for our friends cause we knew you’ll always be there with your orange, mango, cola, khus khus and tutti frooti flavours (11 flavours in total). You were there to lift our spirits after a tough day at school; you were there to calm us down before a tough exam; you were there to make play times better and to make study times bearable. Every time we lifted a glass of you we said "I love you Rasna" aloud, and that love came straight from the heart.
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