In a nutshell:
Fall of ‘the last emperor’…………….. The last authentic Chinese restaurant (outside of a 5 star) has given in to pressure & turned Chinjabi. I bid goodbye for the last time.
Address & other details: The Monk
Meal for 2: Rs. 1000 onwards
Cuisine type : Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.
Short Description – in case u r in a hurry:
I have travelled to China many times (lost count), stayed there for days & eaten at all sorts of places – from street food to shacks off the highway to lunch with workers in a factory to restaurants run by Govt. of China (tourists never go there) & even vegetarian restaurant run by Buddhists. So I feel really irritated when people serve Chinjabi food guised as Chinese / authentic Chinese.
I really liked seeing 2 menu cards at a Chinese restaurant named The Chinese in Connaught Place, Delhi – the waiter said one was authentic Chinese & the other was Indianized. Now that is impressive Honesty. Unfortunately the restaurant did not survive the endless digging in Middle circle Connaught Place & finally shut down after months of no / low walk ins.
My experience at Monk from the time it opened till say 3 years back was very good. It served almost authentic Chinese food. Infact it was one of the few non 5 star restaurants doing so. Pls read my earlier review of ‘The Monk’ here.
Then for some reason we did not end up going here. The latest experience turned out to b quite a disaster. All the authenticity was gone & the sole differentiator of this restaurant was lost. I remembered the movie – The Last Emperor…………………
I remember seeing so many Chinese and other Asian guests at Monk earlier. I did see none this time.
In the initial years they used to have a Chinese Chef – I remember how he got emotional & started talking to me in Chinese after I wished him ‘Ni Hao’ (hello in chinese). It took him a while to understand that I just knew ‘hello’ & ‘thank u’ in Chinese. This time around I did not see any Chinese Chef (unless he was on leave that day).
Food showed strong Indian influence unlike in the past.
The menu card had something unusual – It had 6 pages of beverage menu followed by 3.5 pages of food. I was wondering – Has the focus shifted more towards the bar than the food?
The non vegetarian starters were very chicken heavy. It had some prawns, 1 lamb option, 1 calamari & 1 duck option. The Main course looked slightly better in terms of mix. There was fish and I was pleasantly surprised to find salmon as well.
Construct of the menu – Veg and Nonveg starters, crystal dumplings 4/6 pieces, steamed dumplings, 2 soups each in veg and Nonveg, different kinds of noodle in soup , teppantaki style udon noodles, noodles, sticky rice bowls, plain rice bowls .
The staff members were nice guys. They did not however make too much of difference to our experience.
Detailed Description – In case u have the Time to NJOY reading:
We started our evening with ‘Butter prawns in salted egg sauce’. Coating given on the top of the prawn made the outer surface irritatingly hard. The Dish was over salted. Aroma was very nice. Prawns were soft inside. Overall the dish was Average I wud say. Rate it not more than 2.5/5.
We moved on to ‘Shrimp with water chestnut crystal dumpling’. It had a Juicy liquid in the center, subtle but very good taste of prawns and water chestnuts – provided u throw away half the dumpling cover. Reason – in earlier days the cover used to b thin and more transparent. Nowadays it is thick and soggy.
First dimsum ‘as it is’ was way inferior to the second one (I ate this with half the cover). The way I had the second dimsum, I wud rate it 4.25/5. The way it was served with excess and thick cover, I wud rate it 3.75/5.
We also tried Baby lamb with oriental chilly dumpling. It was slightly sweet, hot, tasty but not quite authentic . Spiced up quite a bit. Rate it 4/5 due to sheer taste.
We were also served extra dumplings by mistake. When pointed out, they took it away.
For main course we had Wok fried udon noodle tossed with sliced fish in oyster chilli sauce.
Hot, over salted , yet tasty but non authentic noodle. Very soft and enjoyable. The Fish was fried with cornflower something that I have not seen in a true blue oriental restaurant in china / Far East. No one does that there. I really dislike the feel of corn flour on fish / seafood.
The Fish itself was soft and nice. Wud have given it 4/5 but give 3.5/5 due to over salting.
Over salting was consistent in two dishes back to back and that was surprising.
For dessert we ordered Poached pear in red wine with rum and raisin ice cream.
Rum and raisin ‘ice cream’? ‘I scream’ & protest if someone tells me that this disaster of an ice cream is rum & raisin. It was nothing short of an over sweet vanilla ice cream with sweet raisin interspersed in it. Massive dollop of it.
Atop the ice cream was a bed of small portion of nice poached pear, great daanedaar texture and good taste. Pear pieces if I remember used to b smaller and nicer. Rate the ‘apology for an Ice cream’ 1/5. Rate the Poached pear 3/5. Overall rating of this dish averages out to 2/5.
We also tried fresh lime soda. It was a no fizz feeble drink that showed just a ‘Oh I have to make another drink’ attitude of an uninterested bartender. Rate it 1/5
Overall rating averages out to 3.0/5
I used to go to this restaurant due to its sheer authenticity. I took my Chinese National friends here as well & they said it was 85% authentic. I said good bye to the restaurant now coz they stopped being as authentic as their former self. They might still b serving some tasty food but they did not taste true to the Great cuisine of this centuries old civilization.