In a nutshell:
A visually beautiful ‘fine dine’ restaurant run by a celebrity Indian Chinese Chef (who invented Chicken Manchurian), polite serving staff, serves few good, mostly average to bad Sino Ludhianvi cuisine (Chinjabi).
Address & other details: China Garden
Meal for 2: Rs. 800 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 read about Nelson Wang in Rude Food, a book by Vir Sanghvi. A Kolkata boy from the Chinese community, Nelson went on to become a Celebrity Chef by Indianizing hardcore Chinese food to match the palate of Indian customers. According to the book & also a TV show by Vir Sanghvi, Nelson invented Chicken Manchurain. My personal experience – The Chinese people in China have not heard about anything called Manchurian.
The food options at this restaurant were hence a mix of almost Original (slight tweak) Chinese to newly created dishes by this Celebrity Chef.
I have been to China several times & have had the opportunity to eat at restaurants of different kinds, factory canteens, government run eateries, bus stations, roadside shacks etc. The food at China Garden was not like that – It was way Indainized. I used the term ‘Sino Ludhianvi’ coined by Vir Sanghvi as found it quite amusing.
As mentioned above, the restaurant is beautiful. It has two floors of seating area, ornate traditional Chinese look furniture, framed pics on the wall and they play peppy music most of the time.
The menu card was very long & detailed & almost every item had two to three nonveg options. E.g. if the dish is butter garlic, then there wud b a butter garlic prawn, butter garlic fish & maybe butter garlic crab. On a relative scale, the options of meat/seafood in this restaurant were more than most non-5 star restaurants in Delhi.
We ordered two unusual items on the menu. Both were not there. So we had to do with relatively usual items.
The staff members were very polite in general. The manager was very nice & humble & he tried his best to take care of customers. Some guys in the kitchen however took him & us for a ride… Keep reading.
Food as I said was a combination of bad, average & good but not outstanding. This statement wud b both from the authrnticity perspective & also the execution perspective.
Detailed Description – In case u have the Time to NJOY reading:
We started with Barbeque Wonton thong Soup.
It was a thin clear soup full of flavours of the ingredients. Dumplings were soft, had thin cover, were chiffon like smooth and very nice. Loved munching on the Leaf (that had withered a bit in the extreme heat).
Slices of sweetish pork sausage was very nice.
All the ingredients went well with one another. There was a touch on indianization but not much. Rate it 4/5.
We moved on to Steamed Shanghai Dumpling Pork –It had a very smooth and thin outer cover, intense & very good to taste filling. Steaming made the filling release juices and that was flowing out as I wud attempt to bite into the dumpling. The filling meat did not seem to b machine minced. Rate it 4/5 again.
The next item we had was Chow sui Fish – fish quickly stir fried in chinese meso. We asked ‘what is meso?’ The waiter said ‘Chinese Wan’. We said ‘what’. After few rounds, we understood – Chinese wine!!!!!
It was an unputdownable dish. Our hands were on auto mode transporting the food from plate to mouth. However it cud hv been anything else in place of fish – paneer, tofu etc. Sauces etc get 4.5/5. Fish gets 1/5 as u just cud not get the fish taste. For some reason the fish was coated. The Chinese in China almost never coat fish & seafood.
The taste of the coating was excellent but the coating taste overpowered the overall taste in such a way that the taste of fish vanished. Totally. Fish was murdered on the wok. Rate this dish 2.75/5.
Then we tried Barbeque Roast pork. We thought we wud get roasted pork meat but what we got instead was slices of a salami.
It was sweetish like many Chinese dishes but the salt was totally off. Balance of sweet and salt was just wrong. Rate it 2/5.
At last we ordered Cha Choi Nu nuek – tenderloin marinated then sauteed with aged chinese pickled vegetables. We have had this in quite a few places – there the veggies had a fermented feel to them.
However by mistake they served us – tenderloin and deep fried coated bacon. We understood that as we found no hint of pickled veggies. We checked and found from waiter that they had by mistake given tenderloin and bacon. ‘Nu Chu thong chao – Tenderloin marinated in garlic, ginger & chilli , sauteed with burnt crispy bacon ‘ said the menu card & it exactly matched what we were munching on.
However at this time the Manager intervened. He went to kitchen and came back and said ‘this is pickled veg’ I said where r the veggies. He said it has been made into a paste and has been mixed. I said where is the pickle flavor. He said it is subtle. I thought – It os so subtle that the person eating it wud not even get a hint of pickled veggies!!!!
Well I hv no prob eaing bacon but imagine a religious minded guy who does not eat pork. He is served pork with tenderloin but not told about it and not written on menu card either. I didn’t know how to react to such a blatant lie on the face. I said ‘OK, thank u’ & finished the rest of the dish.
The tenderloin was very soft and good. It was as good as it cud get. The bacon was coated and deep fried. Tasted good but I did not order it. Rate the dish 4/5 as it is, if I ignore what I ordered and how pickled veggies r. Rate it 1/5 if I compare what was ordered vs what was served,
We NJOY ed the food with Chinese steamed bread. They did not have fermented feel but were soft & fluffy. Rate them 3/5
We also had Lemonade (bill calls it lemonaid:)). It was simple & good. Just right. Rate it 3/5.
For dessert we ordered Date pancakes – were the worst I have ever had. The cook seems to have made this in extreme frustration for being retained late in the kitchen and just messed it up beyond repair.
It was over fried, dripping oil from all sides. Sesame also had got burnt. I think it was a good dish (planned good) but very poorly executed. Rate it 1/5.
Overall rating of food & beverages at China garden averages out to 2.65/5. I do not think I will ever revisit to torture my tastebuds / my peace of mind.