Chinese


All Stir Fry is known for it’s “You can eat what you squeeze into that bowl” model of participatory cooking. Quite simply, the Quick Wok is what makes this place. Before we discuss this unique dish, lets give you a proper introduction to the place.

ASF is located on the ground floor of a beautiful boutique hotel – The Gordon House – in a leafy bylane of Colaba Causeway. Enter through the main door and you are greeted by a minimalist main seating area and a slightly more plush lounge area. The lounge area comes with the obligatory tealight candles and dark leather sofas, while the main eating area has spartan wooden benches and tables.

The other thing which immediately draws your attention is the Show kitchen, emblazoned with the place’s logo. Inside a chef is typically firing up a wok for a hungry patron.

This place is hugely popular for lunch and so we recommend getting here early. Get a table, and order some starters (suggestions later) -but don’t get too comfortable. You have to try the Quick Wok.

Amble over to a buffet-like place and get yourself a bowl. In this bowl, heap in as many veggies as you can – Mushrooms, babycorn, broccoli, bamboo shoot, carrots, etc. Also choose a noodle which you like and heap it in. Then make your way to the cooking station, through sliding glass doors which keep the aromas sealed inside the show kitchen. Hand it over to the chef, and tell him you’re a vegetarian. He will actually use a separate wok and utensils for the vegetarians. Classy!

Choose a sauce, and he tosses in your bowl of veggies. 2 minutes later – voila, your bowl of noodles is ready. Hot, steaming and smelling yummy.

Troop back to the table and your starters are probably there by now. We recommend the Geoza, a potsticker with tofu and veggies within. Another nice starter is the steamed Tofu buns. There are a long list of other appetizers, including satay, papaya salad and mongolian dumpling noodle soup. If you are repeat visitor, definitely work your way around the menu.

There is a long list of main course items including Crackling Spinach and Golden Fried Tofu. Another pick is the Rising Rice – a big bowl of stir fried rice.

The service is polite and helpful, and the drinks menu is decent. We recommend you grab a simple beer or soft drink to wash down what should be a very flavourful meal.

My recco – Go here for lunch and enjoy the Quick Wok with some starters for the table.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Pearl of the Orient is a restaurant of tremendous potential. Unfortunately, the folks at the Ambassador, have tried to match this eatery’s potential and have executed textbook “overkill”.

Open the menu of this eatery and you will find 20+ pages of food. Separate menus for Hunan, Sichuan, Beijing, HongKong, Thai, Japanese, etc. etc. etc. We all know that the broad descriptor of “chinese” food is about as accurate as “indian” food. It’s great that someone has attempted to break into the various cuisine styles. But, this is a bit too much! Everyone seems lost and confused by the mountain of options facing them. The saddest part is that the waiters seem intent on just selling standard fare – manchurian, sichuan veggies etc.

Having said this, the saving grace is the food. Not hugely authentic, but definitely not lacking in flavour, we recommend starting with the wonderful clear veg wonton soup. The wontons have the right amount of veggies in them and melt in your mouth. Order for 3-4 people and they will serve it in a large center-heated soup bowl – a relative rarity for vegetarians. If you prefer starters to soups, we would recommend either the sesame corn on toast or veg steamed dumplings.

For the main course, definitely have the hunan veggies and tofu in black bean sauce. Another good option is the Buddha’s delight, which is not the flat, cornflour mess served in most other restaurants. Delicate flavour for sure, but nicely done. Accompany this with either the sichuan style noodles or the mushroom pot rice.

For those in search of a more exotic meal, we would recommend the vegetarian sushi, including kappa maki. (cucumber rolls). Not very authentic, but not too bad either. The wasabi is very good and along with the pink ginger makes the sushi a nice side order. The lack of a miso soup means you cannot make this a true japanese meal, but don’t fret. The veg tempura (fried veggies in batter) are also very tasty.

There are limitless other options, but we will let you explore them and advise on any other picks from the jumbo menu card.

The ambience is really why most folks come to this place. It is South Bombay’s only rooftop revolving restaurant and what a view! It overlooks marine drive, and so gives you a bird’s eye view of the queen’s necklace and the Arabian sea. The place rotates at a pace which allows you to get atleast one sighting of the arabian sea, the queen’s necklace, brabourne stadium, the Taj hotel, Bombay High and Nariman point. But, dont worry – no need to hold on to your dishes – this isn’t that fast. The two times you are reminded that it revolves are when you step out of the stationary lift lobby and onto the seating area floor, and when you step back into the lift lobby. Watch out for the kids who love this “transition point” and make it their spot to jump back and forth!

My recco – Go here for dinner and with your special someone. Enjoy the best views in Bombay. As for the food, open any page and pick whatever you see. Do not try to surf through it – your head will spin!

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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A gap in the Indian eatery scene has been a decent noodle joint – atleast it was until the advent of Noodle Bar. This highly successful chain has not suffered the same dumbing down effect as its multi-cuisine sister concern – Bombay Blue.

Noodle Bar is a cafe style eatery with long benches serving as seating and plain wooden tables promising a good east asian food experience to come. The ambience here is one of a buzzing eatery serving up generous portions of noodles to grateful Bombayites of all shapes and sizes. The waiters in their black uniforms scoot briskly from table to table ferrying steaming plates and bowls to the hungry patrons.

The food here has a great range, but the prescribed course would be to order some starters for the table and then a noodle dish for yourself.

For starters, Noodle Bar has some great fried wontons, spring rolls and other standard “chinese” fare. We recommend you go for momos. A relative rarity in Bombay (but very common in Cal & Delhi), these steamed dumplings are heavenly. The accompanying sauces are nothing fancy – soya, vinegar chillies and a red chilly sauce.

For the main course, there are many excellent noodle dishes from all parts of east asia. Our pick is the Noodle bowl, which you can build. Choose the veggies of your choice by checking them off on a form + check off the garnishes (ginger, garlic, etc.) + check off the sauce of your choice (we recommend hoisin or black bean) + finally pick the noodle type of your choice. Herein lies the attraction of what could have easily become a plain vanilla mega-chain of chinese restaurants. Of the many options of noodles on offer, we would recommend either the fine ramen style or the chunky udon.

Pricing is moderate and hence they have a good mix of hungry office-goers, students and recovering workaholics.

My recco – Go with a friend who doesn’t like to talk. Order a couple of starters, a soupy noodle bowl and spend the meal slurping and slarping your way through it.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Easily the most authentic chinese meal we have enjoyed in Bombay, and a place with great ambience.

This restaurant is one with no lack of real-estate. Still, if I were you, I would book in advance and insist on a table outside. The outside seating has dimly lit pavilions over each table. There is a meandering pool filled with goldfish and small bridges to walk over. Its like a zen garden!

The inside area where we sat had its perks too. We got to see the whole kitchen and the chefs at work. My passable mandarin made me realise that the folks in charge were from China indeed. We saw them roll dumplings, make noodles and various other fancy dishes.

But let me get to the food. It was amazing. We started with a veg. dumpling soup which comes in a clay pot and is made for 2 people. Mushrooms with several different textures along with the aforementioned dumplings in a delicate clear soup. We followed this up with two main course items worth talking about.

The pan fried green beans are a rare delicacy and this is the best preparation we have had in India. Along with this, we tried the clay pot beancurd. Spicy and supported by shiitake mushrooms, bok choy and other veggies the dish is again a “best in class”.

We also had some fine freshly made rice noodles and steamed rice. The authenticity of the meal (and the flavours) were beyond compare.

I polished it down with a lychee caiprioska and we also had some nice jasmine tea. All excellent.

The waiters prevented us from over-ordering and the service was prompt without rushing us. The ambience was just perfect.

The only downside is probably the pricing. But, we do believe that when the food is not local, you often get what you pay for. We believe that the pricing is high, but we forget it in the flavours of the meal & the ambience.

The reward is a 5-bone rating for this authentic chinese oasis in the indian chinese desert out there.

My recco – Go for dinner, get a table outside and get ready to experience “real chinese” (Hunan, Cantonese style mainly) food.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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The ITC Sheraton group is known for the Bukhara and Dum Pukht. With such a pedigree of Indian food, would we dare to enter their Chinese joint?

You bet we would.

The Shanghai Club is easily the least marketed, least known 5-star chinese restaurant in Bombay. No one knows it exists and you get zero bragging rights by saying you dined there.

Its literally your last stop at the ITC Grand Central in Lower Parel. You walk all the way through the indian restaurant, meander past their glass-walled kitchens with buttery kababs and fluffy naans until the decor suddenly turns oriental. You cross the India-China border and there you are!

The ambience is very nice. Great lighting, good room between tables, lovely limitless tea. The cutlery gleams and the crockery has some quaint chinese design elements.

Your journey here has to start with the appetizers and for me, they stole the show. The dim sum is dead-on. Only one veggie option, but the steamed veggie dumplings are as good as anything you get in Singapore. Another nice starter are the crispy, chilly pepper vegetables. Just the right mix of spice and flavour.

We tried the Gong-bao veggies and the Ma Po Tofu. The tofu is silken and the sauce delicate though not as spicy as the original. The Gong-bao is a poor cousin of the real deal – Kung Pao is meant to be a fiery mixture of dried red chillies and peanuts. This fell short! The rices have decent options, though they lacked a pot rice option. We had the ginger peppers rice and it was nice.

The pricing is high, but not as high as you would expect.

TIP: By investing in an annual ITC Sheraton Plus Card you get great discounts on your meals (upto 50% off for a couple meal). If you like their food, worth coughing up the 6 grand.

Overall, a decent experience, but you could get better chinese elsewhere.

My recco – Worth a visit, if you are a regular to ITC for one of the expos. But, if you visit rarely try the indian place first.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Going to places like Henry Tham’s shows you just how integrated Bombay is with the global party scene. A truly world-class ambience awaits you here.

Located a stone’s throw from the Gateway of India, Henry Tham’s is named after the owner/restaurateur who has given Bombay several excellent restaurants. It is definitely his piece de resistance.

This place serves authentic Cantonese style chinese cuisine as well as some great Japanese and South East Asian delicacies.

The Miso Soup here is very authentic and the delicate flavours of this vegetarian classic shine through nicely. Another nice starter are the sauteed mushrooms.

This is one restaurant where you feel at ease in the hands of your waiter. Let him/her guide you and you will get the best out of this experience. They have a wide range from the veggies in sambal sauce to the crispy vegetables cantonese style.

This is a restaurant where you don’t mind if they make you wait for the table. You see the ground floor is a top-class bar and the cocktails/mocktails are also a must-have. Live music is there most evenings and this ranges from rock to jazz.

The bar, lounge and dining areas all have the feel of a nice plush lounge. The lighting with tall glass floor lamps, strategic use of asian curios and contemporary decor makes for a unique look. If you are lucky, they will seat you at the tables with the high backs. Enough to make you feel like a king/queen, these plush thrones help set the mood for an evening to remember.

The one caveat – remember that kings & queens have money and you must expect to pay well for this experience. As with all upscale lounges, you will leave with your wallet a wee bit lighter.

My recco – Go with someone special + make reservations, but go early. Spend a while chilling at the lounge or bar and then head up to the dining area. Make it a long, slow evening!

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Named after the famed 5-spice powder which is a key component of Chinese cooking, 5 Spice is practically an institution in Bandra, and Bombay as a whole.

This place toes an interesting line between conventional “Indian Chinese” cuisine and a more authentic hong kong-style. In the balance I would put it in the Indian Chinese boat, but with just a hint of the real deal.

The menu is loaded with veggie options. If  you were to start with a soup, I would recommend the Veg Wonton Soup which is done particularly well. Without introducing artificial spice, this mildly flavoured clearish soup allows the more subtle flavours to hold court. In appetizers, there are a few I could recommend. The corn cream melts like butter in your mouth and the accompanying mint sauce is stuff of legend now. Another good option is the veg fried wontons, which have enough stuffing to keep you engaged. My personal favourite remains the veg steamed wontons.

In the main course, you cannot go wrong with the burnt chilly fried rice. No place does it better! If you prefer a more subtle rice dish, go for the Veg Moon Fan. In noodles, I would probably say the Veg singapore noodles are the most flexible.

The main course dishes have many options, but the Tofu with Black Bean chilly sauce is a must-have. Another good dish is the Tsing Ho potatoes – a definite “Indian Chinese” dish, but a new one! If you want a mix of veggies, go for the Hot Wok.

The ambience is modern asian with nice even lighting. There could be more space between tables, but nobody’s perfect.

They recently upped prices and this prevents them from being a 5-bone eatery. But, I cant be too harsh. This is one place where you forgive them the price tag.

My recco – you must visit this place to experience the current home of Indian Chinese food in India. Dont save space for the desserts – pig out on starters and way more!

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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