I am very very apprehensive of eating out because of two reasons. I have lost interest in going out and enjoy during the last decade of my life, interestingly the time when the culinary scene in the country got an overhaul. And secondly I have encountered a few places which claim good food and it turns out they serve substandard ingredients doused in spices so the fresh taste of any ingredient is not distinguishable anymore. Most Indians like spicy food after all. Drowned in spices to say the least.
I like spicy food too. But I respect the fresh ingredients more than that. Spicing just so the ingredients's character is enhanced and not diminished.
So I was apprehensive about the food when Sid Khullar suggested to do a review of Empress of China's lunch menu with a few Delhi bloggers. Empress of China is a part of Eros hotels managed by Hilton. Meeting a few fellow bloggers was my reason to go there in the first place. I was in for a surprise as the food was really good as well. And at affordable cost too.
'Big place, big menu, small price' as Sid put it to introduce the menu, it really was such.
Not just the number of dishes being served, the quality was really very good.
The starters were quite delicately spiced, soft and succulent. Steamed chicken wings, Stir fried baby corn with sweet chilly sauce, Steamed dumpling with mixed vegetables, Steamed siew mai with minced prawns stuffing, and a delicious Steamed chicken with spring onions, garlic etc. On the plate clockwise.
The best was the Baby corn stir fried and laced with sweet chilly sauce. Tremendously flavorful and great texture. Chicken wings were rightly steamed and flavorful, glutinous and soft. The steamed boneless chicken was good but nothing special to write about. The Steamed dumpling was not good at ll, I don't like it when the pastry is dry and chewy. Someone who makes quite decent dimsums , this was a case of double disappointment as the Siew mai was floury and under cooked too. Dumplings apart, I liked everything else.
Main course had all my favorites. Sauteed fish with black bean was soft, flaky and delicately flavored. Prawns were well done, fresh, paired well with Asparagus. Schezuan chicken was rightly hot, well spiced for my taste. The best in the main course was Lotus stems and water chestnuts in black pepper sauce. I make something similar and that was just yummy. Silken tofu with preserved vegetables in chilly bean sauce was very very flavorful and rightly delicate too. The chef informed it was imported silken tofu.
My favorite bites were the very fresh serving of garden greens, it looked like it came right from my own garden. Beautiful and so good to bite into. I had a second and probably a third serving of the garden fresh sauteed vegetables, Broccoli and Bok choy to be precise.
Refreshing Jasmine tea was served along the meal, one more favorites of mine, though all my teas are in between the meals thing. With such a meal with varied textures and flavors, the tea served as a palate cleanser to say the least.
And forget the chocolate cake with ice cream too. Not that it wasn't good , as I finished just about half of my serving. Though there was no space or interest left for such a regular kinda dessert after such a sumptuous, refreshing meal.
Thanks to Mr Sanjay Keswani, Operations Director of the hotel who introduced us to the lunch menu and had great discussions with us. I was talking about how I was tempted to meat a few fellow bloggers there. I met Parul Paratap Shirazi, Charis Alfred Bhagianathan, Jaspreet Singh and Prateek Rungta apart from Sid Khullar. A great conversation about food among foodies is something to look forward to anytime.
Good ambiance, good conversations and good food was what we enjoyed there to the core. I would recommend this place for someone who wants to see beyond the several avatars of Indo-Chinese food available aplenty all around. A calm serene place to have a refreshing meal.