Sunday, 22 February 2015

Restaurant Review | Fresh & Simple: Pan Asian’s Spring Summer Menu

It’s been a while since I visited Pan Asian at the Sheraton New Delhi. But after reading scrumptious reviews on social media about Chef Vaibhav Bhargava’s creations I’m only too glad to be invited to get a sneak peek of his forthcoming spring summer menu. The last time I met chef was a couple of years ago while he was working at Olive Bar and Kitchen, Mehrauli. Now, after gaining more coveted experience he is back with added enthusiasm. Given that his favourite cuisine is Japanese and having worked at the famed Japanese restaurant Zuma, Dubai, one finds a delicious thrust of Japanese influences, traditional dishes as well as cooking techniques in the new offerings along with Thai and Chinese fare.

While the restaurant looks pretty much the same since the last time I visited about a year and a half ago, the dishes presented evoke the colours, flavours and aromas of the freshest spring that one can imagine. 

Top: Salmon Tataki; Left: Chicken Gai Takay; Right: Minced Chicken Ball Soup.

The amuse bouche – Ika Martini – sets the tone perfectly for what lies ahead. Ika or squid and Saba fish (mackerel) are cured to perfection and dunked in a delicious tangy-sweet amalgamation of plum, lime juice, Japanese 7-spice sichimi, tangy sansho powder, mint and seaweed. Then comes the Salmon Tataki. Delicate rolls of peppered salmon topped with osteria caviar and edible flowers taste as refreshing as they look. Even the accompanying salad comprising soybeans, cherry tomatoes and sweet corn is delicious.

Keeping a menu fresh and simple is never easy. Simplicity of flavours does not necessarily mean that a dish is easy to put together. Well, a salad is mostly a bunch of ingredients tossed together. When I start counting the number of components in the Micro Greens Salad I realise the amount of thought that’s gone into putting every element into this dish. The colourful mélange includes micro greens of red rose, beetroot, basil, pickled radish, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, soybeans, corn, fresh figs, topped with flax seeds and black and white sesame seeds. The highlight is certainly the freshness of the ingredients. Pan Asian gets a regular supply of fresh produce from local farms and a weekly supply of fresh seafood straight from Japan and Scotland. The Ten Treasure Warm Mushroom Salad comprising ten types of mushrooms drizzled with a signature sauce makes for a good appetizer even though I expected the flavours to be more complex.

The Minced Chicken Ball Soup with snow fungus and wolf berry is a luscious broth that lends its flavour to the mildly spiced meatballs. The spices on the side of the dish are not merely for aesthetic appeal. You can add them into the soup if you want to enhance its delicate flavour. For me it’s perfect just as it is. The Chicken Gai Takay is a deep fried Thai appetizer with a strong aroma and taste of lemon grass. Although the chicken can be less greasy, the addition of slightly sticky caramelised onions and the crunchy bite of the chicken make me want to dig into this dish repeatedly.

Clockwise from Top Left: Green Curry Fried Rice; Salmon Tataki; Summer Passion Cooler; Ten Treasure Warm Mushroom Salad; Wasabi Prawns.

The grand finale to this delectable meal is Green Curry Fried Rice. I immediately decide to make this preparation at home! And finally my favourite part of the meal - the Wasabi Prawns. While I have enjoyed every dish thus far, this one is the cherry on it all and I'm glad I have it right in the end. Each lightly fried prawn has a liberal helping of wasabi mayo, topped with flying fish roe. One bite and I'm in heaven! 

You may not find all these dishes in the menu, but they're part of the Chef's Specials that'll be available soon. And in case you're in a hurry, go for the Bento Box. You don't have to stick to Japanese only, take your pick from Thai and Chinese and it will be incorporated in the bento box for you. This is a pan-Asian restaurant after all. 

Chef Vaibhav Bhargava
Bento Box

Pan Asian, Sheraton New Delhi, District Centre Saket, New Delhi 110017.
Timings: 12.30pm-2.45pm, 
Tel: 011 4266 1122.
Prices: Appetisers Rs 400 onwards; Mains Rs 800 onwards; Desserts Rs 400 onwards.