Chi Asian Cookhouse: Gastronomical tour to Asia and back 

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Embark on a quest to explore new culinary routes in the world of Asian cuisine with Chi Asian Cookhouse, which gives a twist to the continent’s gastronomical story. With reinvention and re-imagination running at its core, the pan-Asian restaurant gives a new meaning to the Asian palate with a whiff of freshness.

Snuggled up in central Delhi’s Janpath area, the restaurant, a reinvention of brand Chi Kitchen & Bar, opened its doors to the public last week.

The restaurant’s entry point acts as a time machine, taking you to a world away from the rush of daily life. You are greeted by splashes of green and yellow hues as you find your way into the first floor restaurant.

“We felt that palates have evolved and now people are ready for more. So, we felt there was a need for us to reinvent. It is how we look at pan-Asian space,” Anubhav Gupta, the co-owner of the restaurant, told IANS.

The eatery is called “Chi” because it means ‘natural energy’ and the etymological explanation of the Chi logo is “steam rising from rice as it cooks”. It is this essence that pervades across the restaurant.

With simplistic furnishing accompanied by rustic wooden tables, the restaurant has a minimal yet stylish vein breathing life into the natural decor.

It also takes inspiration from canteens in industrial units hinging on pro-community dining concept, and that explains the presence of pipes and iron grills hovering over your head.

If you expect an oriental gong, Asian souvenirs rolled on tables, then Chi Asian Cookhouse is not the place for you.

“We are not trying to be a typical Chinese or Asian place. Our emphasis is on good Asian food in a relaxed environment,” Gupta added.

As for the food, the restaurant brings delectable dishes from almost eight countries, including China, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Start with Korean kim chi salad, homemade kimchi tossed into a salad, for a tangy treat or opt for light, flavourful chiang mai glass noodle soup, made of glad noodles and fresh vegetables, which is easy on your stomach.

For starters, you can choose from Ho Chi Minh chicken satay, cha ca thang (Vietnamese fish) to rice pair rolls. It seemed like a haven for seafood lovers with extensive dishes of fish and prawns.

While chicken satay, served with lemon leaf and chili, fared average in the taste meter, cha ca thang, seasoned with turmeric and dill emerge as a clear winner with melt-in-the-mouth quality and each bite echoing perfection.

Vegetarian rolls with its mint flavour can qualify as the restaurant’s veggie delight. A word of caution – steer off rice rolls if bland is not your taste.

Don’t miss the steaming dimsums. A vegetarian, meat-lover or crazy for sea-food, there’s something for all. Munch on the cheung fun with prawn, which is crunchy yet delightful, or try tofu tausi, a black bean delight more for its presentation than taste.

When it’s time to dig into the main affair, take a little break and turn your attention to the rice wall to get a quick lesson about variants of rice. It’s interesting.

In the main course, vegetarians can try kimchi spiced vegetables, slow cooked vegetables and tofu fired up with kimchi, to give a spicy treat to the taste buds.

One can also go for cheating chilli prawns, tossed in Thai style in a tangy sauce.

Mao’s chicken, concocted with yellow bean with garlic, satiates the hunger for some spice with its fieriness. Along with the taste and aroma, its simple preparation and presentation add to its appeal.

Then there is khee mao, an ancient recipe of stir fried flat noodles made in the 21st century way, which may disappoint spice lovers with its bland taste and light spices.

Sum up the Asian food voyage with coconut pancake topped with orange drizzle and served with vanilla ice cream.

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