Lounge Reviews: Spicy Duck, Delhi & Hakkasan, Mumbai | Mint
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Business News/ Mint-lounge / Lounge Reviews: Spicy Duck, Delhi & Hakkasan, Mumbai
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Lounge Reviews: Spicy Duck, Delhi & Hakkasan, Mumbai

Spicy Duck has a menu from the regions of Szechuan and Canton. The food has home-made oils and infusions, making the flavours subtle

The Spicy Duck’s interiorsPremium
The Spicy Duck’s interiors

The décor of Spicy Duck, the new restaurant at Delhi’s Taj Palace Hotel, is old wine in a new bottle. The only difference from its earlier avatar, Blue Ginger, is a wash of orange and red in the upholstery, filament lamps and wall art. This 72-seater has a menu from the regions of Szechuan and Canton. The food has home-made oils and infusions, making the flavours subtle.

The good stuff

From the five signature cocktails, our table’s first was the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Rose ( 500)—a beautiful iced sphere of jasmine tea encasing a fresh rose in a tequila-based cocktail. As the ice melted, the taste of the tea infused with the tequila became prominent, and by the end of lunch, we were left with a rose at the bottom of the glass. The Qing Ceremony ( 500) came in a little tea kettle. A Hendrick’s Gin cocktail with bits of pickled dry plum was poured over a stunning bright orange baby mandarin ice cube. Both cocktails were subtle and fresh on the palate.

We started our meal with the Steamed Zucchini Dumpling ( 425)—four pieces of zucchini dumpling with crunchy bits of water chestnut for bite. They came with a mildly flavoured garlic sauce and were delicate and fresh.

For dessert, the Pomelo Mango Sago ( 350) was outstanding. A fresh, flavour-packed dish of pomelo, mango cream with a scoop of vanilla ice cream that sat in the centre. Little sago bits floated around to add to the texture. It was creamy and citrusy. Our favourite dish of the day.

The service was attentive, efficient and warm.

The not-so-good

Alas, the rest disappointed.

The staff recommended the Crispy Duck, Air Fried Shrimp Chef Leong Signature Infused Oil ( 1,050). As is the problem with most smoking-hot fried items, the minute they turn somewhat warm, the dish becomes chewy and tough. So did this—rather quickly. We searched high and low for the shrimp, but could not find any. Neither could our server.

The Chilean Sea Bass, Szechuan Preserved Chilli Bean Paste ( 1,300) came in a yellow bean and chilli sauce that was oversalted. The Braised Eggplant, Wild Mushroom, Water Chestnut Dou Ban Sauce In Clay Pot ( 700) had large chunks of vegetables that one could hardly taste because of another overpowering spicy sauce of pickled chilli.

The Lemongrass Crème Brûlée ( 350) was eggy and powdery. I wish they had retained the beautifully smooth avatar of Blue Ginger’s crème brûlée.

Talk plastic

A meal for three, inclusive of taxes (two cocktails, two appetizers, two mains, one noodle and one dessert) cost 6,735.Spicy Duck, Taj Palace Hotel, Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave (26110202). Open from 12.30-2.45pm (lunch) and 7-11.45pm (dinner)

Aparna Jain

Spicy Crab & Mantao from Only At Hakkasan.
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Spicy Crab & Mantao from Only At Hakkasan.

Only At Hakkasan

Ever since London’s Hakkasan opened a Mumbai outpost in 2011, the menu has remained faithful to that of its mothership at Hanway Place, as has the restaurant’s policy across its 12 locations worldwide. In a first for the Michelin-starred chain, however, the “Only At" menu has chefs at local outposts creating dishes and cocktails exclusive to each location, with local and seasonal ingredients. The regular menu also gets a “refresh" with a slew of new additions.

The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Rose cocktail from Spicy Duck
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The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Rose cocktail from Spicy Duck

The good stuff

The refreshed menu puts subtle twists on classics. The sliced roasted duck in plum sauce ( 1,600) had all the elements we know and love—succulent duck breast under a mantle of crisp skin, slathered generously, but not overwhelmingly, with sweet plum sauce. The twist? Jammy slices of yuzu that sing a citrusy counterpoint to the sweetness of the plum sauce.

If you’re expecting Mumbaiyya touches to Cantonese dishes in the Only At menu, perish the thought. When it comes to the prawn dumplings with tobiko and crab meat ( 950), it isn’t apparent why it is exclusive to Mumbai. But you will forget to complain when you bite into the gossamer-thin membrane barely holding together a plump morsel of prawn and crab. It’s a dish we would come back for repeatedly, if it was not submerged in a questionable stock.

In the mains, the lamb and aubergine clay pot ( 750) melds meaty slices of aubergine with melt-in-your-mouth lamb for an unusual play on textures. It’s great till the sizzling hot sauce at the bottom of the pot leaves scorch marks on your tongue.

That’s almost a set-up for dessert. The mango and coconut iced truffle ( 350) on a sablé cookie is a sweetly nostalgic throwback to the mango dollies of childhood. Tempered with a coconut-lime ice cream and a white-chocolate parfait, it’s the refreshing finish you didn’t know you needed.

The not-so-good

Not all the dishes hit their mark. The thousand-layer puff with sesame ( 425) comes with a greasiness you would expect in roadside spring rolls, effectively drowning the delicate, flaky pastry and bringing wave after wave of oil with every bite. There was no help to be found in its soggy innards either. Similarly, the otherwise excellent prawn dumplings float in a broth so thick, you could eat it with a fork.

And the cocktails—the La Vision, off the Only At menu, takes subtlety so seriously that you can’t taste any of its ingredients. There’s no acid hit from the pineapple juice, the star anise is a gritty powder at the bottom, and you couldn’t find the rum in it with a spectrograph. And at 1,300 a pop, you’re forgiven for feeling short-changed, and even gladder that you didn’t order the Sensei, which comes with the whopping price tag of 2,500. Tank up elsewhere before you hit Hakkasan.

Talk plastic

A meal for two, with one cocktail, three appetizers, a main and dessert, cost 7,765, including taxes.Hakkasan, 206, Krystal, Waterfield Road, Linking Road, Bandra (West). Open from noon-4pm and 7pm-1am.

Deepti Unni

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Published: 07 Oct 2016, 05:44 PM IST
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