Monday 1 April 2013

Dimsum festival at Asia Alive, Double Tree By Hilton, Gurgaon.

The Dim sum tradition in India can be traced back to the 1990s with the appearance of 'momos' on the Indian food scene. Back then, the Tibetan van and vendor shacks selling hot 'momos' and 'chowmein' were a huge rage, providing a quick and tasty takeaway which importantly, as students, was also easy on our pockets. Within the past decade, the 'momo culture' has exploded the Indian culinary scene, and today, this humble dish has graduated and is been served in most restaurants and five star hotels, in the form of its chic and elegant distant cousin 'Dim sum'.
Like many others, I too have often mistakenly thought 'momos' to be similar to 'dim sums'. In fact, the 'momo' is native to Tibet and 'dim sum' is a traditional Cantonese dish. Also, while dim sum dough can be made from a varieties of flour such as whole wheat and rice flour, they are steamed or deep-fried and can be made both sweet and savory, momos are steamed, are made from plain flour (maida) and have a savory filling. In fact you will be surprised to learn that the very popular spring rolls that we have here in India are also dim sums.
Dim sums, literally meaning, "To touch your heart", owe their origin to trade on the silk route. Like restaurants that sprung up in medieval France to provide a break to weary traders on the road for days at end, dim sums too were provided as refreshments by tea houses for tired traders and farmers wanting a break after an exhausting day at work. Today, Dim sums have evolved from mere appetizers to strongly holding their own, with chefs in five-star restaurants coming up with exclusive dim sum menus and fillings that go beyond pork, lamb and chicken.
So, to my delight when I got an invite to attend the ongoing 'Dim sum Festival' at Asia alive, the South East Asian specialty restaurant at Double Tree by Hilton, Gurgaon, I was only too happy to accept it. Not only was I huge fan of dimsums but I was also familiar with their warm hospitality and equally fantastic food which I had recently experienced at the Women's Day Celebration at Casablancatheir Moroccan specialty restaurant.
The Dim Sum festival which is on till the 7th of April  promises to showcase an extensive array of dim sums specially prepared by Chef Low Yit Boon visiting from Hilton, Kuala Lumpur, which really excited me as I knew I would get to taste some authentic dim sums.
On reaching the hotel I was greeted by the restaurant's Executive Chef Mukul Agarwal, who took great pride in showing me around the restaurant. A stark contrast to the vibrant and traditional decor of Casablanca, the interiors at Asia Alive are done up in a chic contemporary style that exudes elegance. 
At first look, what impressed me most were the four live kitchens running along the entire length of the restaurant that included a Chinese Wok station, a Soup station, a Tandoor area and a satay grill. These live cooking stations allow the guests to choose fresh ingredients of their choice and have the chefs cook their chosen dish in front of their eyes providing an exciting visual treat. I can tell you it is an exquisite experience smelling the delicious aromas of the dishes being cooked around you and watching the expert chefs create their delicious creations, quite comparable to watching an enjoyable performance in a theater.
Chinese Wok Station
Tandoor Section
Soup station

After the immensely enjoyable culinary tour of the restaurant we sat down at our table. We began with Sui Mai, (steamed prawn dumpling) freshly steamed and piping hot in their bamboo baskets(I presume they must have been cooked in the same basket) followed by Chao Sao (szechuan chicken dumpling) served with soya sauce and sweet chiili sauce. Both were moist and delicious. Full of flavors encased in a transparent thin covering, they almost melted in your mouth. Next came the Charsiu boa which were steamed buns with roast pork and its vegetarian version, Shitake and black Fungus boa. Light and fluffy they were a delicious combination of sweet and savory very quickly disappearing from our plates.
The vegetarians need not despair. Amongst various other options, a must try is ChunKing deep fried, crispy spring rolls with vegetables and mushroom filling and Lobak Ko which is a fried turnip cake served with Sriracha sauce. Nice and crispy, almost like a 'aloo tikki' I loved the turnip cake, a vegetable which otherwise I would not touch if put on my plate.
Inspite of tasting a exhaustive range of soul satisfying dumplings, I could not help but give in to the temptation of savoring the delicacies from the other kitchens. We tasted the Roast Peking duck from the Chinese wok section, Lamb chops, Mahi Tikka, Paneer Tikka from the Tandoor section and Chicken, Prawn and Mushroom satay from the Satay section all of which were delicious and cooked to perfection. Needless to say, after having grossly over-indulged I had little space for anything else.

Moving on to the Desserts, something that totally blew me over was the Teppanyaki Ice Cream Station, something which I had never seen before. I watched enthralled as the chef put the melted ice cream on a cold plate (apparently which was at -27C) and spread out the ice cream thinly with a spatula.Once the ice cream solidified (almost instantly), he added various ingredients of your choice into it - nuts, choco chips, jellies, fruits sauces and then deftly rolled it up almost like a springroll. It was like a small piece of heaven rolled up with all the bits adding a nice texture to the soft ice cream. Something  definitely not to miss on your next visit there.

We were also served the chef's signature desserts Chilled Lemon Glass jelly with lime sorbet and Sweetened Pumpkin with chilled coconut Ice cream. I wasn't very impressed with the lemon glass jelly but absolutely loved the lime sorbet (though my husband really liked the lemon glass jelly). It was divine!! On your first bite, the sweetened pumpkin also wasn't very impressive (somewhat like a bland pumpkin puree) but surprisingly it came together when combined with the coconut ice cream which was delicious with small pieces of coconut coming in your mouth with every bite. A refreshing light end to a great meal.

As always the service was impeccable and the staff warm, attentive and friendly. Thank You Monisha and Neha for having me over for this wonderful culinary experience.
For all the die-hard enthusiasts, who are bored of the standard traditional cuisine and fancy that little something more to get your taste buds tingling, do go and check out the 'Dimsum Festival' which is on till 7th of April at Asia Alive, Double Tree by Hilton, Gurgaon. 

No comments:

Post a Comment