On sweltering summer evenings, Asian restaurants usually beckon the jaded diner with a medley of inviting smells --- soy sauce, Sichuan peppers, dashi, lemon grass, galangal and a host of superbly aromatic ingredients. They also manage to cross comfort with casual elegance and ply diners with palate-tickling flavours and funky textures. What’s more, chefs at these eateries dish up expansive meals that celebrate fresh produce and complex culinary techniques. So, if your appetite is not the best of friends with sultry summers, head to these Asian dining hotspots to get your stomach rumbling again.
Guppy, the go-to Japanese eatery in town is paying homage to Hanami, the annual cherry blossom festival in Japan. Helming the affair are chefs Vikram Khatri and Saurabh Sharan, whose Hanami-inspired summer menu is a hat tip to light and spunky flavours. Up for grabs are refreshing cocktails including Samurai Slash (fresh kiwi, yubari melon, soju and lime), Strawberry Sumo (shochu, fresh strawberry, basil, lime and sugar) and more. Giving the cocktails company are zesty salads and beautifully-balanced sushi in combinations like mango-avocado-cream cheese and soft-shell crab tempura-cucumber. The main course highlight is the Hiyashi Tanuki Cha Soba (chilled green tea flavoured buckwheat noodles served with tanuki tempura fritters, wasabi, grated radish and dashi broth). You cannot miss the Rain Drop Cake which is an exact replica of a dew drop and is served with roasted soybean flour and palm jaggery.
Mamagoto, the Pan-Asian café with a huge fan following is keeping things fresh this summer with its new Hawker's menu. An innovative mash-up of assorted street food dishes from Thailand as well as a couple of Korean delicacies, the new menu celebrates both diversity and flavour. Among the varied menu offerings, the Thai Puchka Bites truly shines. Imagine a filling of betel leaf, peanuts, onion, lime and toasted coconut, that is showered in a dressing of red chilli-speckled sweet ginger sauce and stuffed in a puchka shell and you will never look at a regular puchka again.
Acting as the perfect foil to the vibrant Thai dishes including the Jungle Hula Hoop Curry with pineapple and jackfruit are Korean fares such as Bibimbap and Lamb Bulgogi.
The new menu at the Spicy Duck is just what the doctor ordered for dim sum lovers. So chow down on everything from Ying Yang Har Gao and Shrimp and Scallop Dumpling to Minced Lamb Dumpling and Prawn and Chicken Sui Mai with tobiko or flying fish roe. Obviously, the Peking duck is the restaurant showstopper while lobsters, steamed Chilean sea bass, pomfret fillet and more are other elite entries of the menu.
The dim sum lunch by Chef Ye hai jun at Shang Palace is your best bet if you are craving light bites during sun-soaked afternoons. The chef’s signature dim sum lunch menu features not only a dizzying variety of dim sums but also clay pots and homemade ice cream. The menu puts a premium on seasonal ingredients and features more than 14 varieties of dim sum in their poached, steamed, pan-fried and baked avatars to cater to the restaurant’s vegetarian and non-vegetarian clientele. Take your pick from Steamed Corn and Chive Dumplings, Spicy Edamame and Pickled Mustard Leaves Dumplings, Prawn Har Gao, Chichen Xiaolongbao or Soup Dumplings and more.
Dimsum heaven awaits you at the Delhi outpost of the Michelin-starred restaurant from London, Yauatcha. The menu, a smorgasbord of recipes from all over China that is jazzed up with a modern sensibility, can take your summer dining to the next level. Every entry is a perfect execution of authentic Cantonese cooking with contemporary flair but dim sums steal the show on all counts. The Shiitake Mushroom Dumplings are plump and perfectly crimped while their crisp fillings snap at every bite. A succession of texturally diverse dishes follows the dim sum menu of which the rice and noodle items are top draws. Order the Roast Pork and Shrimp Fried Rice to cap off your small-bite meal here.
So follow the eclectic, diverse and constantly evolving Asian food scene in the capital and have the most exciting meals of your lifetime.
Susmita Saha is a Delhi-based Features Writer. She has worked as an Assistant Editor at India Today and The Telegraph and writes on arts and culture, films, travel, food, architecture, design and various other lifestyle subjects. She has seriously itchy feet and plans to tick the world off her bucket list, one burger at a time.