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It is a well-known fact that the Chandigarhian palate truly relishes Chinese meals. While there are many versions being offered around town – many of which are a toss-up of Chinese and Punjabi flavours – authentic dishes thankfully are not frowned upon.
Over the years, fine dining restaurants here have been keen to stay true to the original as much as they can and among those who have stayed on course is Black Lotus.
The speciality fine diner housed in Taj Chandigarh has enjoyed immense popularity for many years now and while a recent interior makeover did not seem to bring in any drastic changes except a refurbished bar, there is good news on the menu front.
Expat 'Chef Wen Wang', who comes here from a long stint in the Taj kitchens at Thiruvananthapuram, is now steering the reins of Black Lotus. The tall and affable young chef hails from Beijing and was keen to infuse flavours from home in the new menu. The emphasis, he tells us, is on wok tossed and steamed meals. So it is no surprise that steamed Wontons, Dimsums and the Bao now find a special place in the plump menu.
'Chef Wang' is also keen to offer healthy meals and here again he proves it well in the robust selection of soups and starters. There is also a grills section and we are told once the weather gets pleasant, there would be alfresco dining near the swimming pool with dishes served straight off the grill. The Barbeque Pork Belly, Five-spice Chicken and Tofu with Sesame are the must-try from the grill.
The starters have also undergone an interesting change. Taking a step back from deep-fried cooking, Chef Wang is laying emphasis on sauté and wok-tossed dishes. Speaking of wok tossed, the Water Chestnut with Burnt Garlic comes highly recommended for those who like their vegetables with a nice crunch.
Special attention has also been paid to the Salad Section and here we would recommend Chef Wang’s Signature Salad that is refreshing and tangy.
For more spice, try the Glass Noodle Salad.
Another new addition is the hot-pot which is also the chef’s speciality. They are served with a portion of bao and are good for 2 moderately hungry diners. Old favourites like the Peking Duck have been retained in the new menu. The main course sees the chef play a lot with aubergine and okra to create some new dishes. Meat lovers will be spoilt for choice with almost all kinds of meats on offer. There is a good selection of seafood as well. Do try the steamed Prawn tossed in Garlic and Spring Onion Sauce. Since there is a wide selection now in the menu, there is the option of a tasting portion (half) available as well with most dishes. It is perhaps the only restaurant in Chandigarh to offer that feature. End your meal with the Lemongrass Crème Brule or the Banana Banoffee. It will take you more than a single visit to find your new favourites.
A seasoned journalist, Jagmeeta has worked with The Indian Express for 16 years writing extensively on food, popular culture and fashion. A Master's in English, she completed her honours in Journalism from Delhi University and started her career in journalism with New Delhi Television (NDTV) as a reporter. She was part of the launch team for NDTV.com. Having turned a freelance writer and editor in 2016, she has been writing for The Hindustan Times, Chandigarh and is also a contributor for The Voice of Fashion steered by IMG Reliance Ltd as well as Chandigarh's popular lifestyle portal - simplythecity.com. When she's not reviewing food or dissecting the season's trends, she likes to travel with her daughter and husband, a professional photographer. A photography enthusiast herself, Jagmeeta has also curated photo exhibitions and calls herself a collector of cookbooks and recipes and a proud 'fauji' daughter and sister.