When a new Chinese restaurant at Inter-Continental Chennai makes the 45 km drive from the city worth it
ENTERING the super modernistic resort started by the InterContinental group at the ECR close to Mahabalipuram is like finding yourself in cyber space. You wish you had brought your Segway along to glide along the soaring pathways that cut along the central axis of the resort and leap into the blue yonder. A lavish use of black granite has been used to frame and define the spaces that focus inwards into pools of sunlit water in homage to the traditional system of water tanks. Life-size torsos of round-headed fibre-glass monks performing yoga asanas devised by sculptor-artist George K form an arresting counterpoint in the public areas where the corridors intersect.
At night, candle lit sconces lead you to the Chinese restaurant, Tao of Peng, in the lower segment of the resort. As explained by Avinash Naha, the Chef De Cuisine, Peng Zu was an imperial Chinese chef who took the food of the emperors to the world. “Just as we are giving traditional Chinese food a contemporary twist,” he says, placing a tiny porcelain tray of glass noodles in front of us. He calls it “Hon Shimeji”. To me it looks like a silkworm cocoon, but one that has been dunked in a spicy Sichuan chili sauce, decorated with two-minute mushrooms, scattered with micro-cress, pale purple flowers and dabs of sauce.
“You will need at least a dozen concubines to create this,” I say before tasting the bundled glass noodle. Even before I have dabbed my lips in the manner required by a Chinese emperor, Chef Naha places a large black stone in front of Karuna Amarnath, the Marketing Director at the Intercontinental and me. Black granite is obviously a recurring motif. Most of the serving vessels are of heated stoneware. As we watch, Chef Naha scribbles the warm stone with sauce to create what we are told is an “Assorted Dim Sum Platter”. He dots the surface with spoonfuls of glistening salmon roe in pink, orange and green flying fish roe, with dabs of various emulsions and chili sauces, as his helpers bring in a variety of Sushi, with Taro chips and pickled cucumber discs. It’s a work of art and delicious.
We eat through several such confections of Wasabi Prawns and Chilean sea bass, until the main course of sweet and spicy Dan Dan noodles, served with pork and a rich sauce. The dessert is a simple one of Green Tea pannacotta and chocolate ice cream with slices of New World fruits such as strawberry and Kiwi. It’s love at first bite, I tell Chef Naha. Peng Zu lives.
Open for dinner on all days and lunch on Saturdays and Sundays at InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort. Rs 3,500 ++ for two.
— Geeta Doctor