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    Taj Coromandel’s Chinese restaurant invites you to try a menu as fresh as their seafood

    Salt is the new caviar. The Chinese recognised the importance of salt long before anyone else did and made it one of the prime elements of taste in a 17th century text on food. They describe five different kinds of salt: sea-salt, well-salt, deep underground lake-salt, earth-salt and red rock salt from the caves of the Shaanxi province. The dragon motif is alive and well at the Taj Coromandel’s Golden Dragon restaurant. Their new menu card draws parallels between the Chinese dragon and the Indian Naga kings, both underground rulers who roamed the subterranean layers of the earth before the Himalayas raised their heads. Where they the guardians of the salt mines we wonder, as we dip our chopsticks into the different sauces that accompany the new menu at Golden Dragon.
    Salt study1
    The menu has been re-invented by chef Ho Chun Kee, also known as chef William. He has travelled through the distant regions of China and come back with a stunning repertoire of dishes that would tempt the jade heart of the salt merchant’s wife. She is a character in a Chinese poem that describes how important salt was to the rich merchants who had a monopoly over it. “Salt has always been an important ingredient in Chinese cuisine,” explains Sujan Mukherjee, the executive chef who has tweaked the Dragon’s tail to include a new world of vegetarian delights. There are dim sums filled with goat cheese, spinach and mushroom for instance; or those that mimic minced chicken but use tofu instead in the “Faux chicken dumpling.”
    Tea or wine
    To clear the palate we sip clear Chinese parsley flavored broth with crunchy water chestnuts and chicken. Each course has a separate sauce. It’s here that salt has been used to ferment the soya, or to preserve the shredded cabbage, called pao cai in Chinese, or melt the tiny shrimps and anchovy like fish to make the pungent fish sauces. Even the century eggs are steeped in brine, as also all manner of pressed veggies. The main course includes a classic crispy duck skin platter, wok fired lamb chops in a glorious kindo sauce, jasmine rice and pork. The selection of Chinese tea is an excellent antidote to the Dragon’s feast, but for those who are adventurous, there’s even a Taj-inspired wine called Kalpavriksha! Now tell that to a dragon.

    Meal for two at approximately Rs 3,500 plus tax. A bottle of Kalpavriksha white will cost Rs 3,500. Details: 66002827

    — Geeta Doctor

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