Chef Aditya Bal and adventurist Neha Dixit show us that China is more than just the Land of Dragons and Emperors
Quirky celebrity chef Aditya Bal teams up with adrenaline junkie Neha Dixit to take you on a wild ride through China. The duo, each with their own agenda, indulge in experiences that range from discovering breathtaking scenery that inspired James Cameron’s Avatar to coming face-to-face with a gigantic manta ray in Zhuhai. Check-out China will take you through Guangzhou City, then on to the coastal town of Zhuhai, followed by Changsha city before ending at the scenic Zhiangjiajie. We get in on the hosts’ experience before the premiere.
AB: The development and economic activity is well portrayed in the media. People are happy and the work ethic is phenomenal. There are so many layers to their society, just like India.
ND: Contradictory to popular notion, it’s the warmth of the people, especially in Hunan, that makes you want to go back for more. Expecting China to be just lanterns and dragons is like expecting India to be all about snake charmers and cows on the streets.
Top foodie experience
AB: I tried snake skin curry and turtle curry. Both very meaty and totally new to me. The main thing I realised is that authentic Chinese cuisine is a lot simpler in certain ways and, of course, that regional variations are endless. I loved trying out the different street food and the meal at the famous Fire Palace restaurant in Changsha.
ND: Whether off the streets or a formal sit down, the flavours, textures, and colours are divine… and there’s much more on offer for the brave. The food in Canton and Hunan is spicy and less sweet — just how I like it.
A myth dispelled
AB: That China is not a fun place as such and that people are serious and life is very hectic. People in China like to live well and love to have a good time.
ND: A day tour guides tell you how girls and boys don’t hold hands or strangers don’t hug, yet when you hit a night club, it’s like the wildest party on the planet.
China in a nutshell
AB: The economy is booming. People have a good standard of living. It’s a mix of the modern and traditional. The food comes in an endless succession.
ND: There’s endless shopping, specially for Indians. But also food, adventure and nature for others.
Premieres on May 10 (every Saturday thereafter), 8 pm on NDTV Good Times.
-— Aakanksha Devi