My trip to Delhi was an action packed blur, jet lag induced day dreams made memorable via the waft of temple incense, jaw dropping strolls through ancient architectural wonders and endless feasts filled with sesame flecked naan and crispy kebab.
On my final evening in the capital I prettied myself up in my suite at the Ashok Hotel before slipping into the hotel’s chandelier adorned lobby. I was greeted by the properties GM who wore a stunning sari and greeted me with a massive bouquet before strolling down the hall in search of dinner. I couldn’t help but protest as I had been given a similar herbaceous welcome the following morning and now found myself with the odd conundrum of having two beautiful bouquets with no vase in sight!
The Ashok Hotel is located in Delhi’s embassy row making it a popular spot for visiting presidents, local diplomats, celebrities and politicians to sip and nibble. I was pleased to spend the evening taking a pause from Indian culinary delights to sample the nations fascination with Chinese food. Nom Nom is the Ashok’s ode to India’s obsession with treats from the Chinese kitchen, offering guests a sky high dining room featuring moody Buddha bust, glowing lanterns, a flock of origami birds flying overhead and bright open kitchen.
Indo-Chinese cuisine is said to have been developed by the small Chinese community that has lived in Kolkata for over a century. Today, Chinese food is an integral part of the Indian culinary scene. Chinese dishes are regularly adapted on Indian menus to suite the taste of locals so expect to find a larger percentage of dishes catering to vegetarians, interesting use of local ingredients (Sweet and Sour Paneer anyone?) and a void when it comes to your beefy favourites. Foods also tend to be flavoured with cumin, coriander seeds, tumeric, hot chilli, ginger, garlic and yogurt.
While Nom Nom dubs itself a Chinese restaurant, after rifting through the menu it’s clear that the concept is a tribute to East Asian favourites (Hong Kong dim sum, Japanese sushi and Thai curry all make an appearance).
The Chef that night started us off with a few steaming baskets of dim sum which we plucked with our chopsticks while sussing out the menu. As we sat waiting for our entrees to arrive I made chit chat with my guests about the worlds obsession with Chinese food and how it so perfectly bends to suite the tastes of local food fans. I noted a few of the dishes on our menu that you’d never find in North America and then explained what popular dishes one can find in China Town’s across Canada. They were enamoured with the idea of Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls!
Perhaps it was fitting that the first dish to arrive at the table was Paneer in Black Bean Sauce, soft Indian cottage cheese floating in a sweet black bean gravy. A perfect example of Indian interpretation (and damn good I might add). A petite plate of Bird Chili Prawns offered a nod to locally caught seafood as well as confirmation that both Chinese and Indians enjoy crispy battered treats. I watched our server gently prepare pancakes stuffed with aromatic roast duck, greens and sweet hoisin before ladling a large scoop of the restaurants signature chicken curry. The classic Indian dish was served over slippery rice noodles and topped with chopped peanuts, garlic chips, fried onion, hot pepper and squeeze of lime. The feasts finale featured two classic Chinese dishes (Spicy Fried Chicken with Cashew Nut and Burn Garlic Fried Rice) which had not been tampered with or tweaked. A testament to the fact that some things in life are best left as they are.
Assorted Dim Sum
Paneer with Black Bean Sauce
Bird Chili Prawns
Nom Nom Signature Rice Noodles with Chicken Curry
Roasted Aromatic Duck with Fresh Pancakes, Greens and Hoisin
Spicy Fried Chicken with Cashew Nut
Burnt Garlic Fried Rice