Hong Kong is trying to woo me with Indian food. Or so it seems. In a short span of time, I’ve tried three restaurants with newfangled takes on Indian cuisine. I’ve been mighty impressed.
The husband’s birthday usually means an Indian dinner. It was Daarukhana that Monday, the second week of February.
It was a fairly quiet evening with just another party of two besides the three of us there. As a result, the service was extremely quick.
Located in Wanchai, Daarukhana this high ceiling modern looking space looks extremely appealing. Clean, geometric brushed metal works well with the marble and amber lights.
We right away ordered the barberry pulao after making sure it wasn’t spicy at all to be palatable to the child. Dining out with a four-year-old feel a chore to anyone else?
Once the child’s order was placed, we looked into the menus for us.
The birthday boy ordered ‘Palace on Wheels’ cocktail. With the Indian state of Rajasthan as an inspiration, the drink was Bacardi Carta Blanca jazzed with some spicy Rajasthani chillies infused honey along with some pineapple and star anise. The result was great. It packed punch on the alcohol and spice, both.
I went with Kancha Re Kancha. This was their bartenders favourite and I had to give it a shot, which was totally worth it. A strong refreshing drink inspired by Nepal – peach infused Khukri Rum, Cointreau and lemon juice.
They were winning with the drinks and then came the pulao. Not too far after ordering, it lacked the visual appeal but made up in the taste. With garam masala plenty (or something similar), it reminded me much of pav-bhaji-pulav. I knew well the child wouldn’t have it as-is, one spoonful and he confirmed it with his “spicy” look and tell.
I asked them to get a little yoghurt for the child. They nodded and proceeded to get a big bowl of it. I told them it would be a lot and if we could only get a little (the hubster and I really, really dislike wasting food). But the server told us that’s what the order portion is on the menu!
I saw raita on the menu, I knew the child wouldn’t eat it. I knew we didn’t want to eat it. And I asked for a little yoghurt! I’m not sure if the staff wasn’t trained or empowered to make a decision like that, but is it much to ask two spoonfuls of something on the side that is not saffron or truffles?
At ~HKD 60 (USD 8), this was the most expensive yoghurt that we’ve ever eaten. For a ‘fine dining’ place, I sure expect an elevated experience to match the prices.
Anyhow, the good drinks make sure we didn’t leave with sour after-taste from that yoghurt! Our food followed soon after.
First up was the ‘Baingan Two Ways’ – aubergine cooked in two different styles – a combination of fried & tandoor roasted bharta or slurry. The description made me imagine it as equal portions of the two cooking styles, but it was more like bharta being the main, with four crips fried slices of eggplant topped. The taste was supreme. That smokiness! Second to none, this is the best baingan bharta I’ve eaten till date.
I’ve never eaten Nawabi Haleem before, and that took my interest. The vegetarian version of this popular dish from Lucknow consisted of mixed vegetables and a lentil stew. It was like a thick dal, again, nothing like I’ve eaten and absolutely lip-smacking.
The only disappointment, in terms of taste of the food was this dessert which they called Airy Milk Cake – saffron milk reduction foam, pistachio, almonds. What it really was, was whipped cream with the saffron, pista and almonds. The taste was good and it was most likely whipped to order but here’s what I didn’t like about it.
The big disappointment was the description. I was expecting a nice cake with the whipped cream as a nice topping or on the side. To call just whipped cream an airy cake – no. Just no. Calling it an airy mousse would’ve been fine, more describing of what it really was.
And second, it was too warm or room-temperature to eat. I’m an Indian and nothing can be too warm for us, but to have warm or room temperature cream was gross. Not sure if they hadn’t chilled the cream enough or they didn’t use cold utensils to whip it, but it was bad execution, in my opinion. I would also have served it in a chilled bowl.
We couldn’t finish this either, had it wrapped up and it tasted so much better the next day, when it was cold!
I really enjoyed their food and drinks. Absolutely! But, with the ~HKD 60 yoghurt, warm dessert that shouldn’t have been, and lack-daisical bathrooms, New Punjab Club is a winner! I mean gold and ghazals in the bathroom are hard to match up to, no?