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Ringing in the new

MEA CULPA, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. It's Chinese New Year and time for confessions and new beginnings. Now one is all set to welcome the Year of the Horse. We all know where New Year resolutions go when faced with the right kind of temptation. And that is precisely what chef Hardy Cheungs party at Golden Dragon, Taj Coromandel, is.

The chef has stirred up some more magic. Bite into his dimsums, take a sip of that garlic spinach clear soup and you begin to see Spring coming on land. It is impossible not to notice the masterly touch. The Silver noodles and French bean dumpling was spicy, yet the chilli slivers never silenced the beans or the noodles. Garlic and romance. Too incongruent a combination? Not in Hardy's soup. The garlic touch is light as breeze. French bean and fried shredded tofu in chilli-sesame onion sauce is another exceptional dish. There is fried tofu and then more fried tofu. But very few retain the softness and the flavour.

You also have to bear in mind that the dish has finely cut tofu. Hardy says it was an attempt to create a vegetarian equivalent to shredded lamb. Steamed fish topped with crispy soya bean is delicious. The textural and taste variance of the two layers is striking, yet they make harmony. Ask about the toil behind the crunchy topping and you will appreciate it more. Chicken in home made rice wine is another dalliance with garlic. A lovely one too. It was interesting to hear Hardy holding forth on how food is inextricably linked with the land's customs and mores. Beans signifies safety and so he uses French beans and snow peas to make the coming year a happy one. The menu even has a Hi hii haa haa i.e. okra and fried cottage cheese in a celery sauce with chillies and garlic.

The dessert, pineapple rice flour dumplings are sweet as the spring. Comes with chocolate sauce too. The other sweet, lentil cold cake falls by the side when the dumplings enter the scene.

The New Year celebration goes on till February 28. The damage is at star rates, of course. Obviously all the good fortune is reserved for the already fortunate. That's some irony, eh?

MARIEN MATHEW

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