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The zing thing

It's an interesting variety of dim sums at a festival on at Oriental Pearl, GRT Grand



DELICIOUS DIM SUMS... Chef David Kau cooks up a tasty fare - Pic by R. Ragu

LONG AGO, there was a tea stall. This `chaya kadai' was by the side of a super highway teeming with traffic — the ancient Silk Route that connected the Imperial Court of China to the Roman Empire. Anyway, life in a tea stall in the early centuries under the Song Dynasty was not very different from what it is in our times. The owner, Li, noticed how tired and hungry his customers were. `Yum cha' or drinking tea wasn't doing the trick. A sharp man, Li smelt a business opportunity. He started offering small bite-sized snacks of vegetables and meat covered with a sheet of dough. Thus was born one of the first convenience foods, dim sum. Needless to say, that Li's tea stall became the hottest spot on the Silk Route and the competitors soon caught up. (The individual mentioned in the story is fictional. Any similarity to any real person is purely coincidental)

Now the reason behind the story telling is that GRT Grand (ph: 28150500)is having a Dim Sum Festival at the Oriental Pearl till July 25. The Oriental speciality chef, David Kau has made them in different shapes, sizes and colours. The dumplings have varying degrees of spiciness.

The spicy mushroom roll (Rs. 150) has enough zing in it that you may want to douse it in soy sauce. But there aren't many on the chilli wagon other than the Thai cold spring rolls (veg: Rs. 180, non veg: Rs. 325).

The beauty of dim sums is that they are so versatile that the filling could be anything that fires the chef's imagination, from roast pork to shrimps wrapped in seaweed and topped with caviar.

Chef David sticks more or less to the middle path, keeping in mind the Indian palate and sensibilities. A major glitch in this scheme of things is the absence of pork, one of the most traditional dim sum fillings.

The jade momos (most veg dim sums cost Rs. 150) with spinach flavoured covering, steamed wontons (non-veg Rs.205) and pao with chicken and prawns (Rs.300) are all tasty, but not exceptional.

That distinction, of being exceptional, goes to phoenix eye dumplings alias pot stickers alias Peking ravioli (Rs. 225).

The lamb dim sum is at first pan-fried on one side and then steamed, giving the dough a varied texture, both chewy and soft. Sauces in a dim sum restaurant are as important as the dumplings themselves. The honeymoon sauce, with tomato sauce, cucumber and garlic, an original by Chef David, is a must try.

The Oriental Pearl gives one the freedom to make a meal of just dim sums or go in for entrees from the main menu. To make it easier, one can sample every variety as each piece is individually priced. So, are you going to let Chef David `touch your heart' as dim sum literally means?

MARIEN MATHEW

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