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Re-enter the Dragon

The city's famous Chinese restaurant gets a makeover, but still looks familiar


THE RE-LAUNCH party of the Golden Dragon at the Taj Coromandel on September 3 began on a somewhat unoriginal note — cocktails, canapés, a noodle-making demonstration by Chef Hardy Cheung and a karate exposition by Shihan Husseini — but the long evening came to life when we moved into the restaurant. Once in his territory, Chef Hardy, the real star of the evening, took over and from then on, it was one delicious night. If you ignore the details — such as the fact that the dinner didn't exactly follow the printed agenda — course after course flowed smoothly and layers of flavours, textures and aroma piled on palates.

The watermelon and vegetable soup had bite. Another unexpected delight was the olives teamed with stir-fried baby corn and French beans. That undoubtedly had the master's touch. It was also a reminder of a chapter in Chinese culinary history, the conquest of the West. Early Chinese immigrants adapted the light Cantonese style of cooking to the local Californian ingredients and beguiled the Americans so much so that China Town is a San Francisco tourist attraction.

Whether it was the silken wonders of the tofu braised in a spicy Szechwan pepper sauce with lotus seeds or the succulent sliced lamb or the dessert, red bean paste pancake, this banquet had the typical Chef Hardy touches. In spite of these flashes of brilliance one couldn't squash the feeling that kept coming up, Hardy one-on-one is more irresistible. The dishes of the banquet were from the new menu.

The redone Dragon looks familiar. It was more a fine-tuning — parquet flooring, change of staff uniform and upholstery and light window glasses — than a total make over. Two of the much in demand alcoves have now been converted into a banquet area that can seat around 20.

MARIEN MATHEW

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