I was recently invited for a tasting of a special Thai menu at Chew-the Pan Asian Café, located in the fast becoming food hub Connaught Place in the heart of India’s capital city. I had been to the restaurant earlier and quite liked the vibrance in the air with their bright and fun interiors.
Speaking of décor, Chew plays well with an effective use of white, beige and yellow color tones highlighted by dark walls with graffiti like text. The rustic, beige stone on the wall adds a nice texture and a subliminal feel to the restaurant.
Talking business- the food at Chew, I must tell you, is not for those seeking a completely authentic experience. The intention I feel is not to be authentic but give diners a good overview of the diversity of pan-Asian cuisine. The restaurant manages to execute that intention through minor tweaks and fusions of varied Asian flavours.
The menu served to us that day had a focus on using Thai food ingredients. The meal began with platters of vegetarian and non-vegetarian sushi rolls being served; the veg option had a nice crunchy texture with a sweet touch of the Thai sauce used but I feel the tempura batter should have been lighter. The non-veg option however, had nice depth of flavours with an earthy sesame sauce layered inside and the creaminess lent by coconut milk used in seasoning the chicken dices.
The Som Tam salad (vegetarian) was mildly hot and was wholesome and tangy with papaya shining through. I have my reservations about the Indian palate appreciating the same. The mixed salad on the other hand was delectable with a good balance of starch and protein and whenever it seemed too heavy, the chestnuts would nicely cut through the palate and provide a clean finish; peanuts could have been better done and made crispier.
Determined to withstand the food assault on the stomach, we moved on to soups with the Tom Kha which I found a bit too salty and overwhelmingly sour. It seemed to have been too boiled (reminds me of my hotel school days when my chef instructor would say – a soup boiled is a soup spoiled!)
There was of course the standard Thai affair in the form of Pad Thai, Thai red and green curries, the Penang curry with sticky rice, all done well but the quality bar can definitely be pushed further upwards.
Desserts at CHEW are definitely something I will re-visit the restaurant for. Whether it was the innovative Mangofie Pie or the classic Creme Brulée (no Asian rendition this one), the sweet stuff is worthy of the calorie indulgence.
How could one not talk about the drinks? The Thai herb induced red wine Sangria was the only vinous element that day. However, I would prefer their gin and kaffir lime based cocktail that one can find on their regular drinks menu. I am anyway not a big sucker for Sangrias and rather have my wine neat! 😉
So how would I rate my experience at CHEW? A big thumbs up to the overall feel but it’s surely a place where you need to leave behind your critic’s hat and formals back home. Just dive in to those well portioned dishes from the word go and you’ll find yourself merrily eating and singing on one of the restaurant’s swinging chairs! 🙂