The Soup and Dim sum festival, Hunan

During the monsoons, there’s probably nothing more comforting than a cup of hot masala tea with fresh onion pakodas. Dishes that are apt for this kind of weather include samosas, fresh idlis, Maggi noodles and more. Adding to the usual suspects, keeping the emotions that a hot dish on a cold wet day should evoke, Hunan has put together a festival to celebrate soups and dim sums. I was invited along with fellow food enthusiasts to try out this menu.

That evening saw the city witness particularly intense rains (and the traffic jam that comes along with monsoons) that had me raring to go. Our evening began with the Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup, a Thai inspired vegetarian soup that hit the spot immediately. Strong flavours of carrot, coconut milk, spices with the crunchiness of peanuts made this an ideal soup to kick off the evening. I would have preferred if the carrot and sweet potato were a little crunchier to add some more texture to the soup. 
The first dim sums we sampled was the Bok Choy and Mushroom Money Pouch followed by the Truffle Scented Edamame dumpling. I enjoyed the latter a lot more owing to the more subtle salty flavour of the edamame which with the dipping sauce was a lot closer to the flavours I enjoy.

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Bok Choy and Mushroom Money Pouch

Truffle Scented Edemame Dumpling

The Chicken Drumstick with Noodle Soup was my favourite from the evening. What hit the home run with the soup was the flavourful broth which was a chicken consommé with soya. The combination of that broth with the light noodles, the tender chicken leg and vegetables ticked all the boxes in my book. To balance out the meaty flavours of the broth, we were served the Vegan Vietnamese Spring Roll, a healthy and very sober option of crunchy vegetables wrapped in rice paper with a lovely spicy hoisin peanut sauce. 

Chicken Drumstick with Noodle Soup

Chicken Drumstick with Noodle Soup

Vegan Vietnamese Spring Roll
The Sweet and Sour Tofu Soup with Crabmeat was a bit of a miss in my book, predominantly because the strong tangy flavours overpowered the natural flavours of the crab. The sampling session was back on track with the Chicken Meatballs with Prawn Wanton Soup, a light clear soup that highlighted the simple flavours of the chicken and prawn. This was my second favourite soup of the evening. I would have preferred to have started the evening with this soup rather than with the sweet potato and carrot. 

Chicken Meatballs with Prawn Wonton Soup
Another big highlight of the evening was the Cocktail rolls with Chicken and Prawns. While by themselves, these crispy rolls offered good meaty flavours, it was the chilli and mango dipping sauce that accompanied the dish pushed it to a whole new level. It brought back fond memories of the Chilli Orange Marmalade dipping sauce from my New Orleans trip. Borrowing the tagline of a fast food brand, the rolls with the dipping sauce were ‘finger-licking-good’. Don’t miss ordering this one.

Cocktail Rolls with Chicken and Prawn

Some of the other dishes such as the Sesame Chicken Potstickers, the Chicken Steamed Bao and the Taro Puff with Chicken didn’t offer me flavours that made me sit up and take notice, and want to go back for seconds. We were also served a Khow Suey but I was too full to have more than a couple of spoons. An honourable runner up to the Cocktail rolls was the Crunchy Wanton Ribbon Prawns. The marinated prawns were served in a little wanton cage like package that allowed spicy honey mustard sauce to coat not just the outer wanton but the prawn as well, making this a strong flavoured dish.

Crunchy Wanton Ribbon Prawns

Khow Suey

 The final dish of the main course, the best for last was the Pork Flower Dumplings. Rolled into the shape of a flower, with a pork filling in between the petals, a sweet soya sauce is poured over the dumpling. Eaten in one go, the flower dumpling held the sauce and was a perfect end to the meal. Definitely a ‘must-have’ in my books. Dessert was a relatively simple affair with chocolate spring rolls and ice cream.

Pork Flower Dumplings

Pork Flower Dumplings

Coming in at the right season, the Soup and Dim Sum Festival offers an excellent mix of subtle and strong flavours to suit every palate. Considering the fine dining experience that Hunan offers, I feel the prices are just right with soups and dumplings priced at an average of INR 300. The festival is on till the end of August, only at the Koramangala branch of Hunan. My top three picks for the evening would be the Chicken Drumstick with Noodle Soup, the Cocktail rolls with Chicken and Prawns and the Pork Flower Dumplings.

Food mood: Hunan, B’lore

I was invited to a blogger’s meet last week at the Hunan restaurant in Koramangala. We were greeted by the delightful Jagdish Menda, the CEO of Hunan. While we waited for the other bloggers to arrive, Jagdish explained some of the history behind the restaurant, the challenges faced by the restaurant industry in general and his ambitions for the restaurant. If all goes well, one can expect great things from the restaurant.

Hunan, Koramangala
The evening feast began with some white wine. The first appetizer was the Dynasty Prawn. This dish is a blend of so many flavours ranging from citrus to honey to spice. Each flavour hits different spots on your tongue and throat as it goes down. The prawn itself was fresh and crunchy. Do try this out when you go to Hunan. We were also served a Crab and Asparagus soup. Compared to the prawn I had just had, the soup was alright. Nothing extraordinary to write about considering it was a single flavour that was a bit of a disappointment after the superb taste of the Dynasty Prawn. We were also served some dumplings. I tried only one because I tend to get carried away easily and then have no room for other dishes. The Chicken Pouch dumplings were really cute and tasted very nice as well. So far, the prawns were the best.

Dynasty Prawn

Crab and Asparagus Soup

Chicken Pouch Dumplings
I had tried the Musho Duck Roll (excuse me if I got the name incorrect) the last time I was here, so it was nice to have it again. The duck was cooked perfectly and the rolls were on the sweeter side thanks to the sauces that went in. Folks who enjoy duck should give this a try. We moved on to the Pan-fried Hunan Grilled Chicken. The taste of this dish was fairly unique. Eaten like a paan, the chicken is wrapped in the leaf along with a small portion of the rice and the sauce that comes along with the dish. The dish had an overwhelming vegetarian taste thanks to the wrap and the sauce that muted the taste of the chicken. Similar to this dish, was the Lettuce-wrapped Chicken. This is a very ‘Thai’ dish where one puts together a bunch of ingredients including ginger, lime, peanuts and sauces to the chicken wrapped in a lettuce leaf. 

Musho Duck Roll

Pan-fried Hunan Grilled Chicken

Lettuce-wrapped Chicken
On to the main course. (Yes, we were still on the appetizers). The next dish that came up is a definite must-have for all pork lovers. We were served a plate of spare ribs. These ribs were the best ever I’ve had. The meat was so soft that I was able to take it off the bone using just the standard knife and did not have to wrestle the same with a steak knife. The texture was fabulous and the sauce had evenly spread through the meat. This dish scored a perfect 10 on 10 in my books. Do NOT miss out on this if spare ribs are your thing.

Pork Spare Ribs
We also tasted a well-cooked Snapper with Shredded Ginger. Not for the squeamish, this well-sized fish is rather intimidating to look at. Besides the mild taste of ginger, the only other flavour that came through was that of the meat. A very sober dish indeed. The meat on the Lamb Sizzler was also very soft and easy to manage. The taste of the meat however did get a little lost in the sauces but that did not bother me too much considering the dominant sweet barbecue flavour.

Snapper with Shredded Ginger

Lamb sizzler
Accompanying all of the above was a well made Green Thai Curry with rice, vegetable noodles, Tofu in Bak Choy and plate of Spicy Prawns. One thing that did stand out was the Chicken Fried Rice cooked in Bamboo. The taste was refreshingly organic and reminded me of something similar cooked in a lot of the Indian villages. I’d definitely recommend that one tries this.

Veg Thai Green Curry

Tofu with Bok Choy

Chicken Bamboo Fried Rice

Spicy Prawns
While my mind was sufficiently blown apart by the amazing spare ribs, what happened at dessert was unexpected. Besides a serving of ice cream, a Chocolate Lave Cake and a Sizzling Brownie, we were served THE BEST EVER Red Velvet Cake that I have ever laid my hands on. The texture was just perfect. The cake wasn’t soggy at all and the knife simply fell through the cake. There was a synchronous sigh of content from every blogger at the table as we took our first bite. I am willing to go to war for this cake. If you’ve ever seen the Friend’s episode where Chandler and Rachel fight over a cheesecake, this particular Red Velvet Cake could induce that kind of madness. 

Red Velvet Cake

Ice Cream

Sizzling Brownie
I don’t remember seeing this on the menu when I had gone previously, but do not miss out on enquiring when this would be served and ensure you order a piece the moment you get to the restaurant. I did try some of the vegetarian dishes which were quite nice, but have focussed on the non-veg stuff that I loved the most. Hunan is definitely one of the favourites for Chinese cuisine among restaurant goers. Their awards are a testimony to the same. It was a great evening of great food. The three things I would recommend to everyone who goes there are the Dynasty Prawn, the Pork Spare Ribs and the Red Velvet Cake. I am looking forward to going back soon just to have an entire slice all to myself.