Last year the culinary social media went viral with an announcement. It read, ‘Sun N Sand, after 50 years, launches a new concept restaurant’. And Haochi was born. This year, at the same time Haochi is reborn and rechristened HAAOCHI
Three of the eight culinary traditions of China- Cantonese, Hunan and Sichuan have been developed into a concept restaurant, christened Haochi, which means ‘Simply Delicious’ in Chinese .Visual delight of having an open kitchen is washed away by the tide as one spots a large cauldron of steamed rice stored over open garbage cans. Mediterranean oil and herb jars placed along the open kitchen, defeats the purpose of the thoughtful décor entirely. Thankfully, neither do we have a laughing Buddha welcoming us, nor the very synonymous red and gold artifacts.
Haaochi in detail
The restaurant is now, headed by Chef Gautam Mehrishi , who has an impressive experience of working with various chefs, has personally designed the menu. If you are going to visit Haaochi, then you can expect contemporary Chinese cuisine, an elaborate dim sum menu, exotic Thai dishes and a full service bar. The Chinese cuisine is a mix of various regional cuisines like Xiang (huis now going to introduce nan), Chuan (Sichuan) and Guangdong (Cantonese). The Thai cuisine is now prominently included in most sections like in soups, starters, main courses and accompaniments.
If you are in a mood for soups, be sure to try out a few tasty Thai soups. Kaeng Koong Sod which is an authentic Thai spicy mixed vegetable soup with pumpkin and prawns. It is easy on spice and rings in a complete meal. Tom Yam is another delicious Thai soup which I tried and it was just what was required. It was spicy and sour and comprised of free range chicken, it is also available in options of Thai ginger with vegetarian. Another one is Tom Yam Koong which is spicy and sour soup with tiger prawns and shimeji. Simple, subtle and wholesome!
What all it has to offer
In the appetizers section, Haaochi has a lot of options to offer in Thai cuisine,too. Salad lovers – be sure to try out Som Tam which is a popular North Eastern dish. It is a salad prepared with shredded green papaya alongside lime dressing and crushed peanuts. Folks who enjoy fish might want to try out Thai Fish Cakes which is ground fish mixed with spices and red curry paste. It is deep fried and served with a sweet & sour sauce, with cucumber & crushed peanuts.
Massaman Lamb had tender lamb morsels of in a soothing coconut milk curry embellished with potato, sweet potato, boiled peanuts and cashew nuts. Lamb Shanks Yellow Curry is good for patrons who have a liking for fresh turmeric. I preferred the former , however. Chicken lovers can order Chicken Penang which had a very pronounced flavour of basil leaves. Or go in for the ever so warming Chicken Green Curry with wild basil leaves and pea aubergine. Both went brilliantly well with jasmine rice. The accompaniments that come along with main courses were scrumptious. Benjarong Rice is a delicious combination comprising of steamed wild rice with lotus seeds and black sesame seeds wrapped in a banana leaf. Prawn lovers – be sure to order, Haaochi Phad Thai which is a unique blend of Fried rice noodles with prawns, ground roasted peanuts with home-made tamarind sauce.
Haaochi’s cocktail section lives up to the restaurant’s title – ‘Simply Delicious’. The cocktails are prepared from ethnic ingredients used in Chinese cuisine. Japanese Whiskies are also available in Haaochi, one of the few places in the city that offer those. One can also order the Chinese beer, Tsing Tao. However, the beverage menu still shows influences of the Carribean Islands with a few oriental ingredients splashed in at regular intervals, especially ‘Silk Route’. It gives a subtle oriental hint. “Silk Route” is the conventional route through Central Asia linking the Iranian plateau with Western China; along this trade route passed exotic foodstuffs that greatly enlarged the potential for Chinese cuisines.
Dessert menu showers you with a very decadent chocolate lava cake. The server warns you about the hot bowl which comes straight out of the oven. It’s one of those only restaurants in the city that does not serve it with an ice cream. However, it isn’t required is what Haochi shows us, the right way. Mandarin scented crème brulee with the right notes of mandarin, follows the right style of cooking and serving. Simple, straight and chic. Almond yoghurt served with tropical fruits is their signature and rightly so. It’s creamy, like a tropical Almond Blanc Mange and will be enjoyed by the yoghurt lovers. However, I quite miss the typically native red bean pancakes, sweet black bean moon cakes, jellied desserts like the Chinese would savor post meals.
Overall, the food was simple, contemporary and flavorful. It is not very heavy on the pocket and surely the under-rated star of Mumbai.