The Indianisation of Chinese Cuisine...5 Spice, Bandra

It was the Parsi New Year yesterday, 20th August.

Kainaz and I met upwith her paretns for dinner. Dinner forms a big part of the New Year celebrations. As do new clothes. And for once the jeans I bought K fitted!!!! The tee was a bit loose though. But it was the smallest size. She needs to eat more cake.

We'd been to a spate of continental places recently. When I asked my in laws if they had a preference, they sang out 5 Spice in unison.

So, as my Facebook status said, it was 5 Spice ma jaamva chaalo ji night. ('jaamvo chalo ji mean 'let's go to eat' in Parsi).

I went a bit apprehensively to the very popular 5 Spice at Pali Naka, Bandra. 'Apprehensively' as I've always seen a big crowd outside 5 Spice even though the restaurant keeps expanding and adds new floors.

As expected, I was told 'half an hour's waiting'. I made a very forlorn face and tried to play the sympathy card by referring to my Pa In Law's walking stick. And lo, we were called in in five minutes just as my in laws arrived, a New Year's miracle.

I must say that I was impressed by our steward's (a thin guy with curly hair and glasses) earnestness despite the rush. He cheerfully took our orders, responded to our questions on the dishes and accommodated our special requests (Warm Virgin Pinacolada, for my mom in law and ice tea with minimal ice for the little woman).

We started with a crab sweet corn soup which was unsalted. But was a treat to have once I fixed this. The crab meat was plenty and soft and fresh. And the soup was not lumpy and unsalted unlike in Asia Wok nor was it sweet and lumpy like in Mr Chow.

We had a burnt chilly fried rice which I believe is the secret of 5 Spices' fan base. It's a pulao disguised as a fried rice with big red chillies and crisp fried onions. It's a virtual treat to the Indian palate. Everyone I have recommended this to loves it!

There is a Chinese prof who has apparently floated a theory saying that the Balkanisation of India is in China's interest. He should taste 5 Spices burnt chilly rices. A Chinese dish which is more Indian than chicken tikka masala.

The red pepper chilly prawns were nice. There wasn't too much batter and the prawn tasted quite fresh and well spiced. I only got a fleeting taste of one prawn (7 to a plate) so can't say much about it. But it is definitely 'worth repeating' as my mom in law says.

We had a mixed hakka noodles which was soya based and had a nice zing to it. There was quite a bit left so I had the rest for lunch. It was so well flavoured that I didn't need a side dish with it.

We ordered a Hong Kong fish for my in laws who like gravy and fish. I am not too fond of gravies in Chinese resturants as I find the gravies to be too overpowering. But the gravy here was the perfect balance of yin and yang. It was neither thick nor thin. It was mildly salty thanks to the soya ginger base and complemented, rather than dominated the fish. And the fish, pomfret, was tender and succulent and very fresh. Just as the steward had promised. Very different from the stale tripe that we got in The Steak House. And this is remarkable given that this is not the fishing season in Mumbai and good fish is hard to get.

Imagine how good a dish this was given that it won over a non gravy loving, indifferent to fish person like me!

A nice meal which put us in a happy mood for the rest of the year.

So Navroze Mubarak as they say and have a great Parsi year ahead full of great food.

Note:
  • 5 Spice gives you a burnt chilly option with noodles too even though they don't have it on the menu
  • The portions at 5 Spice are HUGE. A good rule of thumb is one main dish amongst three.
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