(A monthly column first published in Car N Style magazine).
Chi and the Titanic Platter
By Ravi V. Chhabra
Simple, eco-friendly and Vaastu interiors are the hallmark at Chi Kitchen and Bar. But there’s more than just the ‘Chi’ (positive energy in Chinese) to it. The four-year old restaurant chain has three outlets in Delhi, all specialize in major pan-Asian cuisines - Chinese, Japanese and Thai. I had tried the one at Safdurjung Development Area (SDA) a couple of months back and looked forward to the other in Select Citywalk Mall at Saket.
As I meandered through the posh buildings and made my way into the ritzy Select Citywalk Mall, I found that Chi was ideally located, surrounded with bustling shops and wore a pleasant facade. It was past tea-time, I started with the Mix Seafood Soup that I chose from a wide range of potpourri of soups (Rs. 160-190). These included Sour and Pepper Clear Soup with broccoli & shiitake, Yunnan Jiaozi Dumpling Soup, Fresh & Flavourful Chi Corn Soup, besides the regular Hot & Sour and Manchow.
I tried a slice each from an assortment of Chizzas (Chinese pizza) and each slice turned out to be distinctively flavourful with highly creative alias’ such as Good Fellas, A Passage to India, Alice in Wonderland, The Gods Must be Crazy, The Green Mile and The Right Stuff (Rs. 315 - 450). The origin of pizza lies in China and it is believed that Marco Polo took the recipe with him to Italy! The dimsums variety (Rs. 150-395) includes prawn, pork and chicken dumplings. The chef’s special Titanic dimsum platter, a collection of 16 pieces priced at Rs. 1,200 includes the best of prawn and chicken dumplings Har Gao, Bao and Pork Puff. Chi specials include lobsters, an epicurean delight served with tangy black pepper sauce (Rs. 1,200), soft shell crabs (Rs. 1,050), steamed fish (Rs. 430), Nasi Goreng, Burma cuisine Khaousay among others. When dining out in a group one can opt for Ramen, family soupy meal in a bowl, and claypots like the Bak Kut, Laksa Lemak claypot and the Hunan pot. Have it with Teppan, stir fired noodles, some of which are: La Mein, Yaki Saba, Phao Thai, Yaki Udon all priced at Rs. 450. For the main course go for the delectable varieties of duck priced at Rs. 415 and the Thai and Japanese curries priced between Rs. 350-450.
I realized how much difference it makes when the restaurant is conceived and run by a trained hotelier. Sohrab Sitaram is a diehard hospitality professional having worked for 6 years with the Taj group of hotels and thereafter he made a foray into standalone restaurants. He has spent over 13 years in the restaurants industry and has been closely associated with some of the most successful restaurants and bars such as Tabularasa, No Escape, Shalom, Trevi, Laid Back Waters and Italic.
In his many years of work experience, Sohrab has seen the food & beverage industry from the eyes of an employee, an investor and as a consultant and is the co-founder of the parent company Squareroot Hospitalities Pvt. Ltd. In a brief interaction with Sohrab at the Saket Mall inside Chi, CarNstyle learnt Chi has recently had a tie up with one of the leading Malls in Mumbai for an outlet of 2000 to 3000 sq ft area. The first Chi started 4 years back in the SDA complex. The second in the row is Chi at Selectcity Walk Mall and it has recently added Chi at Jangpura and Chi, Chandigarh is in the offing.
Sohrab is a professional golfer and keyboardist and about taking out time for his passions, he told me: “The whole idea is to organize life in such a manner so that all the interests can be pursued. A lot of time is spent in hiring managers and operations, personnel - aggressiveness, passion and flair are the three most important things followed by the industry. Once the business is in safe hands operationally, then one does not get into the details of running the business. Furthermore, once new projects are conceptualized then the next 8 months are spent in creating processes and standardization”.
Setting up superior systems and processes to handle business is Sohrab’s specialisation. He loves simplicity and a chunk of his time is utilized in analyzing and creating systems which are easy. “There is no point trying to finish your entire task sheet; don’t feel guilty if some tasks have not been completed, they can always be done the next day. Always time the tasks - I use certain timers and clocks on the laptop to time the tasks that I am working on and stick to the timings, as the amount of work accomplished in a timed manner is much faster than not having a target at all. I don't watch TV – instead, I’d rather record the program and then watch it in spare time. Most of the times, I try to find podcasts associated with that particular program. I visit facebook, twitter and other social media sites only once a day. I have made music, golf and other hobbies a priority and give them equal importance as work. Keeping the phone on silent while doing important tasks - calls can wait. All missed calls are anyway recorded!”
Meanwhile, the Wasabi Prawn Dumplings arrived on the table as a surprise. Each bite simply melted in my mouth; the Rainbow Prawn Dumplings were a feast for the eyes and for the palate. Not to forget the aromatic Mix Seafood Soup that I recommend to all non-vegetarians, especially in the winters. The Chizzas are thin and crunchy with lavish cheese and myriad toppings.
The overall dining here is very pleasant and the menu is eclectic with the Titanic Platter being a must. A three-course meal for two without alcohol would cost between Rs. 1,500-2000. My experience with the 2 Chi outlets makes me want to try out the third Chi at Jangpura. I shall do it in the New Year!