Two years ago, Executive Chef Anurudh Khanna, The Westin Gurgaon, tasted what he calls “real Chinese food” and that’s what got him to work on the Peking Duck and Flavours of Sichuan at EEST. “It is just stir fry with Sichuan pepper and pepper oil doing the trick. So, the main ingredient of the menu is the pepper,”said the chef, who has been in this industry for the past 21 years.
With a glass of wine on our side, we sat at the promotional chef’s table ready to be enthralled. We were first introduced to Crispy Chicken with Green Chilli and Sichuan Pepper Corns.
Unlike the Indian pepper, Sichuan pepper has the power to numb the tongue while providing some heat. So, as we munched on the crispy chicken the peppercorns did their magic leaving you tingling sensation.
Sichuan Pepper Corns can be only hand-carried from China. One of their Chinese chefs was travelling from China got back four-five kg of peppercorns.
Next, we tried the Crispy Prawns with Burnt Garlic Five Spice (commonly a mixture of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds), which filled the room with a magical aroma of garlic. Crispy on the outside and soft and fresh in the inside, it became my favourite.
While the majority of the dishes are non-vegetarian, chef Khanna has adapted some vegetarian dishes. Stir-fried green beans, Black Bean and Cha Choy is one of them and also the chef’s favourite. The green beans are quick-fried leaving it slightly crispy, while the pickle flavour challenged the way we prepare beans at home.
While we had these dishes separately as appetisers, the chef pointed out how if you have them with rice, they are complete meals.
So, if you’re on run, I suggest eating them with Stir-fried shiitake, black fungus and shimeji mushroom with golden garlic for the veg and Yang chow fried rice-chicken and Prawn fried rice for the meat lovers.
The most awaited dish was, of course, the Peking Duck, a notoriously difficult dishes to prepare. The chef carved it right in front of us and this was a moment to behold. It was crisp, golden-brown on the outside while the meat on the inside carefully wrapped in a pancake was really tender and definitely didn’t disappoint.
The evening came to an end with the classic Mango Sago Pudding, more like a fresh sweet ripe mango on your plate. EEST will see some Sichuan classics from the promotion being added to the menu once the festival is over.