It amazes me how at times far too complicated things can be illustrated and explained with the most simplistic of approach. The ancient Chinese science, medicine and philosophy have evolved on one such simple concept that we know as the Yin and Yang – The complementary, interdependent contrary forces that can be used to define the patterns and relationship and the very essence of the nature around us. This complementing pattern logic has helped Chinese Medicine learn the intricacies of the human body and this time we got a first-hand feel of this universal phenomenon when it was made tangible for us rather our taste buds in the on-going Yin-Yang food festival at Ban Tao – Hyatt, Pune.
Originally a brain child of Chef Sunil Joshi, the theme is around serving contradicting and complementing flavours onto a platter. The Yin Yang menu is a specially curated menu of 5 course meal and a jasmine tea for a closing note. It comes in 3 set menu options – a veg and 2 non veg. The festival is happening from the 20th of July till the 10th of Aug serving lunch and dinner at the Ban Tao restaurant, Hyatt Pune.
We were called in for a sneak peak – a tasting preview to take inputs which can help enhance the overall appeal of the concept. The entire B Team being there we decided to call in for samplers from all the 3 set menus. (The items that go below are a mix of all the set menus and for exact details of what’s on the menu, please refer to pics in the end. I am mentioning a few of the must haves apart from the #3 set menu that I savoured)
The evening started with two mock tails – Yin Wolf and the Yang Mary (a twist to the bloody Mary). The Yin Wolf used cucumber, ginger and cranberry – the mild side of the drinks while the Yang Mary a mock tail using tobacco sauce, tomato juice and spices like cinnamon and star anise complemented and made the drinks go full circle.
While we were waiting for the forces to be awakened 2 small hors d’oeuvres / Amuse Bouche (panko fried garlic prawns and a rice paper roll of veggies) made a quick entry and served their rightful purpose – prep and stimulate the appetite for the tsunami of flavours that we were there to stand up to. #BitesofPleasure
Panko Fried Garlic Prawns
Hatchew Latchew Tahu (Menu1): Silken tofu in its best avatar. The recipe – a vivid example of delicate craftsmanship was by all means the winner of the evening. The flavours were on the stronger side but the texture of the silken tofu was so damn perfect that melt in the mouth is a gross understatement for these little heavenly pieces of bliss. The tofu specially imported from Thailand is something you cannot miss at any cost. #MUSTMUSTHAVE #BLISSTANGIBILIZED
Tea smoked tender lamb chops (Menu 3): A sticky, sweet (yang) preparation made using Hoisin sauce. Perfectly cooked and delicately flavoured using jasmine tea leaves extract. The tea smoked part is kept subtle as to not disrupt the hoisin sauce flavours. #GreatStart
Wok Tossed Australian scallops (Menu 3): The scallops were prefect choice to represent the calm and composed Yin side of the appetizers. Lightly battered and fried golden brown these were just the type of finger food you can ask for. #Lovedit
Kale wrapped smoked chicken salad (Menu3): Rojak Bua and Smoked salmon were the salads on the other two menus and I can gladly say that this was the best amongst the three. Made using leeks, some fresh romaine lettuce and curly kale this was as much salad as it can get. The use of sweet chilli, lemon grass, scallions and peppers gave the additional crunchy bite to be wrapped inside a paper roll.
Kale Wrapped Smoked Chicken Salad
Rojak Bua and Smoked Salmon
Tom Kha Phak (Menu 1): The best tom kha soup ever without a doubt. It was an absolute perfect balance of Coconut milk, sweetness and the tanginess from the lemon grass and kafir lime. The mushroom and galangal were doing their bit equally well and as such this was undoubtedly the 2nd best dish of the night after silken tofu. #MustHave #PerfectRecipeTom Kha Phak
Crab and Asparagus Soup (Menu3): This was yet another steamy affair that went well, not as good as Tom Kha but yes as a standalone item it was wonderful none the less. The minced crab and shrimps used were textured like marshmallows and these salty floating lobules were indeed a savoury treat.
Crab and Asparagus Soup
Sop Ayam Soup
Fragrant black bean glazed pork chops (Menu3): One thing that was more of a surprise for my taste buds. Glazed with a sticky black bean sauce these were not the usual sweet greasy pork chops that the famous places in town are known to serve and were strikingly different in the sense that they were smoked/ charred and a bit bitter. The cooking level was also kept less than the one that makes it fall of the bones and you literally had to dig those canines to bite a morsel. #Decent #NewTaste
Salmon fried rice (menu3): Salmon in fried rice was a surprise I welcomed with open arms and it was no disappointment either. The salmon was made into small crispy golden kernels which were a pleasing surprise in the every bite of the friend rice that you take. The celery and burnt garlic kept the flavours mild and appealing. #LovedIt
Fragrant Black Bean Glazed Pork Chops & Salmon Fried Rice
Shredded Lamb and Ginger Soya Sauce, Basil Chicken Rice and Stir Fry Udon Noodles
Baked Yogurt with frozen berries (Menu3): Basically at the 3rd position and the most simple one in the dessert category this dessert was a bit ignored and I can’t blame it as the other two were really interesting dishes. The yogurt had the ‘Mishti Doi’ consistency and texture and the fresh berries gave the acidity to the dish that it needed to compliment the sweetness of the yogurt. Overall a well-balanced dish.
Chiffon Litchi Ice Cream Slice cake and Cendol Ice
Jasmine Tea: (Menu 1 / 2/ 3): The meal would end on a lite note with jasmine tea being served with all / any of the set menus you choose. A nice way to keep you hydrated, release essential antioxidants and also prevent drinking cold water which is not advisable after a meal.
A big shout out for team Hyatt – Ankoura Verma, Chef Sunil Joshi, Chef Suvendu Roy, Sohaib Kidwai, Sethuraman who hosted us and made us a part of this wonderful experience that Ban Tao and the Yin Yang festival is.
Some eye candy in the end…….
(Disclaimer: The views expressed are my own and from the single or multiple experiences that I have had with the food joint. While you are free to disagree with the opinion below; please respect the originality and fairness of the content. The taste and experience might differ from the one portrayed for varied reasons like the Chef and staff that serves you, Ingredients used and other factors that change from time to time. The opinion/ review is purely based on my experience and there is no biased, favoured or commercial angle to it. At times, I might have used a few references from the freely available information on the internet to draw a correct more accurate picture but the sole intent of the is review is to give back a piece of my experience to the foodie community.)