There are times when things are just meant to fall in place. The Times Food awards for the year 2017 were announced last week of Jan and it coincided perfectly with the launch of new avatar for the 3 time winner in a row for the best pan Asian restaurant in Pune. Yes, I am talking about the Baan Tao from Hyatt. The team at Baan Tao have revamped their entire menu and positioned themselves in the new form which they call – ‘Baan Tao Reloaded’. We started the evenings with a whole bunch of Dimsums that came in the most colorful dish that I have seen till date – The dimsum platter. The platter had just about two portions of the each of the Hargao, Chicken Bao, Lamb Dumpling, Pan seared Gyoza, Mushroom & Chicken Siu Mai dumplings. The platter was a photographer’s delight with the splash colors that it had to offer. The dish was garnished with edible flowers, chamomile, Japanese mayo, sesame dust, unagi sauce and red amaranthus. Each of the dimsums was spot on in terms of delivery. Chicken bao was all about the texture of the bao – soft, aerated, lite and extremely flavorful. Hargao and Gyozas were something we were not used to but some detailed talk and we were convinced that Chef Sunil has crafted a masterpiece yet again.
The Exotic Mushroom and Bell Pepper Crystal were encased in absolute thin and crystalline sheath. The generous mushroom filing made the dim sums quiet a delicacy. #Recommended
The Prawn and Chicken Siu-Mai were topped with Tobiko or the flying fish roe which is usually an ingredient in certain types of sushi. The taste of prawn could be made out against that of chicken but I didn’t quiet appreciate the combo as a whole. #JustOk
Next came in by favorite for the night – Pork Pot Stickers. The dish had the simplest of looks with a meatball of shredded pork forming a yolk that was secretly concealed on one of the sides. The pork was too flavorful to resist. #MustHave
Wok tossed Hoisin Pepper Lamb wasn’t really new on the menu as I had had a similar dish previously but none the less it was superb with different forms of crunchy elements paired together. The dish had thing strips of lamb batter coated and fried tossed in hoisin and pepper sauce, garnished with white onions, and colored bell peppers. #Nice
The diced XO Chicken is a very safe dish for those who are risk averse and yet land up at Baan Tao. The dish is also a lot more desi than other dishes on the menu. The Prawn Salt and Pepper was yet another desi dish that is essentially very simple in its composition. Both the dishes do their job upto the mark. #Recommended
Sichuan Pepper Mushroom is just what you imagine it to be. A very hot preparation using generous amount of Sichuan pepper. The mushrooms are char grilled in the presence of Sicuan pepper and given that smoky and fiery taste. Not for the faint hearted. The edible flowers atop and the crushed pepper corns gave the dish a nice presentable feel. #Decent
Vietnamese Steamed Rice Paper Wrap served with Nước Chấm [Vietnamese dipping sauce] was another dish that can be rated high just by the looks. The amount of efforts that would go into making this dish a reality is bound to be enormous. The perfection is visible in all of its aspects. I couldn’t appreciate it as much for its taste but then the presentation is worth taking a bow.
In salads we had the Yam Ma Muang which is Thai raw mango salad garnished with peanuts. The occasional presence of coconut and crunchy white onion strands brought out the contrast to an otherwise sweet and tangy preparation. #MustHave
The Mandarin Poached Chicken Salad was served with the most unique dressing – Chinkiang mustard dressing. The dressing was what gave it its taste. The dish was appreciated by many but I found it less convincing as compared to other delicacies. #Decent
We were having a tough time saving our appetite for the mains to come when all of a sudden we were thrown open ti the surprise of the evening. The team Baan Tao had organized a Shabu Shabu festival from the 1st to 28th Feb and we were invited to make our own customized version fo shabu shabu. With that what was a concept for so long, came to reality and we could get an upclose feel of how shabu shabu is prepared. Shabu-shabu is a Japanese nabemono hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water. The dish is prepared by submerging a thin slice of meat or a piece of vegetable in a pot of boiling water or dashi (broth) made with konbu (kelp) and stirring it. Cooked meat and vegetables are usually dipped in ponzu or goma (sesame seed) sauce before eating, and served with a bowl of steamed white rice or noodles.
While we were given a choice of meat and ingredients, we kept the experimentation to minimum since it was our first time and ended up with chicken Shabu shabu. The recipe we tried had Chicken, mushrooms (Enoki, shimeji, wood ear, shitake and button), broccoli, squash, zucchini, carrot, kale and kang Kung with a stock of Kombo dashi flavoured with kombo leaf and hondashi. Sauces used were sesame ponzu, tonkatsu, superior soya, sriracha chili and bird eye chili paste. #MustHave #UniqueExperience
In mains we started off with Chicken Mongol Kublai and XO Prawns which were similar to their appetizer counterparts and did an equally well convincing job. #LovedIt
Wok tossed Long Beans had French beans turned crispy with a bunch of other veggies. This was all green and just a munchy rather than a main dish. #Ignored
Silken Tofu is one such menu which will show up in one or the other avatar and something which you must try when at Baan Tao. The dish true to its name uses the best form of Tofu, and the gravy can always be customized to suit your palate. #AbsoluteMustHave
The Pad Cha Pae which can be a distant cousin of crispy chicken that we are used to, was another dish that woo us instantly. The crispiness imparted was the most convincing feature and since I am a big fan of crispy elements I was a lot more gullible with this dish in front of me. #HighlyRecommended
The Anmitsu – By and large the most adorable of the desserts available. This one used scooped out dragon fruit, papaya and strawberry along with a dollop of mango icecream all laid on top of a bed of Dangu and Vietnamese Coffee jelly. The contrast of flavors, the colors and the presentation was just perfect and it can melt away any heart just like that. #MustHave
Next we had a small tea party but with a matcha cake and some white chocolate sauce to go along. When at Baan Tao white chocolate sauce is always just around the corner and no meal can be complete without a sip at the heavenly potion. So we had the little theatrics being played out with the chocolate ball that held the macha cake crumbling and the entire dish getting drenched in white chocolate sauce. Absolute bliss is the word. #MustHave
The Passion Fruit Panna Cotta with ginger crumble and coconut ice-cream was a no fuss dish. A simple looking dish and something that was easy on sweetness and with a little contrasting sharp taste of ginger. All this, not without a tad bit of crunchiness that came in from the underlying tart. #Yum
The Papaya and Orange Pudding the last of our dessert was something meant for the health freaks. But true gourmands that we are, we were more than happy sticking to other desserts and playing a spoon fight for a scoop of Anmitsu.
With such an elaborate show put up, it is beyond doubt that the team Baan Tao have geared up like anything to take their patrons on an all new tour of pan Asian delicacies like never before. A special thanks to Chef Sunil to have taken us on this wonderful culinary treat and Ankoura for having us invited over.
(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.)