A dining experience at the House of Ming at the Taj Mahal hotel in the nation’s capital, which reopened on May 2, is about more than just food. The sheer beauty of the space sets the tone for the experience with delicate hanging chandeliers, beaded artwork, tangerine, teal and white colors, a shuttered glass wall and an eye-catching painting of a princess Ming which inspires the name of the restaurant. . The story goes like this. A young Indian painter spotted a mysterious Ming Empress in a market but couldn’t look at her face. All he saw was a beautifully tied bun decorated with intricate pins. This obsession of the young painter led to a painting of what he saw. A designer’s impression of the mythical painting is replicated in the restaurant and becomes a topic of conversation.
The food that follows dominates the rest of the evening, a combination of Sichuan, Cantonese and Hunan cuisine. Chef Arun Sundararaj, the hotel’s director of culinary operations, explains how he toned down the chili quotient in some dishes to suit Indian palates. The menu features a roast and fries section, which is the first for a Chinese restaurant in the country. Think Peking Duck or Soy Roasted Chicken in Rosé Wine, Roasted Goat Mala with Cumin, Spicy Slow Roasted Chilli Pork Belly, Sweet and Sour Chrysanthemum Fish… The meal begins with the most delectable dim sums, delicately wrapped and with as many options for vegetarians as for meat and seafood. The marinated vegetable option with beetroot, purple potato and Chiniang caviar is a big winner, as is the black pepper crabmeat or the crystal chicken. The crispy morel as a starter can appeal to any mushroom lover, even with its sharp flavors and textures, and the corn jelly in a butter and chili sauce offers something very innovative for diners. Crab baked in its shell with a garlic butter sauce is as much a delight to the eyes as it is to the palate. The main course puts diners in a dilemma to choose from, with seven different chicken-only dishes. The braised pork belly, however, is a great option, succulent and flavorful. Sichuan eggplant is worth trying for vegetarians. The visually striking Le Citron, a lime cream with an orange center and cheese mille-feuille, complements the meal perfectly. For those with a fondness for chocolate, Elements, a chocolate marquise with caramelized pineapple, orange jelly and pineapple filo, is the perfect sweet ending.
Always to know the pulse of the guests, the chef has incorporated flavors that are sure to be a hit with the guests. For the private dining spaces, sculpture stations have been set up for interactive experiences. A 17-course chef’s choice menu, designed exclusively for private dining rooms, is another option for an immersive and elaborate dining experience. A live tea cart that offers several tea services during the meal and eclectic cocktails that balance the five elements of nature – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – complete the experience that is the House of Ming.