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Updated about 10hrs ago

  • Food
  • 90% Complete (success)
  • Service
  • 70% Complete (success)
  • Decor
  • 70% Complete (success)

I am rejoicing. Saffron returns to its original glory. I had reviewed it when it had just opened 11 years ago, (helmed by Chef Surjan Jolly). I am happy to report that on an unannounced recheck round, I found it better than ever. Gone was the confused flabby menu of Hyderabadi, Malabari, Awadhi and more. In its place is a leaner, focused and delightful menu with only true-blue Awadhi dishes (with an exception that proves the rule). The young Shahnawaz Querishi (from the same gourmet Lucknavi family that reigns supreme in the ITC kitchens, Sun-n-Sand and standalone Kakori Houses too) has been creating magic past few months here. He not only brings his training in the Lucknavi kitchens (Arabiya and Tunde Kebab) but also khada and khushboo masalas like khus ki jad, pipri, kachri, pather ke phool to Mumbai. He handpounds them and teases big effects from the softest Galouti and Kakori Kebabs, even the plump Murgh Nawabi is perfectly soft and tender. He uses NZ meat for the rich Burrah Chaanp and he meticulously pairs the meats with the perfect roti. I use the yeasty yummy Khamiri Roti to mop up the gelatinous Gosht Paya ki Nihari, the many layered Varqi Paratha with Koh e Avadh. The moist, subtle and flavoursome Dum Biryani is gently perfumed with Meetha Ittar from Aminabad. Thanks to the Executive Chef Himanshu Taneja, the exception of Peepay Chholey and Aloo stuffed Amritsari Kulcha delights. Dal e Khaas is just that. My only crib is that the vegetables are too cashew rich, be it Subz Peshawari or Bharwan Aloo. But that Shahi Tukda with its whisper of crunch and Rabadi delights. All this in the contemporary Indian off-the-lobby restaurant of the JW Marriott, with its interactive kitchen. Worth a visit.

Note: The Set Menu allows you to savour all of the delicacies for a fixed rate — `1,800 for vegetarians, `2,100 for non-vegetarians and `2,400 for seafood.

Updated about 10hrs ago

  • Food
  • 70% Complete (success)
  • Service
  • 70% Complete (success)
  • Decor
  • 70% Complete (success)

Ooof ho! Ek aur naya Chinese/Asian restaurant?And that too really close to Umame, Lings Pavilion, Kamling and Royal China. “You got to come with us, it’s the finest Chinese meal we’ve eaten in a long time”said Gastronome Anil C Kilachand and Indira. I get led into eating here three times (paid my bills).

So, here I am at the brand new Chao Ban (once again) on the suggestion of a discerning, globe trotting gourmet couple who have just returned from London and are off to Africa. They're a rare combination of style with substance...my kind of couple! Their elegant, high end stylishness is backed by continued solid hard work and professional success. For almost two decades, the gorgeous founder and managing director Lata Patel smoothens the transition of expats relocating into India, servicing more than 25 locations across India, Srilanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Dapper, dynamic and low profile Vispi Patel group director of the worlds most prestigious luxury brand LVMH invests in aspirational brands in India. We enjoy the meal and am happy I took their advice to dine at Chao Ban.rn

Decor
Walk into (what used to be Joss) and the pleasant, understated twin-leveled redecorated space with it’s water-wall soothes. It’s mezzanine section is more colorful, but wasn’t operational each time I went.

Food
I’ve devoured roast chicken (off a special roaster) here at all my meals and each time it’s been crunchy, meaty, tender, glossy. Roast duck too (stay clear of the crispy aromatic one) And whoa! The Garupa spiked with lantern chillies and whisper of black bean is masterfully steamed. Ditto for the Mandarin style fish topped with silken firm bamboo shoots and mushrooms. Braised double cooked pork belly delights. Titi Ling coaxes pristine, clean flavors out of the mushrooms, Chinese greens, four season beans, in short there is plenty for vegetarians. There is also a variety of dimsum, (steamed, fried, pan fried, cheung fun, soaked and baked). Go for the baked pork puff , steamed prawn and chives, unusual open face sticky rice dumpling. A surprising variety of desserts too, lemon meringue pie tops.

Minus Points
Thick skinned cheung fun disappoints, as do soaked dumplings which swim in strange sauces (including peanut paste.) Crunchy duck roll (fried dimsum) is too dry and while the “chao ban platters” with their fried crunchies pair well with drinks, they are not worth ordering on their own. Expensively priced alcohol. Chocolate and chilli lava cake is a let down. No steamed rice on the menu. Edamame and enoki on the menu but not available. Why is their Chinese tea like hot water?

My Point
Sichuan and spicy food buffs will be disappointed here, dimsum needs to be improved. However, the food is priced between 10 to 20% lower than Royal China (I compared the prices ) and the price points along with its attentive service, super Cantonese fare explain why my guests insisted I eat here and why it was packed each time.rn

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