The sparkling new Hong Kong Club at Andaz, New Delhi, is all set to paint the city red with its diverse menu.
by Nikhil Merchant
A striking, all-encompassing glass pavilion looms in the central courtyard of the steel-and-glass expanse of New Delhi’s latest offering, Andaz by the Hyatt Group of Hotels. While the hotel’s ethos reflects a casual vibe, the vibrantly hued Hong Kong Club captivates your attention and invites you in to an elegant but dramatic interior reflecting Chinoiserie. A massive bar forms the spine of this multi-level restaurant which has mystery and intrigue woven into its walls.
The story, in art form, of a young Indian sailor named Arya and his elusive Asian love Li-Na from Hong Kong flit through the pulsating stretch, discreet hideaways and sweeping grand staircase leading to the top level which hosts a corner open kitchen and private dining.
The Jaded Twelve
As you settle down on the amoeba shaped marble bar, you are presented with a bar menu which reads like a horoscope. The cocktails at the Hong Kong Club are inspired by the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac – legend has it that these signs (animals) were chosen by the Jade Emperor himself. The Emperor called a meeting on the far side of a great river. Each of the animals in the Kingdom raced for a seat at the table. Only 12 made it.
I am urged to flip over to my Zodiac sign, the August Rooster, which are mythical birds who rule over all others. Like the Phoenix, the Fenghuang originated in the Sun and is said to only appear in places with utmost peace and happiness. A cognac-based cocktail redolent with citrus, shaken with yuzu, egg white, raspberry, orange blossom is presented with a cutout of the rooster. As your spirit animal takes over, you dare to cross over to the other signs. From acclaimed ingredients trending in bars around the world such as the milk-washed lime cordial in the Gin & Tonic version called Qilin (name given to the goat in the Chinese zodiac known for good omen) to house infused liqueurs such as the HKG Banana Liqueur in the Sun Wukong (the handsome Monkey King blessed with incredible strength and powers) has coconut scotch and five spice. The HKG Apple and Clove Liqueur in the Chariot (the Horse, cheated by the snake in the race to the Emperors table, causing an untrusting nature) contains Champagne and hay (as garnish). These cocktails are smartly designed and tempt you to see the stars with their in-house cordials, infusions, bitters and tinctures.
If you get to gaze away from the cocktail menu, the bar eats will tempt you further. Executive Chef Alex Moser and the club’s Chef De Cuisine, Yu Fuhai, spin designs on traditional Cantonese cuisine and work with familiar flavours, local produce and exotic ingredients to present intrinsic modern interpretations of Chef Fuhai’s homeland food. “I want to introduce Indians to the diverse, authentic flavours and ingredients from my homeland. Fermented bean curd, preserved Hong Kong olives and luzhou (Chinese liquor from Luzhou) are few of the ingredients from my homeland that I will be using in some of my recipes at the Hong Kong Club,” he says, compelling us to explore the menu deeper and read through the crystal dimsums, shumai and bao.
The appetisers arrive in small plates, strategic in size so one can try many. An equal distribution of vegetarian options to non-vegetarian, the marinated asparagus is highlighted with mustard oil and the Hong Kong Style duck sits well with the homemade barbecue sauce. Interestingly you can pick through sweet offerings too, from the lusciously smoked burnt fruit skewers with caramelised honey and sesame to a bitter chocolate cake with a chili and lychee sorbet.
While Chef Fuhai loves exploring food markets in his free time, Chef Moser takes pleasure in cooking with some of the locally popular spices and ingredients. He strives to put food on the plate that is not only beautiful and aromatic, but which also has a history to it. Alex tries to create a “modern menu with simple, honest yet bold flavours” for a sumptuous spread and reigns on the belief that “it is indeed all about the ingredients, only with fresh quality ingredients can you cook good food.”
From a menu as diverse as you could find from the street eats to the fine-dine spaces of Hong Kong, the signatures use ingredients such as steamed chicken feet (barbecue sauce, garlic chips) and stuffed quail (amped up by cep, bamboo shoots). Wok offerings such as rock lobster (black bean sauce) and vegetarian organic baby carrots (corn, onion seeds, garlic chives) complete the experience.
The Hong Kong Club thrills while you eat and spirit up, so make way for those exotic dancers, themed shows, aerialist, acrobats and watch mixologists play at the bar as Delhi gets a chic new place to party at.