Located in the Outer Circle of the always buzzing Connaught Place is this roomy, bright, cosy place by the name of Chew Pan Asian Cafe. Pan Asian in its true sense, the restaurant is more like a close cousin of Mamagoto (reviewed earlier) and offers you a refreshing take on this popular cuisine.
On our plates were Crispy Lotus Stem tossed with honey and chillies, Fried Wontons with Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Roasted garlic, Khao Suey, Pan Fried Noodles with hot garlic sauce, American Chopsuey and Caramel Sponge Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream.
Since we chose to visit the cafe for lunch on a Sunday, we didn’t have to wait for a table but I would definitely recommend booking ahead if going for dinner on a Friday or Saturday night. With thirsty mouths and hungry stomachs we went through their extensive 21 page menu trying to decide on what to order. The variety of dishes available to choose from definitely made that an ordeal but with a little assistance from our server, we knew what we wanted.
The appetiser: The crispy lotus stems tossed in honey and chilli is a personal favourite and has been in this cuisine for some time now so I was a little apprehensive about ordering it since it can be messed up if the stems aren’t cooked properly. Thankfully Chew made sure that I didn’t have to add a negative experience on that account. The stems were just crispy enough and the spices were bang on. A good start to our meal. Along with some beers – which they had an offer on – we decided to quench our thirst with some Lemon Crushers. The Lemon Crushers were much like a ‘masala nimbu pani’ your grandmother must have given you during the hot Indian summers and while we were surprised to receive such a simple drink as the Lemon Crusher, the drink was made with just the right amount of ‘masala’, sugar and lime – a combination that’s oh-so-easy to mess up. The next dish was the fried wontons with Philadelphia cheese and roasted garlic. Greeted with a nice crunch upon our first bite, we were soon feeling the soft and smooth cream cheese on our tongues with that added flavour of garlic. The only thing I felt it was missing was a dipping sauce, the absence of which made the dish a little dry.
The mains: Now let me warn you in advance; portions are hefty so only order a dish per person if you have the stomach for it. Most of us ended up leaving a third of our dishes on the plate due to the size of the portions. The Pan Fried Noodles with hot garlic sauce was a little overbearing on the palette. I felt like they could’ve reduced the intensity of the sauce just a bit but otherwise, the dish was a treat. Noodles were cooked correctly as were the vegetables. The chef knew what he was doing.
Next, the Khao Suey. An interesting point that one of my fellow diners pointed out was that maybe they should give the elements of the dish separately rather than pre-combined since every individual would have his way of eating a Khao Suey. The suggestion was communicated to the servers who simply said, “It’s just the way we serve it. We can’t give the condiments separately.” I’d have rather had a word with the chef but I didn’t pay it much attention.
The coconut curry was flavoured well and all the necessary elements of the dish could be tasted in every bite. Once again, the chef knows his stuff. The American Chopsuey thankfully was served with the crispy noodles separately as I feared that by the time our dish was brought to the table, the noodles might become soggy. The Chopsuey was no different from what I’d eat at home which I would say is a good thing since it felt like comfort food to me. I’ve really got to compliment the chef!
With stomachs full and plates not yet wiped clean, we decided to go ahead with some dessert. Believe me, there was much contemplation involved here. The order – A Caramel Sponge Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream. The verdict – simply divine! That’s all I’m going to say about it. Check it out for yourself if you don’t believe me.
Now as I mentioned earlier, their menu is rather extensive so I’d definitely have to go back a couple times to check out everything but with the little teaser I’ve had so far, that won’t be an issue rather something I’ll be looking forward to.
I had an absolutely delightful experience at Chew and I’ll definitely be coming back for more.
Visit them at M-16, Connaught Place, Outer Circle, New Delhi.