Sunday, December 12, 2010

BM Review: Xian

Last Saturday, I finally visited Xian, along with the owners of the blog Purple Cinnamon and Salt, Pallavi and Upasana, along with Sreeja (a friend of a friend) and her friend Snigdha. The full review for the paper along with a snap of the guests can be read here.

I don't know the exact reason, but someone at the paper seems to like articles in the English language very much, so much so that they added a 'The' to the start of the title I'd given for the write up. I'd titled it as 'Yin yang harmony', to indicate the balance between the good and the not so good at Xian (and there being a giant yin yang at Xian contributed heavily to this title). By adding the 'The' at the start, it sort of makes it sound as an attribute almost exclusively meant for Xian (which obviously isn't true - almost all places could be recipients of this phrase as most would have some not so good things to go with the good...thus, yin yang). But anyway, what do I know about English, I'm just a techie who happens to love and know a little bit about food, so let's put an end to the English grammar lesson here.

We started off with some chicken and pork steamed momos, and then moved on spare ribs, crispy spinach, chilli prawn balls, and bacon-wrapped prawns. The momos were good, but I've found the momos served at delicacy to be better because the outer casing of the momo is not hard, but still soft (at Delicacy), but here, it was a little hard, but taste wise, they were good. The spare ribs stole the show, like totally! Served in a sweet-ish sauce that probably was a mixture of barbecue and a bit of Worcestershire (for a little tang and zing), the meat of actually so yummiliciously flavoured and tender that all of us had to struggle to remain civil at the table. In short, it was good. Then, things slid a little down hill. The crispy spinach was nice, but had flour added to it to 'hold' it together I'm guessing. Bad idea! not only did it add an unearthly whitish-cream colour to the green of the spinach, it cut into the taste as well.

Spare ribs...some of the best I've ever had

Crispy spinach with vegetables

On the menu, this chilli prawn balls was under the 'chef recommends' section. This dish was a little spicy (and some found it a little too spicy). Flavour wise, there was the distinct prawn flavour mixed with a little coriander and chilli, however, what was missing was something to go with the dish and probably cut out a little bit of the heat from the chilli. After talking to Pallavi, who thought a lemon-honey based sauce/dip could've helped as opposed to my garlic-mayo dip suggestion, I tended to agree more with her idea for the simple reason that a bit of acid WAS precisely what was needed for a sea food dish, and the lemon would certainly have provided that while cutting into the chilli. Some garnish on the dish would've helped as well - rather plane-Jane if you ask me.

Chilli prawn balls

Bacon-wrapped prawns. On any given day, I'd have to say that even in my sleep I'd answer that this would be a winner. now I'm not sure if this is the trend everywhere, but here the dish came batter-fried!!! Oh dear, my fat, crumbled heart nearly skipped a few beats when I saw it. And the batter coating was too thick to enjoy the salty, bacon-infused flavour on the prawns. Tch tch, I think even the prawns felt bad, and I felt bad that the prawns didn't get to be more physically intimate with the bacon.

Bacon wrapped prawns

For the mains, we ordered a Malaysian flat noodles and a Thai red curry with a portion of steamed rice. Along with this, we ordered a char-siu pork, dragon lamb, and Xian pickled prawns (with black bean paste). The flat noodles looked nice, with nice colours, and tasted good as well.

Malaysian flat noodles (kway teao)

The Thai red curry was quite lovely - coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and red chilli paste... yummmm-meee!

Thai red curry

Pork was a bit of a specialty here I think, and the char-siu pork served was quite good, save for a few pieces of meat that were a bit chewy. But otherwise, the honey-sweetened pork (generally flavoured with Chinese five-spice powder) is quite a good side dish to be had any time. the dragon lamb seemed and tasted almost like the char-siu pork, with the only difference being in the texture of the meats - they are different animals after all!

Char Sui pork

Dragon lamb

The Xian pickled prawns had got us a wee bit excited. We were anticipating a slightly sour, and probably fermented dish (it did say pickled, and was in a black bean paste, which is normally fermented and pungent). However, what came was a bowl of a thick gravy with prawns and vegetables, with tiny flecks of black bean in it. On it's own, it tasted good, but having being primed with the word 'pickled', it was a let down.

Pickled prawns in black bean sauce

Overall, quite a decent place, and since the prices are slightly on the higher side when compared to any of the other 'Chinese' joints in town, the good thing is the dishes, decor, cutlery, etc do live up to a slightly higher standard that you'd expect while paying this kind of money.

Food: Some good, some not so great, overall - pretty decent.
$$$: Not your average Chinese joint...maybe around 500 or so per head.
Service: Decent
Verdict: Worth a visit if in that part part of town.

Xian, #132, Gangadhara Chetty Road, opposite Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore. Phone: 41515163


ruth said...

Its really great that you back to detailed reviews on the blog. They are so much better than the bullet-pointed version on BM.

Karthik Shetty said...

All for the want of time Ruth...was very busy the last few weeks, now a little bit of free time opened up, so wrote a little more :)

Purple Cinnamon and Salt said...

I have GOT to get me some more spare ribs! the sauce is very inspiring too.

Karthik Shetty said...

You and I both! :)

Anonymous said...

Wish u review some vegetarian restuarants too.What if the world goes a short supply of nonveg items.........

Karthik Shetty said...

Hello there, that certainly is an option that has passed my mind. So firstly, I have covered veg only places as and when they appear on the scene (mandi, sanjeevanam, cafe mondo). However, veg only places are very few, new ones hardly come up, and ones that are there are either reviewed or are already well known and don't need to be reviewed (this is for the paper). On my own, sure, as and when the chance arises, I'll certainly cover them.

EarnesTaster said...

enjoyed reading this, and would be very interested in reading your opinion about 'Szechwan Court'...liked your description of the "ribs" experience, and the observation about the prawn starter needing a touch of acidity


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