- Guangdong and Hong Kong , whose cuisine primarily can be called Cantonese or Yue
- Beijing and the northern areas, whose cuisine primarily can be called Mandarin
- Shanghai and surrounding areas, whose cuisine can be called Zhe or Zhejiang
- Sichuan, or Szechuan, where the cuisine is called Chuan
- Hunan, in the south-central part of China where the cuisine is called Xiang
- Cuisines like Jiangsu and Min (from the coastal areas of Fujian) among others
Chef Giang is a small man...frail, like someone's skinny grandmother, but don't let those sayings of "never trust a skinny chef" fool you. For just like many a grandmother, Chef Giang has many a culinary trick up his sleeve. His diminutive probably affirms to the fact that good things come in small packages!
The wonton soup with seafood was simply superb. A clear soup, with a sprinkling of scallions and fried garlic along with the wonton and some choice seafood - prawns, squid, and scallops - made this a clear winner. So good was the soup that I actually had two bowls, one at the start of the meal and one at the end.
One fantastic idea Sheraton came up with was to make drinks based on Chinese philosophy, specifically based on the year you were born in. Since I was born in '83, the year of the pig, my drink was a gin and wasabi drink, as well as a drink called French 75, another gin-based cocktail, from Sheraton's top 100 cocktails. It's really a great thing to see the kitchen team work this closely with the F & B team and implement such wonderful ideas. I think the fact that Sheraton is now experimenting with different ideas, especially on the drink front, is great news to the food scene in Bangalore, because usually everyone focuses on the food, and the drinks are relegated to a proverbial footnote. Apart from that, we were also told about the concept behind this, and how the hotel plans to take this forward based on its success.
The Executive Chef, Bela K. Rieck, came and had a nice, long conversation about food and his philosophy about how food and how he plans to take things forward. The man is a genius. His work ethic is so focused and 'logical', it appealed to the engineer in me.
As for the food, it was lovely, and the Chinese dishes are part of the regular Feast buffet (easily one of the best, if not the best, spreads in the city). Although I tried very hard to restrict myself to only the Chinese dishes, I did end up trying a few other dishes, that were equally good. The salads, chicken and cabbage, as well as the spinach with roasted garlic were good. The idea of supplementing the spinach with garlic was good because not only does it add flavour,, it also helps neutralise the sort of monotonous taste of spinach. Apart from these salads, there were the other salads that are a part of the buffet anyway.
The fish poached in olive oil was light and this sort of cooking technique does justice to the fish and helps keep intact the 'flavour' of the fish. This dish though wasn't par of the Chinese dishes of the fest, and neither was the roasted chicken at the carving station.
The beef braised and stewed along with mushrooms was divine. I mean, yes, the cow is holy and all that, and so to make sure it continues to remain that way, it needs to be cooked with a lot of care. Loved this dish as well, but again, this wasn't part of the dishes for the Chinese fest.
The braised tofu in Szechuan sauce was silky and spicy - the tofu being silky soft and the sauce being spicy. The Kung Pao chicken with cashew nuts was nice (wok fried), but I so hoped that there would've been sweet and sour pork that evening.
The steamed fish in broth with pork fat was mind blowing...simply fabulous! This was one of the other dishes that I had twice, and I think it was my favourite dish of the evening. That broth...oh man, pork fat does lend such a wonderful and magical flavour to everything. There was another soup on offer, a lotus root with sweet corn in a pork broth. Unfortunately I don't seem to have a photograph of it, but that soup was equally brilliant. Normally, I'm not a big fan of the lotus root (sorry, I hope some jobless person doesn't sue me saying I'm disrespecting the national flower's root!), but in this case, the soup was really very good. I think anything cooked with pork automatically tastes better.
For desserts, the Chinese dessert that was on offer was something that has an acquired taste, and so although I did try a little and didn't find it too bad, I didn't go for seconds. I did, however, make my way to the teppanyaki ice cream counter to have some ice cream mixed over a cold stone and served to me. I didn't want to sample the other desserts, because that would've spoilt the taste of the Chinese food I had, so I opted to play safe. So overall, excellent food and great service at Feast. Stay tuned for more such fests at Sheraton (there's an Italian food festival coming up in November that I am eagerly waiting for).
Last two days of the fest...go fast! :)
Sheraton Bangalore at Brigade Gateway, 26/1, Dr Rajkumar Road, Malleshwaram-Rajajinagar, Bangalore. Phone: +91 80 4252 1000