Dim sum deliciousness at The Flying Elephant

Yum cha is the tradition of drinking tea while eating dim sum. Dim sum are Cantonese style small morsels of food, the literal translation of which is "touch the heart", which means that these morsels are not meant to be a full meal.

Dim sum can be steamed, fried, boiled, baked or pan fried. The outer skin for each of these methods naturally differ in composition depending on the mode of cooking.

I love dim sums and when invited to review the ongoing festival at Park Hyatt Chennai, was thrilled till I read the accompanying note that listed out the dim sums on offer - fillings like broccoli...? pine nuts...? Sigh! The life of a food reviewer/ blogger is never easy and I decided that the least I could do was to go with an open mind. SmileySmiley

If you've been to dim sum restaurants in Asia, let me hasten to assure you that The Flying Elephant, Park Hyatt Chennai's spiral spaced restaurant does not have women pushing trolleys piled high with dim sum baskets. In spite of that, it was a fairly busy place that evening. Chef de cuisine Megha explained how she had devised 8 kinds of dim sums, 4 with veg and 4 with non veg fillings.

I ordered jasmine tea with the meal but before it reached me, a cocktail did. Ironically called "Happily Ever After", it was a concoction of vodka, Chardonnay, lime juice and red grapes. It did set the mood with the halved grapes along the side of the glass that looked like red lanterns! Maybe there would be a happy ending after all.

From top left:zucchini & bokchoy, asparagus & silken tofu, cheese & chilli, mushroom & edamame

A vegetarian dim sum basket was served first. The skins were so thin and translucent that you could see the fillings clearly. My favourite was the broccoli with cheese and bird's eye chilli. The greens had been very finely diced and bits of cheese doused the heat from the chilli. Another one had asparagus and silken tofu. Bits of crisp garlic livened the filling, sesame oil and coriander leaves added to the Oriental flavour. A third one had earthy mushroom bits, edamame, ginger and scallions. Truffle oil scented the filling resulting in a very sophisticated pairing. What didn't work for me was the one with zucchini, bokchoy, peas and pine nuts - the five spice powder had too strong a flavour for something as delicate as a vegetarian dim sum.

Prawn & shiitake, Chilean sea bass with peanut & fish roe

In the  non veg basket, the prawn dim sum looked interesting. The skin had been skilfully pleated and the tail of the prawn stuck out from one end. Inside was a mix of minced prawn, shiitake mushroom, ginger and coriander. It was delicious. Minced Chilean sea bass with peanuts, chives and Chinese wine was another interesting filling. Shaped like siu mai with a spring onion band tied across, it was topped with roe. I loved the play of textures - the smoothness of the fish, soft peanut bits and the crunchy bursts of the roe...that was so unexpected!    

Top: chicken with water chestnut, baby back rib dim sum

The chicken with water chestnuts was pleasant enough, but my favourite of the evening had to be baby back ribs. A Flying Elephant specialty, the barbequed meat had been minced, mixed with corn and crisp bacon. It was a little sweet, a little tangy, had amazing depth of flavour and was absolutely delicious.

All the dim sums are served with a thick red chilli sauce and a coriander sauce.

There are no dim sum desserts on offer but I was asked to taste a couple of new desserts.

Basil and orange frozen yoghurt, peanut mousse bar, coconut and chocolate mousse 

Frozen yoghurt flavoured with basil and orange was light and refreshing, an excellent palate cleanser. The peanut mousse bar tasted like Reese's butter cups. Of the three, the coconut and chocolate bar was my favourite way to end the meal. It had a dense mousse and an interesting dusting of coconut over the top.

All the dim sums are The Flying Elephant's take on the Cantonese speciality. A lot of thought had gone into combining ingredients and flavouring. Each one was shaped differently and the fillings were generous.  Service, as usual, was very good.
Vegetarian dim sums are priced at Rs.588/++ for a basket of 4, the non veg ones at 688/++.

And yes, I did get that tea. Brewed just right and perfect with the dim sums which did touch the heart!

Delish dim sums at The Flying Elephant is on till May 17th. Do call 71771234 / 8939871109 for reservations.


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