Eight Treasures at 5 Sen5es, Westin Velachery


Of all the regional cuisines in China, there are 8 that are very popular. These cuisines are from the regions of Sichuan, Guangdong (Canton), Zhejiang, Hunan, Jiangsu, Fujian, Shandong and Anhui. Except for Sichuan and Hunan (known as the "spicy provinces), the others are located along the east of the country. The cuisine of each province varies with the geographical location, climatic conditions and ingredients.

Westin Velachery Chennai is promoting the "8 Treasures" Food Festival at 5 Sen5es, their Pan-Asian restaurant - quite an ambitious project for a city which loves its heavily Indianised version of Chinese food.

Fried dough strips; kimchi

Things do taste different when an executive chef who has worked in China is in the kitchen. We had crisp fried dough strips tossed in a tangy garlicky sauce to nibble on (not a dish from any of the 8 provinces)! That ensured we went straight into the meal even though the chef did offer to get us sushi!

Red Cooked Chicken

We were served a few specialities from some of the regions. We started with Anhui's Red Cooked Chicken, more brown than red! Red braising is a unique style of cooking where food is cooked in a mix of sugar, water, wine and soy, along with aromatics resulting in meat that has a reddish colour. In this dish, the chicken was tender and the sauce was heady with the flavour of Shaoxing wine. The dash of chilli oil gave it a sharp bite and that was interesting.

Dezhou Stewed Chicken

Dezhou Stewed Chicken is a Shandong cooking technique. The chicken had been stewed in an aromatic broth but the flavour of star anise was strident in an otherwise mellow dish.

Crispy Aromatic Duck

Zhejiang is famous for its duck dishes, Westin's take on it is the Crispy Aromatic Duck. Served with pancakes, the meat had been roasted and then shredded for service. There was also hoisin sauce and juliennes of leeks and cucumber. The pancake was a tad dry and the meat stringy but flavours were good.

Tai Chi Prawns

Fujian province is located along the coast and the cuisine features plenty of seafood dishes. We had Tai Chi Prawns, minced prawn shaped into dumplings and lightly fried before being tossed in a dark soya-based sauce. Chinkiang vinegar gave the sauce a delicious tartness. A friend was a little sceptical of having them but then decided to give it a try and wasn't at all disappointed.

Sichuan Shredded Potatoes

Eight treasures also has vegetarian dishes on the menu. My vegetarian friend was served Sichuan Shredded Potatoes. The potatoes were cut into finger lengths and had been tossed with some wickedly red chillies. There was also Cantonese-style Stir-fried Cabbage with Minced Garlic - napa cabbage slices tossed in a light garlic and soya-based sauce. Delicious! The winner was Eggplant in Hot Garlic sauce. Even if you don't like the taste of eggplants, this one dish will convert you.

Fried rice

All these were served with sticky fried rice, a very simple dish with diced carrots, beans and egg. The grains of Jasmine rice were small and lent a wonderful fragrance. There was also steamed rice which is actually a better accompaniment to the main courses. Presentation of each of the dishes was disappointing.

Other specialities are Lamb with Snow Peas (Cantonese), Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish (Hunan), Braised Spare Ribs (Jiangsu) and Mapo Tofu (Sichuan).

Pumpkin Pudding

There is no festival dessert so we all opted for the pumpkin pudding that is on the restaurant's a la carte menu. A delicious serving of smooth pumpkin puree lightened with coconut milk. Pure bliss!

The 8 Treasures Food Festival is on till 30th June. A meal for 2, without alcohol, would cost about 4000/++

Five Sen5es is open only for dinner, from 7 - 11 pm.

Westin Chennai Velachery
154, Velachery Main Road, Velachery
Chennai 600042.

Do call 044 66333777 for reservations.

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