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Wine & Dine
January 16, 2018

Experience A New Ambience At China House Lounge

Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena

We make our way to the China House Lounge to explore its newly reinvented interiors, revamped feel and unusual flavours

After taking an unscheduled halt at China House, the popular eatery at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai, we make our way to the China House Lounge – which is situated on a separate level – to explore its newly reinvented interiors, revamped feel and unusual flavours. As we step into the popular space – which has always been a favoured night club for Mumbai’s owls – we are immediately enveloped by the changed ambience of the space.

More than a night club: It is the end of a tiring day and we are in the right place to metaphorically put our feet up and spend time with each other. We discover that we have enough time to relax – for as the manager tells us the lounge opens in the evening at 5, and stays open till 2 am, giving one ample hours to relish its varied offerings. We learn through our conversation with him that it is India’s first lounge that is powered by Johnnie Walker – and this is evident in the décor as his figure pops up at different spots.

Chinese tales: Having entered from the China House area (where we stepped down a flight of steps), we have missed the entry through the ‘real’ door so step out through the huge door to see how the entrance has morphed. And we realise in an instant that it is redolent of the different stories and adventures of China. Our eye is instantly drawn to the huge wall near the entrance that boasts medallions in a mural – and each showcases elements from our neighbouring country. Re-entering and looking around, we realise that the décor is heavily influenced by the Prohibition Era (1920s-1940s) of China. And so, most of the alcohol is hidden – in the semi-private areas within small cupboards where the bottles are put away – and the liquor, when served, comes attractively ‘packaged’, hidden from all eyes.

Drinks speak: The lounge boasts seven specially curated coolers – each of which is unique in its creation, and has an intriguing story behind it too! If I were to choose, I would definitely go for the Navari – just for the way it is presented. As the ‘Bar Chef’ tell us, a Chinese traveller, years and years ago, had visited Maharashtra. When he visited a local home, the lady was dressed in a nine-yard sari, the navari. She gave the thirsty man a drink made of guava – he liked its flavours and on returning home decided to blend it with gin, his favourite poison. So, this ‘Navari’, served in a glass draped in the attractive material, inspired by local materials, hits just the right notes. So, when you do choose a drink, listen carefully to the tale before experiencing its flavours. Fact or fiction? Never mind, the tipple tales make for interesting hearing that will up the excitement quotient of your evening.

Food for flavours: Having non-vegetarians, vegetarians and a gluten-challenged palate around the table, we dipped into a host of interesting fare. The fusion cheese pops, the baos – especially the one stuffed with kung pao chicken – the fried rice with accompanying vegetarian and non-vegetarian gravies lovingly titillated our taste buds. We could have indulged forever on these delicately spiced creations, were it not for the fact that we had to leave space in our stomachs for the desserts. After all, greed may be endless, but our capacities are not.

Sweet finales: Since almost all of us sport a sweet tooth that makes us yearn for the perfect ending to a perfect meal, we ordered the almost-universal favourite tiramisu served here in a waffle cone. What made it even more tantalising was the fact that it was topped with an infusion of Kahlua. And, treating this outing as a cherished cheat day, we also called for the banana fritters served with Bailey’s-flavoured vanilla ice-cream.

Calories, be damned, our minds had said through the evening – and we had listened attentively, giving full attention to the different plates that were presented. We left, close to the witching hour – realising that every minute had been an epicurean experience. And I could, in my imagination, feel the presence of Johnnie Walker walking quietly in the night alongside!

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