SENSE AND SAUCES
Sampan has hit the heart-warming notes with its new winter menu upgrade. By Kritika Dua
On a quiet afternoon, Sampan’s soothing melodies appealed to my senses. Perhaps the rooftop restaurant’s scenic view of the pristine Lotus Temple had an effect too. However, it transforms into a mellifluous space at night with the fusion of rock, pop, and sometimes retro music by Black Slade. Known for its Southeast Asian, Chinese, Filipino as well as Malaysian fare, it has recently rolled out a heart-warming winter special. What this essentially means is putting out a series of comfort foods.
Topping the list is sushi. So while the fish variant I had kept to grammar, a fresh piece lovingly implanted in hand-rolled rice, the chefs confined their fusion experiments to a vegetable delight roll, comprising cucumber, bell pepper, garnished with sesame seeds and drizzled with mayonnaise and soya sauce. This suitably whetted my appetite. So when they got the kembang, I happily dug in. Now this one was an Indonesian dish of chilli-fried broccoli tossed alongside onion, ginger and garlic and cooked in a tangy sauce. Never had broccoli tasted this good for me. I had it with a tall glass of virgin pina colada as a palate cleanser.
The big twist came with the dumplings though. Guo Tie dimsum (pan-fried dumplings packed with Asian greens), are a good filler for a winter afternoon. Crispy on the outside, you hardly expect the mouth to balloon up with the juice of veggies. These are a staple in China and usually made of a simple flour wrapper filled with various fillings like pork mixed with all kinds of seasonal vegetables, cabbage and celery mostly.
Impressed by the crunch and rounded flavours, I went ahead with the dimsum combo of Siopao or Filipino steamed bun, baby bok choy and water chestnut and Cheung Fun. I am biased towards the mild flavour of the crunchy Chinese vegetable, so I would suggest that you should go for a healthy fill of it and the chestnut and be surprised by a zesty kick. Then came in the yellow-hued Curry Laksa soup, the fulsome coconut base enhanced by assorted green vegetables and noodles. The only distracting elements were the big chunks of cherry tomatoes, which sometimes spoilt the balance of soft flavours with a tangy spike in patches.
For the main course, I went ahead with buckwheat noodles, a healthy version of the carbohydrate component, and Har Tin Choi. Now these go together like peas and carrots. Har Tin Choi had layers of spinach, baby corn, ginger, big chunks of tomatoes and mushroom in the middle tossed in sherry sauce, bursting with flavours. Without much ado, I savoured the plat du jour with buckwheat noodles. It was thicker than regular noodles but tasted more or less the same.
The culinary journey ended on a sweet note with fresh coconut ice cream in an edible cup, triangle-shaped date pancakes and tempura fried ice cream — vanilla ice cream with nuts covered with a coating of fried rice flour. These desserts are drool worthy and shouldn’t be missed.
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