It’s about time Hunan be featured here amongst favourite restaurants. In fact, this article is long overdue. For those who are familiar with the food scene in Bengaluru, Hunan needs no introduction. For those who are still familiarizing themselves with what our beautiful city has to offer, Hunan is an absolute must try for some pretty special Chinese Food.
The menu has an excellent balance of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items and I would urge you to go through it in detail just to appreciate the effort that has gone into curating it. Not sure about what to order? Ask your order taker for recommendations. The staff is well-trained to recommend dishes to suit your palate. In this article, I have recommended some my favourites:
Raw Mango Paw Paw Salad: A great balance of sourness and sweetness with a tinge of heat thanks to some bird’s eye chilies, this salad is a bit like the all-time Thai Favourite Som Tam with Raw Mango replacing Papaya. The added tanginess of Tamarind only adds to the flaovur.
Mushroom and Tofu Open Bao: One word to describe this dish: Brilliant. A Bao has to be light, fluffy, and slightly moist. The stuffing within should be bold enough to hold its own and should not drown in sauces. This Bao ticks all those boxes. Combining crunchy fried Tofu and the fleshy texture of mushrooms is a masterstroke.
Chilli Honey Garlic Tofu: Sweet with heat is what this dish is all about. Brought together with some fresh stir fried tofu, this is a great option for vegetarians who want some protein.
Egg-wrapped Fried Rice: Delicious Fried Rice roasted in some chilli paste encased beautifully in an egg omelette, this rice dish is an absolute must order. Despite the presence of chilli paste, the rice is only mildly hot giving the rice and other ingredients enough leeway to shine through. This dish is best paired with a stir fry and not a gravy.
Lo Han Jai: A lovely stew-like dish with Tofu, vermicelli noodles, bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage and mushrooms in a Shaoxing sauce. No excesses of any sorts here; just a sauce that wonderfully binds many ingredients together to create a meal by itself. This dish will appeal to anyone looking to for something to please the soul. Note: this dish is not on the menu but it can be prepared upon request.
Bangkok Noodles: Simple, plain noodles with a hint of basil and lime is what the Bangkok noodles is all about. The first bite may not appeal much however as you dig into the dish, it really does grow on you. Pair this with a mixed vegetables in hot basil sauce and you will be in for a treat.
Mock meat Bacon Fried Rice: Now this is a dish that isn’t on the menu but can be served upon request. Small, smoky chunks of mock-meat Bacon (made using soya chunks) tossed in very few vegetables and rice, this dish is right up there amongst the best I have ever had. In fact, I liked this dish so much that I didn’t need an accompaniment to finish it. There is no need of any sauce as well. The mock meat is the true hero of this dish.
Each and every stir-fry dish on the menu is a winner. The most important things to keep in mind in a stir-fry are a) the way the items are cooked along and b) the proportion of sauces and spices. The stir-fries at Hunan are cooked just right so that the various textures of the ingredients are retained. For instance, the shii-take mushrooms need to be fleshy and not disintegrate. Ditto for Bak choi, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. All of these need to be brought together by sauces that do not dampen their flavour but enhance it. This is where Hunan gets it spot on every time. You really don’t need a recommendation from me on which stir-fry to order, they’re all really good.
My policy is to generally avoid desserts as I like to retain the flavours of the meal (especially if it is a memorable one) however, if I had to pick one dessert, I’d go with the Red Velvet Cake. This is a very special cake as it is made in limited quantity by Jagdish’s mother. Rich and moist, with the right amount of sweetness, be sure to ask for this as it is not n the menu.
If you have not yet visited Hunan, then you must try their recently introduced set lunch meal. The meal is an absolute treat to the senses as Jagdish and Pema have put together a wonderful medley of flavour profiles, textures and nutrition. Here is the list of what you get:
- A Welcome Drink
- A Soup
- A Salad
- Three Vegetarian Starters
- 2 Main Course dishes (1 rice and 1 noodles)
- 2 Accompaniments
The menu changes daily and it is a wonderful way to try out some of their best offerings without worrying about ordering too much.
Hunan adopts a simple approach i.e focus on food and service and leave the fluff and drama aside. This approach is something I have longed for. So leave aside the molecular gastronomy, aspect cuisine, modern cuisine, innovative cuisine, fusion cuisine and head to Hunan for some great food accompanied by great service.