Summer Menu at Spicy Duck; Taj Palace, New Delhi

By Neeta Lal

Sophisticated décor. Check. Informed service. Check. Flavorsome food. Check, check. Spicy Duck at the Taj Palace Hotel in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi ticks all boxes of a superlative gastronomic experience.

No two guesses about what the menu’s focus is on though– yes, duck! The eatery celebrates the bird in inspired ways as it carries enormous symbolic significance in Chinese culinary culture namely  freedom and happiness. In fact duck is part of all Chinese feasts – at weddings and at festivals – and is treated with much respect by Spicy Duck’s award-winning Chef Thanglawm Valte. He serves it in multifarious avatars in the new summer menu including as iconic Peking Duck; Crispy Duck with shrimps and more.

Interestingly, the cuisine at Spicy Duck carries inflections of the Taishan and Chengdu sub-regions of Sichuan and Canton province. Homemade concoctions; infused oils for cooking as well as imported condiments further drive up food’s authenticity quotient. Most of the ingredients and raw materials are also sourced from China.  Even the duck is flown in from there as Chinese ducks have very little fat on them, we’re informed, and weigh 2.2 to 2.4 kg (considered perfect for cooking) as compared to the doughtier and less succulent ones from other regions.

Apart from duck, the restaurant’s expansive menu offers other gourmet delights as well. Such as over 20 varieties of dim sums, one more delectable than the other including a smorgasbord of veggie ones, the hargao (prawn)steamed chicken sui mai: minced pork and chive dumpling; steamed shrimp and scallop etc. Our favorite though was the luminescent black squid ink chicken one brimming with umami flavor.

The appetizers brought to our table a flurry of inventive dishes including wok fried shimeji mushrooms; stir fired prawns and wok tossed fresh greens. The beautiful mains elicited more oohs and aahs at our table with their presentation and  taste. However, we had to send a message to the kitchen to tone down the spice quotient! Even so, we relished the pan fried rack of lamb in black pepper sauce; prawns in a garlicky sauce; crispy fried duck with veggies; lobster in garlic sauce and a John Dory in a pepper corn sauce so fresh that it dissolved in our mouths before we could utter Xi Jinping!

Desserts — a medley of tastes and temperatures – comprised sweet chili chocolate mouse in a crispy basket; sticky date cake and a pomelo, mango, sago ice cream! Semi-comatosed with much good food, we waddled out of Spicy Duck like plump Chinese emperors and resolved to fast the next day!

Neeta Lal is an international awards nominated Editor & senior journalist who has worked with India’s leading publications. She currently writes for over 20 national & international publications on culture, travel and gastronomy.

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