The Dragon Boat Festival – inspired by a historical account – now on at The Taj Mahal Hotel offers delicious Chinese cuisine

I recently dined at House of Ming the famous Chinese restaurant at The Taj Mahal Hotel, on Man Singh Road which is celebrating the Dragon Boat festival with a food promotion offering some traditional delicacies.

Before tasting the food, the chef told me a brief story about the Dragon Boat Event which happens every year in China. Though there are many, one of the most popular ones goes like this:

It is believed that the festival commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan of the ancient state of Chu during the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty. A cadet member of the Chu royal house, Qu served in high offices.

However, when the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu was banished for opposing the alliance and even accused of treason. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry.

Twenty-eight years later, Qin captured Ying, the Capital of Chu. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the river. It is said that the local people, who admired him, raced out in their boats to save him or at least retrieve his body. This is said to have been the origin of dragon boat races. When his body could not be found, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan’s body.

I was listening to the story and my food arrived.

Crispy lobster with dry red chillies and almond flakes on top was just the perfect dish to start with. The almond flakes went really well with the lobster.

One of the most impressive ones was the prawn dragon roll served along with a spicy lemon dip. It was yummy, and the chef stuffed the minced prawn perfectly inside the crunchy coating.

The shredded duck rolls were a tad dry but quite flavourful. The cherry king prawns in my main course were subtle and slightly sweet which I liked, but the Dangu chicken made out of chicken chunks was delicious and tender. The chef deserves a pat on the shoulder for keeping the juices intact.

I had them all with hoofan noodles with pepper and black beans, and the noodles were bang on. The texture of the noodles was commendable.

The only disappointment for me were the dessert offerings. There was a very average mango pan cake which I expected to be much better.

Dragon Boat Festival ends on 16th June

Meal for two: Rs.4500, not including alcohol, plus taxes