Sian at the Taj Gateway is celebrating the Chinese New Year with a festival of grilled foods

The first thing to arrive at our table this evening is a little slice of drama. Our hostess turns up with a shiny brass teapot in hand, its spout an arm’s length long. She stretches backward, tilts the pot and steaming hot jasmine tea comes shooting out into a tiny cup. “There’s a story to this method of pouring tea,” she says. In Chinese waters, fishermen invented the “long pot” to pour tea for colleagues in adjacent boats. The Internet however has alternate theories. One claims that the pot was used to serve liquor across boats used for security purposes. Another says it was meant for warm drinks around the fire in winter where one could serve a mugful without much effort.

Either way, it’s apt that we begin our meal with some Chinese-living stories, for we’re here at Taj Gateway’s Sian restaurant to celebrate the Chinese New Year. With a special menu designed by Chef Dhankumar Limbu, the meal focuses on unlimited servings of grilled delicacies. On offer are two platters, non-vegetarian and vegetarian, or if you’re feeling ravenous, as we are, opt for a combination of the two. What turns up is an overwhelming fill of varied tastes.

We begin with juicy, fat grilled prawns stuffed with coriander, and follow it up with a chunk of chewy beef tenderloin drizzled with oyster sauce. We weren’t too impressed by the ‘snapper brochettes’ (fish with spicy marinade), but the Indonesian grilled chicken with a similar marinade makes up abundantly. The heat of the chicken, fresh off the grill, is matched with a cold avocado salsa dip — the combination of which is quite a pleasant surprise. The stunner for the evening is definitely the generous slice of pork ribs, soft fat against tender meat, served with the tangy sweetness of teriyaki sauce. In the vegetarian section, there are grilled mushrooms on skewers that are a tad bland, peppered-and-salted assorted grilled vegetables and some fantastic tofu grilled with butter-garlic sauce. The finish is perfect — slightly charred on the outside, soft inside.

After those hefty starters, main course is quite a challenge, so we keep the portions minimal. On a warm plate, we’re served pan fried noodles with oyster sauce. It’s an interesting mix of noodles making up its mind to be crispy taut or gently limp. The steamed fish in Cantonese style is a great accompaniment for its clean flavour and clear gravy with plenty of greens. Avoid the tiny slivers of ginger sneaking about though. There are also steamed vegetables and chilli fried rice with basil.

Desserts aren’t in the least Chinese, but they’re still worth your while. First up is the mocha, lemon and chocolate cheesecake that balances the odd choice of tastes well. We close with the tender coconut ice-cream served in a frilly caramelized sugar cup that has a tinge of coconut in it too. The festival is on for dinner from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. till February 14.