Review: Everybody is King Fu fighting over Bombay Canteen's latest Chindian launch
An imaginative menu wooed us into trying Mumbai's latest Asian delivery joint out. But there's room for improvement.
Even as the Maharashtra government issued new lockdown guidelines, restricting dining in at restaurants, Hunger Inc, the parent company that owns popular Mumbai diners, The Bombay Canteen (TBC) and O'Pedro, launched two new brands—Brun and Babka and King Fu Canteen. Both exclusive and limited edition delivery-only models, with the first one focussing on baked treats, ranging from sinful eclairs and picnic cakes to old-school bundts and decadent-looking chocolate babkas. And the second one, a Chindian delivery pop-up with a menu designed by Hussain Shahzad—executive chef, Hunger Inc Hospitality and Jyoti Singh—chef de cuisine, O Pedro—that's offering reimagined staples from India's Chinatowns.
Eager to try both, we placed a large order, but had to wait till we could satiate our cravings as the kitchens were shut on Tuesday. We tried again the next day, and this time, met with success. And while we're still thinking about the eclairs from Brun and Babka (and hope to try it soon), we couldn't get our hands on it for this order as they needed to be pre-ordered. Be that as it may, we had ourselves a lavish meal from King Fu Canteen, and here's what we thought.
The food has a range of offerings, including salads, small and large plates, alongside reimagined Chindian classics like a crunchy dragon tofu toast, crispy lotus root dry fry and creamy carbonara-style chowmein. There's also old-time classic's like the Tangra chilli jumbo crab, which is a homage to Kolkata's Asian food hub of the same name.
We called for their black and white fungus mushrooms, asparagus, basil in black bean sauce, the dragon tofu toast, fortune favours the brave rice, black pepper chicken and grilled chicken char sui.
While the food didn't knock us off our socks, we did enjoy some of their offerings and were pleased with the overall thought put into the menu. It must be said here, that the team behind these kitchens have put these menus in place at a short turn-around rate, and considering that, their products are quite diverse and creative. Our food arrived in a neatly packaged parcel and we want to give King Fu kitchen a big thumbs up for their eco-friendly packaging. As for the food, the grilled char sui chicken, for instance, transported us back to a dimly-lit Asian restaurant in the '90s and had a balanced flavour-profile that was both sweet and smoky. The dragon tofu toast offers a play of textures, with a crunchy base that's topped up with smooth and creamy layers of tofu. This was a dish that we were most excited to sample and barring a few hiccups, we savoured most of it.
What didn't work
Having said that, we found this inventive snack, a little oily for our liking and wish that it was slightly more balanced. The fortune favours the brave rice, on the other hand, was devoid of flavours, though it had textures that were on the brink of perfection. There was also the black and white fungus mushrooms, where the highlight of the dish was the umami-filled exotic mushrooms, however, the overall flavours of the dish didn't stand out for us.
While the imaginative menu did catch our attention momentarily, it didn't quite add up on the table. The meal itself wasn't unbearable, but it's just that you'd expect more from a brand that's so celebrated in the city and has lived up to that expectation on most occasions with its niche for finding and giving innovative spins to regional and India-specific food. Additionally, the King Fu Canteen menu has only one dessert and we were leaning towards pairing it with the treat from Brun and Babka. As we relive our lunch for this new Asian delivery joint, we can't help but fantasise about the toothsome babka and eclairs from their sister company. Ah, well. Maybe next time.
India Food Network paid for this review and ordered the food anonymously.