Ever since I moved to this city, I have observed that the people here are largely accustomed to two cuisines -- Chinese and Italian. Be it a plate of the cheesiest pasta or a bowl of hot and sour chicken soup, Delhiites' love for these two cuisines has given birth to inumerable eateries across the National Capital Region. But ChaoBella claims to have the best of both the worlds. True or not, let's find out.
Located in Crowne Plaza, Okhla Phase 1, this eatery oozes class and oomph. In rich tones of green, gold and dark brown, ChaoBella has plush interiors and alfresco seating. It has wooden floors and decor details like Chinese and Italian memorabilia with an open, well-stocked bar.
Explaining the concept of serving two very different cuisines under the same roof, Saurabh Agarwal, head chef, said the market for Italian and Chinese food is very big in Delhi.
"However, people tend to lean a little more towards the Chinese because this is more like comfort food. Everyone loves a hot bowl of dimsum soup. But the crowd for Italian is evolving too. It is not just pizzas and a white sauce penne pasta anymore. People are experimenting with other Italian offerings like risottos and raviolis," Agarwal told IANS.
Since ChaoBella is located inside a hotel, in-house guests make up most of the crowd (about 60 per cent), according to Agarwal.
The chef offered to present us with a seven course meal which has a little of both Italian and Chinese.
The dishes were Insalata Caprese -- a salad of buffalo mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and sweet basil pesto; Clear Beijing Chicken Dumpling Soup; Honey Chilli Lotus Stem; Doppio Ripieno Ravioli -- a ravioli dish with a mushroom and sundried tomato stuffing; assorted vegetarian and non-vegetarian dimsums; chicken fried rice and shredded chicken. The dessert was tiramisu.
The dishes that really stood out were the salad, soup and the ravioli.
The salad was light, fresh and tasty. With a chilled glass of rose wine, this salad is perfect for hot summer days. The soup was a bowl of comfort, the dumpling was very flavourful, perfect balance to the clear broth. I imagined myself with a bowl of this soup on a cold winter day, wrapped up in a blanket and watching Netflix.
The ravioli dishwas nothing like I have ever tasted before. The ravioli has to be cut in a certain way so that a mix of both the stuffing can be tasted in one bite. The butter and thyme emulsion made it all the more creamy.
The rest of the dishes, including the tiramisu, were on the brink of being disasters.
The dimsums had no flavour at all, even with the accompanying sauces. The mains were the biggest disappointment of the whole meal. As the restaurant boasts of serving the best, why then a run-of-the-mill chicken fried rice and shredded chicken? Both the dishes were bland, the rice smelled of ghee (I didn't know the Chinese used ghee) and there was nothing unique to them. Even on a day when I crave for cheap, greasy Chinese food, these would be the last two things I'd order.
The tiramisu was an absolute monstrosity. I have had many tiramisus here and abroad but this one was by far the worst. When the bowls came in, there was a blob on top of the tiramisu that looked like clotted blood. When I asked if this was something ChaoBella was doing just to stand out, the server had absolutely no clue. Upon tasting, the cream and the cake was just bitter. The so-called compote just made it worst.
The last four dishes completely changed my impression of ChaoBella -- maybe a proof of what happens when Chinese and Italian cuisines collide.
Where: Crowne Plaza, Community Centre, Okhla Phase 1, New Delhi
Meal for two: Rs. 3,000 for two people (with alcohol)
Timings: 12.30 p.m. - 3 p.m; 7 p.m. - 11.45 p.m.