An Indian Chinese menu with a personal touch (Eating Out With IANS)

May 23rd, 2011 - 2:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) Stuffed chilli potato with cottage cheese, fried rice chilli garlic, chicken cooked in a variety of sauces…It’s unabashedly Indian Chinese at Panda Wok, the Noida eatery that has earned a high loyalty quotient in just six months.

Chefs Gunjan Khanna Bansal and Som Shubhra Sarkar run the quaint little 32-cover restaurant, with its lovable black-and-white panda mascot, in Sector 18 in Noida on the outskirts of the capital.

“We operate on the premise of a direct relationship with the customer. We cater to the bottom of the elite pyramid - the one that seeks informal exchanges with the chefs and strikes long-term bonhomie. It also cuts our overhead costs,” Gunjan said.

The personalised service blends beautifully with the spiced up food.

Fried spinach tossed with honey and sesame seeds, Hong Kong diced chicken flavoured with star anise, chicken money bags and diced chicken stir-fried with vegetables and honey are among the starters Som recommends.

It can be followed by a main course of fried rice and chicken cooked in a variety of gravies and sauces.

“We make five kinds of fried rice - vegetable, chicken mixed, chilli garlic and Schezuan,” Som said.

The options are largely meaty for the side dishes.

Gunjan and Som, who are up on their feet from 12 noon to midnight, are armed with experience from the kitchens of The Maurya, Radisson and the Hyatt. The chefs play around traditional Chinese food with a wee bit more spices to suit the Indian palate.

“I personally love Chinese food and Indians in general love Chinese food,” Gunjan told IANS.

The chefs take orders on the phone for home deliveries and play host at banquets and parties that restaurant lets itself out for frequently.

A personal emailing service and a page on the Facebook connect Panda Wok to the residents of Sector 18.

The duo is ably assisted by Gunjan’s husband Rohit, a former journalist-turned-business consultant, who uses his Harvard Business School “funda” for niche advantage.

“I put in my spare hours to help them. When you are out to create a cultural paradigm, you have put in all that you have. Gunjan has made many friends with the food that she cooks and serves,” Rohit told IANS.

Located in a food chowk at a stone’s throw from the metro railway station, Panda Wok calls itself “5-star Oriental” - on its business model of five-star food at two-star prices with personalised service by the chefs.

“The combos take off at Rs.150. For Rs.400, one could kill oneself with food,” Gunjan said.

(Madhusree Chatterjee and Priyanka Sahay can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in and priyanka.sahay@ians.in)

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