Why Cantonese is my favourite cuisine

An invitation to the opening ceremony of ‘Cantonese Culinary Route’ at Pondichery Cafe, Sofitel Mumbai BKC reminded me anew why Cantonese is my favourite cuisine.

As we all know, ‘Cantonese’ has very little to do with the ‘Chinese’ takeaway food that is so popular in India and abroad. Real Cantonese cuisine that comes from the dragon nation China, is all about steamed and minimally treated food that is light, fragrant and healthier than most other cuisines. During my trips to Macau and Thailand, I had the opportunity of feasting on authentic Cantonese cuisine, combined with that all time favourite – jasmine green tea or Chinese tea.

I used to think that they were both the same until a Thai lady enlightened me in Bangkok; she told me that Chinese tea was most often black and the leaves were treated differently from green tea leaves.

So without much ado, here are five reasons why Cantonese is my favourite cuisine (and I’ll let the photographs do most of the talking).

1. The vegetables taste unbelievably good.

Stir-fried vegetables at Sofitel Mumbai's Cantonese food festival
Stir-fried vegetables

If you’re not very fond of vegetables, Cantonese cuisine will help change your mind. And if like me, you love digging into healthy greens, the Cantonese Culinary Trail is a treat with its array of tofu and soya sauce fortified stir-fried vegetable dishes. I particularly loved Chow Fa Choi – stir-fried lady finger, tofu and bamboo shoot.

2. You feel full without piling on the calories.

Kung Pao prawns at Sofitel Mumbai's Cantonese food festival
Kung Pao prawns

You can fill your entire plate with sauteed vegetables and meat and still not suffer the bloated feeling you get after tucking in to heavy naans and pastas. Signature dishes at Sofitel’s Cantonese Culinary Trail include Fried Cantonese Choy Sum, Kale with Garlic, Shrimps with Longjing Tea, Pan-Fried Codfish in Soya Sauce, Scalded Cantonese Water Spinach, Truffle Prawn, Stewed White Cabbage with Mushroom and Fish Maw Soup.

3. You can concoct your own meal.

Chef Allen Zhao at Sofitel Mumbai's Cantonese food festival
Chef Allen Zhao will cook whatever you want

‘Wok stations’ where you get to choose the ingredients ranging from assorted vegetables, fresh meat, rice and noodles are one of my favourite features of Cantonese cuisine. Pictured here is Chef Allen Zhao who has been summoned all the way from Pullman Shanghai Skyway to curate an authentic Cantonese experience for the patrons of Pondichery Cafe.

4. The rice and noodles are simply delicious.

Vegetable fried rice at Sofitel Mumbai's Cantonese food festival
Vegetable fried rice

It’s all right to pile on the carbs when everything else is so refreshingly devoid of extra spices or oil. The noodles at Pondichery Cafe’s Cantonese Culinary Trail were sauteed in soya sauce and the rice had been seasoned with bamboo shoots and spring onions. Paired with the gravies, they made for an excellent Friday night dinner.

5. The desserts are exotic without putting you to sleep.

Sago pudding at Sofitel Mumbai's Cantonese food festival
Sago pudding

I’m unapologetic about my gigantic sweet tooth and I’ll often eat the mains sparingly so I can gorge on the desserts. The best part about Cantonese cuisine – the desserts are never baked or laden with unnatural fats and sugars. This one is a simple sago pudding topped with mango puree. However, Pondichery Cafe always has Indian and western desserts as well on the buffet, in case you have fixed favourites.

Practical information

So are you all ready to say ni hao to the Cantonese cuisine at Sofitel Mumbai? Here is what you need to know.

Venue: Pondichéry Café, Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Date: 26th February to 6th March 2016
Lunch: 12:30 pm onwards
Price: INR 3,000 (all inclusive)
Dinner: 7:00 pm onwards
Price: INR 3,200 (all inclusive)
For table reservations, please call +91 (22) 6117 5115

Pondichery Cafe - Sofitel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

It’s the Chinese Year of the Monkey and there’s no better time than now to make a date with these steamed and stir-fried delicacies.

(Some photos courtesy: Sofitel Mumbai)

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