There are Asian restaurants that serve good food and then there are some that give you an out of the world experience. There are places that serve tasty but generic fare and some that really go out of their way to bring specialized ingredients and amazing concepts from far away lands and make sure they are done right. I have had a lot of Asian food and I have to say I’m not a big fan of most Asian restaurants in Town. Baan Tao just changed all of that.
I was invited by Food prowl for a food tasting at Baan Tao, Hyatt and I was left mesmerized by the experience. Brilliantly conceptualized food, very enthusiastic and passionate chef and most importantly, food which was packed full of flavour.
The place is beautiful. A humungous artificial waterfall, with tables right in the midst of the water and garden. A spacious and beautifully appointed interior which opens into another open seating area with wood stilts and structures over water with lotus plants. You really feel you could really be sitting somewhere in China.
Have you been wanting to ask that wonderful lady out? Want to take your wife out for your anniversary? Book a table at Baan Tao in the evening and I promise you it will be magical. (No, I’m not getting any money to say this!)
As we were munching on crispy and delicious Pumpkin and Prawn crackers (with extremely flavourful green and red sauces), a beautiful platter was placed in front of us along with two more steaming baskets of traditional dimsum. They looked more like a work of art.
Non-Vegetarian Dimsum Sampler
This was a barrage of steamed as well as fried little pockets of glory with traditional fillings of pork, prawn as well as chicken. The plate was beautifully decorated with sauces, caviar and exotic leaves. The flavour of the fillings really shined through and the dimsum was light and skillfully prepared.
Exotic Mushroom Bell Pepper Crystal Dimsum
Aptly named, delicate translucent crystal-like skin filled with various mushrooms and bell peppers. Succulent and full of flavour. If you like mushrooms, this is a must have.
Chicken and Prawn Sui Mai
A very traditional dimsum. Soft and mild but distinct flavour of the meats with the crunch and intensity of the caviar on top. Very tasty.
Shabu Shabu is basically a Japanese ‘do-it-yourself’ hot-pot. A cooking pot is placed at the centre of the table with water/stock boiling away and a platter of various vegetables, meat, rice and noodles on the side. There are also an assortment of dipping sauces. What you do is dip the various meats and vegetables into the boiling stock (sea food stock here) until they cook, take them into your bowl along with some rice or noodles and then slurp away dipping them in the sauces. It’s a lot of fun especially with a group of friends.
Traditionally beef is used, but at Baan Tao you get many variants like exotic vegetables, chicken, seafood, beef and lobster.
Our Shabu Shabu had a selection of exotic mushrooms (enoki, shimeji, cloud ear), vegetables (kale, water spinach, chaplu, zuccini, carrots) and beautiful rolls of raw chicken meat. There was kombo dashi, ponzu sauce, soy sauce, chilli sauce as well as some nori (seaweed) as accompaniments.
The stock is extremely flavourful and fragrant. All the ingredients take on the flavour of the stock while retaining their natural flavour. The hot pot is an amazing affair with a variety of textures and a very unique and delicious experience.
Wok Tossed Salt and Pepper Prawns – This was a flavour explosion. I have never eaten anything as tasty as this dish ever in my life. The huge prawns were bursting with flavour of the sichuan pepper and the wonderful sauce. The star dish of the day.
Hoisin Pepper Lamb – Sweet and spicy, saucy and juicy lamb juliennes with vegetables.
Diced XO Chicken – Succulent chicken cubes tossed in flavourful spicy and fragrant XO sauce (imported from China).
Sambal Chilli Vegetables – Flavourful vegetable stir fry dish.
Sichuan Chilli Mushroom – Deep fried mushrooms tossed with sichuan pepper and vegetables. The mushroom was crispy but could have been better seasoned and spiced. Didn’t blow us away like the other dishes.
Yum Ma Muang – Extremely flavourful Thai raw mango salad with crushed peanuts and shredded dried coconut. It was spicy and tangy. The raw mango added some familiarity and our Indian palate almost makes us feel like we are eating Thai chaat!
Mandarin Poached Chicken Salad – Very pretty bowl of poached, tangy and sweet mandarin with chicken and vegetables. I loved this salad. Healthy and flavourful.
Skillet Grilled Scallops – Perfectly grilled succulent scallops in a minimalistic but fragrant sauce with vegetables, kaffir lime and garlic. You could smell the sea in this dish!
XO Prawns – Huge juicy prawns in a spicy and fragrant XO sauce. One of the best mains.
Pad Thai Chicken – Traditional Thai stir fried noodles encased in a fried egg. One of the best Pad Thai I’ve had. Full of basil, chilly and of course roasted peanuts. Squeeze of lime and you’re good to go.
Nasi Goreng – Very flavourful Indonesian fried rice. Served with chicken satay and peanut sauce, prawn crackers topped with a lovely fried egg. Very pretty and tasty dish.
Pengang Curry – A Malay dish, fragrant coconut based vegetable curry. Amazing with some Jasmine rice.
Chicken Mongol Kublai – Mongolian style stir fry dish with chicken and vegetables.
Anmitsu – A beautiful Japanese dessert. Sweet little balls of agar jelly with variety of fresh fruit like strawberries, kiwi and dragon fruit. Served with mango ice cream. Very tasty, refreshing and light dessert.
Passion Fruit Panna cotta, Ginger Crumble and Tender Coconut Ice Cream – Extremely amazing combination of flavours and textures. Panna cotta was perfectly wobbly, tangy and sweet with the fresh coconut ice cream and the crunchy gingery crumble. Loved it!
Papaya Orange Pudding – Amazing pudding. I went back for a lot of scoops. A tiny squeeze of lime and the fruity-tangy flavour was bang on!
Matcha Tea Opera – This dessert brought some theatre to the occasion. It arrived with a globe of chocolate and a pot of hot creamy sauce. The sauce was poured over the globe and it melted to reveal the opera cake inside! It was flavoured with Matcha tea to give it an Asian touch and the combination worked beautifully.
This was a truely amazing tasting experience. The ideas and preparations at Baan Tao are very unique and there is no compromise whatsoever with the ingredients, quality, quantity or presentation. To top it all off, the food is extremely flavourful. Definitely the best Pan Asian food I’ve tasted in Pune. I want to thank Chef Sunil Joshi for the wonderful food and Food Prowl for the invite.