Restaurant Review: Mr Choy

What’s better than going to a restaurant for the first time and finding that it’s worth revisiting? Going with somebody with whom you share a lot in common. Someone who pretty much likes the same things as you: the same type of food, the same movies, the same actors and actresses, the same songs. A soul sister, in fact.

Fellow blogger and friend Bollyviewer is in town for a couple of weeks, and asked if I’d like to meet up. Of course I would, and we agreed to get together for lunch at Khan Market on New Year’s Eve. (Yes, you read that right; for lunch on New Year’s Eve. I am no party animal, and 31st December or not, I am in bed before 11). I had recently been reading a good review of Mr Choy, and since I knew that Bollyviewer (like me) likes East Asian and Southeast Asian food, I suggested we try this out.

Mr Choy sits on the first floor in the middle lane of Khan Market (if you enter from near Bahri Sons, this will be on your left). Going up the stairs, we entered a pleasant and smart dining area (no, no obvious clues to the cuisines here; no laughing Buddhas, no koi swimming around in pools, no red and gold paint). Instead, there are bright blue bar stools acting as chairs for some tables. There’s a striking mural of a face, up close. There are interesting lampshades hanging from the centre of the ceiling.

Inside Mr Choy.

Inside Mr Choy.

And the menu does the entire Far East, all the way from Japan down to Singapore. Not a menu so vast that you spend half an hour reading through it all and another fifteen minutes wondering how any chef could hope to get all those dishes right. (This is a common grouse of mine whenever I am dragged off by someone to one of those multi cuisine restaurants: a place that serves everything from Mughlai to Chinese to South Indian food is unlikely to be fantastic at everything it dishes up). But, back to Mr Choy. The dim sums, the salads and soups and ‘small plates’, the signature mains and noodles and rice: all of these were a manageable number, providing just enough choice without swamping one with choices.

Despite that, it took me a good bit of time to finally make up my mind about what I wanted. I dithered between a pork adobo with rice, a non-vegetarian bento box (the one with steamed pork in honey sauce sounded right up my street), and—when Bollyviewer suggested we share a starter—leapt at the idea. Eventually, we ended up ordering a gyoza (filled with prawn, basil and kaffir lime leaves, though there are other filling options available as well) to share. As a mains, Bollyviewer ordered the pork adobo with rice, while I—having changed my mind once again—settled for a sizzling chicken with egg and butter and sundry other delectable-sounding ingredients.

While we sat and chatted about Korean dramas (Bollyviewer was the one who started me off on watching these in the first place), Hindi films from 2016, and Anu’s skills as a cook, we also checked out the array of condiments at our table. Besides the larger glass jars of chilli condiments, there was a chemistry lab-like test tube stand, complete with test tubes full of other fascinating sauces. I didn’t taste these, but they looked good.

The gyoza arrived soon after, four crescents of thin pastry, steamed and partly cooked in oil to produce that lovely slightly chewy texture I like so much. The filling was fabulous, too: the prawns very fresh (and cooked till just the right degree). I especially appreciated the fact that the basil and kaffir lime leaf was in very judicious quantities, just enough to scent the meat, not overpower it.

The prawn, basil and kaffir lime gyoza: fantastic

The prawn, basil and kaffir lime gyoza: fantastic

Our mains arrived shortly after we’d finished our gyoza. Bollyviewer’s pork adobo with rice came in a bamboo steamer in which was placed a large bowl, with a bed of rice topped with the adobo. I had a taste of this: the pork was tender and well-cooked, and I was very impressed by the gravy—it had a wonderful garlicky flavour that I fell in love with.

Pork adobo on rice

Pork adobo on rice

My sizzling chicken, served on a hot plate and sizzling away like mad, consisted of diced chicken cooked in a rich, buttery sauce. Scraping around, I found a sheet of cooked, crispy egg at the bottom: delectable. The chicken came with a side of sticky rice (which, sadly, arrived after several minutes, by which time the chicken had gone relatively cold).

Sizzling chicken: buttery and wonderful comfort food.

Sizzling chicken: buttery and wonderful comfort food.

Both Bollyviewer and I agreed that while both our mains were excellent, the meat-and-rice combination needed some form of vegetable side to balance it out. Even a little heap of sautéed spinach, or a small salad, would have done the trick.

The need for some fibre was what prompted me to order a Filipino fruit salad from the dessert menu; Bollyviewer decided to order a coconut caramel custard. These arrived soon after, and were a surprise. The caramel custard, which looked perfect, with a little half-slice of caramelized (merely charred?—I didn’t taste) lemon and a scattering of dark raisins, was tiny. My fruit salad, on the other hand, was a substantial portion of mixed fruits (I could identify raisins, pineapple, and lychees, though there was other stuff, too) served in a quaint old-fashioned sundae glass. There was another surprise for me, too: my salad came with a liberal garnish of fresh corn kernels.

Filipino fruit salad: this came garnished with fresh corn, which worked surprisingly well.

Filipino fruit salad: this came garnished with fresh corn, which worked surprisingly well.

I’ll admit I approached my salad with some trepidation: I hadn’t expected an Asian salad to come with a creamy dressing (I should have, I supposed, considering this was a Filipino dish, a cuisine known for being influenced by European and American cuisines). And the corn?! But it worked. It worked very nicely indeed, the corn fresh and mildly sweet, just enough to lend a crunch to the salad without being a very obvious presence in terms of taste. The creamy dressing too was good when complemented by all that fruit. Good comfort food.

Bollyviewer’s coconut caramel custard was nice, even if small. The flavour of coconut (I’m assuming this was made with coconut custard, rather than having coconut grated into it) was very subtle, and there was a mild graininess to the custard that set it apart from the usual dairy-based crème caramel.

Coconut caramel custard at Mr Choy.

Coconut caramel custard at Mr Choy.

And yes, there were fortune cookies too. One which I hope will not just mean one of those many well-meaning African ladies who keep offering me the chance of becoming a millionaire because someone left me a fortune.

What 2017 holds in store for me?

What 2017 holds in store for me?

(Our meal cost Rs 2418, inclusive of all taxes, ceases, and service charges. Note that we had nothing to drink other than regular water).

Mr Choy
75, Khan Market
New Delhi – 110003
Tel: 0091-11-43760031

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8 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: Mr Choy

  1. *Melting in sheer envy* Even if I am a vegetarian. I would have come along just for the company and had one fruit salad and one coconut creme.

    Anu’s cooking skills

    I hope she was complimentary! (Especially since I keep boasting about it to you.:) )

    • Oh, yes, Bollyviewer was very complimentary about your cooking! And I was telling her about that mouthwatering photo you’d sent of your Onam feast. :-)

      I’m pretty sure this place would have decent vegetarian food as well – in India, very few restaurants can really afford to be hardcore non-vegetarian, no? You can see a glimpse of that in the very fact that by the time I finished my main course, I was craving some vegetables.

    • Anu’s cooking skills

      I hope she was complimentary!

      I did my best to convince her that your cooking skills are well worth the saat samundar paar journey. Maybe we should take pictures next time we meet – that may tip the balance… :)

  2. It was great catching up with you in person, after so long. Perfect way to spend a New Year’s Eve! And the food was delicious. Your write-up brings it all back.

    I have looked up pork adobo recipes and they seem to just cook pork in soy sauce and garlic. Not sure that accounts for everything in the dish I had, but I’ll give it a try. By the way, I also had a cup of coffee (to go with my custard), which was also very good.

    • Yes, it was certainly the perfect way to spend New Year’s Eve! I had such a good time. Thank you. :-)

      I just checked my copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery, which also has a recipe for pork adobo. Yes, it’s mainly garlic and soy sauce, but her recipe also includes a good bit of vinegar, black peppercorns, and bay leaves – but that’s about it. I am very tempted to try it too, now that I’ve had a taste of it.

  3. I did not read this post in detail but sort of scanned through it and from that I gathered that you had an enjoyable meal barring of course the chicken getting cold but I guess it was a nice meal. Well under such circumstances one hopes that one is able to enjoy future meals too. Sometimes chefs change and you eagerly look forward to your fav dish and what you get is something else. There are some restaurants who manage to keep the taste same no matter who the chef is, one such restaurant is Panchavati in Pune. Whenever we visit Pune we stay at this hotel which houses this restaurant and now it is about five years we have been staying here off and on and believe every time we order our fav dishes they taste the same. In sharp contrast Mainland China proved to be a major disappointment in Pune. The food looked and tasted like some of those roadside small Chinese restaurants, you know no subtle flavours but flavours that overwhelm your taste buds.

    • I have had very differing experiences with Mainland China around here. The one in Noida was excellent, and very good value for money. The one in Delhi, on the couple of occasions on which I visited it, was very forgettable. Very much like those roadside Chinese food stalls you mention. I think that is a real risk with restaurants expanding operations and opening several branches – unless recipe control is exercised very strictly, consistency can become a real problem. The same goes for restaurants, of course, as you point out, which become associated with a particular chef. If the chef moves out, sooner or later, food quality too begins to deteriorate. I’ve seen that happen a lot, too.

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