Baan Tao Reloaded
Baan Tao is the most acclaimed Pan Asian restaurant of Pune, and very rightly so it deserves every bit of it. If you haven’t tried the food here, do so at the first instance, celebrate a special occasion here and you won’t ever regret the decision. And if you have already been there you know what I am saying, right. The best part now is they have launched a completely new reloaded menu. Much more elaborate than before and improvised form various food festivals and guest chefs’ recipes.
Food Prowl Team was invited for a food tasting of the newly launched menu. We tasted dishes prepared in various Asian base sauces like – Xo, Hoisin, Sambal etc. Best thing about dining at Baan Tao is the quality of ingredients they use and the efforts they put in to source them from across Asia for serving the most authentic experiences. The varieties of mushroom I have had here aren’t found in any other restaurant in Pune.
First things first, I just cannot delay from going gaga about the amazing Salt & Pepper Prawns, Dimsum Platter and Thai Raw Mango Salad. These dishes just blew me away.
The Salt & Pepper Prawns just changed my understanding of the dish and what is served at all other places completely.They were huge prawns with not a bit of extra salt or pepper, the flavors were completely balanced and very different, not spicy but very soulful, and the prawns were be wok tossed to crisp on the outside and very tender on the inside. I am going to order these for next few times for sure.
The Dimsum Platter, I loved as a concept, as we got 8 different dimsums – steamed and pan fried; all crafted to have distinct flavors and none required any condiments to go with, they were so perfectly balanced.
This is a good platter to share between 2 people without sticking to one type of dimsum.
We got additional serving of all time favorite Chicken Prawn Sui Mai and Exotic Mushroom Bell Pepper Crystal Dimsum, the Mushroom ones were unexpectedly full of flavor, these would be my pick for vegetarians.
Coming to the Thai Raw Mango Salad; I was a fan of the raw papaya salad served here for very long, now I have 2 favorites in fresh and vibrantly flavored salad. Long strands of raw mango mixed with peanuts, onions, and mint in a sweet sour dressing. Additional dimension of fresh grated coconut is what made the flavors really complex and elevated the salad to another level. It’s a must have.
So after the much required early mention of these 3 exhilarating dishes, I will come back to our entire lunch experience.
Post the Dimsum platter and munching through the Prawn Crackers and Pumpkin Crackers - that are served complementary at the start of every meal, we had few starters that were all excellently prepared.
In addition to those amazing large prawns, we had Diced XO Chicken, bite sized cubed of chicken was done very elegantly XO sauce, nice sticky spicy sauce with right sea food flavors.
Hoisin Pepper Lamb was another dish that was just spot on, dark colored thick sweet and spicy sauce covered the thin julienned strips of lamb that was wok fried and tossed with peppers and onions.
From vegetarian options we had Sichuan Chilly Mushrooms, button mushrooms were coated in a very thin crisp batter and were tossed with Sichuan peppers, bell peppers and onions, the beautiful flavor of Sichuan peppers lingered on till very long and that was pure bliss, the mushrooms are to be had with all the peppers and seasoning on the plate or else they felt a little bland by themselves.
Sambal Chilly Vegetables had assorted veggies batter fried in Sambal Chilly sauce, nice flavors.
We had a non veg salad as well – Mandarin Poached Chicken Salad. It was a really tangy salad with veggies and chicken tossed together, no extra flavors very simple preparation, to cleanse the palate.
In mains we had – Skillet Grilled Australian Scallops done in a light sauce flavored with kafir lime and garlic and had baby spinach as the green in it. Nice flavors with not much spice, it is good to have with steamed rice.From poultry we had to try Mongol Kublai Chicken, it is a special preparation named after emperor Kublai khan this is a stir fry from Mongol Kitchens, made with imported spices. The flavors were spicier and had little notes in sweetness in between, coated chicken perfectly and tasted really good. Prawns in XO Sauce was ordered, although we had a starter with the sauce, we wanted to have more and this time with sea food, and it was totally worth ordering. For Vegetarian, we had Penang Curry, a very aromatic and pleasant preparation, coconut milk cooked with Kafir lime and peanuts. Those flavors together can never go wrong, it’s like comfort food. From rice and noodles we ordered Nasi Goreng & Pad Thai. Nasi Goreng arrived picture perfect in a bowl filled with rice topped with fried egg with a runny yolk, 2 skewers of Chicken Satay and prawn crackers with salad to complete the dish. Pad Thai is a dish where I have had few debates on the way these flat rice noodles should be served, and the one they serve here is done like they do in Thailand – Wrapped in fine egg omelette. The flavors of tamarind and fish sauce along with palm sugar mixed with garlic chives, peanuts and bean sprouts are just magical. It is my favorite dish and this is now my favorite place to have them, in India.
After such scrumptious meal till this point, we had not much space left for desserts, but we couldn’t have left without them, so we took a stroll, gave it some time and came back for desserts!!
My favorite of all was the Papaya Orange Pudding, and I noticed it first as it had a lemon served with it. Ya lemon with a dessert! So a gentle squeeze of lemon on the pudding and the grilled slice of orange on the side that was to be used as a spoon have it amazing tangy and sweet flavors, Very different very good.
Anmitsu was a very pretty looking Japanese dessert, assembled in a broad jar with cubes of agar jelly, tropical fruits and mango ice cream, the combination of flavors was very tempting. A perfect Passion Fruit Pannacotta with Ginger Crumble and Fresh Coconut Ice Cream was up next, and again the different flavors from each element and a creamy pannacotta made it a great dessert. And at last we had a Matcha Tea Opera, a green tea opera cake served in a chocolate dome and with hot white chocolate ganache on the side, to pour on the dome to break it and reveal the opera, the lightness form green tea and richness from ganache complemented each other ideally, only the opera could have been a little more moist in my opinion.
In summary if you want to have a special meal and the best of Pan Asian spread in Pune, hands down it has to be at Baan Tao, no other place comes close to Chef Sunil Joshi’s culinary skills.
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