Restaurant Name: Baan Tao
Location: Hyatt Pune, Adjacent to Aga Khan Palace, 88, Pune Nagar Road, Mahindra Society, Kalyani Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra 411006
Yin & Yang – Balancing act on the plate
Yin Yang is a Chinese philosophy on how opposites complement each other and coexist. Till now two things that I had associated Yin Yang to are Feng Shui or Kung Fu Panda, until I read about this Yin Yang Food Festival at Baan Tao. I was very intrigued to understand the how philosophy entered the kitchen. I met Chef Sunil Joshi and was happily surprised to know that he has conceptualized this food festival that is unique to Baan Tao, and is not to be found anywhere else. This is the second iteration of this yearly festival started in 2015.
The philosophy when translated to food balances together foods that have contrasting cooling-warming tendencies, brings together different meats together and various cooking techniques that are not generally used together.
The festival had 6 course (Appetizer, Salad, Soup, Mains, Dessert, Tea) fixed menu dinner where you get to choose from Vegetarian, Non-Vegetarian (Chicken, Prawns, Lamb, Salmon) and Exotic Non-Vegetarian (Lamb, Pork, Scallops, Salmon, Crab, Prawns, Chicken), that’s it rest all is for the chef to serve you with his intelligent and flavorful recipes. Everything on this menu is spectacular and depicts the heart and soul chef has put behind these special preparations, we could not find anything that could be call below par.
Drinks – Yin Wolf & Yang Mary: Yin option being the cooling one had cucumber ginger flavors and was very refreshing and the Yang Mary was a contrast that was a Bloody Mary that had added oriental spices to add the extra warmth to it.
Next came the Amuse Bouche – Fried Chicken Wonton, this was one of the most intricate plating I have come across in recent times. The Wonton neatly sitting in center on a bed of red chili paste and Japanese Mayo, contrasting flavors double the fun.
In appetizers all got a combination of 2 contrasting preparations either in terms of the meat used or contrasting flavors.
Vegetarians got very delicate and minimalist Yin Green Peas Spinach Truffle Oil Dimsums and contrasting Yang Hatchew Latchew Tahu – silken tofu prepared in peppers and red chilly.
Non Veg had very fragrant from lemongrass and flavored with galangal mini chicken patties called Thot Man Gai being the Yin and its balancing companion was Braised Wine Butter Garlic Prawns simple yet with the Yang components. Exotic option got Tea Smoked Pork Chops, that were simply the best ones I have had in Pune definitely a great Yang that was opposite to the Wok Tossed Australian Scallops, tender crispy and perfectly moist.
Next was the salad course and this had a lot of special imported greens used in both non veg salads Exotic option was Kale Wrapped Smoked Chicken – a sweet smoked flavor, accentuated with lemon grass and scallions. Non Veg had Smoked Salmon Salad that had Rocula, Kaisho Seaweed done in a miso paste. The Vegetarian option had a very different Malaysian salad – Rojak Buah, it had fresh fruits on skewers and served with a tamarind and chilly dip, sweet sour spicy had all the flavors together.
Moving on to soups we were served Sop Ayam a curry powder spiced chicken and Japanese somen noodles soup.
Crab Shrimp and Asparagus Soup this was mild on flavor with only white pepper as a dominant spice and also had tofu and shitake mushrooms. For vegetarian it was Tom Kha Phak a coconut milk base soup with mushrooms and veggies, very yummy.
We took some break before the mains were served to build the appetite, and good we did that as the quantities for all mains was pretty decent. In Exotic we got Black Bean Glazed Pork Ribs, served with equally spectacular Salmon Fried Rice, Bacon Salad and a flavorful broth made from imported herb, the preparation was simply put brilliant.
Non veg menu had Shredded Lamb in Ginger Soya served with Basil Chicken Rice and Sautéed Kang Kung, nice combination of contrasting textures and flavors. Vegetarians got Braised Exotic Vegetables with Spicy Stir Fried Udon Noodles.
Mains left us completely satisfied and full but the desserts were still to come. We were served Cendol Ice that had coconut ice cream with Maraschino cherries fruit syrup and a crushed ice ball dipped in it, on the side it had hot white chocolate ganache to be poured on top. This was delectable so good that we ordered second serving.
Second one was Baked Yoghurt with Frozen Berries; yogurt had a mild rose taste and was topped with chilled raspberry and mulberry, very sophisticated dessert yummy none the less.
Last but not the least was Chiffon Cake with Litchi Ice Cream Hot Chocolate and Nuts, this needs no explanation, soft cake, yummy ice cream. I learnt Litchi & Chocolate combination to work so well, have already had similar combo outside, twice.
So in summary this is a must try food experience as it’s not available elsewhere and preparations are just fabulous. Comes at a price but that is justified by the high quality imported ingredients and the exquisite service one gets here.
Baan Tao, Hyatt Pune, Pune – Yin Yang Food Festival | Food Prowl – The Hunger Stories