Inside Chao Ban: New Chinese Fine Dine At Fort

If the fine-dine restaurants and eateries in South Mumbai were a treasure chest, then Chao Ban, a new restaurant at Kalaghoda would surely be a ruby trying to outshine the other solid gems. We shall now reveal to you what goes on inside Chao Ban, because whistle-blowing is what we do best!

Taking the meaning of Chao Ban to another level (it means ‘welcome’ in Vietnamese) is the staff, as they serve and aid you with a quick readiness and vigour. A trait worth mentioning is how well versed they were with the finer details of the food that we called for. With interiors done in brown and black and an in house waterfall, the restaurant is like a spa, but with a buzzing energy.

To flag off our meal, we started with dim sums (of course!). We were busy patting our backs for ordering the most varied kinds of dim sums, when the first one arrived. Roast Chicken Cheung Fun Dim Sums were rolled, fresh steamed rice noodles, served with a sweet soy sauce. The best part about this one was that the delicious taste of chicken was able to permeate through the thin layer of coating. The sweet soy sauce, was exactly that, sweet. But we aren’t complaining. Yet!

We called for our drinks next, mockatils to be precise. Cool Blue and Shaolin Temple. While Cool Blue was in its usual element, Shaolin Temple was intense, with a haphazard mix of flavours. It was neither summer-y, nor light as it challenged our taste buds to a violent dual. We definitely had trouble finishing the glassful.

Next to arrive were the Open-Faced Sticky Rice Dumplings, open-topped, thinly rolled rice flour wraps, with vegetable stuffing. Although the name is self-explanatory, we weren’t prepared for the dumplings being so sticky, that we had to endlessly chew on them. They were devoid of flavour but had a peculiar fragrance that caught us unawares. They also left a slightly bitter aftertaste as their coating was dunked in a Spinach paste.

While waiting for the last one of our appetizers, we managed to convince ourselves that, that is probably how they meant for the dumplings to taste. But then out came, Soaked Chicken Dumplings in Bandung (Thai) Sauce and that just left us dumbfounded. A sum total of three dim sums in a bamboo basket was the start of our disappointment. The sauce accompanying these dumplings lacked the punch of flavours that you usually expect when you call for anything Thai. The coating too, was thick, such that it drowned out the flavours lying in wait inside. Consequently, the dumplings were hard and the curry inconsistent, making them bounce off our forks.

With much trepidation we turned to the main course. But then shedding all inhibitions, we decided to exploit our adventurous streak and called for a Crispy Aromatic Duck. This turned out to be a brilliant call, as the duck was beyond delicious. Cooked to perfection, the meat was juicy while the coating was crispy as promised. Served with three kinds of sauces (Sweet Chilli, Plum and Hoisin), finely chopped veggies (raddish, cucumber and spring onion) and a batch of pancakes (plain and unflavoured), this dish was paradise on a platter. You would probably bump into us here, time and again and again, devouring the duck.

Sensing that our culinary treat had only just started we decided to go the herbivorian way and called for the Udon Noodles with Mushrooms. And what a beauty this turned out to be. With spicy, sour flavours, it proved to us that Chao Ban does have what it takes! Flat noodles, served with mushrooms, broccoli and spring onions, we held onto our forks and slurped away into the sunset.

Not one to back away when the feast had only just begun, we also called for a Chocolate Ganache Mousse. You could also rename this as Death by Chocolate, for Chocolate, on a Chocolatey platter. Such was the dense thickness of the chocolate that we felt suffocated by it. With tiny butterscotch nuts on top and a chocolate wafer along with it, the mousse could overwhelm lesser mortals (not us!).

A meal for two would approximately cost you upwards of Rs. 1,500 sans alcohol at Chao Ban. Although this marked the end of the lunch, for us it was only the beginning of a culinary journey. We’ll definitely go back to sample more of their main course fares and of course, to keep checking up on their appetizers!

Address: Chao Ban, 30, K Dubhash Marg, Near Chetana Restaurant, Kalaghoda, Fort, Mumbai

Contact No.: 022 49150050, 022 49150055

Timings: 12 noon to 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm to 1:00 am

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