Chinese Mirch ~ Orderinny

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Chinese Mirch

My PM managed to wheedle a meal out of my boss, for not informing us of his top secret island wedding and even worst, not bringing back some traditional Indian sweets to celebrate. So off we went to Curry Hill for a large and joyous meal to celebrate the occasion.
My boss chose to bring us to lunch at Chinese Mirch, a restaurant on Curry Hill specialising in Indian-Chinese food. The idea of marrying Chinese food with Indian spices, according to a blurb on the front page of the menu, was a brainchild of an early Chinese immigrant with the most mundane of names, someone called Yong Ah Huat (something like that) who arrived in the India, hankering for some hometown food hundreds of years ago. Hence, he introduced chinese food to India and it had apparently thrived in the subcontinent ever since. Unfortunately, a restaurant dishing out Indian-Chinese food hardly sounds exotic enough to people who grew up eating both ethnic cuisines, therefore I've never had it before. Still the popularity is not hard to imagine, given the universal appeal of Chinese food.
So how was the food? It was strange to me at first, because the scent and presentation was so Chinese, yet when you tasted it, there was not a doubt that it had been tampered with Indian spices and ways of cooking. We especially liked the Gobi Manchurian, which tasted more like Aloo Gobi than anything Chinese; the deep fried okra, dusted with paprika and crunchy like fries; and the complimentary dessert, a take on chinese sugared apples/yam/other fruit, with molten sugar poured atop deep fried wonton skin, with sesame seeds sprinkled liberally on top to provide extra oriental flavor. They really do a good job with their deep fried dishes.
But while my colleagues enjoyed the largely spicy entrees, I thought it was a shame that many of the dishes such as the chicken manchurian and the chili paneer came swimming in dark gloopy sauces. I know brown sauce, to many American Chinese food eaters, is a requisite component of a Chinese dish, but still the main ingredients would have had a better chance to shine with a drier finish than being brown-sauced to death. The only entrees i truly enjoyed was the spicy lamb with red, not brown sauce and a thoroughly chinese chicken dish, generously flavored with ginger, spring onions and tonnes of garlic.
So in the end, I liked the space, coolly decorated with some chinese accents including bamboo-print wallpaper and some lanterns, but was mainly ambivalent about the food. Its great fun to try a new cuisine, but subjectively speaking, the sum of parts was not any greater than the separate parts. I'll take a dosa over manchurian chicken anytime.

Chinese Mirch
120 Lexington Ave (28th St)

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