The very idea of customizing exactly what goes into my bowl called out to me so bad, I had to visit Oriental Connexions. Located at E square, the place is not exactly easily accessible for me, nevertheless we made the journey..
The first thing that catches your eye on entering this place is the extremely high glass ceiling. I absolutely adored it. Apart from that, it is a decently done up formal dining place with about 15 – 20 odd tables.
Coming to the eats, you have 2 options here – a la carte or unlimited wok. We chose the latter which is priced at 495++ per pax. A tip – You literally never have to pay the tax coz simple choices such as a Dineout reservation, E-square movie tickets (same day) or a Citibank card gets you a 15% discount on your bill.
So off we went to the Wok counter where 2 chefs were at hand to stir fry whatever we pleased. You can make endless customizations using the following ingredients:
Base – Whole wheat/ spinach/ regular/ rice noodles and brown/white rice
Protein – Cottage cheese, tofu. Non vegetarians have a lot of other options including chicken, squid and fish cakes.
Vegetables – Everything under the sun! Mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, pak choi, purple cabbage, cauliflower, baby corn, sweet corn, spring onion, julliened carrot, red onion, spinach, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, okra, French beans and phew, even jalapenos.
Sauces – The sauces ranged from the humble schezwan and hot bean to pepper barbeque, spring onion ginger, hoisin, oyster sauce, kung pao, sweet chilli plum, Mongolian, peanut sauce and a few others.
Condiments – Fresh ginger, fresh garlic, fresh chillies, toasted garlic, coriander, chilli oil, sesame oil, crushed peanuts and lime juice.
Process – Basically, you are given a big bowl that you must fill in with your base, protein and vegetables. Now tell the chef what sauce and condiments you would like to go with your chosen ingredients. Wait a few minutes, and voila, your very own customized hot wok is handed to you! Now sit back, enjoy and go back for seconds; or thirds, or fourths (it’s unlimited J).
The trick is to keep portion sizes small, so that you are able to sample a wide range of combinations. Also make sure that you try a few woks without the base element (noodles or rice) so that you can have a few starters and a few mains. You can request the chef to make your woks dry, wet or soupy as per your liking.
Just the 2 of us managed to try small portions of 12 different woks. And yet, there were so many ingredients and sauces that we missed using. Here is a lowdown on what we made and whether you should try the same combination.
- Wok 1- Babycorn and broccoli in a Spring onion ginger sauce with fresh garlic and chilli oil. This was a mild preparation and had hints of sweetness from the sauce and spice from the chilli oil. It was a winner!
- Wok 2 – Babycorn, cottage cheese, zucchini and purple cabbage in Chilli plum sauce. This preparation was too sweet for my liking, so I would give it a miss.
- Wok 3 – Brown rice, button mushrooms, bean sprouts and onions in Hot bean sauce with the addition of ginger and garlic. This was basically the typical Manchurian flavor that we eat at Chindian restaurants. Nothing against the flavor, but the brown rice did not work for me.
- Wok 4 – Brown rice, pak choi, purple cabbage, zucchini and cottage cheese in a Kung pao sauce with the addition of lime juice and crushed peanuts.
- Wok 5 – White rice with spring onions, fresh chilli and lots of toasted garlic. I did not use any sauce in this preparation. After all the sauces I tried, my palate needed a break. This was, by far, the winner dish for me. I could eat it as a complete meal. Of course, that’s because I’m a huge fan of garlic!
- Wok 6 – We tried out a Chinese aglio-olio! Flat noodles with some greens tossed with sesame oil, plenty of garlic, fresh ginger and garnished with peanuts. This preparation rocked!
- Wok 7 – Mushrooms and red peppers tossed in Pepper barbeque sauce. All mushrooms lovers shall definitely enjoy this one.
- Wok 8 – Cottage cheese, peppers and spring onions tossed in Pepper barbeque sauce. We requested the chef to make this one absolutely dry. It was a lovely combination.
- Wok 9 – Rice noodles, sweet corn, pak choy tossed in Hoison sauce, garlic and peanuts. Absolutely disastrous! It was nothing but a sloppy, salty mass in a bowl. Rice noodles must be totally banned from woks. Also the chefs need to ensure that the quantity of sauce they use should complement the quantity of ingredients in the bowl.
- Wok 10 – Spinach noodles, zucchini, carrot and broccoli tossed with Thai peanut sauce and crushed peanuts. It had a comforting mild flavor. Can be tried.
- Wok 11 – White rice, mushroom, onion and spring onion tossed with lots of coriander and ginger and then topped with roasted garlic flakes. I did not use any sauce in this prep. Even though the combination of ingredients was infalliable, the chef messed it up by undercooking. So I was left with a bowl of half raw ingredients that I had to leave right in the bowl.
All in all, I do love the amount of freedom they give us in customizing our woks. The pricing is quite reasonable, given the unlimited tag. Though I sorely wish that restaurants would charge vegetarians and non-vegetarians differently rather than keeping a flat amount.
In any case, if you haven’t been there, you must definitely visit once. Personally, I did not find it yummy enough to make multiple trips, but it can definitely become an annual affair. The service was good, no complaints there. And oh, the fresh lime soda was to die for!
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