If we didn’t review this restaurant, you wouldn’t have missed it. But then again, not everything one ends up missing is worth a miss. PunChin restaurant and Conversations 24X7 café, located at Hotel Cama, Phase 3A, SAS Nagar, lends two emotions — 1) Relief, for SAS Nagar finally having a decent eat-out. 2) Surprise, at finding yourself wanting to return.
Since the restaurant offers nuggets of cuisines from China, Thailand, Italy and India, we decided to taste a little bit of it all — the credit must also be shared by our insatiable taste buds.
For starters, though they have innovative offerings such as Thai Paneer/Chicken Tikka and Honey Chilly Water Chestnuts, we decided to play safe with Honey Chilly Cauliflower — not a decision we’re particularly proud of. Not only was the coating batter of the cauliflower thick, and in turn soggy, the dish, we believe, should be renamed Honey Honey Cauliflower.
Despite the ‘starter hangover’ we pick the main course — Thai Red Curry with rice, Clay Pot Vegetables, Hyderabadi Murgh Dum Biryani, Au Gratin of Roast Vegetables With Risotto and Fusilli Alfredo.
As a general statement, the Italian impresses us the most. The chefs get the Alfredo sauce flavour just right, despite the semi-raw onions that lend a pungent crunch to each bite. The risotto’s texture also deserves a special mention — no mean feat, this. You end up savouring the Au Gratin of Roast Vegetables With Risotto with your eyes way before you pick up the fork.
As for the oriental, the Thai Red Curry takes you by surprise, for it’s handsome blend of coconut milk and tomato, and the touch-and-go flavour of lemongrass.
Now, if you’ve travelled down south and been one of the keep-calm-and-eat-biryani freaks, this restaurant’s Hyderabadi Murgh Dum Biryani is not for you. While we doubt their ‘dum’ bit, the biryani could also do with some more flavouring, and in turn, aroma.
And how could we forget the sip-alongs! The cappuccino gets a thumbs-up, beating your average next-door CCD. However, if you think you aren’t getting enough stress in life to work up those grey cells, try their Stress Booster smoothie. Yes, you read that right. It does, in fact, boost stress.
At a glance
Restaurant: PunChin and Conversations 24X7 café — located in the same area — at Hotel Cama, Phase 3B1, SAS Nagar
Overview: Right behind the 3B1 petrol pump, this property is not easy to locate. You’d be surprised to know the number of SAS Nagar residents who don’t know of its existence. The distinct name, PunChin, stands for the blend of Punjab and China.
Menu: They have something for everyone. From Thai, Chinese and Indian to Italian and tandoori. The safe bet would be sticking to either oriental or Italian cuisine. Their dessert menu, however, is not promising.
Ambience: Neat and edgy. No unnecessary jazz. Simple grey and gold spacious interiors with tiled flooring. The café and the restaurant are divided by one area being occupied by tables and chairs and the other by sofas. Having two different concepts in one is not the best idea.
Service: The waiters have a long way to go.
Dress code: Semi-formal
Cost of a meal for two: R1,200 (plus tax)
Hours of operation: PunChin: 11 am to 11 pm
Conversations 24X7: 24 hours a day
Value for money: 3