Chinese Checkers | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Chinese Checkers

Parts of the Chao Ban menu satisfy, others leave you hungry. Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi writes.

mumbai Updated: Jun 08, 2013 01:20 IST
HT Correspondents

The food
These last few months, we had made a habit of poking our heads into the space that was previously occupied by Joss. What would replace that beloved pan-Asian eatery? Would it make us nostalgic about our first encounter with water chestnuts and corn curd with lemon-chilli drip? Or will we, within a few minutes of being there, forget what Joss looked like and look at the space with new eyes? Now we know.

This is a room, as anyone who has been in it before knows, with no natural light. Chao Ban’s designers have done a commendable job of still making the space feel large, cool, light. (The name means ‘welcome’ in Vietnamese.)

The structure remains the same, but the surfaces and lighting have changed. There are pretty but not overbearing Chinese vases. An uplit wall of curved stonework throws shadows that remind us of hipster moustaches; water skims over a section of this wall into a pool below. Upstairs, lightly padded, upholstered panels have cherry blossoms on bright, satiny fabric.

The menu is considerable, offering mostly Chinese food, but also foraying into some pan-Asian. Reading it will make diners hungry and curious. There are pages of dumplings, from steamed to soaked to fried. There are plenty of options in duck, pork, and beef, as well as in vegetables.

Main dishes often read like this: soy and ginger pomfret topped with shredded chicken. Sometimes they satisfy, as in the case of our sauteed chicken with crushed Sichaun pepper, which has the palate-tingling quality promised by the peppers. Or even the crunchy ‘four seasons’ French beans with chilly, garlic, honey and soy.

And there are times they leave us hungry. An aubergine in hot garlic sauce is more under the sauce than in it, and has absorbed none of the flavours. Vegetable dumplings in a delicious sweet coconut curry-like Bandung sauce could have shone, but the wrappings are thick and we suspect, like the beans, re-heated in a microwave. We are happy to see that soba with black pepper and lamb is made with the professed nutty buckwheat noodles, but they are also melt-in-the-mouth overcooked — not a virtue in noodle dishes. These are plates that almost make it, but just miss.

Chao Ban’s lemon meringue tart, a rectangular pastry shell has bits of hard meringue as topping. The shell doesn’t yield to a spoon’s hard knocks, but the lemon curd scooped from it is tasty enough to sugarcoat the meal.

— Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi

The exhibition
Beyond boundaries

The art of Batik is usually associated with a textile print created by blocking selected areas of a cloth by brushing or drawing hot wax over them and then dyeing the cloth. Artist Suhaas Manjrekar Pole, 76, creates paintings using this technique; she calls them Batik paintings.

A graduate of the JJ School of Art, Pole is now displaying 24 of these paintings in her first, untitled, solo exhibition. “I have always wanted to adopt an artistic practice that is different and challenging, hence I chose Batik,” she says.

Usually, flowers, leaves and geometric patterns are created using the technique, but Pole has experimented with the medium to create human and animal figures in her paintings.

The sister of late cricketer Vijay Manjrekar has dedicated the show to him as he loved paintings, says Pole. “He would often ask me to create portraits of his colleagues and would gift them on different occasion,” she adds.

It was his insistence that kept Pole’s practice alive. “I was very dejected when the only art gallery back in 1930s, the Taj Art Gallery (inside the Taj Mahal hotel), rejected three times my application to show works there,” says Pole. “I waited for seven years but to no avail, and then I decided to never hold an exhibition.”

She changed her mind in 2009, when Pole’s elder son, also an artist, coaxed her to book an art gallery at the Nehru Centre. Now, after four years, Pole is elated at holding at least one solo show after so many decades of creating art.

— Riddhi Doshi

In store
New lights in old bottles

Change the way you light up your home, with a range of quirky options, some of which have been created using recycled kitchen jars with simple embellishments.

— Anubhuti Matta

The concerts
Master class

When one senior musician plans a tribute to another past master of the art, you can expect a stellar recital. Harmonium player Vishwanath Kanhere promises just such a treat with his musical homage to Yashwantbuwa Joshi, a veteran singer of the Agra/Gwalior gharana who passed away last year.

To be held on Sunday evening, Shades of Bhairavi will also feature vocal recitals by Manjiri Alegaonkar and Hemant Pendse, with Chhote Rahimat Khan on the sitar. Kanhere himself will give a solo harmonium recital. The evening will focus on different facets of raga Bhairavi, making the event interesting and lively.

Raghunandan Panshikar, the most talented disciple of diva Kishori Amonkar, will perform at the monthly concert of Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre on Sunday morning. Over the last two decades, Panshikar has emerged as a major male voice of the Jaipur Atrauli gharana. “One does not get enough opportunity to present morning ragas. I will be happy to perform them,” says Panshikar, who will be accompanied on the tabla by Bharat Kamat and on the harmonium by Suyog Kundalkar.

— Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The gig
Back to the Bronx

For all those who just caught snatches of his music at the Skream & Benga after-party a few weeks ago, hip-hop DJ Grizzly Adams is currently on a six-city tour of India. On Saturday he will check into the Mumbai circuit with his music.

The talented turntablist from Berlin is part of a new generation of hip-hop DJs and is a full-time member of the Beatevolution collective, a four-member team who are residents at Berlin’s Cassiopeia club.

Adams’s set promises to be quite bass-heavy, and he will shuffle the music between disco, soul, reggae, breaks and some funky grooves.

He is performing as part of a trio of hip-hop sets with DJ Uri and DJ Ruskin, the first gig in a series to be curated by Blue Frog’s resident DJ Ruskin.

East London-based DJ Uri, whose hip hop career spans almost two decades, also boasts of an array of turntable tricks, scratch techniques and multi-use of effects.

— Bhairavi Jhaveri

The mela
Go green: Shop, relax, unwind

The sprawling Patkar Bungalow in Bandra is one of the city’s newest exhibit spaces. Aarti Patkar, stylist and owner of this heritage home, has turned the bungalow’s garden into a gallery, called The Vintage Garden, which will showcase items from the world of art and design. After two successful pop-up exhibits, The Vintage Garden is hosting its third this weekend — an all-green event.

Hosted by Patkar and organised by The Green People of India, The Green People Festival will see eco-friendly and organic brands, labels and initiatives coming together under one roof. On display will be organic food, clothing, toys, bags, kidswear, furniture and beauty products by labels Avani, Red Bug, Indigreen, HaathiChaap, Omved and Biotec Bags among others.

This all-green shopping experience will be accompanied by uncommon acoustic music by the World Harps collective, founded by Neptune Chapotin, a mouth harp medallist and a collector of mouth harps from harp-makers around the world.

Along with an impromptu style gig, he will also be selling from his collection of Indian-origin morsings and morchangs sourced from Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.

Visually impaired masseurs from the Metta Reflexology Spa will provide foot massages to shoppers at the event.

— Bhairavi Jhaveri

(HT pays for all meals and events, and reviews anonymously)