Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tryst with Twist

What -  Twist -Cyber Hub's latest edition, Twist, has opened its doors recently.

Where - 17-18, Cyber Hub, DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon 
About: Twist - True to its name, the restaurant offers international and European wines, pan Asian and modern Chinese to its guests and patrons. Twist proves its uniqueness by selling temperature controlled wines and sommelier to serve as an expert.

Chinese cuisine has been one of the most popular cuisines in India for ages. But it is also a cuisine that has been done to death and mutated into strange versions. My memories of having the best Chinese food was in the iconic restaurants Tea House of the August Moon and House of Ming, having trained in both the kitchens during my stint with Taj years ago. Just entering those kitchens, donning your chef uniform was a heady experience. The aromas, the energy, the methodical, laborious misc-en-place and the final deft stir fry in the Chinese wok, for which the chefs needed to have rather strong forearms. I always noticed the forearms, rippling with muscles, sturdy and agile at the same time, as the Chinese wok has to be maneuvered with one hand. If you wanted to try, the chef would look at your arms often condescendingly and say ‘You can try but you’re not ready yet.’ The gas burners in the Chinese kitchen too are a lot stronger than other kitchens and the slightest delay, can overcook or burn the food. So one tried to excel at misc-en-place, cutting perfect carrot flowers, spring onion blooms and shelling prawns for hours.
Thus creating great Chinese food involved meticulous and detailed misc-en-place or pre-preparation and then a swift and expert assembly of just the right tastes and textures in the hand of a genius, balancing the umami perfectly, without any delay in cooking or serving. Umami is the pleasant meaty taste with a long-lasting, mouthwatering and coating sensation over the tongue that comes from glutamates, a term derived from Japanese but common to many pan-Asian cuisines. The meal that we all shared in the kitchen at the end of a strenuous shift used to taste heavenly and for years nothing else matched up. 
Cut to soggy, over cornfloured, over-monosodiumglutamated deviant versions of Chinese over the years. The Gobhi Manchurians at weddings, the chowmein at Chinese vans, the soggy take away with a kilo of cabbage was the death knell. I almost went off Chinese food for a while. It did not seem crunchy enough, healthy enough, Chinese enough.
Which is why Twist caught my attention. The introductory paragraph amended on top promised a refreshingly new interpretation of Chinese. Add pan Asian to the mix, and it is all the more fun. Throw in some wines and you have a heady cocktail.

The look of the restaurant clicked with me at first sight. No reds, no dragons, no paper lanterns, no Chinese sounding music, no relics of the past. This is Chinese 2.0. The interiors of the restaurant are grey with  and blue accents, subdued lighting, interesting lamps, mirrors, a very stylish bar area with white furniture and happy, cheerful upholstery. It is all about whites, clean lines, decluttered lay-out and an impressive display of wines. The restaurant also has a lovely al fresco area with garden umbrellas and high chairs, very chic.  I compliment the décor and the Director, Randeep Dhingra tells me that the concept of Twist is to stick to authentic food but serve in a modern setting. They actually are into a furniture business and all the exquisite furniture in the restaurant is there own manufacturing. They earlier ran a restaurant called Snob in Delhi's GK area and finally thought of venturing into DLF Cyber Hub in Gurgaon with this unique concept. The portions are suited for one person.
Traditionally if you went to a Chinese restaurant, one had to share a meal with at least four persons as portions were always family size. But what if everyone had a different taste or preference? Remember the one into two and two into four sweet corn soups?Twist gives every person the freedom to order their favourite dish in one portion. I think I love the place already as I am a small eater but like to try bites of many things.
My drink is perfect and the music is lively.The Manager James Hsiao is all professionalism personified. He instantly instills confidence in me to leave the selection of my drink to him. I have always preferred citrus, lemony drinks so he recommends me a drink called Pot. Hsiao is someone who instantly builds a rapport with all the guests and I am sure a great asset to the organization. He is the kind of manager one would visit a place just to meet and talk to.
I notice that the menu is not overly expansive but has limited dishes that are made well and taste good. For starters we had the Shanghai Style Prawns, Pork Ribs and Prawn Crystal Dumpling. The pork cooked in Ghochujang Sauce and caramelized to brown perfection.
Pork Ribs
Pan Fried Noodles
Prawn Shanghai Style

For the main course again I rely on James for recommendations. We have Kimchi Fried Rice, Pan Fried Noodles, Ma Cheena Fish with Asparagus(Can't go wrong with Sole fish and Asparagus) and Singapore Prawns. The Kimchi rice is a unique dish. I personally loved the pan-fried noodles as they are topped with so many veggies that it is almost like having a side dish of vegetables. Part of the reason I love Chinese is the wonderful synchronisation of crunchy vegetables with meats that they do. So my 12 yr old was happy with the noodles and meats while I gobbled all the vegetables, without which my meal is still incomplete. Ma Cheena Fish is a lovely dish, something I would go back for.

The ambience is so nice that we ended up ordering the 'not required' dessert just because we wanted to sit a little longer and relax. The Snicker Bar Dessert is highly recommended by the chef and the manager so we go for it. But the creme brûlée with lemon grass and coconut milk flavour definitely grabs my attention. The presentation of the chocolate dessert is fantastic, like a fire place of snicker bars replete with a smouldering vanilla ice-cream fire but is a bit heavy for me. But the classic creme brûlée with the Asian twist gets my vote.
Some peaceful moments sipping green tea served in a beautiful teapot and I am ready to call it a day. I am sure the memories of this calm and delicious meal will linger for long. All in all a great place to add to Gurgaon culinary scene.

Tangy Sorbet Rating: 4/5

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