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Get A Taste of Dim Sum Temptation.

W HEN the two- in- onerestaurant Dao + Dimcha opened less than two years ago, I did not even bother to review it.

I was in no mood to eat watery Thai- paste- from- sachet curries and then, my standards for dim sum have been raised substantially by my old favourite Setz and of course, Royal China, Delhi's dim sum champion. It wasn't exactly the most professional thing to do, but I blame it on the incontrovertible fact that it's impossible to come anywhere near the benchmarks set by Neung Roi's Yenjai Suthiwaja and the younger yet equally talented Tarathip Nooriengsai of Setz.

It's tough to be a newbie restaurant in this demanding market, that too if it is run by a 20- something who's driven by little else but passion and the hospitality lessons he has picked up on his feet. I was therefore surprised to receive a call from Divij Lamba, scion of the Kwality family and one- time political aide to Hillary Clinton, suggesting that we meet at Dao + Dimcha along with the young and soft- spoken owner of the restaurant, Rahul Sayal.

It was a meal I'll remember for a lively conversation -- Divij has a quiet sense of humour and he had many stories about our elite's prodigious appetite for big fat weddings -- and for some of the most unusual dim sum that I have had, followed by a difficultto- forget Thai meal. Originally a 15- seater that used to have a pokey yet independent existence till its owner decided to shut it, Dimcha knows its dim sum, but the surprise of the day without doubt was Dao, on the first floor, whose Thai chef, whom I never got to see, is the master of the understatement.

He knows how to bring out the best in a dish even with minimally invasive cooking.

When I entered the restaurant, I could spend a lot of time admiring the Thai- inspired woodwork because there was only one table that was occupied, but as my lunch progressed, the restaurant started

filling up and the guests seemed to be happier while leaving than when they had arrived. My meal started with an unusual dim sum -- Spinach and Prawn Roll, or prawn mousse rolled in spinach, steamed with black bean sauce. The gentle interplay of flavour won my palate -- and my heart.

The next dish, Sour Pepper Beijing Dumplings, or chicken and vegetable dumplings with Beijing- style pepper sauce, infused with garlic and chilli oil, raised the heat without turning Chinjabi, and the Prawn Har Gao that followed, each looking like a piece of art peeping out of translucent skin, offered a gentle counterpoint.

The meal went up on the Scoville scale with the arrival of the Spicy Seafood Dumplings, which were steamed with chilli oil, but then came the two stars of the day -- Duck Dumplings, steamed with hoisin and plum sauce, a brilliant alternative to the standard Peking duck rolls, and Crab Dumplings, which are crab sticks wrapped with prawns and served on a bed of black bean sauce and burnt garlic. Wait, what about the Thai part of this palate tickler? If I loved the prawns sauteed in crushed pepper and coriander for the simplicity and the expert handling of the main spice, the steamed red snapper in ginger sauce won my palate over as if it were a hormone- surplus youngster cruising in Patpong, Bangkok's ' entertainment' district.

I kept saying to myself I had to come back for the steamed prawns in tom yum dressing, steamed tofu in a spicy lemon sauce, crispy lamb in a tangy tamarind sauce, and grilled salmon quilted in mango sauce.

And as I was doing so, I kept slurping down my share of the steamed banana pudding and then dug my favourite Thai dessert -- water chestnuts in coconut milk with crushed ice.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:May 1, 2015
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