You have probably been to a branch of Chang’s without even knowing, because this Delhi family owns a whole line of them. There’s Fujiya, Chungwa, Ginza and several more, but the family is a low-key one and their restaurants, wherever in the city they are located, are popular because they cater to the public palate. Chang’s, in a fairly new mall, is in a similar mould, though as a concession to the times we live in, it is not about Chinjabi food, but also about a few Southeast Asian dishes as well, in an extremely well-appointed restaurant. Very modern with clean lines and a couple of teppanyaki tables in the centre of the restaurant, Chang’s is in a mall that is right by the Metro, so it is easily approachable.
The two chefs are both ex-Taj, so expect a fairly high standard of food overall. The finest dish on our table one evening was the Thai larb kai salad (Rs. 225). Made of minced chicken, it was packed with the flavour of lime juice as well as a hint of sweetness. Shredded basil leaves, chopped fresh red chillies and sliced onion added their punch. The grains of roasted rice were, surprisingly, left whole when it is the norm to crush them to a near powder. It was as good as anything you’d get at a speciality Thai restaurant.
The lemon coriander thick soup (Rs. 150/175 veg/chicken) was deliciously tangy and hit the spot on a cold winter’s night - the coriander leaves were ground to a slurry to form the base of the soup, so that though cornflour was used, the amount was not very much. Kothe (Rs. 175/195 veg/chicken) was another good dish. It is usual to panfry all the pot-stickers together and upturn the pot, so that the fried side is uppermost on the serving dish. Though this lot was not fried together, they were served fried side up, and the chicken mince was coarse, just the way it should be. Four sauces were served along with the kothe, out of which three were made in-house.
One of the highlights of the meal was good ole chilli chicken, called crispy ginger chilli chicken (Rs. 295) on the menu. It is the mark of a good chef who can elevate a doneto-death dish with his special flourish and still have the public ordering it. Excellent, with a tiny hint of five spice powder, it was extremely spicy yet satisfying with just a bit of sauce.
Our dinner was not without its share of disasters. Our sliced bassa in lemongrass sauce (Rs. 375) was past its sell-by date, and when we returned it, the excellently trained staff took it back without question. The sticky rice that we ordered was prepared by someone who had no understanding of the concept of the term, and thought that sticky rice meant overcooked rice. This time the staff took back the offending dish without being asked to.And the Asian lamb lemongrass salad (Rs. 225) had not a single ingredient that was mentioned on the menu (carrot, cucumber, bean sprout, lemon grass, mint). Instead it had a bunch of other ingredients like bell peppers, cabbage and fried vermicelli. It was not the star of the evening, let it be said.
There’s just one nod to the local palate: a small North Indian menu for die-hard fans.