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Monday, Sep 29, 2003

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The Chinese factor

Anjali Prayag

What do you call a restaurant that devotes three quarters of its menu to Chinese and the fourth to other cuisine? Try Three Quarter Chinese, Bangalore's newest offering in gourmet Chinese.

For Three Quarter Chinese (3QC), there was no getting away from the `Chinese' factor. Because the restaurant stands where the erstwhile `Blue Heaven' satisfied the Chinese yearnings of many Bangaloreans and visitors to the city. Ask any true blue Bangalorean to name a Chinese restaurant and he or she will still swear by the Chinaman on Church Street. With such an awesome legacy to live up to, 3QC had to truly make itself distinct from Day Zero. And the Bangalore-based HM Group's decision to revamp and rename the restaurant on the 8,000-sq-ft area, meant it had to ingenuously satisfy Indian palates haunted by Chinese memories. Is that why the group chose such a distinct name, Three Quarter Chinese?

Says K. Nand Kumar, General Manager, Marketing and Operations, HM Leisure, "We didn't want to restrict ourselves only to Chinese food. Because North Indian cuisine is a favourite among South Indians." That's why the fourth quarter is reserved for other kinds of cuisine.

Currently, the restaurant serves Awadhi or Nawabi food. "Perhaps we'll change that to Italian or Mexican after some time." The idea, says Kumar, is to keep this option open to other kinds of foods or food festivals, which the restaurant might whip up later.

However, when it comes to the chefs, 3QC counts on authenticity and originality. Brando, the Chinese chef, has been pulled out from one of the Taj hotels in Hong Kong. "He was one of the initiators of Chinese food to India way back in the 1970s," says Kumar. And the Lucknowi cooks, who dish out sumptuous Awadhi cuisine at 3QC, have been serving the Nawabs for three generations.

With a seating arrangement for 250 people, 3QC is easily the largest restaurant in the city. The expansive lounge bar at the entrance doubles up as an informal meeting area and is separate from the restaurant. The restaurant also offers two conference rooms for private gatherings, with seating for 16 and eight people each.

Now for the food. The executive in a hurry can tuck into a delightful spread of the Awadhi buffet. Starting with the ever-popular tomato soup or spinach or the peppery lemon (a must-try) soup, you move on to various rotis, dals, sabjis, pulaos and the usual papad, achar, rasam, curd, finally winding off with an Indian dessert.

In a Lucknowi mood with time to spare? Then try the Vegetable Chamane Khas or the Mutton Awadhi Salan Gosht or the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani. But for those who want to get into mainland China, then Brando's kitchen looks very inviting. It's imperative to start your meal with Kum Pui Shung, a fried vegetable dumpling, that tastes as delectable as it looks. Then you get on to the real starters. And here, you get the niggling doubt that Brando must be related to Popeye in some strange way because his love for spinach is very apparent. From Fe Choy Kai Pin (Fried Spinach Chicken) to Char Bal Choy (Crackling Spinach), it's quite a spinach spree. If you like baby corn, then Char Chun Chu Shun (Chilly Baby Corn) is a must. For the noodles and rice experience, there is the Thit Pan Chow Mein (sizzling noodles), Sing Chou Chow Mai (Singapore rice noodles with chicken and prawn), Sang Chow Faan (Minced Tenderloin Fried Rice), etc. What is striking about Brando's noodles is that they are as thin and delicate as the Indian rice noodles.

If you still have room for dessert, try the Cha Bolo Ping Kelum (Pineapple fritters with ice cream) or the Dan-Saan Ping Kelum (Sesame honey noodle with ice cream). Or just stick to the traditional Cho Lai Wo Paan Ping Kelum (Date pancake with ice cream).

And, after all this feasting, if you are besieged by guilt pangs of not counting your calories, don't worry. Help is at hand. All you have to do is walk up to the Amoeba Sports Bar above and bowl to your heart's content.

Picutre by G.R.N. Somashekar

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