Choosing to eat Chinese food while in India is admittedly a little odd, but I was after a taste of home during an extended business trip in Delhi. If you’re going to charge US$60 then for a four course set menu, it has to shine, not to mention be vaguely redolent of the country it purports to come from. Dinner at My Humble House in the ITC Maurya Hotel failed dismally in both respects. (Note there are no photos of the food to share as mercifully the restaurant was so dark I could barely see what I was eating.)
The set menu’s starter intrigued me – ‘prawns with wasabi cream’ alongside a chicken dumpling whose menu description I failed to note. What arrived was a ball of ground chicken meat enveloping a small amount of melted cheese, the whole thing covered (potentially in vermicelli noodles) and deep fried. After many years eating across China and Asia, I had never come across anything quite like it. The prawn (singular) came in a greenish coating with no horseradish uplift, leaving it stranded a million miles away from the noble wasabi root.
The subsequent soup was as appealing as a Guangzhou traffic jam and about as fragrant. I steered clear after two spoonfuls.
I was holding out hope that salvation would come through the Sichuan prawns main ( I didn’t register on choosing the menu that prawns featured twice – an odd decision by the chef to say the least). I adore Sichuan food, the gentle, numbing buzz of hua jiao pepper teasing the tongue and lips, with occasional bursts of fire. Instead three (count ’em) prawns arrived in what looked like the remnants of a jar of Doritos salsa after a student party. A few sliced red chillis failed to cut through the cloying gloop enveloping the sad crustacea. It was indisputably more Chelmsford than Chengdu. Accompanying this maritime disaster was ‘vegetable udon’, an extraordinarily unappetizing mound of greasy noodles served in what can only be described as a seaweed tomb.
A caramel sponge to finish veered the set menu firmly away from Asia and would have been welcome if it had been slightly bigger than the spoon that accompanied it.
Service was brisk (as the restaurant had two other diners) and polite, but the bizarre 80’s soundtrack (not the good 80’s) only compounded the feeling that My Humble House was light years off its game.
My Humble House, ITC Maurya Hotel, New Delhi. T: +91 11 26 11 22 33