In the recent past, Hyderabad has witnessed a steady uptick in Oriental Restaurants; however, most of the new diners – like Malaka Spice, Mamagoto, Tim Tai, and Inazia, emphasise on South East Asian cuisine. There hasn’t been a lot of notable new options for lovers of Chinese, which is arguably the most popular international cuisine in the city. So Tang grabbed my attention the moment I read about it.
Tang is a venture by Greatwall group from China that promises to introduce the city to authentic Chinese. It is reported to have specialist Chefs from Singapore and South Africa with expertise in different facets of Chinese cuisine including Cantonese, Sichuan & Hunan. I was at Forum mall yesterday for a movie, and Tang seemed to be an exciting alternative to the humdrum food court. The restaurant is situated on the fourth floor of the mall. The decor is simplistic yet inviting with a high ceiling and walls adorned with typical Chinese paraphernalia. The dining area appears spacious. However, adjacent chairs in a row are tightly packed with with absolutely no wiggle room.
The menu is massive. It runs into several pages and the layout is bit of a mess. However, each dish is accompanied by a picture, which is definitely helpful. Somewhat strange is the page that screams out ‘Free Dish’. It lists carrot sticks, spicy beans, orange flavour wax gourd, and shrimp cracker. In other words, the kind of stuff you’d see as complementary table placements in many Oriental restaurants. It’s unusual to see them listed out in the menu as ‘Free Dish’, but even more strange was the fact that these dishes were nowhere to be seen. I sincerely hope they don’t expect patrons to explicitly order their ‘free’ dishes. This isn’t the only incident of misleading promise. Wall-to-wall posters near the entrance promises a surprise gift for every meal. As you might have guessed, there are no free gifts either. I honestly don’t care much about the free gifts and such, since I was there just to have a good dinner. However, oddities like these cast a shadow on the management of an establishment. Since I only had a friend for company, I had to be conservative about my order. Moreover, I wanted to test the waters before getting ambitious. I picked one dish each from the Chinese snacks and dimsums, followed by a couple of noodles.
First up was the signature Six Colour Guantang Packagebun. This is an assorted platter of three different non-vegetarian dim sum presented six different colours. I asked our server which colour had what stuffing and surprisingly she had no idea. So this turned out to be a game of chance because there’s no way of knowing which stuffing you were picking up. I ended up with a couple of Chicken and a fish dim sum. The latter was quite decent, but the Chicken stuffing had lumped up and was forgettable. I saw nothing to justify the price (Rs. 360++ for six pieces) and the hype surrounding this dish. The dim sums came without any sauce, and there were no accompaniments on our table. On request, we were offered a dipping sauce that seemed to be just vanilla soy. I’d have preferred to the typical Chinese dipping sauce made from a combination of soy, vinegar, and sesame or chilli oil.
Next up was Crispy Cake with Minced Mutton. This dish seems to be inspired by Xian Bing, a deep fried Chinese Pie stuffed with mined pork or beef. However, the pastry to stuffing ratio here was quite skewed. I didn’t entirely hate this dish. At just one twenty bucks it’s value for money. All that deep fried pastry did make me wish they had at least provided some sort of a sauce for this.
I ordered the noodles based on recommendations in Zomato reviews. First up was Hand-pulled mixed (both stringy and flat) noodles. The dish that arrived looked nothing like the picture in the menu. I loved the noodles, but the overall dish was rather tepid. I’d have preferred the noodles in a flavour-rich seafood or a red meat broth. Even simply increasing the quantity of mutton will go a long way towards fixing this dish. I hope that Tang takes another look at this dish, because the noodles are really really good!
The final dish to arrive was Slice Noodle. Once again, the dish was quite different from what was pictured in the menu. Instead of a noodles topped with minced meat I was served noodles in a broth with an assortment of veggies, mushrooms, and slices of mutton. Once again, I loved the noodles. Fortunately, this time the dish as a whole worked better. The mushrooms were wonderful, and while the broth didn’t have any red meat flavour in it, it was tangy and fiery.
It’s still early days for Tang; however, at six weeks I expected it to fare better. There are glaring discrepancies between the pictures in the menu and what’s served. There are empty promises that leave a bad impression. And the service staff, while being polite, seems disoriented. I had to reach out and request for every little thing including menu, water, and sauces. The standard array of sauces and accompanyments should be placed on the table. While the snacks and noodles are affordable, several of the appetisers cost around thousand bucks or more per plate. When you’re operating in that sort of a price range, perfection is expected. I wouldn’t write out Tang, but it needs an able captain to course-correct.