The One With The Delhi Club – An Adventure At Chungking Mansions

It certainly wasn’t a place I would go to on my own.

Chungking Mansions was certainly not for the faint hearted. From the outside it looked like an rickety, overlighted building with many South Asians (Indians, Sri Lankans and similar) loitering around. Once you approach the building, endless leaflets advertising everything from food to clothes are stuffed into your hands.

It wouldn’t be that bad if these vendors didn’t start to surround you and shouted unsolicited offers, from food to suits to everything imaginable under the sun, in your face. It was worse than my experience with the insufferable touts at the Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.

Under so under considerable duress my friends and I made a choice for a dinner place (somewhat random, but hey when in doubt, just close your eyes and jab, hehe) and made our way to the third floor of Chungking Mansions, where The Delhi Club was at.

The Delhi Club @ Chungking Mansions

The exterior of the restaurant was, like the rest of the building, plainly deceiving. Just a nondescript door that would be otherwise mistaken as the entry to someone’s house, if not for the posters decorating the wall outside. The overenthusiastic Indian proprietor of the place welcomed us in and soon we were seated somewhat comfortably in the deep cavern of the restaurant.

After debating the pros and cons of Indian cuisine to the best of our limited knowledge (there were two Malaysians in the group but that didn’t add on much to our culinary advantage), we took a collective breathe and ordered… randomly.

It was certainly a random kind of night ;)

Indian Papadum, complimentary

The Delhi Club @ Chungking Mansions

Papadum is a thin, crispy Indian preparation sometimes described as a cracker or flatbread. Of all Indian food this gotta be my must-have. The spiced crackers were peppery on its own, but when dipped with condiments such as mint chutney, it was a great appetizer. It’s important to have your papadum the moment it was served. Like any crackers, it gets soft if left exposed for too long.

Vegetarian Samosa, HK$30+ for four

The Delhi Club @ Chungking Mansions

Stuffed to the brim with potatoes and vegetables of unknown origin, the samosas reminded me, somewhat surprisingly, of curry puffs. Perhaps they were the same thing and the novice foodie in me wouldn’t know any better. The samosas were fresh and easy on my palate, even though I like Indian food I am rather reserved about spicy food. They had more than a whiff of Old Chang Kee to them, owing to the sizable chunks of potatoes and its crispy skin. Its size was good enough for one piece per person.

Vegetable Salad, HK$45

The Delhi Club @ Chungking Mansions

Of all the dishes we ordered that night, the most uninspiring one would be the green salad. Consisting of neatly-arranged sliced carrots, cucumbers, onions and your other usual suspects in a salad, I just couldn’t phantom why this cost as much as HK$45. At times I wonder if I could do a better job with a dish in my own kitchen at half the price, and this salad definitely falls under that category.

Tandoori Chicken, HK$60+ for two legs

The Delhi Club @ Chungking Mansions

The tandoori chicken is a notoriously difficult Indian dish to get right. The chicken must be tender and didn’t dry up, the skin richly marinated but not to spicy, the whole dish grilled to perfection without getting charred. Tandoori chicken at The Delhi Club did all this like a spade to an ace. It was easily the star of the night; never had I enjoyed a piece of spiced chicken as much as I did then.

Mutton Masala, HK$50+

The Delhi Club @ Chungking Mansions

After the delight that was the tandoori chicken, the mutton masala understandably paled in comparison. With chunks of tender (if a bit small) mutton in curry (of which I can’t decide if it was too spicy, or just spicy enough), to me it was one of those dishes which you had to have with other staples, without which it would have been like an assault to your senses… and not in a good way. More like a one-spoonful-is-enough-thank-you-very-much kind of way.

Garlic Naan, HK$18 and Aloor Prata, HK$15

The Delhi Club @ Chungking Mansions

Which means the garlic naan and aloor prata (wholemeal bread stuffed with potatoes) were a saviour to the mutton masala. The portion was so huge that we almost cannot stomach the whole thing; fortunately we did not get overly ambitious and ordered only one apiece. The garlic naan were especially good, though I might be biased as I view the prata as little more than layers of delicious carbs destroying my otherwise nonexistent diet.

Spinach & Cheese Salad, HK$40+

The Delhi Club @ Chungking Mansions

Blended spinach with chunks of cheese. It would have been yummy, had we eaten it hot, or if there was a stronger flavour of the cheese. What are the criteria to make this strange dish good anyway? Perhaps the undertone cheese was intentional. Nevertheless it was one of the healthier choice on the table that night, and it went well with…

Nasi Briyani (Rice) Chicken, HK$60+

The Delhi Club @ Chungking Mansions

I will admit it; I enjoyed the nasi briyani more to the fact that it was generously sprinkled with cashew nuts than the rice itself. For some reason it was served cold – I wouldn’t know any better – and the foodie in me usually like my Asian food at least warm. It was alright but certainly not something you would want to queue hours for. The chicken pieces were tender but the rice was strangely muted in taste. Perhaps I have always preferred my Indian food to taste richer.

A word about the restaurant

I had never been to India, but my dinner companions did. Together they vehemently agreed that the place was more Indian than some of the places they have been to in India. The boisterous crowd (locals and foreigners jostled good-naturedly for space), the piping music (of the Jai Ho variety), the decidedly Indian deco, the rowdy wait staff (the guys spoke few words of English & Cantonese, and punched each other playfully in between serving customers)… it was certainly a memorable place.

Pair this together with the subdued horror that was Chungking Mansions, it certainly a dining experience which doesn’t belong to Hong Kong.

So, the conclusion

The meat at this place was certainly cooked well; tender and not overly spicy. It would have been a more authentic experience had the dishes were stronger in flavour, but then again, coming from Singapore, my expectations may be a tad overboard when it comes to using spices in cooking.

What I would order again? Definitely the tandoori chicken. In fact this will be my sole reason to return to this place.
What I would never touch again? Give that green salad a miss. It’s not worth your money
Would I come again? Yup, for at the said tandoori chicken. And it is always amusing to see guys punching each other in full view of everyone else
Would I have dinner dates here? For some reasons I would say yes
Would I have dinner gathering here? Definitely. When do you feel like having Indian again?

The Delhi Club 新德里餐廳
Room 3, 3/F, Block C, Chungking Mansion
38-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui


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Comments

  1. Perris Lee says:

    well done, man.
    just that, re the salad, i agree that the dish is totally as expected. but given the portion, which is quite big, and the, well, rising health consciousness, i wouldn’t mind having it again next time.
    and, nasi briyani is always served lukewarm or cold, no?

  2. Razlan says:

    @ Perris – Thanks dude. Well, the salad could be better prepared with better ingredient making it a more worthwhile yet still healthy salad. I never knew nasi briyani is served lukewarm; I thought I was just plain unlucky to eat my nasi cold :P When are we doing Indian together again?

  3. […] there is only one dish you can afford to order at The Delhi Club, it has to be the tandoori chicken. Four visits later, it is still the best thing they have on the […]

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