Monday, 6 June 2016
Loco Chino, Fort, Mumbai
Look, it is Chinese. Oh, it is also Mexican. Or is it both? *Insert raised eyebrow emoji* :D
Just some questions that swirled in my mind as I stepped into Loco Chino Fort outlet with my mom and sister after a gracious invite to taste some of their offerings. I had a faint idea that it has Chinese delicacies as told by some of my friends, nothing else, and the first impression on entering the outlet was BOOM, Party time :D Cheerful, Colorful, Happy is the vibe all around. Those colorful Mexican hats, peppy artwork on the walls, relaxing chairs & cushions, this is one cool place to hang out without a care in the world. Add to that service which is extremely friendly and endearing, just like friends taking care of their dear ones who have visited their home for the first (or nth) time :) But then ofcourse the questions come swirling, am I having Chinese or Mexican food?
Then we gave a look over the menu which proudly proclaims '..where East meets Tex-Mex' and there are Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Mexican dishes on the menu, more emphasis on Chinese & Mexican of course. No added preservatives, MSG, artificial color in any food items means freshness guaranteed, something that is increasingly becoming the standard everywhere as it rightly should.
Started off the evening with a bevy of beverages, the Peach Iced Tea (ask for less ice,I always do at all places!) is really good with the peach flavor coming through perfectly without any added sugary-ness. Sassy Senorita was my sister's favorite with the citrusy flavors making it a refreshing choice for the summers especially. Mexican Twist looked beautiful but I thought it needed a bit of more punch, maybe adding a bit of mint would make it perfect.
We started off the food tasting session with some beautiful dimsums. Oh boy, the portions are here are very generous so make sure to ask the staff on how much to order. We had to constantly tell them to reduce the portions so we could taste different dishes. This is also the reason one should definitely come here when celebrating a birthday or any occasion, in large groups. Even a group of 4-6 people ordering 2-3 starters and 3-4 main courses won't have to shell out more than 1100-1200, how value for money is that :)
So coming back to the food, dimsums set the tone just right as they were delectable. Just look at them. So beautiful, delicate and full of flavors. These are all steamed so health & fitness watchers,do order them. Four Mushroom, Veg Crystal, Spinach Parmesan, Waterchestnut & Lotus Root and Thai Sambal Cottage Cheese were perfect and would endear to everyone. Rolled & steamed just right,the fillings were crunchy, cheesy with perfect balance of veggies, sauces and so on. For those who want to try something new and unique, go for Edamame & Truffle which have ingredients imported from Japan, thus imparting a very authentic flavor, something that would be 'bland' for most of us used to spicy and flavorful dishes. Same goes for Wasabi Vegetable which is an acquired taste. I am so glad I got to taste these 5 star dimsums. There was no false note in terms of taste, texture, presentation when it comes to dimsums here.
Then we had an assortment of unique dishes. I have never been to Mexico or Japan so I have no idea how authentic Mexican or Japanese food is, but everything that we tasted hereafter was very good so I am assuming that they have taken the authentic preparations and given them little Indian twists which works really well. For instance, Tacos which come in soft as well as hard varieties. Soft one (with Paneer fillings) is just like our own Paneer roll while hard one is like our own Khakra or Papad roll with fresh veggies and sour cream, it is healthy as well as tasty, and boy those juicy vegetables, I can still taste them :D I usually don't like sour cream nor does my sister but here it complimented the veggies instead of spoiling them. Good work!
Similarly, brown rice is not really something we love. But we had the Bean & Cheese Enchilada and even brown rice tasted delicious. I remember having this dish at a very reputed restaurant couple of years ago and hated it, the beans were toooo sweet while cheese overpowered everything and made it a gooey mess. AND Brown rice that they served was kinda hard and grass-y :P None of this happened here with a great combination of beans, cheese, sour cream topping and well cooked brown rice. Brown rice lovers will surely love this and I finally do not think of Mexican food as cheesy/ sour-y mess :)
Japanese food and Sushi in particular have been making waves all over the world and we all know what a delicate art it is to roll those sushi pieces. My mom does not like Sushi at all while my sister finds them just okay, because they love spicy,traditional stuff more instead of something bland. For those who love Sushi however, I think they can give the ones here a try too :) I am not very knowledgeable about its intricacies and just know that rice, vinegar, veggies like asparagus, cucumber etc. are the main ingredients and the main thing is how they are fermented plus how they are rolled. I found the Sushi here nice too, it was a bit on the sweeter side but hey,I have a sweet jaw, remember :D Before this,I have liked the Sushi at Global Fusion a lot and these were pretty close to them. A gourmand might nit-pick but as I said,I am not one and technically I am still learning about world cuisines. So from my side, these were good enough.
Star Dishes were Chilli Basil Paneer, Thai Green Curry and the Woks! We looked around and saw many tables enjoying starters which also come in good enough portions. Chilli Basil Paneer is one of those dishes that are impossible to dislike :) Softest chunks of Paneer in this sweet-fiery spicy sauce, cannot get enough of this one ♥♥♥ We would be going back for the entire starter section along with the dimsums for sure! Thai Green Curry was another clear star with the fragrant & creamy (yet not dense) and flavorful (coconut milk, kaffir, lemongrass, everything perfect!) curry with great portion of rice, a fulfilling main course dish for 2 hungry hippos :D
Woks are everywhere nowadays and most of the places are getting them right too. Loco Chino makes some great woks too. Toss some Noodles/Rice, Veggies, Sauces, Garnishes together and enjoy the lip-smacking medley of flavors,textures et al. We had the Cottage Cheese Wok with Spinach Noodles, Chilli Basil sauce, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Cashewnuts, Basil along with a Jasmine Rice Wok in Mandarin Sauce and loved them both. Jasmine Rice is something I have rarely had and really loved it here. It looks like little pearls strewn all over and tastes delightful too :) Generous portions once more with very good quantity of crunchy veggies and really deeply flavorful sauces made woks very enjoyable. This is our Indian style Chinese, but it wasn't half as oily as many places (even high end ones are) :D Even my mom who doesn't like chinese food much loved the wok, especially the Jasmine Rice one while my sister polished off the Cottage Cheese one!
There are Chimichanges, Quesedillas, Sticky Rice and many more dishes on the menu that I am raring to try after this wonderful experience. We would have tried some more if we were not already bursting at the seams :D Churros and Tres Leches for Desserts were our final hurrah. I haven't had Churros before but they were decent enough, soft long stripes garnished with powdered sugar and had a creamy custard-y filling inside. The chocolate sauce served alongside was good too. My sister found it a bit soggy but still finished it off before me :P I don't have any reference point to compare it with, so will first try it at couple of more places before deciding if I want to have it here again or not. But I am surely going to have Tres Leches here again! Tres Leches means 3 kinds of milk and we had a delicious pudding with its base soaked in Basundi and served with Rabdi at the bottom of the plate. It was yummylicious. My mom, the spice loving lady, the one who scorns at me when I order desserts first, was the one who actually polished it off. That's how good it is! The manager on seeing how much my mom loved it, very helpfully told us that they also provide it in 1/2 kg and 1 kg cake formats. Now I know exactly what my mom wants for her birthday :)
There really aren't enough words to praise the staff. They take regular feedback from all customers, including the chef and service is peppered with plenty of smiles and jokes. For instance, ours started with the manager pointing out how similar my sister and I look. Some of our common friends always tell us how we sometimes look like twins, but the way he told us that here left us in splits :D It started off our evening on such a friendly note and we saw the staff approaching every table with the same spirit of camaraderie. This is the kind of service that makes one wanna come back again & again! So even though the food might not be perfect (especially for those who love to nit-pick) or have a few missed notes amidst many hits, the extremely lovely service and amazing value for money quotient when it comes to quality and quantity (this is casual dine,not fine dine peoples!) makes this a pretty perfect choice for any occasion for everyone :)