Mumbai might have many Chinese restaurants serving authentic platters, but Sampan stands out ahead of the crowd being a Bollywood favourite for decades. While Amitabh Bachchan’s favourite pick from the menu is Mushroom on Toast, Quantico lady Priyanka always opts for Chicken Pepper Chili while dining at this pool & Juhu beach front facing restaurant.
So what is it about Sampan that really ticks with these world-trotting celebrities? I had the honour of finding that out when Novotel Juhu hosted me for a lunch break at this iconic restaurant.
Head Chef Penpa Tseri had designed a special menu, presenting some of his finest works and I will not deny the fact that each dish stood out impeccably!
Beautifully designed interiors, reflecting the culture of China, a simple walk-in at Samapan Novotel Juhu ensures that you’ll be served nothing but authentic Chinese food. The restaurant has a whooping 10 page menu, but I was to dine on Chef’s special spread.
To start with, I picked up Novotel’s Signature drink – NOVOTEL PUNCH, which was a concoction of Orange juice, Pineapple juice, Mango juice, Grenadine and fresh cream. The drink was quite refreshing for a lazy warm Mumbai afternoon.
Chef Penpa Tseri
Based on my preference of meats, Chef Penpa created 4 starter menu which was a blend of seafood and chicken. Before my starters arrived, I was offered a cup of searing hot Jasmine Tea which acts as a palette cleanser to prepare you for your journey of Chinese flavours.
The first on the starters menu was Mandarin Chicken which was sliced chicken in soya sauce, tossed with bell peppers and with a zing of crushed black pepper for course flavours.
The chicken was succulent, soya sauce in harmony and the salty-spicy combination of black pepper anted up the taste manifolds.
Cha Chu Prawns
Next up on the menu was ‘Roshan Family’s favourite seafood starter – Cha Chu Prawns ,a dish of crispy fried prawns with chilli, garlic and crushed peppers. The prawns were crispy, non greasy and tasted great with some added flavours of the hot chilli sauce.
Sesame Prawn Toasts
Contrasting with the fried whole Cha Chu Prawns, Chef presented Sesame Prawn Toasts which were nothing alike something that I’d eaten in the past. Minced prawns on bread slices, coated with sesame and crisp fried to perfection. The presentation was equally spellbound as was the preparation of this unique seafood toasts.
The last starter to be served was a Pomfret special called Drunken Pomfret. For those who’ve been wondering, the term ‘drunken’ here refers to a well marinated filet of Pomfret, fried to crisp yet soft outer shell and tossed in a hot Sichuan sauce for a spicy note to this sea water fish.
With a stomach already feeling full, feasting on these delicately presented starters, I moved over to the main course category, which too was equally satisfying.
Dry Red Chilli Chicken
Well done juicy chunks of chicken with an intense impression of hot red chilli served on a bed of thick gravy, garnished with crunchy green onion; that’s Dry Red Chilli Chicken for you. My personal favourite because of the fact that the size of chicken chunks was small, giving more flavours and more defined texture to each piece of coated goodness.
Tiger Prawn in Chilli Oyster Sauce
If you savour grilled and fried prawns much, then Tiger Prawn in Chilli Oyster Sauce is a must try for you! Mildly marinated Tiger Prawns infused in a gravy of Chilli Oyster sauce, with a generous amount of shallots, garlic and finely chopped onions makes this dish a wonderful affair to be had with a bowl of rice.
Egg Fried Rice
Speaking about rice, Chinese main course is not complete without a bowl of well cooked steamed rice. Of course, since it was Chef’s special, the rice had to be done well with added ingredients. I was presented a hot bowl of Egg Fried Rice which had no game play happening, but a simple mix of rice wok mixed with scrambled eggs and fried in sesame oil for a great aroma.
Lobster in White Garlic Sauce
Intensifying the gravy game for main course, the last serving of the Main Course Menu consisted of Lobster in White Garlic Sauce, his dish stood out amongst the other fiery gravys with added veggies like whole asparagus and colourful bell peppers. The taste was warm, non-fussy and full of flavours. Best to be eaten with some steamed rice on the side.
As far as the dessert menu is concerned, they have an array of sweet combos to offer. I was served a generous amount of Vanilla Ice cream to be had with freshly prepared hot Banana & Apple Toffee.
Banana & Apple Toffee
A truly divine recipe which consists of caramelised fresh-cut banana and apple, with crunchy coated of roasted sesame seeds. While the toffee is served hot, it tastes absolutely divine when had with spoon fulls of the Vanilla ice cream.
Their is no doubt about the fact the Samapan by Novotel Juhu is indeed worthy of being a A-listers favourite, given the amount of efforts and perfection of flavours that goes into making each dish stand out as a star. Right from the starters to the dessert menu, everything was spot-on and their was no question of the authenticity of recipes that are served hot and prompt at Sampan!
Sampan Novotel Juhu
Novotel, Juhu Beach,
Balraj Sahani Marg,
Novotel Mumbai Juhu