Monday, July 27, 2015

Foodie Jaunts - 7 Course Meal at Orient 8, Lavasa, Pune, India.

There was a time not so long ago, that is, about ten to fifteen years back, we could enjoy some real good quality Chinese food not just at reasonably priced restaurants but also at roadside outlets. One did not have to always visit a high end restaurant for some good Chinese food. Way back in the eighties, if I remember correctly, a Chinese chef named Col Lee, who used to earlier work for a restaurant, decided to branch out on his own, he set up shop at south Bombay’s prime business district Nariman Point. He sold Chinese food from a hand cart. Needless to mention office goers made a beeline for his cart, after all he was a Chinese selling Chinese food, soon he also attracted the notice of food reviewers. Likewise once while my brother and I were out on professional work, we found this roadside restaurant run by an old Chinese gentleman. It was a makeshift restaurant with plastic chairs and tables, but the food that this gentleman cooked was mind blowing, a high end restaurant would have charged an arm and leg for such good quality food. Now sadly everything has changed, all you get, even in some of the fairly high priced restaurants, is Chinese food with strong flavours, guaranteed to overwhelm your taste buds.
It was therefore a pleasant surprise when we tasted some fairly good quality Chinese food at Orient 8 in Lavasa (a hill station in Pune district).  Earlier the premises housed Oriental Octopus that served food from eight countries from the Far East. It was reviewed some years back here in this blog. This restaurant was a bit expensive; after it exited Lavasa, the management of Waterfront Shaw Apartment Hotel, took over the space and launched Orient 8. This restaurant only serves Chinese food. The food is very good, delicately flavoured and what’s important very reasonably priced.
Waterfront Shaw owns a string of restaurants in Lavasa, these are located on the hotel’s ground floor.

For quite some time now they have started offering 7 Course Meals at Rs 485 plus taxes (both veg and non-veg) at these restaurants. We had already tasted the à la carte menu at Orient 8, so we decided to try the 7 course meal. Was it good value for money? It sure was; we paid Rs. 1191 for two persons which was inclusive of tax. What’s more unlike Mainland China’s Unfixed Lunch (the management there does not allow you to either share or pack and take what you have been unable to eat), at Orient 8 you can share as well as pack and take along what is left over from the 7 course meal. 

As I have already mentioned, the dishes are delicately flavoured and it reminded me of the good old days when Chinese restaurants were not so ubiquitous and they were run by Chinese so what you got those days was the real thing. Incidentally, we learnt that at Orient 8, they use broth powder. I do not know whether nowadays it is a practice to use broth powder at Chinese restaurants or only this restaurant uses it, we had never heard of broth powder back in our childhood. 

The menu for the 7course meal comprises four soups (two veg and two non-veg), 
The 2 non-veg soups - Chicken Noodle Clear Soup and Burnt Garlic Soup

six starters (three veg and three non-veg),

Starters - Sesame Chilli Fish and Kung Pao Chicken
three non-alcoholic drinks, three salads, choice of veg and chicken fried rice and hakka noodles (both veg and non-veg), six items in the main course (three veg and three non-veg) and finally three desserts (Honey Noodles with ice-cream, Date Pancakes with ice-cream and Five Spice Chocolate Mousse). You have to choose one item from each course. 

When we had the 7 course meal for the first time, we stuck to the menu but on our second visit we decided to try our luck and see whether they were willing to serve something from their à la carte menu and we were pleasantly surprised, we found that they were quite flexible. Although sweet corn chicken soup was not part of the 7 course meal menu, they agreed to give us sweet corn chicken soup. For a long time now I have stopped ordering sweet corn chicken soup, for I just wasn’t satisfied with what arrived on the table. I, therefore, prefer to make it at home; here however, the sweet corn soup took me back to my childhood days.
We always ask the chefs in any restaurant to go easy on the chillies. We did the same here. I really liked what the chef did to the Beijing salad, in order to suit our palate he toned down the chillies, he gave just a hint of chilli paste and added a bit of tomato ketchup and soya sauce and the end result was just wonderful.
Beijing Salad
Of the three drinks (the other two being fresh lime water and iced tea) we give our thumbs up to Kiwi Frappe a drink that is a mixture of Kiwi fruit juice and apple juice. 
Kiwi Frappe

As for the Five  Spice Chocolate Mousse (like the other desserts it also features in their à la carte menu) we found it to be less of a mousse and more of a cross between a chocolate brownie and a mousse. 

Five Spice Chocolate Mousse
It tastes good though, however if we were to compare it with what was available at the Oriental Octopus, then the latter would unhesitatingly get our vote, but then the mousse at Orient 8 is far cheaper than the one that was available at Oriental Octopus.
While I am at it, I might as well talk about one particular item from their à la carte menu that bowled us over and that was Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish. The fish was basa and it was prepared with oyster sauce a bit of tomato ketchup, very little soya sauce and bowing to our wishes the chef settled for just a hint of chilli paste, all this was cooked wrapped in a banana leaf and it was absolutely delicious.

Watch the short video of the Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish below:

 If you are unable to view the above video click this link:

Another interesting item that we tasted and made the mistake of not photographing was the Jackfruit Ice-cream. This was something that the head chef was experimenting with, he gave us some to taste (it was complimentary) and believe me it was fabulous. He had used the crunchy jackfruit. The softer variety of jackfruit, the chef explained, would  not have lent the ice-cream the same flavour.  What struck us was that the quantity of jackfruit was just right and blended very well with the ice-cream. Jackfruit is a fruit with a flavour that some find quite strong but in this ice-cream there was just that hint of jackfruit flavour. This item is yet to make it to their menu though, hope they decide to add it soon.

Rice noodles and main course

All in all the 7 course meal is good value for money. During the monsoons Lavasa is beautiful, so what could be better than feasting our eyes on nature’s beauty and tucking into a lovely meal by the lakeside.

Nature's beauty during the monsoons at Lavasa


  1. 485 for a 7-course meal (and that too with stuff like you've described) is unbelievable, Shilpi! Here in Delhi, even the very average Chinese restaurants - the sort of places that make food like any local thelewaalah would make - charge an arm and a leg. I remember, a couple of years ago, Tarun and I took advantage of Citibank Restaurant Week to go to Yauatcha, which was part of the promotion and so was offering a specially discounted fixed menu. It was delicious, but even after the discount, SO expensive!

    1. Yauatcha has an outlet in Bombay as well, although I haven't eaten there, the location is not so good, I know it is one of those hugely expensive restaurants, so I guess even after the discount it is going to be expensive.
      This one is real good value for money.