Islamabad-The famous saying ‘old wine in a new bottle’ applied well when a party of six dined at Dynasty Restaurant, Marriott Hotel, last week.

Dynasty has been a watering hole for the Islooties who are in love with Chinese cuisine for many years. Now with a new chef, new menu and new service, a visit is a must. Chef Jovi Cheng Kay has over 20 years of culinary experience under his belt working in different countries in South Asia for quite sometimes. So with the new chef, comes new recipes, new ingredients as well as new techniques of cooking, learned from the countries he lived.

“Previously the ingredients we used in cooking came from different countries but now we are getting them directly from Chinese vendors in China who have made a significant difference in our menu,” informed the Executive Chef Aamir Abbasi.

Splitting into an uneven ratio of 75% Szechuan and 25% Cantonese,  Aamir was of the opinion that Pakistanis prefer Szechuan more than Cantonese because it’s spicier and close to the local flavours. The revamped menu was quite enticing, and it was not possible to place an order without chef’s recommendation. So we called for him. Hot and Sour and Wanton soup was a unanimous decision and was ordered without any further ado. Served on our table along with prawn tempura acting as an appetizer, hot and sour was surely better than the past experience. Less of soya sauce and more of vegetables made the soup not only more appealing but nourishing as well. Wanton soup was a clear soup and steam wantons perfectly manicured, wrapped in minced chicken swimming in the soup did arouse the taste buds but a bit bland. Vinegar and red chilli could have done the damage control and enhanced the spice level, but at the cost of the soup losing its authenticity.

Steamed dim sums presentation generated interest of us all. A small cap shaped basket, made of bamboo shoots, carried six pieces of dim sums in lobster meat stuffing blended with parsley, carrot shreds, and other assorted vegetables. The capping managed to arrest the aroma of the dim sums in the basket. They melted in the mouth in nanoseconds.

Egg fried rice, chicken with black pepper sauce, Joha fish were our pick, whereas Steamed Lobster and Crispy Beijing Duck was courtesy a la Executive Chef Aamir Abbassi.

“Egg fried rice is never on the menu in China, reason being, anyone and everyone can make it at home,” claimed the chef. However, we still ordered it as a ritual. Lobster and Beijing Duck, both require acquired taste. “We get lobster from Karachi vendor who has a blast chiller where all fresh lobster catch are chilled to minus 21 degrees, and that is the key to keeping the lobster fresh,” informed Aamir.

A beautifully cooked lobster, arrested in a golden multi-colour shell, marinated in homemade sauce, and butter was laid down for the guests by the server. It looked like a work of an artist rather than a chef. The right amount of salt, tender and juicy, antennas coming out without any resistance and with tail meat in one piece, the delicacy got washed off the plate in a jiffy as we were all up in arms in the lobster shell. It passed with flying colours without any negative marking. Beijing Duck arrived with style. The server in his black new attire brought thinly sliced cucumbers, along with hoisin sauce made from soya beans, garlic and chilli. The sauce was then pasted on the thin layer of Manda bread and wrapped in with both tender and crispy duck slices. The novelty tasted like a chicken but sweater.

The executive chef informed that Karachi Marriott and Pearl Continental Karachi and Lahore have already adopted the same Chinese menu with a very positive feedback. “Islamabad foodies are very choosy. They know exactly what to order, and they don’t take any risks, so we wanted to be well prepared before introducing the new menu as it’s a difficult task to please Islamabad guests,” explained Aamir.

The grand finale at Dynasty was its homemade French Praline Vanilla ice-cream. The all time stealer for foodies with a sweet tooth, this ice-cream delight takes the cake away due to the secret recipe in place since early 90’s. The crunch of the nougats, made with almonds and caramel sauce is what one can call catch twenty-two.

–The writer is a freelance contributor and can be contacted at abkhan@gmail.com.