My Humble House, ITC Maurya, New Delhi

[singlepic id=1725 w=80 h=92 float=left]My Humble House is a restaurant in the ITC Maurya, New Delhi that serves contemporary Chinese cuisine. Nearly minimally but elegantly furnished, My Humble House has a separate bar lounge that can seat 16, main dining area with 114 covers and outdoor seating. While I’m sure the outdoor seating would be largely dysfunctional most of the year, the view it offers is breathtaking and if you visit My Humble House in the winter, you simply must sit outside and drink in the view.  This was one of the high points of my experience at My Humble House. They also have private dining areas that are quite nicely done up.

My Humble House is part of a small group of identically named restaurants in Asia (Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo and India) that follow the same philosophy but maintain different menus and styling. They have a nice selection of wines, offer a la carte dining and have tasting menus too.

I’m not really sure why many restaurants insist on using the term ‘contemporary’ when referring to their food. ‘Contemporary’ indicates something that belongs to the present time and if one doesn’t say anything, a diner assumes the food is from the current period anyway. A restaurant like Singh Sahib at the Intercontinental Eros is a case in point as they serve food from the undivided Punjab. It’s possibly being used to state that diners shouldn’t expect classic or traditional cuisine, but something with evolutionary influences, i.e. blended flavours that may not necessarily have originated in the culture that dominates the food – Wasabi Mayonnaise for example. Conclusion: It’s stylish to use the term ‘contemporary’ as ‘fusion’ IMHO is now passé.

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On to the food. We started with the Trio of Starters – Atlantic Scallop with Spicy Orange Dressing, Pan Seared Foie Gras with Peking Duck Skin and Crisp Prawns in Wasabi Mayonnaise. The scallop was pan seared and cooked just right, going very well with the orange sauce. The Foie Gras and Peking Duck skin presented very conflicting but interesting textures and flavours – I suggest eating them together when you visit. The Prawn with Wasabi Mayonnaise was nice though a trifle ordinary as Wasabi Mayonnaise is probably one of the most overused dressings in this class of cuisine.

Our soup was Double Boiled Vegetable Soup in a Tender Coconut Shell. Whatever I say about it will not do justice to the dish – tender vegetables and different varieties of mushrooms immersed in a subtly flavoured broth.  A nice touch was the flesh lining the inner shell of the green coconut, which is something I can never get enough of. Needless to say, mine was scraped clean.

Here’s where the trouble began.

Steamed Cod with Mei Cai (Chinese preserved vegetables) was our entrée. It comprised a perfectly steamed chunk of cod smothered with Chinese preserved vegetables in a very delicately flavoured brown sauce. The thing is, I don’t know if the term ‘delicately flavoured’ can be used when describing Chinese preserved vegetables, considering every variety is fermented in some manner or another. Perhaps the dish has been toned down for the Indian palate?

The main course for our dinner was a platter with Diced Chicken with Preserved Chillies and Black Beans, Tenderloin Steak with Vietnamese Peanut Sauce accompanied by a bowl of Vegetable Fried Rice with brown garlic. I’m not really sure what to make of this course. The chicken portion was overwhelmingly pungent with vinegar and chilli. That wouldn’t have been so bad had it been a standalone dish for the last course. Thing is, I could barely taste the Tenderloin Steak or the Peanut Sauce as my taste buds were frantically putting out fires and dialling 911 – much too busy to pay attention to anything else. The peanut sauce therefore went largely un-tasted. Having said that, the Tenderloin Steak was well executed, though I would have preferred it done rare or medium rare. The steak was served with sautéed mushrooms parcelled in cabbage. Nice, but a little unwieldy.

Dessert was Mango with Almond Praline Ice Cream. Looked spectacular what with all that dry ice vapour surrounding it and tasted like… slices of mango with almond praline ice cream.

My only issues with My Humble House were what I consider inappropriate formats and flavour pairings/sequences. The ambiance, presentation, service and execution for most part were faultless. For that price point however, one expects a perfect experience. Chasing mushrooms around a plate, hacking away at a cabbage leaf and counselling traumatised taste buds do not form part of what I call a perfect experience. But then that’s me.

It’s always difficult making a call on restaurants such as My Humble House. On one hand some dishes are difficult to get elsewhere, such as scallops or foie gras. On the other hand, most other dishes are executed just as well for a much lower price point elsewhere. My suggestion would be to visit and indeed repeatedly patronise My Humble House if starred hotels are where you habitually eat or crave dishes with uncommon ingredients every once in a while. If not, there are alternatives.

– Sid

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.