Among thousands of so called Chinese restaurants, the constant search for an authentic one where the dishes would not smell or taste anything like our Bangladeshi version of the Chinese foods was a hard and real one.
Yama Hotpot & Grill has come to the rescue by not only ensuring authenticity but also introducing the first ever hotpot. For two years, they are serving their fresh and delicious foods to delight of the Dhakaites. The food hub has become a favourite place to the foreigners as well.
When the gradually descending cold evening of winter was ready to knock us down, our desperation to have the heavenly taste of something from the Chinese chef who excels in hotpot lead us to Gausul Azam Avenue of sector-14 in Uttara.
The second floor of the house No 55 is ready to turn your happy mood on with the overall decoration of the place. The wooden floor and walls with a dark black ceiling and warm dim lights and quiet environment would contribute to the fulfilment of your search for a peaceful place to chat with friends or family while you eat your belly full. The brighter light of the cosy counter with colourful artefacts and different varieties of sauces, shelves with fresh vegetables and the umami fragrance coming from the kitchen would surely contribute to the intensification of our craving. The lamps and other artefacts, small and neatly framed photos would remind one about the origin of the delicious foods.
The starter comes with a plate of fresh salty peanuts and pomegranate juice. After taking a seat on the wide spacious comfortable sofa, when the menu card is handed by one of the cordial staff, you would find a list of 53 mouth-watering items of sea foods, vegetables and others, lamb, chicken, rice and noodles, costing from Tk450 to Tk800 for the meat and sea food items which, to be honest, is totally worth it. The vegetable items would cost a bit lower. Primarily, you have to choose among three broths – Sichuan Traditional Spicy, Clear and Tomato, which are prepared from beef, and mutton stock, which if taken separately will cost Tk800 for the two. Besides, choosing some particular dishes from the menu, one can give a glance at the buffet section also. Buffet will cost from Tk1,800 plus VAT to Tk10,000 plus VAT depending on the number of people.
My friends and I picked a buffet for two people. The main attraction, hotpot, with two different types of broths had been placed on the built-in burner or electric stove. After a while, nicely decorated dishes with fresh raw vegetables came first. And gradually our wide and spacious table became filled with more than 25 items.
The staff would readily help with the stove and also suggesting about the temperature and time for boiling any particular item. Normally, it takes one to three minutes to be prepared. Among 16-17 varieties of sauces which are displayed in the counter cabinet some would be served to be taken with the main dishes.
With a bit strong flavour, the sauces come up in various flavours like peanut, soya, oyster, Chinese vinegar, garlic, chilli, onion leaf etc. Some of the sauces are prepared in the restaurant and some come from China. We were served with two type of sauces to make the cooked items more delicious. You can add that according to your choice. As the main ingredients are prepared in the broths, both of them seems to have a good presence of hot spices. The clear soup would be a good choice instead of the Sichuan Traditional Spicy soup, which has a rich amount cloves in it. The soup can be taken separately also. We preferred to boil the meat items in the spicy broth which brought a good spicy flavour.
The clear soup seemed perfect for the rest of the items. Now, about the food. Each of the items carried extra taste of spice mixed with its basic taste. Starting with quail egg, as it was boiled beforehand, the clear soup added a kind of salty flavour. The crab sticks were fresh and juicy. The fresh shrimps were extremely delicious – they came mixed with the Sichuan Traditional Spicy soup.
Among the meat items, I liked the sliced mutton most. It had a perfect flavour and was properly boiled within three minutes proving us all wrong. We thought three minutes was too little time for meat. Additionally, the chicken dumplings that so easily melted in the mouth after being cooked in the spicy broth seemed like an extraordinarily delicious dish.
The spicy flavoured tofu skin, soft, warm and juicy jerry mushroom, corns, Sichuan Batata Noodle and rice noodle – all came with special taste and texture, which was increased doubly after being cooked in the broths. Besides all this, fresh green vegetable items like cauliflower, broccoli, Chinese chives, caraway leaves added extra taste to the whole dish. The essence of seafood was perfect. Served with seaweed it had a slight salty flavour.
Last but not the least, I should mention the magician who is the creator of these mouth-watering dishes with special care and dedication.
Luckily, we got to meet Mr Liang, the chief chef of the restaurant who became busy in organising our table as soon as he was there. With his careful decoration and arrangement of the plates on the table one can easily understand how he is not only meticulous about the taste, the proper presentation is also very important to this skilled artist.
The manager of the restaurant Bashir Ahmed talked satisfactorily while referring to Liang as a "perfectionist". He said, "Being committed to the authenticity of Chinese foods, our search for an original skilled chef was a difficult one. Then we found Mr Liang who meets all the criteria." To enrich your experience with authentic Chinese food, a visit to Yama Hotpot & Grill is a must. With all its delicious foods, and a wonderfully built environment, waiting to serve the foodies with the items coming from this cuisine.