With a crowded Pan Asian space in Chennai, is there space for another? "It is not Pan Asian," screams, Sandesh Reddy, the serial restauranteur who has worked his backside off to get Yummcha up and running. "It is specifically Sichuan, not even Pan Chinese." Adding an M to Yumcha, which is a Cantonese term for 'drink tea,' Yummcha opened to business in an opulent multi level restaurant balancing its many small spaces well, so you're not feeling like intruding into the next table.
Small portions, small prices seem to be the mantra, so even if you're just two of you, you can eat a few different dishes without burning a hole. More about that, later. Food first.
Yummcha has been conceptualised to serve honest food, so you're Dan Dan noodles with Chilli oil is not dearth of the oil and more oil served on the side. Neither is there any unnecessary garnish or theatrics for the sake of it. No healthy variations of dishes, no gas! Kung Pao chicken has actual Sichuan Peppercorns, if you bite it, your mouth goes on a tingling spin. Drink some water to enhance that zing! Back to the Dan Dan noodles, its the closest I've had since China.
The egg custard with mantou buns was a surprise in the menu. I wouldn't have expected a Conjee (a very Cantonese breakfast dish) style Sichuanese version, (and I'm not sure if such a thing exists), but mixing the oil into the bland tasteless custard magically transforms it into a dish that is lovely to soak up those soft buns. With such lovely buns, the chicken lends itself beautifully to make the baos. Soft buns, juicy chicken makes these lovely baos. Oh, the butter garlic fried rice is to die for!
Coming from the house of Sandy's, does set high expectations for dessert. The first one was as simple as simple can get. Caramelised bread with condensed milk ice cream. Simplicity at its best. The pineapple upside down cake, though was anything but simple. Lots of caramel, pop corn and the cake hanging of a white chocolate, Sandesh has taken the name of the dessert literally.
Pricing is simple. For every category, there is a fixed price for veg, chicken, lamb and seafood. So all your veg appetizers are priced the same, all the chicken main courses are priced similarly, and so on. A meal for two would cost your about Rs. 1000.
Is Chennai ready for hyperlocal focussed cuisine or will Yummcha be forced to add more Asian dishes to the menu? Only time will tell.