Inside Open China, Juhu | All The Deets
Whenever there’s a new Asian restaurant on the radar, I have to check it out, which is how I landed up at Open China in Juhu. It’s quite a simple setup, and looks like an old school Chinese restaurant with red interiors, dim lighting and traditional Oriental décor elements. The restaurant is very big, and is divided into three sections.
After picking a table, my companions and I went through the menu, and ordered dishes that our server recommended. Dumplings are one of my absolute favourite foods, which is why we ordered an assortment of them. We had the Vegetable Chive Dumplings, Mixed Vegetable Crystal Dumplings, Scallop Dumplings and Chicken Sui Mai. Both the vegetable dumplings were great in terms of texture. The soft wrapping of the dumpling and the crunchy vegetables went well together, but they lacked flavour and seasoning. The Scallop Dumplings and Chicken Sui Mai were a lot more loaded in flavour. They were simple, but we were glad we ordered them.
We also ordered the Lamb Lettuce Wrap. I wasn’t sure what this was going to be like, but I put my trust in the hands of our waiter and the chef who recommended it. When it came to our table, it looked strange, but was the best starter we tried so far. It came in three parts: lettuce leaves, fried noodles, and a mix of lamb and chopped vegetables in a plum sauce. We had to assemble it together, by putting the lamb mix and the fried noodles in the lettuce cups and then eating it like a taco.
One of the more dissatisfying parts of our experience were the mocktails. I had a Mango Chilly Drink, which sounded very interesting, but when it was served, it was basically a ready-made mango-flavoured juice in a glass with a rim coated in red chili powder. My companion ordered a simple Lemon Iced Tea, but it didn’t even taste like lemon or iced tea. It was flat and tasteless.
For our mains, we ordered vegetarian Pan Fried Noodles and the Open China Signature Rice. The simple rice was served in a bland gravy and a mix of vegetables like lotus stem, baby corn, pak choy, carrots and bell peppers. It didn’t work for me because the dish had no flavour of its own. The only flavour came from the crunchy vegetables, which I could easily have cooked at home. The Pan Fried Noodles were simple and also bland, but not a total miss. However, we did make the mistake of letting it get cold before we got to eating it, which made the soggy noodles chewy and lumpy.
Surprisingly, the real winners of the meal were the desserts we ordered. We ordered a plate of mini desserts and were presented with little pastries of different flavours called Framboise, Noir, Caramel and Banoffee. The Framboise was a chocolate pastry stuffed with a berry compote, the Noir was an all dark chocolate piece of beauty, the Caramel was a little caramel flavoured pastry, with a toffee like gooey stuffing in the middle, and the Banoffee was their take on a banoffee pie. Each one was sinfully delicious, and had very complex flavours that were very well balanced. They were so good, I re-ordered the Noir, and my companions ordered more of the Banoffee.
I imagine Open China to be that kind of restaurant that you’d visit on a weekday in the night to have a quick, simple, and familiar Chinese meal. I would definitely go back for their divine desserts, but I’m not sure it would be on the top of my list for Asian food.