Review: China XO, Leela Palace, Chennai

It’s odd that a city with the second longest urban beach in the world had to wait this long for a luxury hotel with an ocean view. Thankfully the Leela Palace Chennai was worth the wait, having utilised its unique location overlooking the Bay of Bengal to the maximum. And that’s just one of the wow factors of China XO, the hotel’s Chinese restaurant dominated by Sichuan and Cantonese fare.   Leela’s palace hotels can sometimes overwhelm you with their opulence, but China XO manages to strike a balance. Fashioned by Design Spin – a Japanese design firm whose impressive credentials includes the edgy Nobu restaurant in Tokyo – the interiors consist of elaborate accessories and intricate detailing, but don’t come across as over the top. There’s a large ocean facing lounge that leads to the restaurant – the perfect place to unwind with a cocktail while your lady friend is still figuring out what shoes to wear. The same sense of space extends into the restaurant where you won’t be able to eavesdrop on conversations from nearby tables, in case your date gets too boring. The restaurant’s private dining spaces are among the largest in the city using dark wood complemented by the red placemats on the table that make the food look even better.   China XO offers an al-fresco seating option, a set of windy cabanas from where you can almost smell the sea. But given Chennai’s infamous summer temperatures most of the immediate action is likely to stay indoors where another kind of heat is turned up every few minutes. It emanates from the restaurant’s piece-de-resistance – a wood-fired oven that churns out the most delectable Peking duck - a lesson to all pseudo-Chinese restaurants on how it’s really done. The duck is marinated for 48 hours and wood-fired for 45 minutes before it arrives on your table. Meaning that you can forget about ordering it during a zippy power lunch with the boss.      Most Chinese restaurants imagine they have boasting rights with one Chinese expat chef in the kitchen. China XO has quite a few of them including Chin Chon Fang who honed his dimsum making skills in Hakkasan, London. And if you can tell the difference between momos and dimsums you will find Fang’s array of dimsums (like the Chilean Sea bass dumpling) quite irresistible. China XO might only be the second Chinese speciality restaurant within the Leela fold but hits bull’s eye with a combination of dramatic interiors, a well-researched menu and indulgent service.  

GQ Recommends:Prawn Cheung Fun, Scallop with XO Sauce, crispy pork belly, Sesame balls Service:Switched on Innovation: A special cooking range for the wood fired duck, handmade rice noodles Snooty factor: High Celeb-o-meter: Local corporate honchos and movie stars Classic Potential: High. The dimsums and a host of new flavours can lure diners willing to pay top dollar.      Vibe:Perfect for an intimate dinner with your inner circle or for high-powered corporate entertainment 

-Ashwin Rajagopalan

You may also like:

UBER-LUXE DINING  TRUTHS ABOUT MALT 10 TOP APHRODISIAC FOODS

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

As two of the most glamorous sides in the Indian T20 league, the focus of the match between Mumbai and Bangalore will invariably be on the middle-order… More »

BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srinivasan, says Manohar

BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srinivasan, says Manohar

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Pietersen ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Pietersen ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »