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Xinhua offers a variety of Chinese dishes on its menu.
Xinhua offers a variety of Chinese dishes on its menu.

ISLAMABAD: Xinhua, a Lahore-based Chinese restaurant that first opened its doors to the capital in 1996 has reopened in F-6 Markaz.

The restaurant, which is spread over three floors including a rooftop seating area, can seat 100 diners at a time.

Rather than the quintessential Chinese lanterns and printer crockery, the restaurant’s interior is more reminiscent of a Scottish pub or a cigar lounge, with Victorian-style chairs, and printed brown and beige upholstery.

The brick walls are adorned by large canvases, antique musical instruments and framed vintage clocks.

“You can’t go wrong with two cuisines when planning to open a restaurant: desi and Chinese,” says Xinhua’s owner, Zafar Rahim. And indeed, amongst all the new eateries opening in the city, Xinhua’s forte has been its conventional and contemporary Chinese and Thai dishes.

The meal begins with complementary mind lemonade and, of course, prawn crackers, which are quickly followed by silk prawns, rice and cheese balls, Xinhua special soup, Kung Pao fish and sticky rice, Thai green curry, chicken chopsuey and crispy sesame honey chicken.

One order of the prawns includes four pieces, garnished with crispy potatoes.

The prawns are marinated in honey, mustard and mayonnaise and then coated with flour and fried, with the potato garnish lending a change in texture.

The second appetiser, the rice and cheese balls, are served on a stone platter. The dish consists of cottage cheese and a mix of vegetables infused with Chinese spices and rice, rolled into a ball and deep fried until golden brown and crispy.

The crispy outer shell is complemented by the melted cheese, and the combination makes for a divine appetiser.

The Xinhua special soup, known at other restaurants by the name B-21, consists of beef, chicken and prawns, shitake mushrooms and greens served in a thick broth.

The soup is packed with flavour and served piping hot, and is a meal on its own.

Xinhua’s Kung Pao fish, a spicy main course option that consists of cod stir-fried with dried red chillies, roasted peanuts and chilli oil, is pungent and flavoursome.

The fish is complemented by the crunchy peanuts and peppers, as well as the slightly thicker sauce.

For those who might want to opt for a noodle-based dish, there is the chicken chopsuey, which consists of chicken stir-fried with bean sprouts, peppers, onions and spring onions and layered over thick, flat rice noodles.

The dish is flavoured with soy sauce and oyster sauce, which lend a rich, savoury dimension without overpowering the natural flavour of the ingredients.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2018