Goldfish meet hungry diners. Hungry diners, goldfish. It would have been easier to endure the glassy stare and scaly presence while we slurped our soup, had this introduction been made at the start. Call it fin yang, but every table at this newly re-launched Chinese restaurant has an actual gold fish swimming around in a centerpiece. And its company, you must enjoy until the end of your meal! Live entertainment? Give us the clichéd oriental music any day!
Sampan has changed considerably from its old avatar that used to be housed in The Holiday Inn. The restaurant is rife with Chinese clichés – a dragon on the carpet, China silk on the seats, lanterns on the ceilings – but even that we were able to digest. What really made swallowing our food difficult was the dull silence that hung heavy in the air. The staff told us that the music will be sorted by next week, after which the prospect of sitting at the centre round bar didn't sound so scary.
Old Noodles in a New Bowl
Creepy gold fish, uncomfortable silence, listless families…things weren’t going so well for Sampan. Until the food arrived, that is. The Wanton Soup was piping hot, and the Shredded Crispy Lamb was just the way we remembered it – deliciously comforting. We’d started to warm up to the place, and by the time our main course arrived – house favourites Pan Fried Noodles and Chicken in Black Bean Sauce – we were at the Sampan we knew and loved. The lemon iced teas needed sweetening, but the dessert, Apple Toffee with vanilla ice cream, was flawless.
But as always, hooking up with old flames comes at a price. A bare-minimum meal for two without alcohol cost us about Rs 2,300. Ah, never mind! It was our weekend wanton indulgence.
Getting there: Sampan, Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach, Balraj Sahani Marg, Juhu Beach, Juhu, call 66934444.
At Brown Paper Bag, we review restaurants anonymously and pay for our own meals.