18 James Long has been named from its location on James Long Sarani. Being one of the best fine dining oriental restaurants in Behala, this is infact a savior for the residents nearby. I was invited over here for a food tasting event. The restaurant building has two floors, the first floor being well decorated, well furnished, air conditioned and hence suitable for groups, families and couples.
We started with the mocktails, which are unique in the sense that two different flavours are fused in them. The ones we tasted were :
1. Pineapple Julep – A mixture of pineapple, orange mint and lime. This was refreshing and tasted better than the other two. The taste was more of pineapple than orange.
2. Basil and lychee mojito – This consisted of lychee, cranberry, basil and lime. The drink was refreshing but somewhat overly sweet.
3. Cucumber and Pomegranate blossom – This was prepared using orange, pomegranate, cucumber, coriander roots and lime. Though refreshing, the flavours didn’t go well with each other.
Suggestion – Introduction of certain fizzy mocktails, even simple ones like fresh lime soda can work well
The next section was of the soups, where we were served four of their specialities :
1. Tofu with mushroom and tomato – A clear soup with basic ingredients like shiitake mushrooms, soft tofu, peeled tomatoes and coriander. This is indeed a good option for vegetaraians.
2. Birds nest soup – Looked amazing and tasted great, probably my favourite among the soups ! This was low on spice, dense with garlic, ginger, chicken and a layer of crispy noodles on top
3. Wanton soup – A clear, aromatic soup with soft, steamed wantons. A good, healthy option.
4. Thai Tom Yum soup – A tangy soup with medium sized chicken pieces, flavoured with lemongrass, galangal and Kaffir lime leaves. This was nice.
Moving on to the salads, we tried :
1. Sweet and sour cucumber with mint – The salad included sliced cucumber, palm sugar, coriander, Thai birds eye chillies, rice vinegar, lime and mint. The fresh and juicy salad was good to have.
2. Chicken and shredded cabbage salad – This salad comprised of shredded chicken pieces, Chinese cabbage, roasted onions, ginger, Thai red chillies, mint, coriander and palm sugar. The salad and juicy and fresh. I loved it.
Moving to the appetizers, we sampled out the best of their menu :
1. Chicken and cilantro momo – In a word, amazing ! In the limelight of established Tibetan joints, we fail to give recognition to few places. 18 James Long is definitely one of them. The momos were one of the best I had, with a very thin outer covering and a juicy chicken stuffing. The owner later revealed this to be his mother’s recipe and that’s the reason what made the momos so delectable.
2. Pork and brandy momos – They were good too and similar to the previous one. The minced pork stuffing was great.
3. Crispy chilli babycorn and mushroom – The fried babycorns were sauted with bell peppers and scallions in a sweet and chilli sauce. The taste was good, however it lacked the expected crispness.
4. Asian sweet and sour chicken with spinach crackling – Fried chicken strips were sauted in a tangy chilli sauce and served on a bed of spinach crackling, burnt garlic and toasted sesame seeds. This tasted great.
5. Thai chicken wings – The chicken wings were soft and juicy, deep fried and flavoured with lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves and galangal.
6. Santung Pork – Sliced pork was fried to crispness and sauted with scallions, chillies and burnt garlic on Chinese cooking wine. I loved this dish. The soft pork covered with the crispy batter, was amazing!
7. Prawn fire crackers – Tiger prawns were fried to crispness and wrapped in a wanton sheet, served with a tangy and spicy tomato sauce dip. The prawns were soft and the wantons crisp.
8. Thai fish cakes with chilli garlic mayo dip – This was my first time with this dish and it turned out to be just amazing ! Minced basa fish was mashed with lime leaves, chillies, lemongrass and Thai curry sauce, shaped into oval cakes and fried with a delicate coat of panko crumbs.
Next to arrive at our tables, were the main course dishes :
1 . Butter garlic fried rice – Wok tossed fried rice was sauted with butter and tossed with burnt garlic. A good vegetarian dish.
2. Spinach pan fried noodles – Pan fried crispy noodles loaded with sliced chicken and veggies, and topped with a spinach based gravy. The taste was so amazing that one can have it without any side dish.
3. Baby corn and mushroom hupak style – Mushroom and babycorn were stir fried in black bean sauce and pickles onions. It went very well with the rice.
4. Sliced chicken with basil and oyster sauce – Sliced chicken pieces were tossed in a oyster sauce based gravy and flavoured with basil leaves. Quite nice !
5. Butter and garlic prawn – Tiger prawns were cooked in a white butter and garlic sauce. Definitely worth a try !
Ending our meal with the desserts :
1. Banana fritters with vanilla ice cream – This is a dish from Thailand where hot and soft fritters made from sliced banana are placed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This was a nice combo.
2. Darsaan with vanilla ice cream – Hot flour chips tossed in honey and sesame, placed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The dish had everything which a proper darsaan has starting from the crispness of the chips to their accurate sweetness. This was undoubtedly the best among their desserts.
3. Fried ice cream – A scoop of ice cream was fried with a crispy coating, placed on a layer of nuts. This was quite nice.
Overall, 18 James Long is undoubtedly the best Oriental restaurant in the whole of Behala ! The long, unique menu is commendable. The effort that was put behind every dish was reflected from the taste. I would definitely love to visit this place again and would recommend others to do so !