Restaurant Review: Paper Lantern
Food: 3.75 | Service: 2.5 | Décor: 3.5
Located in the lane adjoining the Gaikwad petrol pump in Aundh, Paper Lantern serves pan-Asian food.
It is a small, cozy restaurant and the space is well decorated and smartly designed. The kitchen occupies most of the shop with two tables indoors and most of the seating is outdoors in front of the shop. This section is decorated beautifully with potted plants stacked vertically on both the sides and even the ceiling. The seating is a mix of wooden picnic benches and tables and chairs. The outdoor seating, the wooden furniture and the ample use of plants definitely creates a cozy ambience.
Pan-Asian food, particularly Chinese food is probably the most experimented in our country. The resultant ‘Indianised’ pan-Asian cuisine is not the most authentic, but extremely tasty. The Paper Lantern menu offers a good mix of different pan-Asian cuisines. The menu is uncomplicated with clear sections of vegetarian, chicken and seafood starters and mains.
As it was a fairly cool day, we started with the Prawns and Veg versions of the Burnt Garlic Clear Soup. The vegetarian version was aromatic with carrots, spring onions and bok-choy and mushrooms. The prawn version was equally good, but we would have liked some more prawns in the soup. Honey Chili Potato always sounds great on paper, but not everyone gets it right. Here they were perfectly crunchy, sticky, sweet and spicy. We accompanied the potatoes with another crackling dish, the Plum Chili Crispy Chicken which was deep fried chicken tossed in a sweet and spicy chili plum sauce. After gobbling the first portion in no time, we called for another portion. We were slightly let down by the flavors of the Pan-fried Chili Fish. The fish was under-seasoned and chili was the only prominent flavor. On our server’s recommendation, we also tried the fried Vegetable Spring Rolls, which were crispy and brimming with the filling.
We kept our mains simple and paired the Exotic Vegetables in Spicy Basil Sauce and General Tao’s Chicken with Burnt Garlic Rice and Egg Fried Rice. Generously filled with exotic vegetables like broccoli, bok-choy and zucchini were cooked in an aromatic and spicy basil sauce. Though we paired this with the fragrant burnt garlic fried rice, this flavourful dish can be enjoyed just by itself as a soup of sorts. The General Tao’s or Tso’s Chicken was a slight departure from the original recipe. Instead of a sticky, glazed saucy, it was more of a curry. Having said that, it tasted delicious and paired perfectly with egg fried rice.
Desserts are fairly limited at pan-Asian restaurants, but Sizzling Brownie with Ice-Cream always makes an appearance on the menus. The chocolate brownie, the sizzling gooey sauce and the vanilla ice-cream was the perfect end to our meal at Paper Lantern.
PLUS & MINUS
Paper Lantern serves delicious pan-Asian food in a cozy and comfortable setting. The comparatively lower prices and generous portions make this a great VFM outlet. The staff is courteous and friendly, but the service needs to improve. With only Coca Cola as only beverage available, we sorely missed a more diverse beverage menu.
Must Try Dishes: Burnt Garlic Clear Soup, Plum Chili Crispy Chicken, Honey Chili Potatoes, Exotic Vegetables in Spicy Basil Sauce, Vegetable Spring Rolls
Meal for Two: Rs. 500
Address: Marutirao Gaikwad Nagar, Near Gaikwad Petrol Pump, Aundh, Pune - 411007
Timings: 10:30 AM – 11:00 PM
Photo Courtesy: Paper Lantern
Note: The article was first published in Pune Times on 27 September 2019.