Hachi Ba is a hybrid word that means the digit 8 in Mandarin and Japanese. Eight is considered very lucky in many countries of the Far East because of Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. The restaurant is situated in a relatively remote part of Gurgaon, past Ardee city on the Gold Souk road.
The first thing that strikes me as I enter the restaurant is its minimalist interiors, simple furniture and tangkha art adorning the walls. “I have decorated this place with my own hands,” says the owner and Chef Kalsang Kelly. Personal touch and attention, I am soon going to find out, is the hallmark of Hachi Ba. A Delhi-based model coordinator of Sikkimese origin, Kelly recently decided to shift gears and start his own restaurant that serves fresh, simple and hygienic food. “I do not use any ajinomoto or excessive spices and oil in the food,” he says.
This food philosophy is best showcased in the Hachi Ba soup (Rs 130), a clear soup with oodles of vegetables, sea food, and rice noodles. Its uncomplicated flavours and aroma transport me to the by lanes of Shillong. Next, the Pork Shabaleb (Rs 120) is classic Tibetan bread. It is like a roti folded with a stuffing of shredded pork (in Lhasa they use yak meat), seasoned with spring onions, with the sides folded at the edges like a curry puff, and then shallow fried. The taste is comfortingly scrumptious.
It is clear by now that Kelly believes in being hands on. He is at once cooking, serving and making sure every dish is garnished beautifully. He unravels a basket of steaming hot chicken momos (Rs 150) accompanied with a fiery hot red chutney. The momos are well crafted. The casing is not too thick, the fillings are a mouthful, and dipped in the hot chutney they are have just what it takes to warm up a cold winter day. On next, the pork ribs (Rs 250) are crisp, sweet, spicy, meaty bites of joy.
For the main course, I order chicken in black bean sauce (Rs 250), with veg noodles (Rs 150), and as expected, both are delicious. The pungent salty taste that characterises a good black bean sauce and succulent chunks of chicken make for a mouthwatering meal. The noodles complete the experience, wholesome as they are for being made fresh at the restaurant, unlike the run-of-the-mill ready-made stuff that is dished out elsewhere.
So how does Kelly plan to attract customers in such a far away location? “I just make sure that I serve good food. The customers follow,” says the confident restaurateur.
Hachi Ba stands apart because of its unpretentious setting and complete focus on good food.
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4.5 | Ambiance: 3.0 | Service: 3.5|Overall: 3.5
Meal for Two: Rs 400 | Alcohol: No | Credit Card: Yes| Timing: 12:00 AM – 4:00 PM; 7:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Address: 2, Main Sector Road, Near Ardee City, Sector 56, Gurgaon | Phone: +91 9818317963, +91 9818318064
This review first appeared in Friday Gurgaon