Chopsticks Providenciales, Turks and Caicos IslandsReviewed May / June 2014
Courtyard dining at Chopsticks Restaurant
Nothing creates more of a buzz on this island than a restaurant opening. All eyes had been watching the exciting metamorphosis underway and island gossip was rife with rumours of ‘soon-come’ succulent Peking Duck and other authentic Asian delicacies. Day after day, drive-bys passed Neptune Court, reducing their speed and craning their necks, eager for a hint or a sign of the long anticipated opening of Chopsticks. Good things come to those who wait.
The Asian-inspired décor is dramatic, with a striking colour palette of ebony black, vibrant red and brilliant white with stylish, recessed lighting and bamboo sticks that create a bold and hip edge. Afternoons or evenings take on a magical aura in the tropical courtyard beneath a ‘sky’ of dazzling white paper lanterns, or relax on the lounge-like terrace with comfortable sofa seating or enjoy casual family or group dining at their upscale picnic tables.
Vegetable Spring Rolls at Chopsticks
The menu is a veritable fusion of many different Asian cuisines prepared by Nepalese Chef Pharsuram. Noshing on prawn crackers, it quickly became clear that choosing from the comprehensive menu was going to be a challenge, so Manager Karine Smith stepped in. The quintessential hostess, Karine was happy to assist, plotting our dining courses for the evening’s far-flung culinary adventure.
At the ready with his mini iPad, server Nelton appeared. “That’s Nelson with a t instead of an s”, he joked. I had to do a double-take when our cocktails began to appear before Nelton even left our table. Turns out, he’s ‘connected’ to the bar and the kitchen. Several taps later and our order now complete, Nelton surveyed our table and commented cheerfully, “I think you guys need to move to a larger table.”
Chopstick's Steamed Chicken Momos
Our cross-country Asian adventure began with Peking Duck. Served wrapped in paper-thin spring roll sheets, served with scallions and a fabulous Hoisin sauce, this dish was perfect for sharing. I could not resist the urge to savour the duck ‘straight’, without any distractions. The crackling skin crunched on impact and the oh-so-tender duck meat dissolved in my mouth. In next to no time the entire table was a chorus of undulating sighs and moans. I didn’t know whether to pick up my chopsticks or my pen. They prepare on average 4-5 ducks a day and they run out… so be forewarned.
Satay Kai or chicken satay is always a crowd-pleaser; skewered, marinated and grilled, these were sensational, wonderfully spiced and served with a lip smacking peanut sauce.
Spring rolls are probably the bastion of Asian cuisine and were most likely your very first taste of Asian cuisine way back when. Vegetable Spring Rolls stuffed with fresh veggies, tightly wrapped and deep fried were a winning contrast of textures and flavours. We eagerly submerged these crispy and delectable treats in the marvelous sweet chili sauce.
Special Hakka Noodles
I really don’t know where the appetisers actually ended and the main courses began. What I do know is that this evening evolved into somewhat of a culinary combat – a friendly competition of dueling delicacies.
While I was smitten with my Peking Duck, blathering accolades to anyone who would listen, a fellow dining companion had become somewhat obsessed with his Hong Kong Style Sliced Beef. It was indeed memorable; tender strips of thinly sliced beef smothered in a marvelously rich, thick and flavourful sauce; the chefs own blend of different spices with a soya bean base. “That was the hit – the beef! I’m coming back for the beef dish,” he raved. His incessant kudos continued to Karine who agreed and said, “The beef is my favourite too – I love it.” Lost in the moment and surreptitiously planning ahead, my fellow diner’s eyes widened with delight upon discovering that the lunch portions were the same size as the dinner portions. “So, if I came back to get the Hong Kong Beef?” … there was no diverting him.
Peking Duck, great for sharing
Grilled Lamb Chops proved to be another admirable culinary contender. The lamb was absolutely phenomenal and the sweet chili sauce packed the perfect heat with an ‘after burn’ that prompted, “I just ate it and now I’m getting it!”
Tender Diced Chicken, Crunchy Bamboo Shoots and Marvelous Mushrooms came together superbly in this savoury chicken dish, drenched in a rich, smooth and earthy-tasting oyster sauce.
Special Hakka Noodles was an undisputed hit and hailed to be “a meal unto itself”, stir-fried with beef, chicken, pork, shrimp and egg.
A favourite, Hong Kong Beef
Dim Sum means, ‘to touch your heart’ and these bite-size Cantonese treats certainly did. We indulged in Pork Dim Sum served the traditional way in a steamer basket. These delicate and tender dumplings had a wonderful ginger kick.
Momos became a new addition to our vocabulary this evening. A type of dumpling native to Nepal and a popular fast food, these steamed Chicken Momos were stuffed with spiced, minced chicken and packaged in a tender, ‘dough’ similar to dim sum.
Not only did I barely have room for dessert, I could hardly pronounce it. Tub Tim Grob. Try saying that after a few cocktails. An absolutely luscious Thai dessert that was incredibly light and refreshing, Tub Tim means ‘ruby’ and Grob, ‘crunchy’. The vibrant red water chestnuts appear to float in the thick, sweet coconut cream. The ‘Cigar Rolls’ were undeniably addictive. Think dessert spring roll – stuffed with smoldering sweetness and drizzled with a delightfully sweet and sticky red sauce.
Informal picnic table dining at Chopsticks
Charmed to finally make the acquaintance of Chef Pharsuram we proceeded to inundate him with accolades and barrage him with questions, beginning with, “How did you get here?” In jest, we all answered for him in unison, “By plane.”
Originally from Kathmandu, Chef Pharsuram heard about Provo from a friend already working here at a local resort. He arrived on Provo two years ago via Delhi where he had been working for the past 10 years. From across the table ‘Mr. Hong Kong Beef’ voiced a firm and persuasive, “Don’t go anywhere … stay. The food is great!” Pharsuram explained that many of the special ingredients and spices have to be special ordered and that the menu will change every six months, which prompted you-know-who to blurt out, “Do not take the Hong Kong Beef off the menu!” He will be on your doorstep if you do, we all quipped.
The chef’s choice dishes to prepare are the Szechuan and Cantonese dishes, naming Szechuan Pepper Dice Chicken as his menu favourite. Curious to know where he likes to dine, we were not at all surprised by his reply, “Garam Masala”. I don’t know whether it is destiny or good fortune but it just so happens that this issue of Where When How reviewed both restaurants. (See page 112 for Garam Masala) He’s an aficionado of Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Tikka and Garlic Naan.
A great dessert, try the Cigar Rolls at Chopsticks
Then, more accolades for the chef. “Oh the noodles, they were fabulous!” and “Oh, the duck!” I was eager to learn more about the duck and the smoker it’s prepared in. Chef Pharsuram acknowledged it takes a total of 20 hours preparation, with 7 hours in the smoker. “It’s worth it!” we all cooed.
I thought it apropos to end this authentic Asian-inspired dining experience with an old Chinese proverb. Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time. Someone should tell him about Chopsticks.
Photography by Lisa Adara Photo
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