Falling in love with Indian flavours

  • Akash Khanna | New Delhi

    March 5, 2017 | 11:35 PM

"There is none more sincere a love than the love of food," the legendary playwright George Bernard Shaw said. 

"There is none more sincere a love than the love of food," the legendary playwright George Bernard Shaw had once said. Similar to some extent, Taiwan’s Master Chef Hugo Wang fell in love with India, its food and sweets in general and decided to stay here to merge into the shades of Indian culture.

Keeping both the Taiwanese culture that he was oriented with since birth and the Indian culture he was soaked into later, Hugo wants to serve India with his confectionery delight blended with exotic flavours of the two Asian culinary giants.

Hugo was certified as a Master Chef, specialised in sushi cuisine, in 2013 and now located in New Delhi, serving the Indian foodies from past one-and-half year.

“The most beautiful thing about India is that people here respect traditions a lot. They’re so humble. They’ll ask you to try their food, flavours and cousins. And, they all love sweets,” Hugo said in an interview to thestatesman.com.

Certified with Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP standards), Hugo started an exclusive food chain ‘Moon of Taj’ here in Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi with the idea of imbibing Indian traditions.

Hugo's one-of-its-kind desserts include Taiwanese Fruit Tart and Taiwanese Nougat that are exclusively available only here in the whole world. Blending the Taiwanese and Indian food aesthetics, Hugo’s Moon of Taj offers light sugary and healthier sweets for Indians to exchange on cultural gatherings.

Hugo was the first Taiwanese to graduate from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad and during that period (2011-14) he attended a lot of Indian weddings that introduced him to the Indian cuisine and sweets.

“Sweets symbolises celebration here. I tried a lot of sweets here during the weddings and saw how people gifts their loved ones sweets to mark the celebration,” he said.

“However, the sweets here are very different to the sweets we eat there in Taiwan. Here people want more sugary, glittery and colourful that harms the human body in a long run. So when I was planning to start the Moon of Taj, I wanted to keep five basic principles in mind – exclusivity, less sugary, containing dry fruits, nice packaging, and hygiene.”

When asked about the idea behind the name ‘Moon of Taj’, the 36-year-old chef cum food technician said, “They allow you to watch Taj Mahal in the night on five days in a month, which is on full moon night, and two nights before and two after the full moon. So I witnessed that moment and it was so charming that I fell in love with the country.”

Hugo was first introduced to the culinary by his grandmother at an early age. “Our family owns a successful breakfast chain in Taiwan, which is renowned for assorted range of baozi, steamed buns with assorted fillings. It was through her initial guidance that I learnt to identify all kinds of breads, spices and herbs.”

After completing his graduation from IIM Ahmedabad, he returned to Taiwan, worked as a Sushi chef for a while, and later earned the title of Master Chef in 2013.  

Revealing why he chose Delhi over other cities in India, Hugo said: “Delhi offers a blend of different cultures and communities. It signifies variety and a fusion of civilisations at the same time. Punjabi, South Indians and Jains are living here all together in harmony and people from other parts of the city also come here now and then for various reasons. Also, there come foreigners from different parts of the world.”

When asked if he’s planning to open new branches in other parts of the country, Hugo said, “No, I love Delhi. This is the place my wife chose for me. It’s going fine so far, though we may shift to a bigger place to serve other parts of the country and the world.”

In the midst of the ambience highly influenced by the Taiwanese culture, Hugo’s sweet shop had a miniature Tricolor-flag. Hugo’s favourite dessert is Kheer, he named his son Vishnu, has faith in Indian gods and loves to spend time with local chaps here.

Watching the spirit of the humble Taiwanese and tasting his tarts and nougats filled with rich and authentic flavours and fruits-fillings, no one can resist trying. “To try is to believe,” Hugo concluded, referring to his desire to make people here celebrate their happy moments with his exclusive and one-of-its-kind desserts.