Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chung Wah Koramangala 5th Block

Saturday evening, Mr P, Mr VP and I go to watch a movie Little Zizou. Wonderful movie, and as usual, in India, movies that don't involve singing and dancing, and heroes chasing heroines (the classic love story), don't usually make it big. Boman Irani is fantastic in this movie (as usual), and the story is also a nice, family entertainer, centering around the theme of god men and holy men in religion, in this case the Parsi community.

After the movie, we walked around Koramangala, trying to decide where to go for dinner. We finally arrive at a place where there are four restaurants: La Terezza, China Pearl, Esplanade, and Chung Wah. Chinal Pearl had people waiting outside to get seated (at 9:30 PM!), La Terezza, I've been told isn't all that nice, so between Esplanade (Bengali cuisine) and Chung Wah, we chose Chung Wah coz we thought we could have a light Chinese meal and leave - that was mistake number 1.

And so we enter and are seated, and I notice these three words on the menu

Lovely! If only life were that simple. Mr VP and I ordered a plate of fried wontons while Mr p ordered a plate of steamed momos (no picture).

Chicken Fried Wontons

Mr P and I split a soup called the 3 Treasure soup, which had shitake mushrooms, glass noodles, and some other stuff that I can't remember, but the soup smelt good, and wsan't bad to taste either.

3 Treasure Soup

We'd never tried pork before at any restaurant for a long time, and so we ordered a plate of char shui pork and this thing was yummy. The fat was juicy and the pork itself was done well.

Char Shui Pork

For the main course, Mr VP and I ordered another pork dish with a Korean sounding name. Hung rui shu pork or something like that - well, it was the last name under the pork dishes. Thinly sliced pieces of pork with slices of carrot and red pepper in a gravy - it was very nice.

Korean sounding name Pork

Mr P ordered a Cottage Chees Chilly, and apart from the cottage cheese in it, we didn't quite find too many differences between the pork dish and this one. We didn't ponder too much on this and freak Mr P out (he's a lacto ovo vegan).

Cottage Cheese Chilly

A vegetable steamed rice was what Mr P ordered, and along with that he also ordered a veg Nasi Goreng for Mr VP and me.
Vegetable Steamed Rice

I had serious doubts if we could finish everything that we ordered - it simply seemed too much.
Nasi Goreng

But finish we did, and after dinner, we ambled out of the restaurant, wondering if we'd just roll down the street if we lost balance. I particularly felt nice and fat :) but we did manage to reach the mall (Forum) where we had parked, and the drive back home was blissful.

Food: One of the better 'Chinese' joints.
$$$: Total value for money. Not as cheap as a Chungs or some of the other smaller Chinese joints, but worth it.
Service: Decent
Verdict: Sure, go there if you're in the area.

Chung Wah, KHB Colony, 1st Floor, Adjacent to Esplanade, Koramangala 5th Block, Bangalore. Phone: 41607888, 41607999

Shanghai Salsa

This place opened a few months back, and is a 2 minute walk from my office, and yet, I hadn't been there for all these months. Well, enough is enough, I thought, and when on Friday I hadn't got lunch from home, I decided to head there, with a book 'The fountains of Paradise' by Arthur C Clarke.

As soon as I entered, I knew this wasn't a small joint serving sandwiches and juices. There was blackboard with the day's specials written there, and when I saw stuff like Red Snapper written there, I thought "Woo hoo! How good is this place going to be... another disappointing wannabe?" Well, I went up, seated my fat butt, and began reading, and ordered a lime soda. I was also intrigued by the name - Shanghai Salsa. Chinese and Latino. Hmm, interesting, I thought. And then my eye caught the screens (I forgot what they're called - like TV screens but running on a closed circuit loop) which was displaying the history of Chinese immigration to Cuba.

Most Chinese went there as slaves to work in the sugar plantations several centuries ago, and eventually, like in all places, settled down and a their culture, including their food, began influencing the local culture.

I started off with a veg Tortilla soup, and as soon as it came I knew I had made a mistake - the soup was the size of a cauldron and was almost a meal in itself! Tasted good though, with black beans, and some other stuff that I couldn't quite make out coz the book I was reading was pretty darn interesting.

Veg Tortiall soup

After that came the chicken quesadilla, and I must say that although it reminded me of the humble chapathi, the stuffing inside was nice - not mind blowing wow, but nice, well cooked chicken, which wasn't too spicy.
Chicken quesadilla

Finally, my main course arrived(and by this time I was really ruing the fact that I had ordered the soup coz I had almost no space left in me for the main course). It was a soya ham with mango butter sauce. I couldn't care less about the banana chips they'd planted on top to the beans over the rice because they weren't crispy at all, but the soya ham was good, and the mango butter sauce was something very interesting - sweet, with a hint of tangyness in it.
By the time I was done, I wanted to ask them if they had a wheel barrow to cart me out as it would have been a record if I could walk out straight. Decent place, nice music, from Santana to a few Latino numbers which I couldn't quite figure out since I had my nose burried in the book, nice setup, and a menu that surely looks interesting. Time to get Mr P and Mr VP and sample a few more items.

And as far as food is concerened, I have to end with this Cuban proverb: Believe only half of what you see and nothing of what you hear.

Food: Great!
$$$: If you go in a large group, it would work out to around 300 or 350 per head (assuming you eat properly); smaller groups could end up paying almost 500 per head.
Service: Decent, prompt.
Verdict: I'm a fan of the place, and if you'd like to try Cuban, head to Shanghai Salsa. If you're anywhere near Indiranagar and wanna try something different, this is the place to be.
Extra Info: It's opposite just Bake.

Shanghai Salsa, 618/1, 1st Stage, 2nd Main, Opposite Just Bake, Indiranagar, Bangalore. Phone: 25201984

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Birthday @ Tandoor

11th was when I became 26...which means I need to update the byline of my blog :)

I started off with a mutton shorba, which was nice, but then I regretted it because that was something you should be ordering on a cold, chilly, winter night, and not on a warm summer night.
Mutton Shorba

My brother, the fussy eater, wasn't having any of the standard fare, and settled for a mango drink, a mocktail comprising of mango and orange juices.

My mom, who's turned vegetarian since last year, ordered the veg gilafi rolls, and although it didn't taste bad, we weren't quite sure how to put our finger on the exact tatse - so for the time being, to be nice to the people at Tandoor, I'll say it had an interesting taste.

My brother and I ordered a plate of malai kabab, and it was wonderful - soft, juicy, and of course creamy.

For our main course, we ordered some breads - kulchas and rotis, and ordered a brinjal (egg plant) dish called bhartha Rawalpindi, and I have to say that for someone who didn't like brinjal at all, this dish made a believer. It was simply amazing! Along with it, we also ordered a butter chicken, and without a doubt it was sinfully good.

Both mom and bro aren't as heavy eaters as I am, and so I ordered a kulfi for dessert and sighed at the end of a satisfying meal.

26. Another year gone by, and to be honest, this year hasn't started off in the best of ways. Things are still frosty at best, and acrimonious at worst, with a friend of mine with whom there had been a 'fallout' a couple of months back. I hope things improve with the weather, and a change in the season beings about a change in my friend. As Ogden Nash said:

Man is a victim of dope,
In the incurable form of hope

All I can do is hope, hope that things get better, because there's isn't anything I will be allowed to do on my own to get things to improve - my friend won't allow it (I still say friend, because for me it's still the same).

Food: One of the better north Indian food joints.
$$$: Probably around 300-400 per head if in a group.
Service: Good
Verdict: If anything, go for the bartha Rawalpindi - divine! :)

Tandoor, Oasis Mall, 4th Floor, Koramangala-Indiranagar (Intermediate) Ring Road, Bangalore.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

BM Review: Bangalore Bistro

This visit to Bangalore Bistro was official - it was part of me doing a review of the restaurant for the tabloid Bangalore Mirror. Pretty snazzy huh? :) Mr P and Mr VP accompanied me on the 10th of April, on a warm Good Friday night. We were joined there by Dr V, the photographer from Bangalore Mirror - Ph.D in English, and as Mr P said, "He looks too happy to be married!".

I was informed that I won't be able to put up the same content on my blog, but there no restriction on me giving a link here to the review, so click here. However, I am allowed to put up the pics of the food we ate (the ones I clicked), so those are here.

Once in a blue moon (Orange juice and blue Curacao)

Virign Mary

Once in a blue moon with someone's bust as the backdrop

Res Sea (Strawberry crush, lime juice and 7 Up)

Corn and cheese fritters

Caroza (sandwich with pesto and buffalo mozzarella)

Spoony beef

Cream of mushroom soup

Mozzarella and jalapeno balls

Citrus pepper fish

Veg gnocchi with mushrooms

Lebanese veg shawarma rolls with hummus

BaPeTo Chicken (Basil pesto tomoato) with polenta

Lava Java

Sizzling Brownie

Mango Cheesecake

Food: Very good.
$$$: Moderately expensive, around 400-600 per head depending on what you have.
Service: Very good.
Verdict: Must visit if you like continental and Mediterranean food.

Bangalore Bistro, #74 Brigade Road, Opposite St. Patrick's Church, Bangalore. Phone: 41131616, 25571616

At the risk of losing the review, since I can't expect the website to host the link for years, after a period in time I'm posting the review here:

The dictionary defines bistro as a small, modest, European-style restaurant or café. Bangalore Bistro is anything but small or modest, and one look at the place will dispel any notions of a small street-side café you may have conjured up. The restaurant has three sections — open air, a fine dining area and a lounge area. Chef Junaid Rafiuddin, formerly with the Taj Residency, started Bistro in 1999 on Cunningham Road, dishing out Italian and Continental fare. Around two-and-a-half years ago, a change in location to Brigade road seems to have also brought about a change in the ambiance and
cuisine, with a Mediterranean touch added to the place.

My guests were Pranav and Prashanth, both techies who’ve travelled around the globe on work and have sampled the wares of lands beyond our shores. Dressed in shorts and Ts on a warm Friday night, we stepped into Bistro to warm, comforting lights and light music, and sheeshas in the open air section – belly dancers would have completed the Mediterranean feel! Sigh. The menu starts off with Chef Rafiuddin extolling the chefs for the use of “...prized ingredients that makes all the difference...” In the menu, under soups, there aren’t any options given, only this line: “We would be glad to cook up anything for you.” This place scores for originality for sure.

A rule of thumb that I use at fancy restaurants to judge how good the food will be is by ordering a cream of mushroom soup and a Virgin Mary (if on the menu). If these two can be made to perfection, you can be assured that the food to follow would be good. The soup and Virgin Mary turned out to be fantastic, so were the other drinks — Red Sea (strawberry based) and Once in a Blue Moon (orange juice and blue Curacao).

Unlike several other places, veggies won’t have to worry for choice (Pranav being a veggie will testify), simply
because there’s plenty. The corn and cheese fritters were tasty, although the cheese inside could have been cooked a little more. The coroza (sandwich with pesto and buffalo mozzarella) was delightful, the mozzarella and jalapeno balls felt a little doughy (probably the only disappointment of the night), and the spoony beef was subtle and light on the flavours.

Onto the entrées, and although Pranav thought the gnocchi was a mixed bag, with the sauce having the right blend of herbs and spices while the gnocchi itself being a little bland, the Lebanese shawarma rolls (which had a zing to them), the citrus pepper fish and the basil pesto chicken were all executed to perfection. Prashanth has a sensitive stomach that usually acts up if the oil used is bad or stale, but he pointed out that the oil didn’t seem to have been reused – a definite plus. The desserts we had were superb — sizzling brownie, mango cheesecake and a Java lava, which was molten chocolate in a coffee cup served with ice cream.

The staff is extremely patient and helpful when it comes to helping you decide what to have, and what’s more, they know what’s on their menu. Their patience was demonstrated that evening when they put up with the tantrums and the ruckus created by a group of 20 or so high school/college kids celebrating a birthday there. My guests and I were amazed at the decibel levels the kids touched and by the way birthdays are celebrated today — I guess it’s a generational thing, meaning I’m getting old!

Bangalore Bistro is one of those places that delivers on its promises. The quality and finesse of the dishes match up to the ambience, and unless you are the type who’s used to the overwhelming power of spices and masalas in Indian cuisine, you would have to make an effort to not like this place.

2 weekes of non stop eating

Hurray! Finally, my brother's exams are over, and the next day we were off to shop for his birthday gift. Well, we didn't end up buying his 'gift', that's been put off for another day, but we did end up buying a lot of books to read. After the little shopping spree at Blossoms, we landed up in The Only Place, named that way because when it opened in Bangalore, it was the first restaurant (and for quite a while the only restaurant) to serve beef. And so it was a lasagna for the little brat, and I settled for a lamb burger.

The lasagna was good, and it's the first time I'm seeing it served on a plate, and not a bowl or a deep dish.

The burger though, was, well, a little dry for my liking, and I've certainly had better. And I just hate it when they add a raw slice of onion in burgers...why can't they caramelise it??? How hard is it? I can certainly wait a couple of minutes longer!

The 5th of April saw Mr P and Mr VP headed towards F&B to have their 'lunch @ 360', and although a couple of the dishes we had were slightly different from when I had been there earlier on Christmas day of 2008 with my brother, and so there wasn't a lot of clickety click. Plus, the two of 'em were pretty amazed by the food and the service and wasted no time in tucking into the grub as soon as it hit the table.
Chocolate mousse with blueberry cream

Anise spices cake

I forgot what this one was :)

The next weekend we were off to watch Fast and the Furious 4, and before we stepped into the theatre, we went to this place called Ramana's on Cunningham Road, just after Wockhardt hospital. Simple, north Indian fare, but amazing to taste. Too bad we were in a hurry to get to the movie, and so I didn't get snaps here as well :(

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