Monday, July 27, 2009

Suburbia

Suburbia, as the name suggests, is on the suburbs of the city. Located on the outer ring road, between K R Puram and Rammurthynagar Underpass. And so, the usual suspects and I decided to go there since they had to leave work late. I got there ahead of them, and so started reading a book while I waited. I usually don't drink when I have to drive back, but they had a breezer flavour that I'd never had before - Jamaican Passion (passion fruit), so that's what I had, since the alcohol content is only 5% (I think that's less than what's there in beer as well).
This thing was good (well, I've always liked passion fruit, so I guess that helped).

When I began to feel hungry, I ordered a beef pepper fry until the guys came (luckily they came when I was half way through the appetiser).
The beef was extremely well cooked and soft, and when VP came and tasted it, said it had a lamb like texture. I agreed, but the taste wasn't that of lamb, so I'm a bit surprised (pleasantly) about the whole thing.

Mr P had a Jamaican Passion as well, while VP went in style and had a Jetski, a fancy lime soda with mint (he ended up having two of those).
There wasn't anything special about it, and I liked my JP better :)

As is his habit, Mr P wanted to have a soup and asked me if I wanted to split one with him, but after going through the menu, I knew if I wanted to sample the Goan dishes, there's no way I could have a soup as well. So he went ahead and had a spinach soup called cream of highway.

VP and I decided to go all out on the various Goan dishes available. Although there was no pork available here (I heard the chef is a Muslim, couldn't confirm that though), we hoped that wouldn't hurt the experience of Goan food here. So we ordered a chicken sausage masala.
The sausage was nicely marinated and although I can't comment on the authenticity of the masala used (not sure if it's actually the way Goans cook the stuff), it tasted bloody good, and so didn't really care.

Apart from the sausages, we also ordered an egg vindaloo. A vindaloo is a Portuguese dish and the name is derived from the Portuguese term vinha d'Alhos, which basically means wine and garlic, so no points for guessing what the prime ingredients here are.
The fried eggs with the masala are probably the perfect dish when your drinking, with the spices in the egg making up for the flat beer that people usually guzzle.

The day's special, chicken ghee roast, was also ordered, at which point we began wondering if we were going to eat our main course or not. The ghee roast was good, but I've had better.

Mr P meanwhile made do with a paneer peri-peri. Again, the peri-peri is a Portuguese term used to describe a particular type of chilly (which apparently looks like a bird's eye). This thing was a little spicy.
The paneer also had a strange, mildly sweet taste to eat - we weren't able to pinpoint if this was because it was made from milk that wasn't fresh or if something was added to the dish.

For our main course, again, we went traditional. We ordered appams,
sannas, and red rice. Sannas are little rice cakes, the same as idlis, with the prime difference being that sannas have toddy added to the batter during preparation.

We ordered a prawn balchao

and a vegetable stew to eat the rice, appams, and the sannas.
I'm not sure how a balchao is supposed to taste, but the fact that it did have a sweet and sour taste to it confirmed that at least they had tried to make it the right way. A balchao is supposed to have cumin seeds and red chilly paste mixed with sugar, along with a ginger-garlic paste and vinegar.

After all that, we managed to make a little room for a classic Goan dessert called bebinca, which didn't quite taste like the one I had eaten at a place called 3 Stories.
Overall, we liked the food (going by just the taste), and the fact that after binging on the food here, the bill came to a trickle over 1600 (considering the fact that we had 4 drinks, and really went all out on the appetisers), which we thought was very reasonable. Under normal circumstances, we'd have had at the most 3 starters and not 5 like we did this time.

Service: Pretty decent
$$$: Around 400-500 per head, if you're gonna have drinks along with the food
Food: Very good
Verdict: Certainly worth a visit
Extra info: While approaching the area from KR Puram, get onto the service road near Kasturi Nagar itself. Oh, and before I forget, their menu has a major misprint:they've used the word entrée where they should have used appetiser (or appetizer, if they wanted the American spelling)

Suburbia, 407, 3rd Floor, East NGEF Layout, Opposite SAIL Factory, Kasturi Nagar, Outer Ring Road Bangalore. Phone: 41499329

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BM Review: Asean

Another review for Bangalore Mirror, this time featuring Asean on Castle Street, off Brigade road. Read the review here. My 2 cents (should we rephrase it to "my 2 paise"?) of extra info is at the end, after the snaps. Since I'm not too sure if I can publish the review written for the paper here, I've only provided a link, and it isn't too long, so do read it to 'know' how the place is. And since I was doing an official review, I had to actually critique the place and couldn't ignore stuff that I'd have otherwise not given too much thought about during the course of a normal visit.

Below are snaps of what we ate. No P and VP this time - I went global! My guests were Chung Gien, his older brother Chung Wah, and their friend David Leong, all third generation Chinese (actual Chinese), born and brought up in Bangalore.

L-R: Chung Wah, David Leong, Chung Gien


Chicken laksa


Ikan Asam-Fish with tamarind sauce


Crispy spinach prawns


Kambling Bali-Balinese lamb with sprouts


Chicken satay


Kambling Mekuah-Sliced lamb


Thai prawn red curry


Opor Ayam-Chicken


Spicy Saigon veg noodles


Rum 'n' raisin mousse flan


Sticky date and walnut cake

Service: Not bad, but the wait staff could be more proficient with the items on the menu
$$$: Not as expensive as an Aromas of China or Mainland China, but not as low as a Chung's. Our meal cost us Rs. 1920, which I thought was decent (4 people plus the photographer, who after relentless insistence from my side, complied and had a soup and a lime soda - he wasn't planning to eat anything otherwise!)
Food:I won't go so far as to say it's totally authentic, especially after the disappointment with the satay (read the review to know more about what I'm talking about), but the taste of the food is good, but again, not so much that you'll remember the meal specifically again with a smile on your face (except the desserts - that you'll remember for sure). Don't go entirely on the review I wrote because there I had to critique the place with a fine toothed comb.
Verdict: Worth a visit at least once, and then you make up your mind if you like it or not.
Extra Info: The street it's on, Castle St., is a one way, and you can't enter from Brigade road, so you'll have to enter the next street, Wood street, and then take a left and enter Castle St. Parking on Castle St. may be an issue, so try finding parking elsewhere and walk it up.

Asean, No. 45, Castle Street, Ashok Nagar, Off Brigade Road, Bangalore. Phone: 41126381

The full review is here:

Ever visited a place, or read a book, or eaten a dish, which you wanted to be good because of the little you’d heard about it? Nestled in Castle Street off Brigade Road, Asean is one such place that you want to like, and want to be good. Maybe it’s the charm of the old colonial named streets from the Raj era - I don’t know, but I immediately began wanting this place to be good.

My visit to Asean was with Chung Gien, his older brother Chung Wah, and their friend David Leong, all third generation Chinese (yes, Chinese Chinese, not from the north-east), born and brought up in Bangalore. And before your mind runs away with these names, this isn’t a review of a John Woo action flick; it’s still a restaurant review. The Chungs have the distinction of belonging to the family that opened Bangalore’s second Chinese restaurant, Nanking, on Vittal Mallya road (no connection to the one in Sigma Mall). The older Chung - Chung Wah, and David, foodies in every sense, had toured Malaysia with the sole intention of indulging themselves in Malay and south-east Asian street food, and the experience was sure to come in handy here, since Asean dishes out Chinese and south-east Asian food.

A serene, 71 year old Jimmy Palkhivala, owner of Asean, greets you as you enter the quaint and moderately picturesque restaurant. Settling into our cushioned seats amidst light music wafting around, we started off with a chicken laksa, a thick, slightly spicy, traditional Malay noodle soup, which tasted good and set the tone for the evening (or so we hoped). Hoping to get a sample of the entire region, we ordered a variety of dishes - Javanese chicken satay, ikan asam (Malaysian dish of fish with a tamarind sauce), kambling bali (Balinese lamb) and crispy spinach prawns (from the Chinese section of the menu). While the ikan asam stole the show with the tamarind sauce nicely complimenting the perfectly cooked fish, the kambling bali came in second with the lamb cooked with the right amount of spices, mixed with herbs and sprouts making for an interesting combination.

The satay was a big disappointment - it wasn't chicken skewered and cooked on an open flame; it seemed like the chicken was deep-fried and then skewered and served with the peanut sauce, the traditional accompaniment for satay. Lacking any discernable flavour, the chicken’s taste was masked completely when eaten with the peanut sauce. The crispy, spinach prawn had some kind of "eerie red colouring", to quote David, and the prawns didn't have any great taste to speak of, with the sweet, crispy spinach being the only thing that was good.

Our main course was slightly better. We ordered an opor ayam - Malaysian chicken with chilly and coriander, a kambling mekuah - thin slices of lamb in a flavourful gravy, and a Thai prawn red curry, along with steamed white rice and a spicy Saigon noodles. Our waiter specifically recommended the Saigon noodles, saying it would go well with the Thai red curry. Sadly, there wasn’t anything great about the noodles-curry combo, and even the Thai curry wasn't anything to rave about. Strangely, we also found pieces of mushroom and baby corn in it, and they certainly don’t gel well with prawns. The chicken and lamb dishes though, were good, and I loved the combination of the opor ayam (chicken) with the steamed rice.

Desserts are probably the crown jewel of Asean. The rum 'n' raisin flavoured mousse and the sticky date walnut cake were simply fabulous – FA-BU-LOUS. The unique flavor of the mousse was refreshing and the date and walnuts blended perfectly with a wonderfully textured cake. The desserts are made in-house by Mr. Palkhivala’s wife and son. Sigh! If only the same kind of attention and love that went into the desserts would go into the food.

All things considered, there wasn't anything 'bad' or 'terrible', but it didn't seem as if there was sufficient attention to detail (fear of the devil perhaps?), although, going by the dishes on the menu - they weren’t masquerading Indianised Chinese food as SE Asian food - you'd have thought otherwise. So no points for guessing the reasoning behind the caption for this review, because there's a lot of potential that I see, which sadly hasn't been tapped, or for reasons unknown, has been neglected.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Alibaba Cafe

Mr VP and I went out for lunch to Alibaba Cafe in Frazer town on Saturday, the same place I'd first visited with my brother. Mr P was supposed to join us but he had a lot of work to finish and so was at office on a Saturday - that guy's becoming a deranged workaholic!

Since my last visit here (which also happened to be my first), I'd told Mr VP about the place, and he's visited the place twice after that, making this his third visit in 3 weeks. Surprisingly, he was ready to have lamb dishes as well, hearing which I was thrilled, coz Mr VP has an unusual 'syndrome' where the teeth on the left side of the lower jaw 'hurt' every time he eats lamb. Yes, weird, I know. We started off with a Moroccan tea pot,
and I tell you the tea these guys make is simply the best in Bangalore. It's not your regular tea powder and milk chai, and just like the Iranian tea I had during my last visit, this one was great. In fact, in terms of flavour, this one scores over the Iranian tea.

The menu is divided into three sections, detailing the cuisines of three different regions: Bhatkal (coastal Karnataka, above Mangalore), Arabian, and Persian. We ordered a chicken appetiser from the Arabian section called shish taouk, which is actually a Turkish shish kebab. The Persian equivalent is the jujeh kebab, which is what I had when I visited the last time.
Since Mr VP agreed to try lamb, we went in for a Persian lamb starter called kebab koobideh,
a Persian (Iranian) kabab made from ground lamb and put on a skewer. Although it tasted good, paying Rs. 165 for two kababs left me a little miffed, especially after the Rs 4 kababs I had in Delhi :)

For our main course, we wanted to have biryani, and so the weekend special dijaj machboos, or chicken biryani (half plate) was ordered.
The guy who took our orderd (I'm guessing he's also part of the management, and certainly not the wait staff) asked us not to order any side dish with the biryani as the taste of the biryani would be lost. Who were we to argue with him, and I'm glad we took his advice, because the biryani tasted heavenly. Not pungent, yet tasty, not greasy, yet smooth. It was great.

Sadly, just as the last time, they didn't have all the items in the dessert section, and so we settled for a shaufa pana pudding, amde from dil leaves and eggs. And just like the last time, it was very good :)

Service:Good - at least they were able to suggest good stuff
$$$:Usual Bangalore cost of around 300-500 per head (depending on size of the group & appetite)
Food:Superb!
Verdict:Worth a visit, wherever you stay in Bangalore
Extra info: 5% service charge is added to the bill

Alibaba Cafe, # 69, 1st Floor, M M Road, Frazer Town, Bangalore. Phone: 40917163

Popsies

I don't even know why I'm writing this, but then again, since it's good to let people know what's good and what isn't, I hope this will help. Popsies isn't what it used to be - in fact, it's just a shadow of it's former self. I guess that's the sad reality we live in. One would have hoped that with time, establishments, like living beings, would evolve to something better, but in the f&b world, it's quite the other way around (exceptions to the rule are bound to be there). The service which used to be prompt and eager is now lethargic and a drag. The food that used to have the ubiquitous Indianised Chinese feeling to it, with agi no moto and a whole lot of pieces of shredded meat and veggies. The place is the same, but I guess the above two factors have contributed to a loss in charm. Sigh!

We started off with a veg soup
and a couple of plates of momos: chicken fried momos and
veg steamed momos.

One thing I've decided is to never have fried momos again, not at Popsies at least. It's not that these were bad, but the steamed momos I've had elsewhere are so much better. Maybe the momos to be had are the steamed ones, and I didn't know about it all along. If that's the case, well, now I know, and if it isn't, well, my bad.

Along with discussions ranging from which movies to watch the coming week to the movie we had just watched that night (Transformers 2 I think), the main course arrived, and just as fast as we spoke, the waiters looked a bit harried, as if they were eager to close the place early for fear of missing their favourite midnight TV serial. We ordered two kinds of fried rice - an egg fried rice
and a chicken fried rice,
and to give the rice company were a chicken dish with some kind of sauce

and a mixed vegetable dish.

As I mentioned before, there was nothing gratifying about this meal...except the bill. Both the rice dishes were the usual affair, while the chicken and veg dish didn't particularly make us go 'mmm, that's good, maybe we should come here again for more'. Well, before I forget, those douche bags were in such a hurry that while serving the main course, they managed to srop some of the gravy on Mr VP. We didn't make a big issue out of it; in fact, we didn't make it an issue at all, and that I regret. As I type this, I can feel my bp rise...we ought to have at least told them that this is unacceptable. We weren't there to mooch off free food, we were going to pay for what we ate, so the least they can do is serve the food without spilling it on us! In any case, as I started off at the beginning of this paragraph, the only thing good was that the bill was less than 500 (465 to be precise, with a couple of lime sodas and a coke). I think it's been a while since we ate for so less, because usually it's 500 per head, not the net amount.

Since I've been asked repeatedly to make these posts as proper 'reviews', I'll start adding a new block at the end of the post.

Service: Whatever
$$$: Cheap, like any other Indianised Chinese joint.
Food: OK
Verdict: Go only if you're in the area, and if you have time to kill and don't mind cheap food (even if cheap means lackadaisical food and service)

Popsies, Near Imperial, Opposite Chung Wah, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore. Phone: 65659336galore

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Karim's, New Delhi

Mr P had told me that on the show Highway on a Platter on NDTV Good Times, the two hulks had visited Delhi and suggested that Karim's is the place to be for sheek kababs, so Karim's was on my 'to-visit' list.

I ordered a Karim's roll (which had a sheek kabab in it), and along with it, a plate of sheek kababs. Also, I had read somewhere that they serve this sweet pancake type of dish called a sheermal, and so I also had one of those.

Since I'd never had a good sheek kabab anywhere in Bangalore, this was a godsend for me, and I really liked it. The sheek cost 22 each, and I thought was totally worth it. As for the roll, it was the the same sheek rolled into a rumali roti with some pickle and creamy, butterry thingy. The sheermal was a pleasant surprise - to be eaten just like that, it was not too sweet, and neither too bland.

The previous night, a friend of mine who lives in Delhi now, took me to a street vendor in the Chawri Bazaar area (on the Lal Kuan road). For the exact location, you can check this great site that I was told about (unfortunately after I got back from Delhi). After walking for a good ten minutes from the exit of the metro station, we came across this old guy, sitting on the corner of the street, making kababs , and selling them for 4 bucks. That's right, Rs 4 for one of those, and although I couldn't tell the difference in taste between this guy's and the Kareem's kababs, the fact that for Rs 20 I got to eat 5 made me arrive at the conclusion that this guy's was better (and plus, I didn't fall sick after eating his road side ware).

The old man worked his hands like magic, with clockwork precision, and switched skewers that were done with newer ones, all the time adding the minced meat onto the skewers. I was a bit beat in the sweltering Delhi summer heat (even at night the temperature was above 40C) , and so wasn't up to getting the DSLR out and taking better pictures. One thing is for sure, though - if you wanna skip Kareem's, do so, but don't miss this guy. Chacha, keep it up!

Addendum: I just found out that the meat used by the dear old man above is buffalo meat. Now before you throw up or something, apparently buffalo meat is cheaper than chicken and cow meat, and is used on a large scale throughout several kabab/mughlai joints all over Delhi (old Delhi in particular).

Friday, July 10, 2009

BM Review: Sea Spice

The reivew, after a bit of hunting, can be read by clicking here.

On the 19th of June, I had been to this restaurant called Sea Spice by 7 Star, a restaurant in the 3 star hotel Shetty Gardenia (no relation, I assure you) in Banashankari (south Bangalore). It had been a while since I visited a restaurant serving typical Mangalorean cuisine, and this place didn't disappoint. Mr VP accompanied me, and we were joined by the official guests for the review, Delilah Martis and her husband Gautham Rao, both fellow Mangaloreans in exile like me.

We ordered only coastal fare - from kokum drinks to chicken ghee roast, prawn & mussel sukka to seer fish masala fry - for our appetisers. For the main course, the unequalled neer dosa with a prawn curry, and the ubiquitous boiled rice with a typical Mangalorean chicken curry. I wasn't disappointed at all, and apart from the distance my guests had to travel to get here (they live in Marathahalli), they didn't have any complaints about the place either.

The food is pretty authentic, and isn't very expensive (sea food in Bangalore is otherwise pretty expensive). For the four of us plus the photographer, the total for all that we ate came out to around 1850, which was great. The service is quick and good, and although the decor and the look of the place isn't a very 'coastal' look (it's more modern with a fine dining look), the food made up for the missing coastal appearance.

The Bangalore Mirror site seems to be having a problem at the moment, and so as soon as it's back up, I'll post the link here for the review.

Food: Good
$$$: Moderate, not too expensive considering they serve sea food
Service:
Prompt, helpful
Verdict: If you live all the way on the other side of town, I wouldn't ask you to come till here for good Mangalorean food, but if you're anywhere in south Bangalore, then this is the place for Mangalorean food.

Sea Spice, #1890, 9th Main, Kaveri Nagar, Banashankari 2nd Stage, Bangalore. Phone: 26715060, 26919790

The full review is here:

I'm on a seafood diet I see food,I eat it. Dolly Parton.

For people living in the coastal areas,seafood is so ingrained into their daily lives that in certain parts of coastal India,Brahmins eat fish.Thankfully,I have no predispositions towards any food group,and am open to enjoying anything created in the kitchen by any artist (oh yes,cooking is an art).Getting good Mangalorean cuisine in Bangalore was a little hard to come by in the early years,and according to owner Abhay Shetty of Sea Spice,his father started Bangalores first Mangalorean restaurant,7 Star,in Gandhinagar in 1973,introducing Bangaloreans to the joy of rice and fish curry.The success of 7 Star saw the mushrooming of several similar joints around Gandhinagar,most noticeably Hotel Fishland,which was started by a customer of 7 Star after he began having difficulty getting a table for lunch (at 7 Star).

My guests for the evening were Delilah Martis and her husband Gautham Rao,both Mangaloreans in exile like yours truly.Driving across Bangalore was a tad difficult on a Saturday evening (they live in Marathahalli),and so they hoped the drive was worth it.When asked Why Banashankari as opposed to the city center,pat came the reply from Abhay,South Bangalore has no Mangalorean restaurant.And at present,the MG Road area is in a bit of a mess with the metro work,so once things settle down there,an expansion is definitely on the cards.

We started off with drinks from a fruit native to the coast,kokum (Garcinia indica),in two different forms the regular sherbet and a mildly spicy kadi with coconut milk and spices,and an ambachye panhe a green mango drink.The kokum drinks were both good,and there wasnt anything to complain about the mango drink either.Off to a good start! This was followed by typical coastal stuff Mangalorean chicken ghee roast,seer fish masala fry,prawn sukka and mussel sukka.For the uninitiated,a sukka is a dry dish with grated coconut,fenugreek,turmeric,ginger,garlic and the works.The seer fish fry was the best,and tasted fantastic,closely followed by the prawn sukka (prawns seemed very fresh),although Delilah couldnt quite place her finger on why it didnt feel authentic enough.The ghee roast was cooked well but Gautham thought he'd tasted better ghee roasts,while the mussel sukka tasted good,with the mussels being fresh.

The hotter the place,the spicier the food - this induces sweating,which evaporates leading to cooling.Simple,aint it However,Mangalorean cuisine isnt overly spicy unlike those of other places,primarily due to fact that the coastal weather makes you sweat naturally,so no need to further spike the spice levels in the food.While discussing such fundas,our main course arrived the unequaled neer dosa,along with prawn gassi (gravy),and the ubiquitous boiled rice with a chicken Kundapur (named after the town it hails from).

Although not wanting to complicate matters,Delilah thought the prawn from the sukka seemed fresher than the prawn in the gassi,but the prawn gassi dish as a whole was better than the sukka.Dandy! The neer dosa was soft and fluffy,but Ive had fluffier neer dosas I guess this is one dish where whats made at home would be better,and not just because of the love added by mom.
The boiled rice with the chicken Kundapur is something that can only be relished in person,but suffice to say it was really good.Gautham and Delilah liked the dish,and as far as authenticity goes,I can chime in and say that having eaten quite a bit of it,it was as good as it gets.Unfortunately,we were stuffed and couldnt try another classic from South Canara kori rotti;perhaps another time.The desserts we had werent all that impressive.While the coconut pudding was pleasant,the fried ice-cream wasnt all that great,especially the outer coating of desiccated coconut.The payasa,similar to kheer,wasnt available,and would perhaps have been an apt finishing touch to an otherwise pleasant dinner.Sea Spice by 7 Star (tribute to the original restaurant),part of the 3 star hotel Shetty Gardenia,offers you a near fine dining experience of typical Mangalorean cuisine in crisp and pleasant surroundings.The coastal look may be missing,but the feel is made up with the food.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The omnivore's hundred...updated

So the omnivores 100 that I found a long time ago at a site called Very Good Taste has been updated with the few extra dishes that I've eaten since then. It's basically a list of 100 things that all omnivores should try to eat (I hope we can add stuff to the list, coz I'm sure there'll be things missing which would make someone or the other go "Duh!!!"). The one's in bold are the ones I've eaten, and since most of the items are weird Greek and Latin sounding (and probably Chinese and other funny languages, like French :) ), they're linked to Wikipedia to know what they are.

So here's what Andrew of Very Good Taste would like you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivores hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (I've had passion fruit, jack fruit, and also darepuli, which is a variant of the gooseberry - all home made, of course)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

BM Review: Clay Oven

My second review for Bangalore Mirror. It may seem a little rushed, but that's because it was - not one of my better written pieces. Click here to read the review, and since I couldn't take any pictures, the scanned version of what got published is here below.


Food:Most of the dishes tasted good, but didn't seem to be what they were. Calling a dish by one name, but serving something different (even though it tastes good) wouldn't suffice for an official review. However, if you just want food that tastes good, it's the right kind of place.
$$$: Not very expensive, for 6 adults and 4 kids around 2-3 years old, and all the dishes we had, the bill came to under 2400.
Service: Decent
Verdict: If in Indiranagar, and you wanna have north Indian food, you could head to this place. It's adjacent Cake Walk.

Clay Oven, next to Cake Walk, 100 Feet Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore. Phone: 25205393, 41611644

The original review, since I can't expect the website to host it forever, is here:

When you come across a restaurant bearing the name Clay Oven, the first thing you envision is something traditionally Indian — the usual thick and rich gravies, along with the myriad traditional breads, kebabs, and so on. And without any surprises, that’s precisely what Clay Oven dishes out. My guests for the evening were Neha Ahuja and her husband Reuben, both who grew up in Delhi, and their two- year-old twin sons — Aadit and Shikhar. The kids were quite a handful — in the usual, expected way (lest I come across as being insensitive toward parenting and kids in general) — with curiosity getting the better of them when it came to the cutlery, glasses and the new surroundings in general. A simple dal-chawal
was ordered for the little fellows, and the dal turned out to be probably the best dish (tied) we tasted during our dinner.

Although the ambience isn’t particularly ‘north Indian’, it was pleasant, and we started off with a lasooni jhinga — shrimps marinated in garlic paste, mutton sheek kebabs, hariyali fish tikkas, chicken malai kebab and paneer chatpata. Starting from the best, the malai kebab was unanimously voted numero uno along with the dal. Soft and succulent, the flavours were just right, and thankfully the chicken wasn’t overcooked. Lady Luck deserted us from here on. The mutton sheek kebab was just eh, whatever, while the shrimp, although not bad, had a slightly (and mysterious) tangy taste. The fish tikka pieces could have been a little smaller, and turned out to be a mixed bag — my guests weren’t too happy about it, which left me wondering if I was eating a different fish — because I liked it! The paneer was, again, flavoured well, but wasn’t anything to write home about.

For the main course, we settled for a multitude of traditional breads — rotis, kulchas, paranthas — along with a murg makhani, dal makhani, paneer birbali, rogan josh, murg siyalkoti, and Lahori aloo. Before I give the verdict on each, let me make one thing clear — none of the food items tasted bad, in fact some of them tasted good, but we just didn’t get the feeling that any of them was the real McCoy. To which Neha said, “...maybe they should have spent a little more time on the masala preparation...the colour of the dishes looks light as opposed to rich.” That was hitting the nail on the head. Take the case of the rogan josh. The mutton was cooked perfectly and seemed quite fresh. Reuben, hard-core Delhiite, rattled off the prime ingredients that are supposed to constitute a classic rogan josh, and said, “This tastes quite good, but this isn’t rogan josh!” Had the dish been called anything else, I think it would have scored quite high.

The dal makhani was good, but was a little dry, while the murg siyalkoti (chicken in a cashew paste), tasted good but left us wondering why something in a cashew paste didn’t look more ‘white’ in colour (elementary my dear Watson, not being racist here). The paneer birbali and Lahori aloo didn’t taste bad either, but since we didn’t have anything to compare them to, the authenticity can’t be commented upon. The dish that saddened us was murg makhani, which had an overdose of tomato puree and not enough cream (and/or butter). To modify Cuba Gooding Jr’s line from Jerry Maguire, “Show me the makhan!” A red-blooded Punjabi would have yelled murder, because this tasted more like murg tamatari. We also ordered a mutton biryani, which didn’t taste bad, but didn’t seem to have the ‘oomph’ in it, unlike any of the traditional styles of biryanis cooked in India, like Awadhi, Hyderabadi, or for that matter Malabari.

For desserts, we ordered gulab jamun and gajar ka halwa. While the gulab jamun was, well, sweet for one, Neha didn’t quite think it was up to the mark when it came to khova used — again, not the ‘real deal’, but sweet enough (thankfully). But the real downer came with the gajar ka halwa. It came garnished with cashew nuts on top…no issues with that, but maybe they used cashews from a packet of salted ones, I don’t know, but there were parts of the halwa that tasted salty as well. It may well be a one off case, but sadly we experienced it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Big Chill, New Delhi

My Last night in Delhi, and Neo, his brother Morpheus(?), and a couple of other friends of the fairer sex, both daughters of army officers (Neo himself is the son of an army officer), went out to this place called Big chill, in an area called Khan Market which supposedly has one of the highest property rates in Asia or some jazz like that...basically the real estate value is super high. So after driving from his house to the Khan Market area, we got to the restaurant only to be told we'd have to wait a while to get a table. So we pranced around the place, deciding if we should go to a different restaurant, when suddenly, Neo's phone buzzed - it was the restaurant and they had seats for us. Cool.

Big Chill reminded me of TGIF and Chili's combined together - from the way the decor is inside to the options in the menu (minus the booze), and specifically the prices - boy, one thing's for certain, we can get the same food they serve there for lesser here in Bangalore. In any case, this wasn't Bangalore, it was Delhi, so no comparing. We started with a round of milk shakes and iced teas, and shortly after that, we went in for the main course.

I had a chicken in red wine, served with fetuccine.
I must say this is one of the better chicken dishes I've had, especially since you usually eat pasta with some kind of cheesy sauce (unless you're eating spaghetti with meat sauce). One of the ladies had already had her dinner, and so she settled for a smoked chicken salad which came with sun-dried tomatoes.
It was the first time I popped just sun-dried tomato into my mouth, and along with the vinaigrette, it had a pleasant tangy taste.

Neo went in for a chicken pepper stake,
and going by the speed he got done with it, it's safe to say that he liked what he ate and didn't have anything to complain about.

Morpheus decided to skip dinner (he'd just got betrothed and I guess the realisation of it was hitting home), while the other lady in the group decided to have a fish peri-peri, which was fish in a mustard sauce.
All of agreed that the fish tasted a little too tangy for what could have been a wonderful dish.

For desserts, a Bailey's tiramisu was ordered by the peri-peri girl, and just the one spoon I took was enough to make my eyes nearly pop out - I wasn't prepared for it to be as strong as it was, so driving after eating this could be dicey.
Neo had a blueberry cheesecake, and polished it off neatly.
As for dear old me, I settled for a simple chocolate mousse, which turned out to be a little too choclatey, but when you're in the zone, these minor things usually don't matter.

For the wallet factor, well, let's put it this way - the chicken in red wine with fetuccine was almost 400 bucks, and at the end of the meal, since we split, we all paid around 500-600 each, which was slightly on the higher side, since we only had 3 main courses, a salad, 3 desserts and 5 shakes (the shakes were around the 200 mark). Let's face, I can get similar and equally good if not better food at Bangalore Bistro for less, and the service wasn't all that great either, so although the food tasted good, the price wasn't entirely justifiable.


Big Chill, 68A, Khan Market, New Delhi
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Friday, July 3, 2009

The All American Diner, New Delhi

I'd been to New Delhi from the 26th of June to the 1st of July to attend a friend's wedding there. I also got a chance to meet up with a couple of old school buddies whom I never met after we passed out of school. They'd moved to Delhi after graduating (they aren't engineers, so we didn't meet much during the under grad years). So I went with one of them (although I wish to call him by a name we used to call him back in school, since he was such a great host, I'll stick to his alter ego name, Neo) for breakfast to this place called the All American Diner, nestled nicely inside the India Habitat Centre on Lodhi Road. This place has an all you can eat breakfast until 10:45 AM for 395 + tax and we were preparing our stomachs for that.

Upon reaching the place, we were told there wasn't place and we had to wait, and so we waited. We waited and waited and when our names were called out, the time showed 10:50 by my watch. Dang! Missed it by a whisker. And so Neo and I set about sifting through the menu in solemn silence, disappointed at the near miss.

The place was nice, a retro look with the classical diner feel. The music kept getting stuck (I'm guessing the computer through which they were playing it was overloaded, just like the kitchen). I decided to go in for a Pierre's french toast, which came with French toast (duh!), choice of bacon or sausages and scrambled eggs,
and also a Sunset skillet comprising of a couple of pancakes, pork sausages, bacon, and eggs.
Neo decided to go in for a Santa Fe skillet, which comprised of toast, sausages and eggs,
and a pancake stack with butter.
Of course the usual suspects accompanying pancakes were there: Maple, orange and strawberry syrup.

Service was a little awry since they had their hands full on a Sunday morning - that, or our waiter was waiting too many tables as they were probably understaffed - I don't know. But he took a while to get water, to a while to get the drink for the couple seated close by - OK, lemme stop taking their case now. I was a tourist there, and I don't know what are the funda about this place. I loved the food, although the Egg Factory provides an equally sumptuous breakfast for half the cost (minus the meat and pancakes though). Maybe I should ask Yogesh to introduce pancakes and maple syrup on the menu as well.

Wallet Factor: The Sunrise skillet cost 225, while the Santa Fe skillet was 185, the Pierre's toast was 190 and the pancake stack was 110, so with taxes, it amounted to 870 (thanks to Neo for giving me the breakup)

The All American Diner, Habitat World, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi