Monday, July 26, 2010

Harima

I was told sometime back that Dahlia on Church Street served better Japanese food than Harima. Unfortunately, by the time I started making enough money to visit joints where I'd have to pay in excess of Rs. 500 (per person) for a meal, Dahlia had closed, and so Bangaloreans like me have to settle for Harima (unless you consider Zen at The Leela Palace and Shiro in UB City as 'authentic Japanese'). Without a doubt, Harima is miles ahead of it's nearest competitors (in Bangalore at least).

Seven of us (deadly sinners) went to Harima on Saturday for lunch, and we weren't disappointed one bit.

Sake 'shot' glasses

One of the lamp shades, snap taken by The Professor

My sake glass

Tempura

Harima Deluxe Platter (sushi & sashimi)

Beef noodles

One of the 'bento' boxes - like a thali, or a set meal

Okonomiyaki - Japanese style pizza-pancake

Another bento

My bento box

Green tea ice cream - me not likey!

Wasabi ice cream - the wasabi can really explode inside your head, so take smaller spoonfuls


Overall, great experience, especially for someone like me who's always game to try on new food. Someone at work asked me how could I get myself to eat "such kind of food", with an expression of pure revulsion. To which I gave my standard answer - if it's good enough for humans in a different part of the planet, it ought to be good enough for me. I don't believe in a lot of our societal barriers like caste, religion, etc., but what I've noticed is that a lot of people belonging to, let us say, a particular section of Hindu society that places them right on top, seem to be clinging onto the caste system because it's the only way they can have the sense of being 'important'. A few hundred years ago, yeah, but today, when we're in an era of being able to send man to the moon and send data in a few seconds over several thousands of miles across the globe, I'm at a loss at how to react to such people when they make such obnoxious statements. In any case, this is a different discussion, not for my food blog.

At the end of the day, we're all human, aren't we? I'm not eating food that a South American vampire bat or a tape worm eat, I'm eating what other civilised humans are eating. Don't forget that.

Food: If you're ready to appreciate the food and cultural philosophy behind food from a foreign land, then this food is superb.
$$$: Very expensive - we paid Rs. 1100 per head, but mainly because of the Rs. 3000 sushi platter. Well worth the money since this isn't a daily or monthly thing that I do.
Service: Good
Verdict: Like I said, it's the only Japanese restaurant in town, and it's worth a visit if you're game for some exotic food. May not be suitable for vegetarians, although if you eat egg, then you may just be able to have a few things to eat besides sea weed :)

Harima, 4th Floor, Devatha Plaza, Opp. Bishop Cotton Boys School, Residency Road (Field Marshall Cariappa Road), Bangalore. Phone: 41325757

Thursday, July 22, 2010

BM Review: Little Home

Finally, a decent joint serving Mal food. For those of you unaware of this terminology, Mal is hort of Mallu, which is another term used to describe people and things from God's own country, the (erstwhile) communist state of Kerala (quite an oxymoron that - communist state being called God's own country).

A couple of Fridays back, I visited Little home in Koramangala, a small joint serving Kerala food, and also the usual 'Chinese' and some north Indian fare. The review can be read here. Although the place is billed as a 'family' joint (in Bangalore parlance, this usually means you can expect to serve Chinese, north Indian, and 'Continental' or 'multi-cuisine'). True to this, the place serves Chinese and north Indian, and the third musketeer is Kerala cuisine. And it was precisely for this that we went over to Little Home.

My guests were AG and TK, techies like me, hailing from God's own country, and big time movie aficionados. Along with the them, VP also joined me, while another friend, formerly with the Bangalore Mirror, ManU, also joined us. This place was going to be a test for VP as he doesn't like food with coconut in it, can't eat stuff cooked in coconut oil (among some of his other notorious allergies).

Of the starters, the squid disappointed - I mean there were hardly any slivers of squid meat in the dish, lost in the middle (muddle) of diced onions and dessicated coconut. The crab roast was good, and so too the seer fish fry (decent enough for the price charged), while the chicken fry felt a little dry although it did taste nice.

Seer fish fry

Crab roast

Chicken Fry

Squid (try spotting it among the diced onions and dessicated coconut)

For the main course, they'd run out of kappa meen curry (fish and tapioca curry), and so we started off with appams and chicken stew, along with Kerala parotas with some Malabar chicken roast. Feeling quite full, the others were on the verge of calling it quits, but I knew no meal (and review) of a 'Mal' joint would be complete if you didn't have a fish curry (kappa or no kappa), and so a bowl of steamed rice along with a seer fish curry was duly polished off, and the fish curry was superb - the right amount of tamarind, just enough coconut and spices, and the fish cooked for the right amount of time. Needless to say, VP didn't even bother looking at the dish - his stomach was already rumbling :)

Malabar chicken roast

Appams and chicken stew

Kerala parota and chicken roast

Steamed rice and seer fish curry

Overall, for a bill of Rs. 1270 for 5 people, I thought it was well worth the meal, given the quantity, the taste, and also the location (this is Koramangala, remember?). I wouldn't recommend the place to people across town, since I'm sure most neighbourhoods, within a 3 KM radius, would have a Mal joint in one form or the other, but if you're in Koramangala and are in the mood for some Mal food, hop right in. Way better than that Malabar place we visited some time back in Jeevan Bhima Nagar.

Food: Decent
$$$: Cheap
Service: Decent
Verdict: Can visit if in Koramangala and if in the mood for some Kerala food.
Extra info: This place is after Umerkot, before the Raheja Residency signal. Parking isn't available on the main road, so try your luck in one of the side roads.

Little Home, #1015, 80 Feet Road, 1st Block, Koramangala, Bangalore. Phone: 25631504, 32930021

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Emgee's

Saturday night, after a good spell of rains in the evening, saw the P, VP, and I heading out for a 'light' meal - by light, I mean there would be no animals or birds or sea creatures involved in this holy ritual. We decided to meet up late, at 9:30, so that we could avoid all the mind-bogglingly crazy Saturday evening traffic, and at 9:30, met outside Emgee's (of course silly, it's on M G Road, why d'you think it's called Emgee's otherwise?). The restaurant is located in the same building as Gangaram's book store (one of the 'veterans' on M G Road).

Once we were seated, P asked if I was willing to split a soup with him, and "bring it on" was my reply, to which he put up a smile of pure delight and said:
P: "Shetty's at a vegetarian place!"
me: "Eh? I'm not the one who discriminates when it comes to food, remember?"
P: "Yeah, but you almost always have only non-veg, or make it a point to."
me: "Bull, I only eat non-veg, or leave out the veg option(s), if it is named after some actual non-veg dish and found it's way onto the menu only because the owner wanted to draw in a few veg eaters as well...so basically economics dictated it's inclusion, not merit."
P: "Hmm, ok, you're right, point taken."

For those of you clowns who are still skeptical, you can even check out some of the reviews that I've been on where I ate the veg dish (most notably at Medici, where I could have gorged on all the non-veg I wanted but ended up ordering a veg tortellini, which was superb).

So P and I eventually settled for a sweet corn mushroom soup (I've heard sweet corn soup, and cream of mushroom, but this was a first). It was nice, as it had been a long time since I had a decent sweet corn soup, but I wasn't sure what the mushrooms were doing in this soup. The soup, as it is, was very tasting sweet, and adding mushrooms into it didn't really complement the sweetness, but I guess it works for some people. The other starter we had was one of the most expensive one on the menu - at Rs. 135/-, the mushroom rangeela made us curious, and although we even spotted a veg shaslik under the starters, we decided to skip it and go for the mushrooms. 7 large button mushrooms came, and on biting into them, we realised they were stuffed with paneer, and the dish tasted good. Stuffing mushrooms is a common practice, with cheese as well, and so we weren't disappointed.

Sweet corn mushroom soup

Mushroom rangeela (stuffed with paneer)

With our initial orders out of the way (actually, into our stomachs), we decided to have some dosas. P and I settled for the paper masala dosas, while VP had a tomato uthappa (yes, I say uttappa and not uttappam because I'm from Karnataka, and we say uttappa, while folks from Andhra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu say uttappam, and the rest of India says uttapam because most of them think that south of the Vindhya's, it's what the Tams call things that rule).

That aside, the dosas were nice.

Paper masala dosa

Tomato uttappa

And finally, there was peas pulav and some dal makhani to go along with it. P thought the pulav was a little too oily, and VP was only too glad to agree with him (he needs to have an excuse to waste food, but surprisingly this time he actually finished eating everything).

Peas pulav with dal makhani

After dinner, we walked up to St. Mark's road where there's a Natural's ice cream parlour. Just as we neared Natural's, we saw hoards of regular cops and traffic policemen in front of Bishop Cotton's girls school checking for drunk driving, and saw several people caught. We rushed into Natural's, bought our ice creams, and rushed back out to watch a lot of crack-brained idiots get caught by the cops. I tell, I'm not a sadist, but there's something about watching those who break the don't-drink-and-drive law get caught, and more importantly, watch them come up with all kinds of excuses, half of them blabbering something in Hindi while our cops not giving a damn about their frantic pleas and nonsense. Pure ecstasy. Sadly, some manage to pull out phones and make calls and get away, which is an inherent flaw in the whole country.

Food: Nice
$$$: Not too expensive... we totaled up around 700 for this meal.
Service: Decent
Verdict: Can visit if in the area and you feel like eating low-key, light Indian fare and go easy on the pockets.

Emgee's, #73, Below Gangaram's book shop, M G Road, Bangalore. Phone: 40430000

Thursday, July 8, 2010

BM Review: Matteo Coffea

Last weekend I had visited Matteo Coffea (notice the spelling) on Church Street as part of a review for The Bangalore Mirror. The review can be read here.

If you’ve lived in Bangalore through the early 90’s, then Mac Fast Food, or Macs, would’ve been in your lexicon of Bangalore vocab for fast food in a classy environ. This time around, the Sterling’s Mac group brings to Bangalore a coffee shop, albeit with a difference – and a profound one at that if you ask me. Educating the patrons about coffee and tea, and serving food that’s miles ahead of that served in other ‘coffee’ shops at very affordable rates, Matteo Coffea guarantees you more than just a hot beverage.

Matteo is the Latin name for Mathew, and the cafe is owned by the Sterling Mac group’s John Mathew, and is located at the very spot that housed Mac Fast Food on the ever crowded Church Street. The family had moved their business to Qatar in the late 90’s, and have now come back and started Matteo Coffe, with Mr. Mathew’s son Mac in charge of this outlet.

Apart from the usual fare of puffs and croissants, some of the delightful snacks are the cinnamon rolls and the Danish pastries. The ‘shekeratos’, or milk shakes were nice and refreshing (applicable for any season). Sandwiches and pastas constitute the core. 3 of us had the spaghetti Bolognaise and the penne in cream sauce with shrimps, which were pretty good, and the portions served were huge. The veg grilled sandwich was good as well, and those of you belonging to that elitist minority we call ‘vegetarians’, you needn’t worry about choice – there are several options. The Caesar salad with grilled chicken was nice, but was missing a lot of the Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice dressing – necessary to give it its zing.


Espresso Shekerato

Iced Latte

Black & White Shekerato

Caramel Shekerato

Veg grilled sandwich

Another angle

Caesar salad with grilled chicken

Penne in cream sauce with shrimps

Spaghetti Bolognaise


One for each – a fruit tart, apple pie with ice cream, a strawberry cheesecake, a Tiramisu, and a chocolate pie. The fruit tart and the apple pie were quite good, while the tiramisu, in all its splendour, seemed to have a little too much gelatin making the mascarpone a little stiff. The chocolate pie seemed to have the texture of a mousse on the inside, something that didn’t seem right. Maybe ‘pie’ wasn’t the best choice of words to describe it.

Tiramisu

Chocolate Pie

Apple pie with ice cream

Fruit tart

Strawberry cheesecake


Food: Nice
$$$: Not too expensive. This meal cost us a tickle over 1800.
Service: Relaxed (what did you expect?)
Verdict: Don't visit specifically for lunch, but if you're in the area around lunch time, then drop by. If not, just visit for some good coffee and while you're at it, grab a bite or two - that'll make it worth it.

Matteo Coffea, #2, Church Street, Bangalore. Phone: 43336000

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Delicacy (Jeevan Bhima Nagar)

Several months ago (around the month of October 2009), I had visited Delicacy in Cooke Town to review it for Bangalore Mirror. The food there was amazing, and also, one of the few value-for-money places. Even the vegetarians wouldn't have complained much (although the options are limited, whatever is there is quite good). Moreover, like most Indianised Chinese joints, the quantities are huge. So this past Friday, P, VP and I decided to try out some place close to P's house as he was going to get back late from work. He told us about some 'small Thai place' on Jeevan Bhima Nagar main road, and since I was going to be there early (I'm always the first to reach), he told me to keep looking out for a 'red board and a glass facade' on the first floor on my left (while coming from 80 feet road). And so I did, and when I saw the red board and glass facade, I saw the letters that spelled 'Delicacy', above a restaurant called Spicy Hub serving Andhra food. Delicacy! Woohoo. Why did P say "Don't expect much, it's a small place"? Probably going by external appearance, that's all, coz this Delicacy has the exact same menu as the one in Cooke Town, and I was thrilled.

As seems to be the custom at Delicacy, they served up some complimentary veg fried wontons with a sweet sauce. And since I was alone and didn't want to wait, twiddling my thumbs, and pretending to be ok (I would have been if I'd got a book, but I'd left it in the car and walked up), I decided to order a soup, and I asked the waiter for a thin soup, and he suggested the Tom Yam soup, and that's what I went for, and boy was it good. Initially, I just found it wonderfully flavoured and piping hot, but after a while, the spices started to tingle my mouth, and then when I realised that I still had half a bowl left, P walked in and after downing his complimentary wontons, ordered a sweet corn soup. He liked his soup, and since it'd been a loooooong time since either of us had good sweet corn, this was a welcome change from the messy crap that we've been eating at weddings and god-knows-where. You'll have to excuse the image quality - I was using the camera on the phone in an area that wasn't very well lit.

Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Chilli sauce

Veg fried wontons (complimentary) with a sweet sauce

Tom Yam soup

Sweet corn soup

With the soups out of the way, VP walked in along with a friend, and let's call her MysoreCanon (she's from Mysore, and uses a Canon, and there's a huge fight between Canon users and us Nikon users - luckily I'm playing Mr. Switzerland on this one). Ms MysoreCanon is a vegetarian, so P had company, while VP was the same old allergic, food-wasting, spoiled brat. We ordered steamed pork momos and Cantonese roast pork for us, while P ordered spicy soya balls and steamed veg momos.

Cantonese roast pork

VP got a call from one of his US counterparts at work, and so I got to eat a lot of the roast pork (devilish grin), and it was terrific. Some time back, I had written that the roast pork at Wanley is one of the best in Bangalore (among the cheap Indianised-Chinese joints), but now it'll have to be a toss-up between that and this (that = Wanley chilli roast pork, this = Delicacy Cantonese roast pork). Although the dishes are similar only in the 'roast pork' part, the sauce and seasoning does make a difference.

The momos were huge and were yummy. Very often, in the not-so-expensive-joints, the dough of the steamed momos isn't great, in fact it's not even and thick in most places, and also tastes 'raw'. These, however, were superb, just as they were at the Cooke town branch.

Steamed momos (veg)

Steamed momos (pork)

The spicy tofu balls were true to the name given - looking at the picture below, you can see the chilli seeds coating the balls, but when served hot, they were nice and crunchy, and weren't turn-you-into-a-fire-breathing-dragon spicy, but it the spice levels actually made the whole thing taste good.

Spicy tofu balls

P and I were stuffed by now, especially since we'd each downed a full soup, while VP and MysoreCanon don't eat too much anyways. I suggested we try out a starter again rather than go down the main course path, but P wanted some egg fried rice, while VP said he wanted some chicken dish - boneless. MysoreCanon said she'd watch us eat or die trying to. So I ordered a thunder chicken (no idea what is was), and the waiter told us it was a good choice. I liked the chicken that came (although I'm sure it'd have tasted better with the gravy as our waiter had suggested, instead of dry as VP asked for), while VP, being VP, said he didn't like it, and ended up wasting his share of the chicken and the rice.

Thunder chicken (left) and egg fried rice

Overall, a very satisfying meal, one where you usually leave with a smile on your face and have a good night's sleep. The bill for all this came to 740 - well worth the money spent.

Food: Superb - not just because of the quantity, but because it actually is very good.
$$$: Cheap, and for the quantity served, total value for money.
Service: Decent
Verdict: Must visit
Extra info: Parking on the main road isn't allowed, so try finding space in one of the side roads.

Delicacy, 22, 1st floor, Above Spicy Hub, Jeevan Bhima Nagar main road, Bangalore. Phone:2529 9333