Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Delays

Dear readers,

Apologies for the delay in posting anything new. I am currently locked in my den studying for... well, an exam, what else, and hence haven't been able to post anything new for a while now. The drought shall end soon, I promise. See y'all soon, in about 8 days time.

-K

Monday, August 15, 2011

Edo

After Harima, I've been wanting to have sushi and sashimi for the longest time. With ITC Gardenia opening in the city, and with it an authentic Japanese restaurant Edo, it was high on my 'to-do' list, and eventually I got to go there. The image to the right is quintessentially Japanese, representing the most well-known dishes.

Edo is about as authentic as it gets when it comes to Japaense cuisine (at least in India). The restaurant, one among 6 at Gardenia, is quite truly spectacular. Soft, mellow (and yellow) lighting, along with a display of some of the seafood, well spaced-out tables, a spic-n-span appearance, and comfortable ambiance makes Edo a wonderful location for a celebratory meal of sorts. Or if you've got the money and enjoy Japanese food, you could just go there to enjoy some good Japanese food. I was there to celebrate the birthday of an extremely close friend, and we were quite excited about the evenings meal. We had opted for the Kyoto fixed meal (the other two being the Tokyo meal and the Nara meal).

While the Nara meal was a vegetarian meal, the Kyoto and Tokyo fixed meals were non vegetarian. The fixed meals consist of 7 courses, so it's quite elaborate and you'd do well to go to Edo to spend some time there and get pampered. The Kyoto meal costs Rs 3200 + taxes, Tokyo Rs 5000 + taxes, and the Nara (vegetarian) will set you back by Rs 2500 + by taxes.

The 7 course meal can be broken down into the following categories: zensai (appetisers), sashimi, yakimono (grilled items), nimono (steamed), agemono (deep fried tempura), sushi, shokuji (staples - rice or noodles), and mizugashi (desserts, numbering 3). The zensai served to us consisted of crab, fish, and egg.


While the fish and egg were pretty decent - the fish nice and soft and the egg, almost like a cake, thick yet fluffy.

Sea bass

Egg

The crab seemed to be the 'just like crab' meat available at Spar and other supermarkets. It tasted good, but no different from what's available frozen.

Crab, or just-like-crab meat?

The second course, sashimi, consisted of salmon and tuna, was quite simply fabulous. The fish were fresh, plump, and fleshy, and the staff also come up to your table and grate fresh wasabi (horse radish) at the table. Also, the wasabi is grated using a paddle that has shark skin - apparently the authentic tool for grating wasabi for sushi and sashimi.

Salmon (orange), and tuna with seaweed and wasabi

Shark skin paddle to grate wasabi, with wasabi root

The third course, yakimono, had grilled chicken and sea bass, and was quite tender and wonderfully flavoured in a teriyaki sauce and was served with a spice mixture of 7 spices that went wonderfully well with soy sauce.


Full view

Ginger, in the form of a fish tail

The next course, nimono, which was a steamed dish, again, had sea bass along with the broth of 4 other steamed vegetables, separately steamed to maintain their individual properties in taste and flavour. Carrot, lady's finger (okra), pumpkin, and brinjal (egg plant/aubergine). The reason for steaming the vegetables separately and then adding everything together is so that the flavours are retained intact. The sea bass itself was quite fabulous - thick, juicy, fresh. I'm guessing so many dishes consisted of sea bass 'coz they must've bought sea bass fresh that morning, which is an excellent plan of action - using the best fish you've got for the meals for the day.

Sea bass

The fifth course was the tempura, and it was perhaps the only disappointment - not because it was bad, but compared to the rest of the food, it was extraordinarily insipid.


The sixth course was a dish that has become synonymous with Japanese cuisine - sushi. Little maki rolls with salmon roe, and then of course, there was salmon itself, along with red snapper. The quality of the fish, in all the dishes thus far, was quite simply superb. And they weren't miserly with the portions that they served either...well, they'd better not have been. After all, we were paying a small fortune for them.


The seventh course (and at this point I realised that desserts would make it an 8 course meal) was shokuji, or the staples. You can select either rice or noodles mixed with chicken. This comes with a bowl of miso soup. Boy, do I love a miso or what! Thin, light, packed with flavour, what more can you ask for in a soup. Needless to say, it's comforting. Check out the steam coming out from the bowl in the snap to the left. There are some scallions that are chopped and sprinkled on the top. Normally, I'm not a big fan of too much of green flotilla in my soups, but in this case, since the greens were very easy to chew and send into the labyrinth that was my stomach, I was OK.

We ordered noodles as we were both fans of noodles. The noodles were glazed in a teriyaki-like sauce and the chicken in it actually had falvour, as opposed to the chicken pieces one normally finds in fried rice or noodles, which are usually flavourless and dry. I was busy picking the chicken pieces with my chop sticks.



Finally, the dessert, or mizugashi, that consisted of three things: sesame flavoured ice cream, a Japanese yuzu lime cheesecake (thanks to Gautam John [@gkjohn] for helping me with the name), and green tea tiramisu.


Sesame ice cream

Japanese yuzu lime cheesecake

Green tea tiramisu

While the ice cream most certainly had an acquired taste to it (in my opinion, it was way too strong), the cheesecake was more subdued (or subtle) in flavour, and actually felt quite light as opposed to ones with heavy cream cheese in them. The tiramisu, we felt, should have been sweeter, or at least, we'd have liked it sweeter because among the trio, there wasn't a single dessert that was 'sweet'... I mean, desserts, come on! There needs to be something a little sweet, especially when you're having three. Playing with various levels of sweetness among the three would have made the perfect end to the meal. Overall, an excellent meal, one worthy to be eaten on special occasions.

Food: Excellent.
$$$: Expensive; 5 star rates. The Kyoto meal is Rs 3200 + taxes, Tokyo meal is Rs 5000 + taxes, and the Nara (veg) meal is Rs 2500 + taxes.
Service: Very good, and they explain the dishes really well.
Verdict: Must visit if you like Japanese food.

Edo, ITC Gardenia, #1 Residency Road (Field Marshall Cariappa Road), Bangalore. Phone: 22119898

Monday, August 8, 2011

Brahmin's Coffee Bar

Brahmin's Coffee Bar is a small self-service fast food joint deep into south Bangalore (Google map), near Shakar matt, between Basavanagudi and Chamarajapet. Operating since 1965, this little place has been, and still is, the best joint for idlis and vadas in town. They've even won the competition for the best idlis conducted by Times of India.

Here's another angle of the idlis and vada, taking a holy dip in the chutney.


The idlis are soft and fluffy, and for an extra 4 bucks, you'll also get a small dollop of white butter - butter made from buffalo milk. Brahmin's is one of the few places that doesn't offer you sambar, but only chutney. At most times, you would see an old gentleman, Radhakrishna Adiga, the owner, sitting at the entrance, pouring chutney to those walking out with the idlis and/or vadas.

Photo credit: Upasana Nath


The kesari bath (left), made from rava (that wonderful substitute for rice that came up trumps during world war 2), contains a lot of pineapple. I have heard some people complain that there is perhaps a little too much pineapple for their liking, but I didn't have any complaints - I love my kesari bath sweet, with a slight oily glaze brought about by the ghee.

The khara bath (right), the spicier complement for the kesari bath, is just as good. An ideal way to eat it is by filling half the spoon with kesari bath and the other half with the khara bath. The combination of sweet and spicy will continue to dance on your palate long after you've downed the dishes.



Stacked up and ready to be downed.


Tea and coffee are the only beverages available here - quite nice.

Photo credit: Upasana Nath


Photo credit: Upasana Nath

Nice trick to make sure you don't burn your fingers - I learnt it the hard way!

The place before the renovation and 'upgrade' of the board.











After the restoration or renovation, however you look at it. Photo credit: Upasana Nath











Food: Very good
$$$: Rs 150 for two
Service: Self service
Verdict: Must visit

Barhmin's Coffee Bar, Ranga Rao Road, near Shakara matt, Shankarapuram, Bangalore.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Swensen's (Koramangala)

Swensen's is the latest ice cream brand to hit Bangalore, and going by the look of things, they mean business. For a Bangalorean like me, who's grown up eating ice creams at Lake View on MG Road, and later at the new upstart called Corner House, Swensen's (along with a host of other joints) is a welcome change. Now the common ice cream eater has been presented with a multitude of choices - almost like how the ushering of capitalism did by replacing communism. With San Francisco-based Swensen's making a foray into the markets, the competition just got hotter...or colder. Three outlets that I know of are at Mantri mall, Meenakshi mall, and Koramangala (near the Sony signal).


Although Swensen's internationally is known for its gourmet burgers and grilled sandwiches, right now they've just opened up for ice creams, including some 'India-centric' flavours. While there are several sundaes to select from, you can also select from any one of several individual falvours. And for those of you who love cake/brownies/fudge in your ice creams, there are combinations with those as well.

The sweet princess (above) was a sweet mix of strawberry, vanilla, and whipped cream. The fondue for 2 (served with 4 scoops of ice cream - you can select the 4 flavours) comes with sliced bananas and cantaloupe and a bowl of molten chocolate. Quite heavenly this is. The other fondue is the fondue for 4, which includes 9 scoops of ice cream.



The nutty crispy tower comes filled with fruits and nuts and ice cream with chocolate sauce mixed in and some wafers thrown in for good measure (crispy...how else?).


The glasses in which water was served was also very funky - it seemed as if they had almost all the names of the sundaes on the glasses. By far the most innovative use of water glasses I've seen - in fact, I think these are the funkiest glasses I've seen in restaurants and eat outs.


The waffle ice cream was just that - a waffle topped with a couple of scoops of ice cream with some whipped cream. And really, personally, although I'm up to trying any weird combo, I'm more of a 'waffles-for-breakfast' kind of a guy.


I don't know the name of this last one we had, but you've got to hand it to Swensen's for getting creative. Apart from the ice creams, there are also some sorbets. The sundaes are colourful and vibrant. They're big. And they're pretty darn good.



Food: Very good
$$$: Approx. Rs 200 - 250 for two.
Service: Harried when the crowd picks up.
Verdict: Must visit.

Swensen's ice creams, 80 Ft Road, Opp. Barista, near Sony Signal, Koramangala, Bangalore. Phone: 41613524