Saturday, November 08, 2008

I've moved to my own domain:

Monday, April 16, 2007

Swagath..defence colony

If you live in Delhi and are fond of sea-food or coastal must already be knowing about Swagath..
For those who think South indian food begins and ends with the dosa and the idli..Swagath is a must-visit..
what you get is spicy prawn biriyani, appams with stew..or if, like me, you prefer something spicy..chettinad chicken!!yumm!! crabs, lobsters, fish name it and they not just have it...but have it fresh and sometimes even live for you to choose the one you want to savour..on a weekend be ready to wait in queue ..but the service is prompt and efficient..
Now comes the sad discovery I made last week..With the new financial year..Swagath too has decided to hike its a glass of jal jeera is Rs 50..and that irresistible Prawn Biriyani about Rs 300..but thats not the end...on Friday the jal jeera was say the least..and in my 5years of visiting Swagath almost once a month..this is surely a first..
They seemed to be in a hurry too...and my comment on the jal jeera didnt evoke much reaction.. favourite pickled onions..which are always 'pickled' in Swagath..were strong and pungent...
lets hope its a one-off experience!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

wok vs stir-fry

In my last post I wrote about the horrible experience at Yana. After the experience I realised i did not know what exactly a wok was. A quick look on wikipedia revealed that it's just the name for a chinese Kadai!

The wok is a versatile round-bottomed cooking vessel originating in China.

the wok is known as a wadjang, as kuali and kawali (small wok) in Malaysia, kawa (big wok) in the Philippines and kadai in India.

Obviously, not very exciting!

Next, I looked up Stirfry and that gave the kind of results I was looking for. Apparently, the technique followed at "All stir fry" is the Chao technique. And the one used at Yana is neither!

So the next time I see a place with a Wok, I know I need to ask whether they stir-fry or not and in what way!

First Impressions: Yana

A friend suggested Gold Adlabs at Kalyani Nagar as the place to meet up last week for lunch. She could make but i was lured to Yana which promised Sizzlers and Wok. Wok was the easy choice as I haven't been to the "All stir fry" at Gordan House at Colaba. I love All Stir Fry but haven't been there for a long time. So a chance to have a similar experience was quite alluring.

The start itself was bad as price of the wok was almost the same as the ASF one but the choices were far limited. The sever emphasized "One trip one bowl" in a condescending tone.

It got worse once the bowl was given to me. Food was partly purned/undercooked. In retrospect, the size to which vegetables and the meat was cut was the obvious culprit. The lunch is short was horrible!

Rating: 1.5/5.0
Completely avoidable

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I've migrated to the Blogger Beta for culinary ventures and also trying wordpress with Vanity...

So one sees changes such as labels and some changes in format. Hope it adds to the readability. On the downside, I can't comment on non-beta blogger sites!

The labels made me realise that the content is quite sparse right now. Will address it in next few days.

Monday, August 28, 2006

First Impressions - Hyderabad House

Its not easy to get Haleem except for places that specialise in Hyderabadi/Nizami cuisine. So when I saw a Hyderabad House in front of Forum, I was thrilled. I used to visit the one in Versova in Mumbai but it closed down some time back.

First shock: Haleem is served only on sunday. Nothing available except for Biryani.
Second shock: "But Sir, you ordered chicken Biryani!"
Third Shock: Mutton Biryani was nothing like Hyderabadi biryani!!

In all, first impression is the last impression.


First Impressions - Magnolia

I love chinese food but somehow the only chinese place that I've frequented in Bangalore is Rice Bowl on the Lavel road. These days I come to Bangalore quite frequently but stay near domlur/Indiranagar thus ruling out rice bowl completely. So, its been time to experiment with places in Kormangala.

Tried Yo China but its way crowded for any entry. Minimum wait time: 30 mins. Too noisy and hence not worth the wait or another visit. Visited another place near 6th block. Nice decor which reminded a lot of rice bowl. Again long wait time but not as long as Yo China. Another time perhaps. Went over to Magnolia near Raheja residency and then visted again.

Magnolia is half km off the Kormangala main road (BDA road) into the road between nandini and Utsav. A nice quiet area compared to most of kormangala. Its a house converted into a restaurant and it shows. Still very tastefully done interiors and very polite subdued service. Consists of two floors each with two rooms. Ground floor is non-smoking service while the first floor has one smoking room. Being rooms, smokers are completely isolated compared to most other places. Seats can be uncomfortable for large people and lack of armrests is uncomfortable for any. Tables are placed far apart so one can actually hear the music which is a huge plus.

I usually like to evaluate a chinese place by the quality of soups and the rice. So far, I haven't tried the rice so I'll keep to the soup here. I've tried a clear soup and a thick soup. Both had the just the right aroma and the flavour. However, the thick soup is not really thick even by Bangalore standards, forget Mumbai places like Chopsticks (Nariman point). Still, the taste is just right.

Magnolia also serves Thai food. So, I ran my eye over the menu looking for kai (Thai for Chicken). Surprisingly, only one item. Then I realised that all the names are translated and the Thai dishes are with the prefix Thai. A first time for me definitely! I believe in the saying that a rose smells as sweet by any other name and so shall certainly try the Thai fare in near future.

I'll certainly come back for more to this place.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Inch is on the 100ft road in Indiranagar right next to Cafe Coffee day. I went in there for the first time as it was vacant compared to CCD and then just fell in love with the place.

It has a very interesting decor. One side had hanging seats with high tables while the other has low wide sofas with low tables. Beanbags for seating outside. They can put them inside too if you ask them to. Wooden floor. Plenty of space in between the seats. Comics lying around. I read an Archie there after a long time!

They have some good salads and pasta. Simple, light and tasty stuff. I'd recommend the Mocha frappe to go with just about everything.

Wish they had wi fi and I could stay for hours. My 1xRTT card is quite slow at its best and i yearn to get back to my hotel's broadband wi-fi. Still, a great place to hang around.

A definite for every of my Bangalore visits.

Rating: 4.5/5


This one has been long time in pipeline!

Samrat is in backbay reclamation area near Churchgate. Its not as well known as its cousin Status which sees Nariman point flocking to it for lunch. But trust me its a lot better.

Its a medium sized place spread over two floors. One is struck by two things upon entry: most of the patrons are families taking a day out and that there are so many trophys declaring Samrat as the Best Veg restaurant in Bombay! It seems they have won for every year for a fairly long time!

Its a nice clean place with tables packed together and waiters in uniforms bustling about. A glance around will show that Thali is popular and indeed its tough to go wrong with the choice. I would also recommend the Masala Khicdi here. I'm split between the Thali and the Khicdi everytime I come here and just can't make a decision on the gastronomic criteria. So I take Khicdi when in hurry/when I need to stay light and Thali otherwise. My recommendation for these two should by no means take you away from trying other items on Menu. They're great too! Its just that I haven't been able to break myself away from the hold that these two items have over me! I have tried some others when we went in a group and I can tell you that the Tandoori paneer is the best I've had anywhere in the world. For dessert, the aamras is incomparable.

I'll dwell a bit on the thali as its the most attractive option here. Costs Rs 170 a head. The items are the same as any Gujrathi thali. But its vastly superior to any other in two aspects: taste and service. One can keep eating just one or two items and completely immerse oneself into them at the cost of others and still feel satiated. Item to item, samrat beats other gujrathi places hands down. When it comes to service, you feel you have come in a wedding. There may be people lined up and waiting to get in and you may be protesting that you're filled upto the mouth, the waiters would still implore you to have more! They actually run to get items you haven't tried lest you run away before they return! Other gurathi thali places like Aaram in Mahim also serve huge amount of food but this service is beyond anything I've ever seen.

I can go on and on about Samrat. I have already used more exclamation marks here than all my other posts combined and I can still add more. But suffice it to say that its MUST visit place in Mumbai. Its the benchmark for good quality food as far as I'm concerned.

Rating: 5/5

Guru da Dhaba

Most people, particularly non-vegeterians, find vegeterian food boring. Its usually paneer this, paneer that, paneer something else and so on and so forth. But it need not be. I'll attempt to review two great places for veg food in Mumbai in this and the next post. The first off is Guru da dhaba.

Guru da Dhaba is a small place in the Lokhandwala market, Andheri west. Just turn left after the McD at Lokhandwala and its the small place on your right. A dhaba in name and in looks. No AC. You share your table with others and food is plonked/slid on your table. Small kids run around with amazing energy serving all.

The menu is on the board in front. I suggest you ask for a glass of chaas while mulling over the menu. Its really the best chaas I've ever had. It worsened a bit in the past 4 yrs but still great. Everything is great so just go ahead and order. I usually favour the makhani rotis with dal/rajma and one subji. Rotis keep coming hot off the plate and no time I usually order for the second subji. Gobhi aloo, methi aloo, mushroom are my favorites here. I always think of trying other stuff but I relent to the urge of reliving past experiences. Some day, the law of marginal utility would play out and I'll move to other stuff. But it looks far right now!

I still remember my first time here. I got two shocks. First the realisation that I had eaten around 14 rotis! and second that the bill was around Rs 100!! Its no longer that cheap and the place has started to close down by 10.30 but its still great.

One can follow-up the great food here with Naturals ice-cream around the corner. A mix of tender coconut and malai tastes heavenly after guru da dhaba.

Rating = 5/5.

First Impressions - Juke Box

Juke Box is a small place in Kormangala that we used to frequent during the IIM B days. So when a friend from those days asked to meet up near Forum and was delayed in the traffic, I went looking for it. I was almost sure that this mark of the old Bangalore would be gone in the megapolis that Bangalore has become. So it was shock to see it in the same place with the same signature board. Hurried back and got my friend also at Jukebox.

Juke box serves continental food which is quite decent. Its particularly known for its sizzlers. Beer too is great.

I wouldn't rate it for the fear of my nostalgia coloring the judgement. But I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking out for a nice place to hang out with friends. Old Bangalore charm still works.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

First Impressions - Moet's shack

I noticed Moet's shack in defence colony while on way to dinner to Little Italy last Friday. Returned with another friend the next day. I wanted a quiet place but gave in to the joy of exploration.

Shack offers Chinese and sea-food. We went for Chinese not being sure of sea food in Delhi. Again, the place was closely packed and noisy. Again I ordered Chardonnay hoping for a repeat of the last week. Alas, the wine was too cold. But any regret was short lived as food was served a lot faster than we expected. It was pretty good. But it did not delight. It merely met the standard of good chinese food in taste and in size of helpings. A place worth another visit but not the kind of place where one can vow people.

Rating: 3.5/4

First impressions - Flavours

Well to be honest it was not my first time at Flavours which a friend had described as the best Italian fare in Delhi. I was reminded of this place by a close friend when we met after a long time at Bangalore's Italia (The Park). So, I went back with a sense of nostalgia more than anything else.

Flavours is a small place just off the Ring road near Moolchand flyover. Its quite distinct in many ways. First up is the view upon entrance: one sees a medley of desserts. I was instantly reminded of incomparable cafe churchill at colaba. Anyways, the second noticeable feature is that all waitresses seem to be of noth eastern descent and dressed in jeans. Third, it was closely packed and noisy like a Mumbai restaurant!

I was weary so I quickly ordered a chicken dish - the name escapes me now. I also gave in to the temptation of having a glass of chardonnay. It turned out to be the best decision of the evening. The key to a good glass of chardonnay is serving it at the right temp and the people at Flavours know that well. It was smooth and just the right "flavour". I quickly finished my dish and asked for Kahlua. Again its difficult to find good kahlua. But this was first class.

Overall good food. Great wine and dessert. Noise is a turn off. Definitive second visit and more

Rating = 4/5

Kashmiri Stall, Dilli Haat

I love Rogan Josh; the most famous dish to come from Kashmir. Hence, I am always on the look out for a place that serves genuine kashmiri food. The only place that I frequent and which serves (I think!) genuine Kashmiri food is the kashmiri stall at Dilli Haat.

I gave them a visit about two weeks back for lunch. I ordered a mini Trami which is rice, achar, rogan josh, goshtaba and kabab served together. An easy way to sample the cross-section of kasmiri cuisine. The helpings are not very large but the amount of curry is huge. Which is good given that the two curries are very different. One can keep changing between the two and never tire of just trying curry! The meat for rogan josh could have been cooked better. The goshtaba was very nice. For the uninitiated, gostaba is a meat ball served in a curd based curry.

Overall the place suffers from a lack of conducive ambience. Service is poor. But then its only place I know that serves genuine kashmiri fare. I'll keep visiting until I can find a better place.

Rating = 3/5

Monday, August 07, 2006

Launching First Impressions

I've decided to modify my rule of reviewing a place only iff I've been there at least twice. Usually twice is also not sufficient to form an opinion but sounds better than being one of. But, now I'll also write my first impressions of the new places I visit. Reviews would continue but would now be deeper than just 2 visits.

Let's see how it works out.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Murugan Idly

Murugan Idly has been a recent discovery and what a discovery. I saw one at Besant Nagar beach at Chennai during one of my earlier visits and decided to try them out. Now its been twice and time for review.

They serve on banana leaves: idly, sambar and 4 types of chutneys. Each one of them superlative! Idlys are soft and hot into your leaf. Sambar tempts you to lick off the the leaf. Each of the chutneys is good enough to demand your entire attention which of course you can't given 3 other chutneys and sambar! The net result is to order more idlys until you realise that snacks have become a meal.

However its only the idlys that are superlative. Dosai and wada don't measure up.

A 4.5 on 5 overall. 5 for idlys. I don't know a better place for them!

Sarvana Bhavan

I spent cumulatively over a week in Chennai the last month. Explored some new places but could not resist visiting Sarvana Bhavan a number of times. I tried the one at Peter's road and the one at Radhakrishna sallai.

The bhavan at peter's road has a cake shop, one buffet hall and one ala carte hall.

The manners of the waiters at the buffet hall resemble more that of prison wardens than waiters. Still, the food is so good that I can happily ignore all that. Multiple kinds of sambar and many dishes whose names I can't remember but amazing. kesar bath is out of the world. 5 on 5.

The service at the ala-carte is much better. Its quite noisy until the food arrives and after that all but foof fades into the background. tried Ghee idly and it was awesome. No rating yet as I have visited it only once.

The bhavan at Radhakrishna sallai came with recommendations from my boss. Its a non-A/C hall and hence I approached it with some trepidation. however, no problems on that count due to large spaces between seats (its not mumbai!) and strong fans. And like any other sarvana bhavan, once the food comes in, taste dominates all other senses. I ordered a ghee dosa and before I realised I had ordered for a second helping! Alas, I couldn't afford to due to dinner commitments and hence cancelled. Amazing yet no ratings. Will visit it more and then rate. A definite contender for 5.

The story would not be complete without the mention of Sangeetha. Another person who enjoys South Indian food told me that he changed his loyalty from Sarvana bhavan to the Sangeetha at Adyar. Now I was hooked and waited for the day long meeting to get over. We had a dinner at Taj which promised to be an engaging affair. Still, I couldn't stop myself from taking a slight detour to Adyar sangeetha. I ordered ghee idly. While it was great, it was still second to Sarvana bhavan. I expressed my disappointment to someone else over the dinner and was told that its the dosas that Sangeetha excels in. Now I'm waiting for my next chennai trip.

Overall, if you're in Chennai and are open to south indian food; try Sarvana bhavan. It may well be the start of a long love affair as it has been with me. 5 out of 5.

Nandini vs Bheemas

I am a Nandini's fan. Every time I'm in Bangalore I make it a point to visit Nandini and have their Andhra Biryani. Andhra biryani (at nandini) is very different from its more famous Hyderabadi cousin. Its dry and meat is very well done. On the whole very light compared to the Hyderabadi biryani. And of course, I tell my friends about it. Some who have had Andhra biryani told me that Bheemas is better.

So this time I gave Bheemas on Church street a try. First impressions; limited Andhra menu, quicker service (helped by the fact that its empty) and huge helping. Dig into the biryani and the difference between nandini and Bheemas is very apparent. Bheemas' biryani is very spicy. Its as if chilli is pounded into rice. Not unexpected and actually welcome. However, the meat wasn't cooked well and soured the experience. I asked for some chicken as well and found it better cooked.

I'd put this a 3.5 on 5. Better cooked meat would make it a 4. A must visit if you want spicy food in Bangalore.

Leela Palace

Leela in Bangalore is the most expensive hotel in the country. Sadly the prices are reflective more of the demand supply mismatch rather than the quality of the place. I attended CII's Innovation summit at Leela a few weeks back and was sadly disaapointed with the food served for lunch. It was well cooked but lacked the "aah" factor. In other words it was clinically, well done for most dishes but lacked the panache.

A definite 4 on 5.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Oh Calcutta Express

I just posted about a 3.5/5 restaurant. Not the kind of stuff great weekends are made of. But this weekend was great because of a 5/5 place: Oh Calcutta Express!

Oh Calcutta Express is the smaller cousin of the Tardeo Oh Calcutta that has opened at Lokhandwala. I used to frequent the tardeo one about a year and half back. So when I heard about the Lokhandwala one, naturally I was keen to visit it. For one reason or the other, it never happened upto this weekend.

I was guided in menu selection by old friends Ritu and Pranob who hail from Calcutta. I am usually content to leave myself in the hands of Ritu who is expert at ordering. More on her expertise with Joey's pizza in a later post.

Suffice it to say it was so good that I was back on Saturday evening for a second round. Surprisingly, I was welcomed with a very broad smile and comments of how good it was to see me again. I replied that it was only my second time. And I was told that they remember me from the Tardeo Oh Calcutta! I was left speechless. If a place remembers its patrons after a gap of one and half years, it speaks volumes about its service.

Oh calcutta express is smaller than its tardeo cousin and more cramped. I expected it to be noisy as a natural consequence but its not. Maybe because of the bhadralok who visit it! Service is polite and very quick.

One is served a aloo chanaa chaat as a complimentary appetiser. One can overdo it easily as its quite tasty and the folks at Oh Calcutta keep replenishing it! But then the order too arrives quickly and there is more to take the attention away.

On friday, we had some kebabs followed by Calcutta Biryani. All this was new to me as I'm used to ordering fish at Oh Calcutta. Pranob rightly commented that its a mistake to think that Bengali food is all about fish.

Its worthwhile to dwell a bit on the Biryani. There are around 80 kinds of Biryani in India according to some counts. There is a spectrum of spicier one (Hyderabadi biryani) to the lighter ones (Andhra Biryani!). The calcutta biryani redefined the lighter extreme for me. No masala but carefully selected spices. I also thought that I detected milks/khoa in it. Certainly a delicacy. I was intrigued by the presence of potato and the accompanying raita. These are there in the Hyderabadi biryani (probably the first biryani) for the change of taste from the very spicy to normal. But given how light the calcutta one is, I didn't really the see the need for change of taste. Probably, its a level of subtlety that I could not appreciate.

One can't really talk about bengali food without the sweet dishes. I had Misthi doi and it was just as expected. But the surprise was Rossogolla Payesh. I was too full on Friday to try more but on Saturday I had three helpings. Its one of the experiences which cannot be expressed fully in words. I know because I have tried doing so for last 10 mins before giving up!

Oh Calcutta express has the wow factor for almost every dish that I have tasted. Its a perfect 5 in my books. Now I have the only convince my team for a thali lunch (Rs 149 only!).

Hotel Mirador

Hotel Mirador is near Cigarette factory, Chakala.

The first things that one notices are: 24 Hr restaurant, happy hours upto 10 PM(!) and the buffet. There are a few dishes that are available 24 Hrs and not the entire menu. Makes you wonder if they just heat these and serve! The happy hours are certainly a gimmick; where else do you have a beer bottle for Rs 160! And the discount on beer is 40% which takes the effective prrice to Rs 96! The lunch buffet is Rs 225 while dinner is for Rs 375. The difference between the two is addition of one soup and one salad!!

Let's look at the food. Food spread is very nice for the buffet. For lunch there is one veg soup and a no of salads out which only one is veg. One can start off with a choice of veg and non-veg kabab followed by 1 rice and daal and again a no of main course preparations. The buffet certainly wins hands down on the spread. The food is usually well cooked but lacks the wow factor. I have been to Mirador many times now and I've never had an occassion where any item has been beyond "good". But then all items are good!

Moving on to ambience. This is really the weakest point. Its a small place and with only a few tables occupied it is very noisy. Add loud music to that and one wants to leave quickly. In the evenings, it is no different from a pub. So if you want dinner, avoid. if you want a pub, it lacks the atmosphere and is too pricey.

Service is usually good though they need to learn some intricacies. If there is a promotional offer of a free glass of wine with the first; the two glasses should not be served together.

On the whole, Mirador gets points on convenience and the buffet spread. It looses on its pricing and ambience. A 3.25.


A question that bugged me when I considered blogging was what do I talk about? I've chosen to write about food because I love food, I love eating out but its largely because people already ask me about food places.

I love being in Mumbai primarily for one reason: good food. I'll use this blog to share some of my culinary adventures; largely in Mumbai but elsewhere as well. Stay tuned!