Whoa! Mumbai’s restaurant jungle is getting more populated…Blue Frog, White Owl, Lazy dog, Barking deer and now Tijuana Iguana. Coincidentally, I’m writing this from Australia, home to the most amazing wildlife (which I love). At the dinner, before I left Mumbai my wild-life conservationist guest Sam Mistry explained the interesting background about Iguana, the lizard from Central America and Mexico. Not only is he a trustee of the Corbett foundation but even honeymooned with his Doctor wife Rati in Kenya. A brilliant and dedicated doctor she also makes time for regular visits to wildlife parks. Both love animals (Sam prefers them to humans) and yes! they were happy to be in Tijuana Iguana.
As soon as you walk in, through the greenlight haze, the Iguana eyes stare from the large looming poster. Three smallish rooms (on different levels) make up this new Fort restaurant, set up by American businessman Jai Lalwani, who runs hotels and similar ‘Ameri-Mex’ concept bars in the US. We stopped at the bar for a drink and moved up the steps to the tiny space with sofas for dinner.
FOOD & DRINK
A deliciously tangy Margarita, followed with well-made chicken wings
Standard Tex Mex fare heaped over with beans and cheese, be it Quessadillas or Enchiladas, Burritos. Plenty of Burgers ( try black and blue burger with blue cheese) sandwiches (Philly cheese steak). Many a choice for veggies too (including the wittily named “Patel pasta” “Peruvian paella”). Health club section ( grilled salmon and chicken too) The Simply Sinful Snickers Pie with icecream and an Oreo cookie crust, topped with caramel and fudge was a must try. Plenty of cocktails, (go for vodka melon cranberry based “The Good life” ) Shots at the well stocked bar.
My biggest disappointment was the guacamole, as it lacked texture and flavor. A lot of the dishes were just a heap of cheese and beans and lackluster. The Brownie bottom pie was thick and hard. It can get very noisy here.
This open all day, new Fort entrant promises to go from a restaurant into a Happy Hour zone, back to a diner and then into a nightclub, all in one evening. We have yet to watch their bartenders Salsa Meringue, and throw Fire and Toss bottles, but sure enjoyed meeting them much more than we did the Ameri-Mex fare here which still needs to hit it’s stride.
Bombay Mutual Annexe, Rustom Sidhwa Marg,Gunbow Street, Opposite Residency Hotel Fort
Open 12 noon till 01:30am
RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
It’s here. Yet another world class Japanese restaurant, by a US based Japanese chef. No! Yuuka by Ting Yen (from Boston) is not a me-too of Wasabi by Morimoto (of Philadelphia). If anything it sets out to define it’s own identity. It has been making waves ever since it opened a few months ago. Making constant headline news as the nation’s most trusted and high profile “trouble shooter”, is my golden hearted guest, Chairman of a prestigious bank, Deepak Parekh and his brilliant educationist wife Smita. This discerning, well-traveled gourmet couple has not only been making several trips to Japan, love the food, but Deepak has also been participating in and nurturing the growing Indo-Japanese economic relations. Forever, fund-raising for good-causes, this jetsetting discerning foodie couple has been on the top of my favorites list for years. Joining that list are the close friends of the Parekh’s, Ranjan and Jayshree Sanghi of India’s fourth generation automobile pioneering family. Both globetrotting gourmets. He an outstanding sportsperson who’s played football, hockey and squash at competitive levels and she a former state level badminton champion, is not only a Kathak dancer but also a creative cook. Their dinners at home are legendary. They enjoy the experience here.
A wooden staircase climb above the 37th floor of the Ruia’s Palladium hotel, this handsome, high ceilinged 50 seater restaurant has a contemporary sheen. Sushi bar, origami birds complete the pleasant unobtrusive décor.
Drama and spectacle marks the food, as does a calculated balance of the expected and the unexpected dishes here. Plenty for vegetarians. Many a dish is like a sculpted work of art and architecture…like the Avocade tartare presented as a chilled cylinder, in a glass, break it and mix it with butter cream sauce and wasabi corn dashi and pure vegetarian bliss happens . The citrus ponzu marinated strips of salmon slung over a burning fire of coffee beans (with Jamaican rum) have a flavor and drama of their own. Its thirty different types of Maki that Ting specializes in, and the two I recommend are the lusciously rich tuna toro (Toro truffle osscietra caviar ) and the imaginatively named vegetarian Tiger tear (Avocado, habanero, cream cheese sriracha). More Veggie masterpieces are the Enoki mushroom soup, The Okonomiyaki (mushroom, zucchini pancake.) Ting has specially created dishes for the Indian palate (naan bread taquitos, veggies enlivened with the tangy Pico De Gallo.) Well made Black cod and tempura too.
It’s the dramatic finale of breaking open the iced Coconut Sphere with it’s spun sugar veil pregnant with coffee mousse and yuzu sherbet that dazzles.
The extremely dim lighting at night makes it impossible to appreciate the full drama of the dishes here. It’s lovely by day. There are occasional failures of execution: the lackluster, overcooked chicken Katsu, the ho hum duck with apple and prunes. Slow service (inspite of ordering ahead, the edamame is served at the end). Love the name
“Beijitarian” but the vegetables on a crispy flat bread don’t add up to much at all. Ditto for Ting’s Spicy Fried Rice. During my third meal, we found that the sashimi was not as fresh as at the earlier ones.
Here comes Japanese food with a gastronomic swagger and richness with meticulously composed and gorgeously accessorized dishes. I fell in love with the experience gradually (ate here thrice, palate singing, wallet stinging Rs 8000 meal for two). Some dishes served on ice, some on naked flames. Big flavors, art and architecture in the presentations ( few traditional, pristine dishes too, we could do with more). Chef Ting has created many for the Indian palate (veggies delight) without making it tip into Jindian (figure that one!). I’ve eaten Japanese food in all the gourmet capitals of the world and I’m delighted that Aamchi Mumbai is (slowly) getting there. Yuuka may mean “scented or superior flower” in Japanese but to me it stands for a whoop of joy like “Euryuuka”
P.S. Would love to know your views, please mail email@example.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh
Yuuka, 37th floor, Palladium Hotel, Lower Parel, Ph 61628422. Rs 8000 meal for two.
RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
I am a convert. Like Brad Pitt who lives here in the French quarter of this lively, crescent shaped city on the River Mississippi. It rocks to soul-stirring music, birthcity of jazz (even the airport is named Louis Armstrong). New York, London, San Francisco have great restaurants but New Orleans has a food culture. It’s own indigenous dishes…gumbo, jambalaya, po’boys, muffuletta, etouffee, beignets, Bananas Foster and many more. Ofcourse, it has great restaurants too and guiding me through them are high-profile, knowldgable New Orleanians. Ti Brennan ( generation-old Brennen family’s restaurants span the city), the city’s most eminent Cardiologist Siddharth Bhansali (also a gourmet cook and Indian art collector,)
Abhishek Bhansali, brand .
strategy consultant and co-owner of a restaurant chain, advise me on the greatest to the latest. As does the lovely Gia Rabito from the museum of art. Our tried, tested and tasted favourites: The iconic Commander’s Palace (1880) award winning Tory Mc Phael serves modern as well as traditional Creole masterpieces. We eat Oysters ( chargilled ones) at Acme (1910) have powder sugar beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde (1862) Po Boys at the hole in the wall Mothers. Coffee Pot ( superb jambalaya and Callas rice cakes.) Superb cocktails and Louissiana small plates at the Brennen’s stylish SoBou. Feast on jazz in Frenchman’s street and Bourbon street, dine at the historic Arnauds (1918). Our finale dinner at the luxuriously appointed “Grill Room”of the gracious and elegant Windsor court begins at the cellar with John Mitchel pairing the champagnes and wines, chef Daniel Causgrove conjures masterpieces that dazzle. Need more info? please email firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh
Confession time. I love everything Bengali (food, mishti, Kolkatta. music, literature and ofcourse the people).So, I dash down (with a Bengali family ofcourse) to this fortnight old fine dine Bengali restaurant . Siddharth Chatterjee, sales and marketing whizkid buys his own fish (loves Rohu and Ilish) from the
4 Bungalows fish market. Along with his lovely wife Namrata he cooks for their son Arjun, (state tennis champion) whose top favorite is Bekti.Yes! they love this restaurant.
Walk under the looming pillarless dome of the Sahara Star into this chic black and white floored restaurant. Open kitchen, shelves with books, rabindrasangeet et al ( in house magician too).
Mustard sparkles this great cuisine: whole mustard seeds in hot oil pop and turn nuttily sweet: when ground into a paste, they develop a pungency that is nose-tinglingly memorable. And, for me it is this deft use of mustard in Bengali fish and veg dishes that makes it my favourite. As does the use of the traditional regional mix“panch phoran”. Freshest of river and seafish here: unerringly fried Bekti, steamed to perfection Bhapa chingri, shorshe Ilish, boneless Bekti jhol…distil the exquisite flavors of Bengal. My favorite fragrant lemon Gondhuraj enlivens the chicken. The melt in the mouth succulent mutton Kosha Mangsho is another favorite. Chef Prasanjit Ghosh ensures that even the accompaniments of the puffy, crisp Radhaballobi and Luchi and the Gobindobhog Chaal are superb. Nolen gur icecream seduces with it’s creamy, caramelly flavour and texture .
Sadly the portions are small and the prices high. Though well presented in a coconut shell, the dhaab chingri is too sweet and lacklustre. Mediocre banana flower Mochar ghanto. Ditto for the rossogulla and payesh. No aloo poshto on the menu.
The brand new, open-for-dinner only stylish, fine dine Bengali restaurant of Sahara Star serves up authentic and delicious fare. If it increases it’s portions and decreases it’s prices (Rs 6000 meal for two) it will have us going back for more.
25 Parganas Sahara Star Hotel, Western Express Highway, Santacruz East
Timings: 7 pm-1am (dinner only)
FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DECOR 3.5
Open for dinner only
Meal for 2: Rs 6000
It is right here, on the patio, overlooking Rodeo Drive, (the glamor boulevard to the world) that, over the years, Ive met Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor, Gulshan Grover and Preity Zinta. Today, right here, I not only photograph three superstars of the hospitality world and my favorite French masterpiece of texture and flavor, Chicken Liver parfait, but also send you it’s recipe. This from the creative maestro Chef Thomas Bellec from the ultimate winner of a symbol of Hollywood highlife and dining. As they say, if its Hollywood, its got to be the “Pretty woman hotel” (the movie was shot here) Beverly Wilshire where eight decades of Hollywood history distils itself. Every sexy, sleek square inch here bristles with style and star power. It preens itself on the glamor boulevard of the world, the Rodeo drive. Hermes (creator of the Kelly bag) and Ferragamo (inventor of the Platform shoe) share the Rodeo drive with the glamorously elegant Beverly Wilshire. It is here that the prestigious and high profile Princess Grace of Monaco gala, Ferrari s 60 th Anniversary was just celebrated. It is here that Warren Beatty lived for fifteen years. As did Elvis Presley.
It is here, in the legendary Beverly Wilshire, that the high priest of American chefs Wolfgang Puck’s cutting edge steakhouse has won many awards.It is here that French chef Thomas Bellec’s brilliance at sourcing local foods and incorporating unique flavors into his classic French training shines through. He distils the world on our plates. The multi-talented Chef Bellec hails from Brittany, painstakingly and brilliant makes his own Charcuterie (has even introduced a charcuterie and beer night.) His menu at BLVD ( voted top “Power Tables” … Wall Street Journal) is in great demand. Having reigned supreme over Los Angeles, Chef Bellec is determined to put Beverly Wilshire on the world gourmet map too. Spearheading this legendary landmark (and three other hotels too) is the dapper, well-traveled gourmet, Benn Trodd. Having completed his post graduation from London and led many a hotel to win awards, he is injecting energy and youth in this legendary landmark.
Also with us today is writer, communicator par excellence, Vogue fashion network, blogger styleguru, the very lovely, Carrie Mitchell who along with Ben Trodd sits on the Board of directors of Rodeo drive.
Together the trio ensure that luxury drips in every practical detail and human warmth marks every hi-tech comfort. From the Ferragamo amenities to Fine foods to gliding in a sleek Silver Ghost Rolls Royce (“courtesy” car to all their guests to go within a 3 mile radius of the hotel) is a routine part of the stay here.Beverly Wilshire makes it a habit to make each one feel like a star. Therein lies it’s magic.
CHEF BELLEC’S PERFECT PARFAIT
Yields 4 portions
1 lb chicken livers, cleaned
Marinate with port wine (1 cup), 1 peeled halves shallot, peeled garlic clove, sprig of parsley, 1 whole juniper berry overnight.
Drain livers. Make sure the sauté pans are scorching hot. Saute livers, giving a hard sear (including all garnish). Pour livers into a bowl. Deglaze hot pans with brandy.
Blend livers in a food processor (robot coupe) until smooth.
Pass through a strainer.Season with salt, black pepper.
Add 1 whole egg, ½ yolk and 2 tsp heavy cream.
Finish with ground nutmeg, ground clove, raw brandy (splash). Check seasoning.
Pour into mason jars, ½ full. bake in a bain marie (water bath) in a 300 F oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool at room temp. Serve with baguette croutons.
I write from Hollywood, the star-spangled capital of cool, with it’s vivid blue skies, bright sunny cold days. It has this mesmerizing effect as I find myself being guided through the newest and the best (by LA Times Food critic Irene Verbilia and two Foodie Angelenos, actor, writer Dhruv Uday Singh and Tracy Dubin.) We celebrate at the new, packed with star-power Hakkasan that sprawls glamorously in Beverly Hills. Superb food and two Indian stand up comics (who make India proud) for company… Mon rok and Tushar Singh. We also dine at the high-priest of American cuisine, Wolfgang Pucks 3 decades old flagship Spago which is as good as ever. Nobu’s first ever restaurant Matsuhisa” delivers a seamlessly great experience. The Japanese Katsuya’s sushi and sashimi, the airy cheery downtown’s Bottega Louie’s Sweet potato chips are lodged in my taste bud memory. “Blvd” in the “Pretty Woman” hotel’s (Beverly Wilshire) new French chef Thomas Bellec weaves magic.Another must visit is Ladies Gunboat Society at Flores for outstanding Southern fare. Need more info pl email email@example.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh