Food

Review: TIJUANA IGUANA GRILL AND LOUNGE

Posted on Updated on

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

DÉCOR

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.

MINUS POINTS

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.

MY POINT

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

22695756

Open 12 noon till 01:30am

RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 

 

Review: NUTCRACKER

Posted on

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Multi-cuisine

I raise a toast with the unique “breakfast in a bottle” along with my guests (please see photo). We re in the week old café “Nutcracker” and we’re celebrating the legendary 86 year young Padmashree Dr RP Soonawala’s forthcoming prestigious Dhanvantari  award (conferred on the likes of Dr Christian Bernard) . Internationally and nationally recognised for his medical inventions and pioneering Family Planing work, the lovable doc has delivered the nation including Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta’s daugher. The dapper gourmet Jay and RP share over a decade of friendship, passion for cars, food, chocolates and perfection. Though busy with his national and interntional businesses (including restauranting) Jay takes time off to dine at the worlds finest Michelin starred restaurants and the small homestyle ones (like he does today).  He is a pure vegetarian.  “Nutcracker” serves pure vegetarian food too.

 

 

DÉCOR

It’s seriously small. Sits cheek by jowl with Ayub’s Kababwalla in the Kala Ghoda area. Charming in a rustic unfinished way, (three yellow stools suspended on the wall, cardboard framed mirrors et al ) oldworld art deco tiled flooring.

FOOD

Homestyle vegetarian: all day breakfast (go for the Parsi eggs with salli, yum Parsi Akuri, the cracked wheat and barley upma) Burgers & sandwiches ( chunky black bean with garlic mayo has a satisfying bite, home made barbecue sauce on the cheese one delights, classic grilled cheese sandwich deliciously oozes cheese). Healthy options too (Must try the delicious breakfast in a bottle… The Asian Salad.  )

Ask for the square wedge of “Seven Layer Cookie,” (chocolate, biscuit crumbs, almond flakes et al) and the dense yet light Belgian chocolate cake.

MINUS

No booking policy has us waiting. It was packed and the bare room amplified noise levels. No wine or beer in this café. Some of the dishes gloopy (sliders with egg and pesto) lacklustre (buttermilk  pancakes). No  Eggs Florentine or egg Parfait available today. Oversweet French toast.

 

MY POINT

This open through the day, pure vegetarian (eggs included) cafe redefines family-run and homestyle (even the sauces are home made). It follows in the footsteps of “Kala Ghoda café” Pantry” “Teapot café” but is even more homespun. I have a big, fat, soft spot for family run restaurant and this one has the chartered accountant turned restaurateur Anahita Bafna cooking, her sister serving and her investment banker husband helping out too. Together they have delivered Nutcracker. Sure! it is a new born and still needs to find it’s feet. But we (who better than world renowned obs-gynae Dr RP Soonawala) welcome this bonny new baby!

 

The Nutcracker, opposite One Forbes Building, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Ph 22842430, Rs 1600 meal for two.

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

Review: YUUKA

Posted on

Japanese

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

DÉCOR

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.

FOOD

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.

 

MINUS POINTS

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.

 MY POINT

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 rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.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

NU ORLINS COOLINARY

Posted on

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh

Review: 25 PARGANAS

Posted on Updated on

Bengali

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

DECOR

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).

FOOD

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 .

MINUS POINTS

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.

MY POINT

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
39807162
Timings: 7 pm-1am (dinner only)

 FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DECOR 3.5

Open for dinner only

Meal for 2: Rs 6000

A TASTE OF THE SUPERSTARS

Posted on

L1170178

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.

MAESTROS ALL

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.

HOLLYWOOD’S HOT NEWS

Posted on Updated on

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh

Review: FAT MAN’S CAFE

Posted on

European

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I really do value your views and recommendations. I am not only constantly requesting for them via email, twitter and instagram but also reach out to you (by inviting you to dine with me on blind dates). And today’s restaurant review is an example of what I love to do … walk up to diners and request their views (and photograph them, like today). The reason is simple,  your views reflect  accurate unbiased experiences and   help me keep a finger on the pulse of the city. Also inspite of my taking extreme care (booking under a fake name, sending my guests ahead to order) if I am recognised, then the whole experience changes. So getting the views of the diners already eating in the restaurant is invaluable. Like these of the lovely, lively diners… Rakhi Samptani,  Jayshree Adtani. Reshma Adtani Aradhana Singh, Chandni Tolani

Dr Mohsin Thanawala and  Dr Anushree Shiralkar

The review that follows incorporates all our views.

DÉCOR

The interestingly named “Fat Mans café” crouches between many other tiny eateries on the restaurant strip behind Leelavati hospital. A cheery vibe, cozy white walls, a board with “Fat man’s rules”, pretty patterned tiles and upholstry complete the décor. We like.

FOOD

It’s zigzagging menu goes through breakfast, soup, salad, appetisers, burgers, sliders, pizzas mains and dessert. I ate here twice, the hearty egg bowl framed by a rustic blend of creamed spinach and herbed tomato sauce,  has improved. A tasty grilled tomato pesto sandwich, Beef sandwich enlivened with caramleised onions,  al dente Fettucine, okayish Grilled chicken, here. Ask for the well-made chargrilled chicken burger (fried egg et al)  Black white mousse cake, refreshing orange cream slice, Dark Chocolate Mousse Cup are delightful.

 

MINUS POINTS

Slow. Agonisingly slow service . My favorite Eggs Bendict  served on bread, sans sauce hollaindaise. Styrofoam like potato mash with the grilled chicken, overcooked mushrooms, lacklustre pancakes,

jacket potatoes overloaded with a slushy cheese. Soggy, apple crumble.

MY POINT

We all love the name of this tiny café. The cheery, white-walled ambiance too. Open through the day, eggs,  sandwich, burger kind of menu here. The opinion is unanimous that though not exceptional or outstanding,  most of the dishes are tasty, generously portioned and moderately priced. I ate here twice and the food had defintiely improved . However, at all times, the service was slow. The side-effect of being called “Fat man’s café”?

Fat Mans Café, shop No.9
ONGC Building No.3
Near Lilavati Hospital
Bandra (West)

2640 2053

Open 11am to 12.30am

AV MEAL FOR 2: Rs 1500

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 2 DÉCOR 3.5

 

Review: CAFÉ NEMO

Posted on

Multi-cuisine

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What’s in a name? Plenty! Coz when you go looking for this 3 month old Worli café you do do feel a bit like Nemo. For the uninformed,  Captain Nemo was the seafaring adventurer in Author Jules Vernes book and the décor and the eclectic, adventurous menu reflect that.

 

DÉCOR

You do begin to feel like an adventurer as there are no sign boards as you walk over Worli village’s uneven ground, past mangy dogs and shantys to get to the canary yellow bungalow.

Black and white furniture, a few chalk drawings a wall of hooks, mysteriously speared with  feathers  attract attention. We opted to sit in one of the two dining rooms (theres a bar area too)In the neigbouring room there was a table of lively and vivacious diners who were celebrating their friend  Vikrant Chheda’s
birthday and many of them had travelled from far and were very happy to be here.

 

FOOD

The menu, which is as eclectic as Nemo’s adventures and zig zags to Asia, Europe, Russia, and South America. It  is nonconformist and quite unlike that of Jam Jar Diner and Bonobo (same owners).

The superhits are the perfectly cooked hot truffled shrimp, the robust loaded guacamole bean dip and the intense dark chocolate pot de creme .Flavorsome ribolita soup, steamed fluffy  bao with penang chicken is tasty as is the  char sui pork bao. Okayish Seoul bowl (beef, rice, vegetables) and  goat cheese pizza.

MINUS POINTS

Noisy. Very noisy when packed. Overcooked dry bekti, hard profiteroles, lacklustre  rice cake with pineapple sauce. Some patchy dishes too.

MY POINT

Open through the day, it is a charming, three roomed café in the midst of the cluttered Worli village. A well stocked bar, casual vibe and an eclectic menu that delivers adventure. Nemo Ahoy!

 

Café Nemo, 329/A, Thadani House, opposite the Indian Coast Guard, Worli , Ph  24379841

Open through the day.

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 

NEW YORK NEWS

Posted on Updated on

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Magic begins to happen when you land in this adrenalin fuelled aggressive city. Not only do I trip out in the latest musical “Aladdin” but also end up with many a magic genie. Like the vegetarian gourmet Shom Hinduja (a brilliant student completing masters in Columbia, is a serious cook, plays drums and discovers restaurants). Within 2 hours of landing, he blows my mind with the vegetarian specials in the most revered Japanese restaurant “Bar Masa”. Pure vegetarian Korean “Hungawi”, the cheap and cheerful “Han Dynasty” follow. Michelin starred “Eleven Madison Park” “Daniel” “Blue hill at Stone farm” serve fab veggie options. Budget friendly Totto Ramen, pizzerias (Rubi Rossa with heart shaped pizzas) come next. It’s Chef Ashfer Biju’s ( Two E at The iconic Pierre) outstanding vegetarian masterpieces of flavor and texture that thrill. I eat with a girlfriend at the hottest happening restaurant “Brooklyn Fare” (an 18 seater, no photos, no phones allowed) Japanese inspired mindblowing menu.

P.S. On my very last NYC night I have three dinners (at Uruguay Chef Ignacio’s Estela where Obama just went for his date night) wine at Corkbuzz with the charming editor of “Food and Wine” and then “Harry Cipriani” for gluten free pasta with pesto where Musical maestros Ayaan Ali Khan, Amaan Ali khan and Satya Hinduja share their favorite NYC restaurants. The discerning foodies, the Khan brothers are here on a 7 city tour with their father Amjad Ali Khan .

Want to know their non veggie recommendations ? email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh