Mumbai

Review: Spesso Gourmet Kitchen

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Vegetarian global multi-cuisine

Whoa! This is the first time, (in my two decades of food writing) that Ive seen such a massive wave of  pure vegetarian eateries dedicated to serving only global multi-cuisines (no Indian cuisines at all). “Little Italy”  was one of the first, several years ago. Many opened intermittently (eg  Relish, Quattro) but the past few months alone have seen BurmaBurma, Picante, Spice club (to name a few) and Nariman Point’s very own Spesso (the Italian word for “often”)

I eat here twice, the second time is an improvement. The first meal is a disappointment but my guests dazzle. Well-traveled foodies all and here’s the surprise…each one has a vegetarian connect. Leon Bignell, the suave South Australian minister of Food keeps us riveted with his recounting of the large number of Indian vegetarian restaurants in Adelaide thanks to the growing population of Indian students there. Well-informed Queens counsel, Brian Hayes, charming Cathy Parker( Bignell’s aide), Travel maestro Carl Dantas and the dynamic Vinod Advani wine writer (who only cooks vegetarian food when abroad for friends) help me eat our way through the menu. We chat over our Swiss-Egyptian (you read that right) fondue pot. (please see photo)

 

DÉCOR

Walk into the  handsome, contemporary space and be pleasantly surprised. Open kitchen, wooden floor and a patisserie counter complete the décor.

 

FOOD

Many a inter-country marriage takes place here…Italy’s Pizza marries  Mexico (beans, salsa et al) Swiss fondue is in union with Egyptian dukka (and both dishes actually taste good) But lets start counting the cuisines served here…Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Lebanese Turkish…then Creole,  French, Malaysian, American, Japanese Moroccan, Indonesian and Greek (excuse me if Ive missed some).  Oh! Yes theres African, Egyptian, Swiss fondue, sizzlers and pizzas too. Presented innovatively and attractively, many a dish is tasty. Aldente penne.

Seven Layered Mexican Shots in shot glasses  are a tasty mish mash of cheese, salsa, guacamole and veggies.

Go for the Spesso Platter (deep fried  crispy roll,  volau vont boxes quessadila s african paneer peri peri) flavoursome Malaysian curry too..
Eggless desserts in generous portions are the high point here. Be it the Hazelnut chocolate pot, the intense chocolatey Lava cake  or even the “jain macarons”.

MINUS POINTS

Don’t go looking for fare made to authentic recipes and be prepared for some disappointments. Sweet soggy volcano nachos, stodgy Prawn tempura, lacklustre Lebanese mezze,  overfried  and hard Arancini

disappoint. Oversweet  Mandarin orange red velvet and  Choco o loco taco. No alcohol served here.

 

MY POINT

Non vegetarians stay away.My Jain brethren looking for international flavors? This is for you. No other restaurant in the whole wide world will cookup so many cuisines (though some are flops) made to your requirements and presented innovatively. Well-made Eggless desserts too.

Well priced (Rs 1200 meal for two, 3 course Power lunch 350)

The arguments over authenticity could go on forever as desi-flavors do the garba and bhangra with international recipes and the result? Mexican pizza, Egyptian fondue. Tasty chhe!

P.S. Looking Indian vegetarian food in Nariman Point? The next door “Status” has the same owners as “Spesso”

SPESSO

Ground floor, Regent Chambers, Jamnalal Bajaj Road, Nariman Point
Call: 40318750

TIMINGS 11 am till dinner

RATING

FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

Cost per meal for two; Rs 1200


 

YOUR REVIEWS OF SPESSO

I write from dazzling Dubai and am thrilled to receive your twitter and instagram feedback. Thanks @tanvivedak (very good food. Tall  virgin margarita, desserts good. Did not expect such variety from a pure veg restaurant. Good service, nice ambiance )

@cherryred_22 ( beautiful ambience and interiors. Amazing rissotto,anglio olio and good combinations of different types of cheese in cheese fondue. All very decently priced)

@snehakhatri looks fancy, food not comparable to similar restaurants @notjustanotherfoodie (The desserts are yum)

@riiaac@power_struggle @rachnavaswani  @power_struggle@romakripalani@saumightsay

@eteepodar@tarunhasan@theashishsingh

@ila_iiLooks good .@divj@gaurav_agrawall

@priti3566@deepakbhatia2014

Do keep sending me your reviews of all and any eateries you like or dislike rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com @rashmiudaysingh (twitter, instagram)

Review: The Bombay Bronx

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Bar  (Bombay street inspired finger food)

 

Yeh hai Bombay Bronx meri jaan. You’ll either love it or hate it. You’ll either  find it creative in it’s attention to thematic detailing or just an overload of thakke hue clichés. My guests and I love it.  Surprisingly even my buddies in their sixties  get hooked. I  revisit on a packed Friday night, and meet an exuberant young couple, who (like TBB) symbolize the spirit of Mumbai. Miss Malini and her Mr, Nowshad Rizwanullah.They are  a living example of Mumbai being the city which makes dreams come true (like it did for Big B). Having lived all over the world, Miss Malini moved to Mumbai 14 years ago, lived with six girls and a pigeon, worked as RJ, wrote scripts and then started blogging. Today, this digital princess’s new age multi media brand for the internet generation straddles many media and has a huge national and international following. They  make fashion, Bollywood, travel and food accessible. Miss Malini’s dapper husband Nowshad, also moved to Mumbai, after having a global upbringing ( Harvard and Yale graduate) and now heads up the business and is the food reviewer.

They love Bombay Bronx, “True taste of mumbai masala. Happy  and shiny”.

 

DÉCOR

Take a look at the photo and you’ll see the exuberant couple hanging on to a local train’s over-head handle. Before that we sat in an  auto rickshaw but ended up eating and drinking at the Irani café area, just next to the bar. Mumbai, in all it’s avatars, throbs in this 1800 sq ft area, Dabbawalas table, chor bazaar map on the ceiling, Eros cinema sign et al. A wall painting of a slouching Amitabh Bachchan blesses it all and sprinkles Mumbaiya magic dust as the Dj spins a mix of commercial and deep house music.

 

FOOD & DRINK

The colorful menu with it’s “vez’ and “non vez” sections, the “Kadak maal” booze menu offer many a Mumbaiya infused dish and drink.  Newspaper cones with complimentry  crunchy  chakna (boiled peanuts, channa and more) set the tone for the street food that it is to follow. The spongy Gujju dhokla gets a crisp, deepfried cover and become a yummy, must try “dhoklapakoda”. Flavorsome kheema with soft pao, the Kothambir wadi is yum and tenderfirm , succulent tandoori chicken wings too. Chicken farcha burgers , Spongy baby idlis dusted with molagapodi are worth trying as is the Iced Peru and Pani Puri caiproshka. Creative presentation, ( newspapers, mini carrom board et al).

MINUS POINTS

Some of the cleverly named dishes don’t live up to their name. Hard and overfried Krispee spinach, ditto for the Raju’s chicken lollipops, Oily baida roti, Bland pav bhaji sandwis. While the tangy signature cocktails  pair well with the spicy fare some of them are not spiked with enough  alcohol. Some of the regular alcohol is not available (eg Old Monk). Welll informed waiters (with “Boss” written on their shirts) miss out on getting our “pijja” order and when the place gets crowded it’s impossible to get “Boss s” attention.

MY POINT

It’s exuberant and fun, much needed in the otherwise boring Breach Candy area (except for Ghetto and now Py). Some of it’s finger food needs to be fine tuned, as do it’s signature cocktails. The brand new Bombay Bronx is well-priced,  lusty, ultramodern, clichéd, rustic, fun, exuberant  and a host of other adjectives that don’t normally squeeze together but find themselves in a tight, mostly happy clutch here. Tumko Jaane ko Maangta hai!

The Bombay Bronx Hubtown Skybay, Breach Candy (99677-01666). Daily 7pm-1am.

Nightout for 2: Rs 2000

RATING BUZZ 4.5  AMBIANCE 4


YOUR REVIEWS OF BOMBAY BRONX

I write from gorgeous Gulmurg and it’s great to receive your twitter and instagram feedback here: @cityslicker (food nice esp dhokla pakoda, cocktails disappoint, overall fun, buzzing vibe, will return) @jayvasantlal (total fun place, yummy food, well priced drinks, will return) @brandedbawi (love the décor, drinks with a Bambaiya twist, excellent concepts of dhokla pakoda and farcha burger) @prioskauke (peru shots to die for, also masala fish fingers. Must go back) @netfreaknash (super dhokla pakodas and Bombay duck) @swathirishi (love the twist of the paneer dhokla) @bloodynerd (I like the Boss concept, though a little light should be put on their concept foods) @antarazandc (why fry an already perfect treat of steamed dhokla and add calories?) @ankitanarsey (finger food good, stale munchies except for bhujia sev inconsistent cocktails, not enough stock of Kingfisher ultra. @darrypars (peru and vodka go well together) @dinubhai23 (have farcha burger, pani puri caiproshka, fried masala sing ) @yutidalal ( Yum peru shot, kachi kairi with vodka) @romakripalani @almondmelon @kalpitabhosale  thanks for your comments too.

REVIEW: TIFFIN BOX ETC

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Indian multi-cuisine

Kya naam hai! Full marks. Can you think of a better name than “Tiffin box etc” for a casual eatery that swiftly serves many an Indian regional cuisine through the day and home delivers too? I have the perfect guests to help me check it out, not only  are they Sindhi, Maharashtrian and Gujrati but also well-traveled, discerning foodies.

Having just returned from Peru, they are planning their Belgrade and Iceland trip.

While Dr Raju Khubchandani has  pioneered pediatric rheumatology in India, writing is his passion and I am riveted by the iconic child-care book he is co-authoring with  Dr RK Anand. Shaila Khubchandani, a surgical pathologist of repute, actually finds interpreting Kidney biopsies relaxing as she does  looking after their home .We eat our way through the menu, our review follows…

 

DÉCOR

Doodh ka dabbas, bicycle tyres, kettles, caricatures  (you get the picture?) adorn the canteen-like space. Tables and benches, open kitchen, paper mats et al.

 

FOOD

They take the “etc” in their name very seriously and serve it all… from Awadh to Bengal to  South India  and even Birmingham, chaats, idli, upma etc etc. Surprisingly it’s the juicy, succulent kebabs (seekh and murg pudina tikka) that come up tops. Must trys…Robustly spiced Balti Birmingham curry,  flavorsome  Nalli Nihari and  Lamb Koshe Mangsho. Go for  the

Mustard infused rawas tikka (the most expensive dish at Rs350). However, the fish curry and the chicken makhanwala are just about okay, but the bhakri is superb.Wind up with the delightful Paan icecream and sugarfree gajjar halwa. VFM meal served in a tiffin box ( veg Rs 350, non veg Rs 420)  curry, dal, three chapatis, rice and a sweet. Lunch buffet (Rs 414 for 10 dishes) too.

 

 MINUS POINTS

Uncomfy seating. It can get very noisy.Patchy dishes lacking flavor.  Slushy Chettinad chicken, stodgy veg kabab.soggy chappatis  served in foil. But the biggest disappointments are the lackluster saibhaji  and the tasteless Sindhi curry. No alcohol.

 

MY POINT

This casual, quick service, open through the day, three month old Tiffin Box etc is somewhat light on the wallet ( Av meal for 2, Rs 1000) but can be heavy on the tummy with it’s many a curry and gravy. Its vast and ambitious menu tries to put all the complex cuisines of India into a Tiffin dabba and falters in doing so. While it does not warrant a special trip across town, Tiffin Box etc, a contemporary dhaba is perfect for a quick desi meal, snack etc for the office goers in the BKC vicinity.

Ground Floor, Naman Center, C 31, Next to Yauatcha, Block G- Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (E). Ph 61378080

Open 8 am to midnight

RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

MEAL FOR 2: Rs 1000

 


 

YOUR REVIEWS OF TBE

Value your twitter and instagram feedback. Please keep it coming (@rashmiudaysingh) @cityslicker_me (quick service, good chicken kolhapuri , dry  Dhokla quick cheapandcheerful  Indian meal)

voraviyaI (great for lunch) tableforone_pv (didn’t like the flavours at all.)

notjustanotherfoodie (Love the food, the   parathas,  dal makhani) @kalpitabhosale @mansidedhia1 (clichéd décor).

@voraviya (TBEs buffet is good!

 


RAMADAN KAREEN

May Allah shower you with miracles this holy month of Ramadan and always. I am writing this right after a  delicious Iftar dinner, thanks to  Janhavi and Shan Mohammed giving me the lead about  the brand new “Royal Flavors” (Oshiwara   26320600). So I called in for home-delivery (advance notice needed)  for a few of their signature dishes. It was the pounded meat and wheat Mutton haleem (Rs 245) the fragrant kache gosht ki biryani (Rs 290)   and flavorsome Khubani ka meetha (Rs 110) which worked the magic for us.

My Delicious Discoveries

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HOME BAKERS AND CATERERS
MUMBAI…DELHI

 

Discovering and writing about home talent in my columns and books has been my lifelong passion. So I’ve been tweeting instagramimg and writing and trying to sniff out new talent.

…A million thanks for your fabulous response on twitter instagram and my columns.

We re planning many Tasting sessions in Mumbai (have done many over the years here) and Delhi (have already been conducting them in Chennai).

MUMBAIS next WHAT’S HOT TASTING is on 12th June, 2014

Meanwhile here’s a LISTING of our great talent…

MUMBAI

Company Name: All My Sins

Phone: 9820651129

Email: allmysinspatisserie@gmail.com

Instagram handles: @allmysins @eteepodar

Facebook : www.facebook.com/allmysinspatisserie

Specialties: Cakes, Desserts (with egg and eggless) ,cookies and flavored butters.


Company Name: The Mad Batter

Phone: 9619117601/9930045041

Email: themadbatterbydimple@gmail.com

Instagram: @themadbatterbydimple

Specialties: Eggless , Whoopie Pies, Marshmallow Pops, Glitterati ie Glitter Cookie Towers, Cupcakes, Brownies, Cheesecakes also available in miniature form, cookies, Desserts etc.


Company Name: Sweet Favours

Phone: +917506270433

Instagram: @sweetfavoursmumbai 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sweetfavours 

Specialties: Cheesecakes, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies and Caramel Apple Pie Cookies.


Name: Sweet Indulgence

Phone:  9920999596

Email: sneha_gidwani@hotmail.com 

Specialties: Molten Chocolate cake and Chocolate Mousse cake


Company Name: Baker’s Hut

Phone: 9619940706

Email: manali.more@yahoo.com

Twitter & Instagram handles: @manalimore

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/bakerhut

Specialties: Cakes, Designer Cakes, Eggless, Muffins, Soft

Centered Chocolates.


Company Name: Nima Parikh

Phone: 02223695187

Email: nimaparikh66@gmail.com

Specialties: Brownies, Strawberry Pie (in season), Pizza Sauce and Cocktail Pizzas


Company Name: Just Cookies

Phone: 9930914574/9819221244

Email: justcookies4@gmail.com

Specialties: All our products are 100% vegetarian &

eggless without any raising agents. Rose Petal, Whole Wheat Muesli, Lavender

Cookies. Also offer Cookies made in the Flower,

Fruit, Nut & Chocolate line in both Flour & 100%

Whole Wheat option.

Fresh Yogurts in Paired (combination) as well as

individual Flower, Fruit, Nut types using natural

ingredients and flavours.

Paired Yogurts: a) Orange with Chocolate &

Hazelnut b) Banana with Honey & Walnut c)

Citrus & Khus aperitif. (offered in sugar free too)

Muddled Yogurts typically in fruity range with an

option of added muesli/granola for the first time

in India. (offered in sugar free too)

Nolen Gur Souffle for the first time in Mumbai.

Mousses in various Fruit flavours individual

& in combination with other fruit. The most

recent addition is a mousse made using natural

Lavender flowers.


Company Name: Cake Me Out

Phone: 9167164290

Email: cakemeout.india@gmail.com

Instagram handle: @CAKEMEOUTINDIA

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/cakemeout.india

Specialties: French Cakes, Desserts, Cakes, Macaroons, Cookies, Eggless, Cheesecakes, Designer cakes


Company Name: Onesta Confections

Phone: 9820808412

Email: info@onesta.in, neha@onesta.in

Twitter handle: @onestaindia & Instagram handle: @onestaconfections

Facebook : facebook.com/onestaconfections

Specialties: Cheesecakes, Gourmet Chocolates, Cupcakes, Mini Pastries and Cakes. 


DELHI

Name: Whisk A Wish

Phone: 9811887602

Email: whiskawish@gmail.com

Instagram handle: @whiskawish

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/WhiskAWish

Specialties: Whole Wheat Carrot Cake, Mawa Mithai Cake, Choux Box, Peanut Butter cookies, Chocolate cupcake with strawberry buttercream


Name: Buns and Muffins

Phone: 9811380477 

Email: bunsandmuffins@gmail.com

Facebook : www.facebook.com/pages/Bunsnmuffins/

Specialties:  Flavorful breads, rolls, calzones, stuffed buns, pies, muffins and cupcakes


KEEP WATCHING THIS SPACE FOR MORE DELICIOUS DISCOVERIES…should u want to be part of email me rashmiudaydingh2015@gmail.com tweet instagram @rashmiudaysingh

Waitongly yours

Review: Picante

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PICANTE

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Vegetarian Italian, Mexican

Shudh vegetarian goes global and upmarket in Breach candy. It also crosses the Indian borders (or does it?) to serve Mexican and Italian cuisines. I lunch with  a gourmet veggie twosome:  a former state level badminton champion, the multi-talented, lovely Jayshree Sanghi of India’s fourth generation automobile pioneering family is not only a Kathak dancer  (trained under Padmashree Sunaina Hazarilal) but a creative cook whose dinners are legendary. Equally sporty  (US champ in racquetball and squash)  Navin Deo, having spent 40 years in a  high profile US government job is back in India and making Impactroses which have been in huge demand. Im bowled over by his long stemmed roses (see pic)with their personalized gold embossed messages on the petals. We eat our way through the entire menu: result?  the roses and the giant cookie dessert are the only highpoints of our lunch.

 

DÉCOR

Happy surprise. The second floored restaurants  pleasant  ambiance with pale purple sofas, yellow-cushioned chairs with  wooden geometrical frames, simple black-and-white caricatures, and graphics.

 

FOOD

Along with their ala carte  Mexican and Italian menu they offer daily (except weekend dinners) a “Sunday food festival” (Rs 999 for one) you can order all  28 dishes. But we are told very strictly that it cannot be shared. So we get 2 of these and plenty a la carte ones too. The Picante Pizza (even a wheat-watchers one,) al dente aglio olio  and lasagna  pass muster. It is the giant, freshly baked gooeycrisp cookie topped with warm chocolate sauce, and the moistwarm Molten Chocolate Cake that saves the day.

MINUS POINTS

Desi palate  tuned fare, with plenty of cheese and ketchup.Soggy nachos,  ketchupy Habanero Cottage Cheese, ditto for the quesadillas

Burrito lacks punch, overdressed salads, a strange Arabic pizza and so on. And on.  No alcohol.

MY POINT

Open through the day, pleasing ambiance, well-presented food, attentive service are the plus points.  Sure! a restaurant is in the business of making money and has to cater to all tastes   but except for a few dishes, the vegetarian Italian Mexican fare bends over backward to please the Indian palate  and tips over to become a mish mash of Gujjutalian and Mexidesi. Tasty no doubt!

Picante Ristorante, 401, Akruti Skypark, Mahalaxmi, Bhulabhai Desai road.Ph 23529393

meal for 2 Rs. 1500.

Open noon to midnight

RATING FOOD 2.5 DÉCOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5

 


 

MUMBAI TO DUBAI

MY CUP OF TEA...DR RAJEN KILACHAND AND FAARAH MEHTA
MY CUP OF TEA…DR RAJEN KILACHAND AND FAARAH MEHTA

Khulja simsim. Your twitter and instagram messages  as well Dubai foodies guide me through Dubai.  It’s food scene dazzles with world class restaurants (love La Serre, Zuma, La Petit Maison).  I also eat at two brand  new, must-try  restaurants Yuan (Atlantis)  and Katsuya (Dubai mall) with Dubai-based foodie extraordinaire and global philanthropist  Dr Rajen Kilachand. He also takes me to high tea (Fortnum and Mason), along with his friend the legendary Rusi Karanjia’s granddaughter, the gorgeous Faarah Mehta. I trip out on Umai (The Oberoi) cutting edge sushi and cod, Soy (Dubai mall) VFM Chinese, many a local eatery, belly dancing  too. Two “first time evers” … the Awesome Oberoi’s breakfast “Lollipop waffles” (you read that right)  and the fabulous traditional “pre-iftar” dinner at Desert Palm while the spectacular sun sets over the lush green polo grounds behind us. P.S Happy to share info please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com twitter and instagram @rashmiudaysingh

#WhatsHotTastingSession in Mumbai

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L1150835

DESSERT MAKERS (WHO WORK OUT OF HOME)

I am very khush! Have discovered amazing home baking talent. Here are   some of the results of my latest #whatshottastingsession.

HERES HOW I DID IT

Anyone  who bakes professionally out of home can take part. For the past 20 years, I have been regularly  conducting these  sessions (in Mumbai and Chennai) in order to discover and encourage home talent and to include the talented ones  in The Times Food Guide.

I was flooded with Instagrams, tweets and mail requests. I invited 21 dessert makers (and 6 gourmet tasters)  to the centrally located, evergreen Gaylord with Noel  and Robert being ever helpful.

LOOK WHO’S BAKING

Passion powers these talented women, some have switched careers, others moonlight. From strategic global account manager, engineer, fashion stylist, product manager to CA, doctor, recruitment firm director and architect. Many  are professionally trained too. From popcorn cupcakes to gluten free treats…they do it all. Please excuse my sketchy writing…to get full details you’ll have to wait for the Times Food Guide 2015

  HEALTHY YUMMIES

Sugarfree , gluten free and healthy desserts from Charvi Bubna’s “cheat clean” (Try her brown rice flour and honey brownies. 9820934080)

Eggless expert Shailee  anklesaria’s  “Sugar fairy”  makes cakes et al, super oatmeal cookies (9820246367)

Egg and gelatin-free “Choco kisses”  from  Kairvi mehta and jayshri Mehta (9820029065)

Tara kapur’s  “bombay bizarre baker”   (9820006440) caters to all those with food allergies. Go for gluten free almond cake,

 

 

CHOCOHOLIX UNITE

“Charlene and the chocolate factory” (9833258908)

Charlene Vaz specializes in truffles and chocolates with an indian twist.

Yummy Japanese chocolates by

Varsha kalani’s “okashi” 9833505747

 

DESIGNER DESSERTS

Call “the dessert table” (9867385908) Delafruz tangri and Jalpa timbadia  for super customized desserts with matching crockery and cutlery. Must try Chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting.

Shillpa Bhambri is the only exception, she’s been featured since my first book (1997), her latest fusion cupcake  was a hot seller (Cakeline 9619559433

Hand painted cakes and more by Jahan bloch ‘s “chic confections” (9930704646).

Dimple sanghvi’s   “the mad batter” . candy castle cupcakes , glitterati cookie tower (961911760)

Egg and gelatin free desserts in jars by Innovative Nishita Kamdar ‘s “JAR designs” ( try paan velvet 9819365658)

Internationally trained Shikha Murarka’s  “MishMash” s (9819766027)  sugar and fondant work ( popcorn cupcakes, a handbag cake) were delicious.

 

SWEET SURPRISES

Mango yoghurt cheesecake, red velvet cookies were Shanaz Barodawalla’s signature  “sweet flavours” ( 9890453087)”Knead with love” s Richa Lulla’s (9833480814)

biscuit base brownie with cheesecake was a hit. Good old fashioned american cakes, spiked eggnog  were some of the signatures of  Roshni Vatnani s”the vanilla bean bakery ”  (9833325822)Go for Ruchika Vyas and Kirti Vyas “house of cookies” (9167366770) especially brown butter cookie filled with caramel .  Etee poddar’s “all my sins” (9820651129) unique signature was The black forest in a chocolate cup.Anurita malik ghoshal  (from LCB Paris) baked a yum chocolate chip loaf and the LCB lemon tart. 9820267003)

Umehani rangwala’s “lovecrumbs” caters to all your cake needs (8108429266)Try Witty meha Agarwal’s “the big apple baking co”’s orange cream. 9833015376″My butter half” by yeshi chaudhary ‘s red velvet was yum. 9769299795

 

GOURMET TASTERS

Thanks foodies extraordinaire for tasting, eating, tweeting… Urvika kanoi ( professional chef who helped coordinate this tasting session.) Vasudha kejriwal ( marketing manager) Dinesh bahrani ( Head chef at Boveda)

Kritika dayal  ( at a leading magazine firm)

Ronak Rajani (  social media marketer)

Rishab verma- (LCB trained pastry chef )

 


 

WITH SHUKRAAN FROM DUBAI

A million thanks for all your Eating-out advice  in Dubai (on instagram and twitter.) Will be conducting more #whatshottastingsessions as soon as I return. If interested please contact, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh  rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com

Review: The Spare Kitchen

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Global progressive Indian

THE SPARE KITCHENI’m in Juhu’s new Spare Kitchen and I’m rejoicing. Not only is it a worth-eating-in restaurant but I’m also lunching here with three foodies who I’d never met before (except over instagram @cherryred_22 and twitter).  Hailing from a well-traveled family, not only is the talented Anju Agarwal’s cooking superb and popular with Ruchi, (her vivacious daughter, studying medicine) and the bubbly Gauri (in 10th grade) but her blog is well-loved too. We eat our way through the multi cuisine menu, I enjoy every moment of my lunch with the bubbly threesome, hearing about their idli cupcakes to  their herb garden on the rooftop of their 8 floor bungalow.

DÉCOR

Drive into Juhu’s King hotel’s side entrance and walk into this large 5000 sq ft Spare Kitchen ( for sure it’s much more than a kitchen,) it has an outdoor area (woodfired pizza oven here) a lounge, an open bar and a Private dining too.

Brick walls, dark wood tables flat screen TV s complete the décor. At night, the haze  of dramatic blue light enlivens the restaurant.

FOOD

Comfort food with a twist.Please take a look at the photo, Ruchi is holding up the “Bruschetta two ways” which distils the freshness and flavor of tomatoes on toast and  gazpacho in a shot glass too. The gifted young partners chef Rakesh. Ricky and Gaurav ensure that many a dish tells a story through it’s ingredients and presentation. Happily,  taste and flavor keep pace with the story (except in some dishes). And though it is a mish mash of a menu with Indian starters and mains, plus  pastas, burgers, pizzas and European fare, it still works. Must trys?   Succulent kababs, be it the tenderfirm and unerringly spiced chicken seekh sesame, coriander crusted chicken tikka or the Dual Paneer tikka 2 ways ( sundried tomato and and basil pesto.I   Bombay’s better butter chicken (makhanwala lightly done  with  Italian tomatoes, sans cream) is flavorsome and  the beer batter fried fish and chips and pizzas  delicious too. But  the magic is created by the  Chemistry of mango dessert a charmed  wedding  of tangy  kachi kairi jelly with the spike of aam ras, mango cheesecake with chocolate fudge.An equally mega voltage chocoholics dream come true is the  Chocolate ecstasy (rendered in 5 textures and temperatures) from the simple chocolate tart, to cutting chai with an edible chocolate spoon .

MINUS POINTS

While the presentation of the Chowpatty TSK platter (Bhel vada pao, pao bhaji pani puri shot) is brilliant the flavors lag behind. Ditto for the concept of the “nizzas” naan-pizza  ends up falling flat. Lackluster  chowder (though authentically served in a bread bowl) is lackluster as does the

Malabari Lamb perched atop tiny uttapam discs.Superb desserts, but strawberry rasmalai cheesecake,? Skip it, and take a pass as well on the gelatinous greentea panacotta.

MY TRIED, TESTED AND TASTED VERDICT

The Spare Kitchen has (finally) managed to break  the jinx (  three predecessor restaurants  in this venue met an untimely end). Ever since it opened, nine months ago, it has been magnetizing regulars and Bollywood too with it’s choice of progressive Indian, pasta, pizza, burger kind of fare served through  the day (Rs 1500, Meal for 2)  Sure it has its share of flaws, but food’s the center of a meal,  so you’ll be served  a final balance of basic satisfaction and innovative presentation. Comfort food with a spin. A welcome one!

P.S Feedback (@krishpatel689…”awesome) @stuffednstarved @noturpapa whats yours?

THE SPARE KITCHEN  Kings International Hotel compound, ground floor, Juhu Tara road, opposite Juhu church, Ph  65893333,

Open noon to 1 am.

Rs 1500 for a meal for two

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 


WHATS HOT TASTING SESSIONS BEGIN

I am on the lookout for home bakers and caterers to include in your very own Times Food guide 2015. Overwhelmed with your  fabulous response. This years first  “Whats Hot Tasting session” was held yesterday. Should you be interested please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, tweet or instagram (@rashmiudaysingh). Waitingly yours

Review: Tea Trails

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Tea lounge

One of Mumbai’s latest trends? Swanky, new office buildings getting pregnant with restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bars and  nightclubs. The latest to join this brigade is the 10 day old Tea Trails. Is it world class? Or is it a chai ki dukan? I get Tea-lover NYC based “sexiest chef on earth”Vikas Khanna’s opinion. From views on the growing popularity of tea in the US, smoked tea (which he cooked with for his Masterchef show) it’s health benefits to   adding thandai to tea…he gives us plenty of tea-gyan. To meet him my foodie blind dates (instagram and twitter buddies)  the lovely @nehads12 Neha Shah working with a high profile international bank dashes down from Nariman Point. The well-informed @Gayayadav  Gayatri Yadav, business development manager  drives in from Malad. Dynamic professional, Shilpa Chawla, my loveliest reader past 20 years and author, foodstylist  Chef Michael Swamy  (who works closely with Vikas) shares his take on the food as well. Through it all, inspite of his frenetic two day trip for his new book and hosting a movie premiere, the tall, lovable, down to earth Vikas, our Punjabi munda hugs every one, smiles, laughs incessantly and turns out to be everyones cup of tea.

DÉCOR

Walk into BKC’s gleaming, glass building and zoom up the hi-tech lift to the third floor. The Tea Lounge is plonked in a high-ceilinged open-lobby kind of space. Wooden partitions, a small food counter give it a makeshift look. Innovative lights, posters. WIFI in this small 40 seater space, bathed in natural light during the day.

TEA

A simple, easy to navigate menu of 45 – 50 variants of teas with various blends.From Flavored blacks, white, greens, Oolong to Tisanes, Bubble Tea and chai here. Our vote goes to the “Tea Explorer” ( Rs 250, 4 teas, white, Oolong, International, green and Tisane).Perfect for the beginner. I love the  sensuous Lapsang Souchong (Rs 150) which is infused with smokey flavors by being  smoke-dried over pinewood fires.

Though a bit too sweet, Apple and cinnamon infused  Turkish Red Apple (Rs 95) is good as is  the fruit-filled Mango Taiwanese Bubble Tea (Rs 110 or 130) even though it doesn’t have the tapioca balls. We sip and sample plenty of teas (including the kullad (Rs 70) and the coolers.

All served in glass pitchers with inbuilt infusers,  a timer sand watch,  brewing instructions et al.  Complimentary  cheese straws too.

FOOD

Flavorsome Thai curry, well-made Tea infused Burmese Tea Leaf Salad stand out in the lunch specials.  In the all day menu, it’s the crisp onion bhajias, the simple slice of the pound cake that are worth trying, the rest of the outsourced desserts and a few savories are average or below par.

MINUS POINTS

Inaccessible, third floor location in the Capital Building (but a plus point for those working here) Dry, lackluster sandwich, muffins lack chocolate, Flavorful but soggy Tea biscuits, gelatinous  blueberry cheesecake, lemon tart encased in a hard shell. The tall, cool lemon and mint iced tea disappoints as does the slow service. Shilpa never got her order of Japanese tea inspite of requesting for it through the evening. My favorite Japanese Genmaicha and Gyokuro teas are not on the menu.

MY TRIED, TESTED AND TASTED VERDICT

Sniff, swirl, sip and spit…Ive done many a tea tasting sessions around the world and been romancing tea forever. So when Tea centre opened in Churchgate decades ago I was over the moon. I came to Tea Trails with joy and expectation. Happy that the dynamic Kavita and Uday Mathur’s  passion for tea spills over and they have taken care to ensure accurate brewing (timer et al) and serve up a flavor of world teas as well as our chai. Not exactly a gourmet tea lounge (a few  rare teas could’ve been added)  Food needs to be finetuned as does the service, but these could be just teething troubles. Open through the day till 7pm, I welcome this Tea Lounge…  ideal for chai and gupshup for tea lovers in the vicinity or should I say vicinitea?

TEA TRAILS, The Capital, Bandra Kurla Complex.

Ph 40050115

Open 9am to 7pm

Average spend Rs 600 for 2.

RATING

FOOD 2.5 TEA 3.5 SERVICE 3 DÉCOR 3


 

MY HUNT HAS BEGUN

I’ve been tweeting and instagraming for Home dessert makers for the Times Food Guide 2015 . Wow! What a response. Thanks a million. Will be inviting you for my “Whats hot” Tasting sessions so if you want to be included please mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh,

Review: MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN

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Pan Oriental 

We are excited. It’s a brand new 6 week old restaurant. I swoop down with eight of my blind dates( foodie readers who Id never met except over twitter and instagram).This Pan Oriental casual eatery has been newly born to  the established  20 year old “Mainland China” family. Its more Oriental than Chinese. It’s more casual. More affordable. Is it worth going to? Nine of us troop down, eat, tweet and instagram for three and half hours. Our review follows…

DÉCOR We all love the mega-voltage energy of the colorful ambiance. Ride up the escalator in the gleaming Oberoi mall and walk into a vibrant, high-ceilinged hall. Buzzing open kitchen, Oriental grocery shop front décor, with a retail shelf hanging over the kitchen fitted with long ladder on rails, walls plastered with street scenes of countries of the Far East.

FOOD On the subtle-to-blunt spectrum, the food here falls almost smack in the middle. It serves up the popular dishes of Mainland China  and also  some Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese ones. Robust flavors gallop across our taste buds, be it the Dynamite tofu (lives upto it’s name)  the crisp sambal fish made more lively with salsa and intensely flavored Black pepper chicken. Chatpatta Kimchi rice too. Flavorsome curries be it the Thai green or the Burmese Khao suey (complete with crunchy condiments) here. Amongst the more subtle and steamed dishes the plump chicken  suimai is worth trying, but it’s maestro Chef Rajesh Dubey’s the unerringly cooked Seabass sparkled with Tamari sauce and presented with panache that dazzles.Infact, creative presentation marks many a dish… eg balls of dynamite tofu served in a Martini glass. Desserts are above par, but it’s the feathery sponge that is drizzled with luscious sweet caramel  to wickedly flavorful effect

MINUS POINTS Gloopy sushi , undercooked prawns in the Thai  curry, lackluster  Mee Goreng lamb and  the Korean Bulgogi (we try the mock meat version) is not authentic but tasteless too. A thick sticky skin clasps the vegetarian dimsum. We try booking ahead, but because of their no reservations policy, end up waiting for our table. When full (like it is when we visit it) the restaurant can get very noisy.

MY POINT A brilliant concept, executed with gusto and delivered in a vibrant, high ceilinged ambiance,  bar  et al. The food is a mixture of appealing and ho-hum. But it almost always delivers high-impact flavors (well presented plates) at relatively low-impact prices, (Rs 1000, meal for 2).

Anjan Chatterjee’s  Mainland China’s Asia Kitchen is not about fine dining, but  Fun dining.

MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN, Oberoi mall, Film city Road, Goregaon East. 28423141 9322249924 Open lunch and dinner RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVIE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5


1(1)MEET MY FOODIE BLIND DATES

Whoa!  Take a look at the photo and you ‘ll know what fun 9 strangers can have together simply because we are foodies. I invite them over twitter and instagram and they travel from far and wide. I love meeting each one…from the corporate lawyer and chef to belly dancer  by passion. Kavita Tejnani certified Yoga Instructor, finsancial insurance advisor, thoughtfully brings Sindhi sweets and a thank you note.Passionate belly dancer, Chitra Kannan  the Vice President of  a packaging company , Jyoti Narula Ranjan  @jnrispartof techie turned entreprenuer is now building @SynTalk.  @priyahgandhi  a  corporate lawyer between jobs and @theglobalfoodie Urvika Kanoi  a classically trained chef from LCB ( setting up her own restaurant soon) all share their views. The fit foodie @KamathGurudutt and the HR professional @elsonsequiera are the two gallant males amongst us.  Adding even more fun to the lunch is Perzen Patel  better known as @BawiBride, a  Marketing Manager by day and Parsi caterer/food blogger by evening. Needless to add all of us love to cook, eat, tweet, blog, instagram and yes we all enjoy Mainland China Asia Kitchen.

P.S Join in. Be my next foodie date email rashmiudaysingh.instafriends@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh

Review: Burma Burma

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Vegetarian Burmese and Tea salon

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It’s largely pleasurable. It’s satisfying.  It gets our unanimous vote.  It does so not only because like our brand new Prime Minister “ vegetarian chhe” but because this 2 week old, brand new Burmese (hold your breath) pure vegetarian eatery deserves it. The arguments about authenticity (Burmese cuisine is predominantly non vegetarian) could go on forever. But what comes to the table delivers pleasant surprises.And bowls over the dyed-in-the-drool gorgeous vegetarian gourmet Mandira Bedi. She’s so magnetized by this vegetarian arrival, that she makes time from her TV shows, corporate events, charity work and designing stunning sarees to drive across town to dine here. The other committed and well-traveled vegetarian gourmet is the London based hot shot lawyer Sunil Sheth, who heads up the most unique international charity (Princess Anne, grand patron) for those with the double disability of being deaf-blind. He is here in India to expand charitable activities. And the ever-helpful Mandira gives him many a brilliant suggestion over a fun-dinner.

 

 

DÉCOR

Walk past the bar (No! alcohol, please note) into the earthy-wooden-toned room which has skilful patches of vibrant color. From (backlit) parasols hanging upside (on the ceiling),a  wall with  a “Prayer Wheel”, splotches of color of Burmese laquerware et al. Free wifi, and a TV screen too. Not super fancy, but thankfully not overcute thematic either.

FOOD

Never mind if they don’t use the Burmese cuisine’s predominant non vegetarian ingredients, fish oil et al. They coax  masterful flavors from   Chilli oil, onions, garlic coconut and Burmese spice mix Yessa. The must trys? Salads …crunchy with Achow nuts and tangy with chilli oil and lemon. Be it the zingy ginger salad, the chatpatta raw mango or the fermented tea leaf laphet salad.

Flavorsome thin peppery broth and the “samuza hincho” baby samosas dunked with carrot cabbage and capsicum, are delightful. The two young, dynamic Marwari owners,Ankit Gupta  and Chirag Chhajer ensure that every last detail is perfect.

In the mains, go for the  uniquely tasty  creamy coconutty rice with the contrast of peanut tomato chutney. The ever popular (originally breakfast dish) oh no (Burmese for coconut) Khao suey coconut curry with noodles and condiments (fried garlic, onions, nimbu etc) just about passes muster and could do with more punch. Mandira is particularly thrilled with the Red Velvet, and the large wedges of tasty desserts from Sanah Ahuja’s  Crumbilicious.

 

MINUS POINTS

The biggest let downs are the stuffed doughy, hard buns (Paukse). Okayish  Pyan Boo Palata  (paratha)  with a  corn coconutty mash. Hard tofu stir fried with tofu and lacklustre Burmese Falooda too. It can get noisy and there is no alcohol.

MY POINT

This mid-priced (Rs 1500 for 2) new Fort eatery distils the spirit of Burma in it’s earthy, wooden interiors. Though not authentic to this low impact cuisine’s non veg fundamentals, it still serves up deliciously surprising textural contrasts and flavors in it’s vegetarian spread.  It pays great attention to detail (imports sunflower seeds,  teas to chopsticks). The soups and salads (love them) score over the mains. It is a winner, but will this new Tea salon and vegetarian eatery (like our vegetarian Prime Minister) continue to deliver? I toast it with my favorite cup of “Monkey picked Oolong tea” and surely hope so.

 

INSTAGRAM AND TWITTER FEEDBACK

Thanks for  flooding me with feedback on this 2 week old Burma Burma. @chingypatel (“loved it”  “the tealeaf salad is an acquired taste in the beginning, but grows on you”) @panktiv (“loved the tealeaf salad…said its like Burmese bhel” (I agree) @meau01 (“Very inexpensive”)@mohidkadri (“yummy and so tasty salad”) @elisha_saigal (“food is good. Fresh ingredients and knowledge rich staff”  “but after serving the main course they go into a lull as though dreaming of scuba diving in Myanmar” ) @chingypatel (“BurmaBurma rocks”) @foodcookeat (“that sounds awesome”) @nsonal tells @hspicture (lets go there).

Look forward to even more feedback from you…as you can see its invaluable.

 

BURMA BURMA Kothari House
Off M. G. Road
Near Allana Centre Fort

Ph 40036600

Open lunch and dinner

Meal for 2 (Rs 1500 per head)

No alcohol

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5