Mumbai

Review: EXO

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Nightclub

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA ARJUN, MIA AND ZAI AT EXO
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA ARJUN, MIA AND ZAI AT EXO

Coming soon: The Times Nightlife Guide 2015. Ive been researching and writing these annual nightlife guides for over a decade. This inspite of the fact that I am an early-to-bed-early-to-rise person. So, every year, I stay awake through many a night and do several night life rounds with Mumbai’s young party-birds who guide me.We pop in unanounced into   the city’s nightclubs, discotheques and lounges checking out the buzz, music and ambiance. This time two gorgeous San Francisco based sisters, who redefine  “beauty with brains” sparkled my night as we not only checked out Exo, but also celebrated their  father, Arjun Divecha’s birthday. He is not only a high-flying global investor but also a discerning globe-trotting foodie and co-owner of the legendary Froghollow farm. Stanford graduate, PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, vivacious Mia  is  a foodie, and world traveler. Vibrant Zai, metalworker and designer’s handcrafted furniture and home goods business is all set to take off in SanFrancisco. They not only thought that Exo is world class but we also had a fun time (see photo).

 We loved the stunning view from the sexily glamorous, Exo. It  pulsates and rocks on the 37th level of the Palladium hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows, Ossler chandeliers, leather upholstery and foot-tapping music by Exo’s resident DJ Madoc are some of the key highlights of this twofloored nightclub.Rishi Acharya’s haute spot also plays host to some of the most popular guest DJs specializing in different genres of music.  A few weeks ago, I had also popped in here for a sundowner only to find it packed and throbbing with the uber stylish guests.This time, we nibbled on their okayish snacks (they were from the Pan Asian Mekong Kitchen, next door).Guzzled on  the premium booze ( Do ask for their signature cocktails, Spectrum and GQ.) Arjun cut the birthday cake (swiftly and thoughtfully served up by Exo staff) we danced as the music pumped up and left to check out two other nightplaces. But not before concluding that Exo lived up to it’s name… The word “Exo” comes from “exosphere” suggesting height and an out of the ordinary experience.

Palladium Hotel, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel. Ph: 61628000

Open from 18.00 hrs to 03.00 hrs Thursday through Saturday
18.00 hrs to 01.30 hrs Wednesday and Sunday. Cover charge: Rs 5000 per couple (on weekends)

DÉCOR 4 BUZZ 4 Nightout for 2: Rs 8000

Review: SAIZEN

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Japanese

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Jai Ho Japanese! While my favourite “Narisawa” (Tokyo) continues to reign supreme as Asia’s best, Aamchi Mumbai has adapted to this cuisine surprisingly well too. From the Northern end, especially Bandra (Kofuku, Aoi) to the dagger-shaped southern tip. Here Taj’s Wasabi has been holding it’s own past ten years, Tetsuma came along to stake a claim but  gave way to the Mediteranean Pier. Now once again (four months ago)  a Japanese  restaurant reared its head in Colaba, And that too with an elaborate menu. So I do an elaborate check out, eat here twice. Once for lunch ( Rs 5000 for 2) ,  and then again with a foodie family ( I pay around Rs 20,000).

Bela & Micky Dalal– affable, well-travelled foodies, lovers of the simplicity & sereneity of their rustic Alibag home along with their dapper  sons and  the lovely Nishita Murarka dine and opine for me.

New age entrepreneur Rohan Dalal’s unique subscription based home delivery service that provides medicinal, nutritional and daily care products across greater Mumbai is in huge demand.

Talented and handsome Jay Dalal,  works at one of India’s premier consultancies plans to venture into the digital market and as DJ continues to  rock his New York tunes across town.

Dedicated to fitness (Bela – yoga & fitness enthusiast) the whole family are dyed in the drool foodies and we systematically eat our way through the menu.

 

DECOR

Walk into Colaba’s latest Japanese restaurant and be charmed by its rich yet understated elegance. Copper lattice-work columns, Italian chandeliers, opulent leather and suede sofas with chrome-and-wood tables and the textured stonework sushi and cocktail bar. Dramatic bright lighting and a birdcage table at one corner makes for a perfect setting for the food that follows.

FOOD

“To die for” sushi “Oh my God sushi” …sounds gimmicky but most of it is actually all about innovative drama. Rolls set on fire, buried under heaps of crushed tempura, spider rolls, others that look like a caterpillar and so on. Through it all, they retain their texture and

flavour and play to popular tastes with cream cheese, mayo, et al.  James Biaka consultant chef here (ex Tetsuma and now Kofuku, Hengbok) ensures there is succulent pork belly,  Buta-No-Shogakaki sliced pork intensely flavoured with ginger and soya sauce on the menu. Looking for a more expensive

experience? Ask for the superb Miso Black Cod.  Plenty for vegetarians…flavourful Mushroom Rice(Hot Pot Rice with Bop Sauce)Edamame Dip, Veg Kimchi Soup, Quinoa Salad and Avocado Dragon Roll. End with the Vanilla Panna Cotta and Butterscotch with the perfect kiss of sweetness.

MINUS POINTS

In an effort to bend over backwards to please all palates, some of the sushi rolls tip over into too much of a crunchy, saucy mish mash. Baked sushi roll,

Mountain Crunchy Roll being cases in point.  Lacklustre, over-cooked Wasabi Chicken, over-salted Tofu Grilled Asparagus and thick-skinned Mochi dessert. The “chefs specials”  have small portions and high prices (Rs 2000 and more per dish).

 

MY POINT

Traditional as well as fusion Japanese fare served in  the dynamic and lovely Agarwal sister’s Saizen ( means ‘best’ in Japanese)   Interestingly, this restaurant has two price structures while the sushi (`450–600) and many of the dishes are affordably priced, the Chef’s Specials like the Black Cod Miso are priced at over `2,000 each.

Vegetarians and Jains are very well taken care  (quinoa salad, plenty of sushi et al)

By bringing inventive cooking and a few high-end grace notes  Saizen answers the desires of a generation of savvy, adventurous diners (also vegetarians and Jains)  looking for affordable, accessible Japanese fare.

■ 41/42, Minoo Desai Marg, Behind Radio Club, Colaba, Mumbai, Ph: 65081100

Noon to 3pm, 7pm to 11.45pm

Food-4.00 | Service-3.50 | Decor-4.00 | Meal for 2-`4000-8000

 

BOX

YOUR INSTAGRAM & TWITTER RESPONSES

Wow! Thanks for your reponses, i have incorporated them in my review.  @garimaaj @duhitachadha

@pranavjaveri @sakshkay @faizamomin

@jaipuriphotography @romilratra

@jigarparmar and many others. Sorry cant include all names here but value each one’s views. Keep them coming please!

CATERERS & DESSERT MAKERS

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Two joyous whoops! Double celebration time! A shiny brand  new 2015 (I wish you miracles!) . And more of my dreams come true as I discover some amazing talent that creates magic out of home. Ive been finding different ways and means of tracking talent that hums out of home kitchens (so I can include it in our very own Times Food Guides) and this time I find it when I happen to pop in to the dynamic entrepreneur  Shaan Khanna’s Spicy Sangria gathering. It’s at the elegant and stylish Mana Suneil Shetty’s fabulous home store which is buzzing with great food and unique flavours. Heres a taste…

4

 

Nidhi Gadia’s waffles

How about some mobile pleasure food? Waffles on a stick. Waffle House specialises in a wide variety of Waffles. The charming Nidhi Gadia is already well loved for her sweet as well as Savoury waffles along with mobile pleasure food – Waffle Sticks ! : +919820026511

Instagram& Twitter: @wafflehouse_in

 

 

 

 

Raashi’s The Picnik Basket

Make your life into a picnic… add oomph to your table with onion marmalade, slow-roasted bruschetta, cranberry mustard,chocolate peanut butter..or whip up a gourmet meal in minutes with thai curry paste, flavoured mayo’s, marinara & barbecue sauce! The gifted Raashi Sawhney also makes hampers and gifts and  more.

@thepicnikbasket

9987687005/9321954055.

 

Shweta & Sanya’s Teacharmers

Amazing fragrance and flavors.Superb packaging too. The lovely Shweta and Sanya of Teacharmers have a exclusive range of exotic blooming tea from all around world such as rose,chyrsthameus as well as pyramid silken teabags for the ultimate tea experience .

Shweta/sanya -9821532699/+91 98-70-061617

 

Nitika and Minnie’s Cocoa Bean

Chocoholics this way please! The talented Nitika and Minnie serve up an array of the most intense and flavourful sweet delights. Cocoa Bean – Their desserts are all about taste and texture!!! Highly recommended are the  malakoffs and truffles.
Nitikakhemani 9820144272
Minnie mehra 9833079217

 

Srikanta & Neha’s Open Table
Try Open Table’s delicious fresh dips – from a Layered Lebanese Dip to Sundried Tomato Dip, everyone has a favourite! Essence and color-free Cooler concentrates (Simply Rose and their Ginger Lemon Appetizer) Prices: approximately Rs 200 for a box of dip, Rs 220 for a 550 ml concentrate bottle.
Srikanta Taparia 9819592278  Neha Chokhani 9820133487.

 

Amrita Diwanji…Food Photographer

A photographer with a great passion for food, the brilliant Amrita Diwanji has

shot for Ellipsis, Cheval, & Burgs.

+91 98205 48700

 

Rohan’s Pack a Pav

In his time off from work, Rohan Mangalorkar potters around in the kitchen whipping up yummy recipes (his mothers) that typically involve bread, meat, and inventive condiments. Tasty, juicy homemade mutton shammi kebabs, chicken seekh kebabs, and veg shammi kebabs sandwiched between fluffy pavs.

Pack-a-Pav, a stall that pops up at  food festivals and can be called for your next party catering too. “This works well at sundowners or parties that need bread to soak the alcohol,” says Rohan.We agree!

Rohan  9920230240,

@Rohan_power

 

Sanjnaa’s Ellipsis Bakery

Brownies, cupcakes red velvet Oreo and chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked breads…the  gifted Sanjnaa Talwar of Ellipsis gives a sneak peek of their about to open standalone bakery in Worli. “It is a month or two away” she says, but trials are on …give us this day, our daily bread!

 

 

Shweta Parikh 

This talented young home baker, sources the finest of ingredients  and take orders only on weekends. She specialises in customised fondant cakes, cupcakes, macarons, cookies, cake pops, brownies, cheesecakes.  And if you are looking for eggless, she has those for you as well.

Shweta Parikh

91-9930514430

 

 

P.S. You’ll find ALL the above and much much more in your very own Times Food Guide 2015 (the “caterers and dessert makers” volume). Should you wish to be part of the Times Food Guide 2016 and this column please mailrashmiudaysingh015@gmail.com, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh waitingly yours…

Review: BREWBOT EATERY & PUB BREWERY

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Multi-cuisine

 

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Our verdict: Stop wasting time analysing  the name, Andheri’s four month old Brewbot is  worth a visit! My four fab dedicated foodie blind dates (who I  contact  on instagram the evening before) from different professions dine here with me. Whoa! What fun! there’s Salonee Sanghvi ( @foodalong an equity analyst loves travelling) Poonam Kakodkar, (@poonamdk HR professional, foodie, marathoner, amateur photographer.)

Alok Verma (@chocolate_and_zucchini

a doctor-in-making, trained singer and a baker at heart)

and Sagorika Datta

(@sagorikaa15

Information Technologist, leaving for masters in New Zealand extreme bibliophile and  tech-freak.) I savor every moment with them.

 DÉCOR

We like.  “Beer factory” ambiance, exposed brick walls,  gleaming gigantic copper and steel brewing vats, painted bots, TV sets et al. Alfresco seating too.

 

FOOD.

The mutli-cuisine menu offers comfort for those who want it and adventure for those who dare. Go for the Goat cheese lollipops (stuffed with jalapeno and dates), delectable salmon pizza with  marscapone, unerringly cooked mussels in wine or involtini eggplant and you wont go wrong. Ask for the comforting juicy Burger, home made pasta,  sweet, tangy chicken with honey chilli sauce and you wont wrong either.  Outstanding chocolate foindant with a whisper of coffee, we love the caramel crème brulee (in the trio). Swiss trained, hugely talented partner and chef Anand Morwani  masterfully combines flavor with texture and both with presentation.

 

SERVICE AND DRINKS

How do we  judge the service accurately?  my blind dates go in half an hour before me: are greeted by Julie the brewmaster and given attentive service. The partners,  Ketan Gohel (Prince of Palitana)  and Ansh Seth ensure that all goes smooth. Though their microbrewery license is awaited. the well-stocked bar and creative cocktails (beer margarita :A bottle of Corona inverted in a Margarita glass) and others delight.

 

MINUS POINTS

Loud, very loud music. The grating sound of the frozen margarita blender disturbs. Doughy, lackluster bread, ditto for the  Crab sliders. Hard Risotto balls.  Bland chicken roulade.

OUR TRIED, TESTED AND TASTED VERDICT

We all love the lived-in, age-softened feel of the Beerfactory ambiance.

And Chef Morwani ‘s cooking appealingly complements that atmosphere. It’s mostly a mix of  beer-bites, comfort foods and  gourmet ones (molecular dishes are on the cards, as is the microbrewery and my favorite Kolsch .) We  still couldn’t decide whether this restaurant was positioned to be a drinkers’ refuge with ambitious food or a proper restaurant with a particular vanity about its beer-cocktails and microbrewry. Either ways it rocks!

Note: Sunday Brunch Rs 1200- 1800

Morya Landmark

Off New Link Road

Near Infiniti Mall

Andheri (West)

PHONE  4003 4448

HOURS Daily, 6pm to 1am

 

FOOD 4 SERVICE 4.5 DECOR 3.5 

 

MY FOODIE FINDS

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As the Times Food Guide 2015 goes to press, here’s what I find …

HEALTHY YUMMIES

Looking for oven fresh healthy and yummy weight watchers  goodies? brownies, Raggi and oat cookies, assorted muffins  and more by talented Pallavi Dayal.
(9619483431. 02223865852)

DELECTABLES

Superb Gourmet & Classic Salads, Dips, Dressings, appetizers & Desserts are brilliantly prepared by

the two sisters Janaki Grover  and Devaki Trivedi.  Fashion  and home accessory designer Rakhee Grover Jain swears by their“Saladicious” fare ( 98202 22342
98200 24842).

H.A.S. It All Foods

Call H.A.S it all.  husband, wife and son (Haresh, Anju and Siddhanth) for healthy low-calorie fare to tiffin services and multi-cuisine corporate party orders. Superb roast cashew peanut chaat, swell n simple
Indian and western desserts.( Ph 23517086, 9870408072, 9870008081)

PARFAIT PERFECT

 Sharmeen Indorewala’s rich, creamy, frozen, preservative free , gluten free dessert in 10 fun flavours.

Place your orders for delivery/pick up at (9920029229)

REVIEW: LONG & SHORT, THE GASTROBAR

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Global streetfood

 

Here it is. The long and short on the Long & Short. This gastrobar (with ambitions to be an interactive entertainment zone) opened on the first floor of Hotel Intercontinental almost a year ago. However, it limped along trying to hit it’s stride: went through a change of chef and menu tweakings. Over the past year, I ate here six times. And since it serves up international street food, I dined here with a bunch of great-fun global foodies: banker Dianne, private equity investor Rohit, ( both from London) strategy consultant Romanch (Chicago,)  oilfield service expert Rishabh,  lawyer Tulsi (both from Mumbai). We start at the bar and actor, writer Dhruv (Los Angeles) raises a toast to Viveka and Umang (both NYC based) for their forthcoming wedding. The global foodies love the ambiance, enjoy the innovative cocktails and only some of the food.

DÉCOR

A bicycle at the entrance, sets the quirky tone. Cutting chai teapots, dabbas and kerosene tins, knick knacks , old photos and  an interactive stage for gigs here. The charming small, alfresco terrace overlooking Marine Drive is a boon, especially in these cool months.

 

FOOD

Flavors and cuisines jostle and joust across the eclectic menu under “Shorts” (starters) and “longs” (mains) and the cocktails too are  funky,  (footlongs, jars and so on)  It’s Chef Kayzad Sadri’s  Cajun style chicken and waffles with a thrillingly salty charge,  salmon vibrant with Terriyaki  and the unerringly roasted chicken with jus that come up tops. Other recommendations are the sweetly spicy tasty American spare ribs, grilled strawberry and sprout salad and the tortilla chips tasty Mexican fondue.  Chatpatta Corn bhel. Tenderfirm  dimsum, crunchy Tempura are worth trying too. Must end with the luscious strawberry Pavlova rum cream delightful with burnt marshmallows. The deconstructed apple pie is a masterpiece of crunch and squish.

MINUS POINTS

Some interpretations of the streetfood are completely off the mark, be it the Mumbai masala sandwich,  strange “Swiss brick”, bready NYC hotdog. Lacklustre Flatbread  ditto for the steamed fish and the Patila biryani.  The cauliflower spa risotto and the pork steamed buns have (sadly) been taken off the menu.

MY POINT

Though, comatose and  off the foodie map till now, this open through the day gastrobar has refreshed itself. It’s  interactive entertainment buzz is beginning to build up (evenings with French singer, karaoke etc). I popped in here for the Sunday karaoke four course brunch (Rs 1999 ) and  even though not packed, it was fun. The menu still has weak spots, with a few too many dishes not from the heart but from a marketing plan, Chef Sadri’s exuberant new menu is on it’s way. There is playfulness in it’s décor, food and cocktails and with Happy hours from 1 to 8pm and meal for 2 at Rs 2500 served through the day, it sure is good value. Cheers!

InterContinental,  Marine Drive.  Ph 39879999. Open from 7am-1.30am

RATING

FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

AVERAGE MEAL FOR 2: RS 2500

Review: TERTTULIA

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European

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I have a big soft spot for Pune restaurants. When I researched and wrote Pune’s first ever restaurant guide more than 15 years ago, I noticed a certain homespun charm and the usage of fresh ingredients here. Ofcourse, one cannot generalize, but I was delighted when Pune’s Imrun Sethi’s Terttulia opened in Dadar, mid July. That, here, I met two friends who have known each other for decades further added to the  charm. Just having flown in with Kamal Morarka, her jetsetting industrialist and politician husband, Bharati, grandmother of five, makes time for Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, classical music, handicrafts and ofcourse gourmet food. “Bharati’s  dinners are always fabulously organised with  exquisite food and personal artistic touches ” says her lively warm friend Nina Vasa.  Rooted in tradition yet modern, charmingly outspoken Bharati has us riveted. We enjoy the food, cocktails and Terttulia (Spanish for social gathering)

 

DÉCOR

This cozy Dadar eatery captures the clubby, chaotic spirit of a handsomely timeworn saloon :

floral sofas, mismatched light-fixtures,  birdcage. antique trunk, chalk art on the walls.mantlepieces with  vintage-looking knick-knacks…get the picture?

 

FOOD

All day dining here…burgers, pizza, pasta, steak, sandwiches , interspersed with some unusual dishes (  bite-sized Bacon ’n Parmesan Wrapped Dates, feta-stuffed  Portobello Mushrooms  are must trys). Veggies go for the flavorsome organic brown rice  with olives, tasty, thin crust pizza, well made paninis crunchy with walnuts and superb with artichokes.

It is chef Parag Naik’s unerringly roasted chicken that comes up tops in the non-veg options. The  Gooey chocolate cake lives up to it’s name.  Cocktail lovers make a beeline for the Ginger pear martini, Melon Sangria, Terttulia special Sunday sangria. Orange basil mojito is a must try.

MINUS POINTS

Sadly the  red snapper was not available. The  Rawas  was dry and lacked flavor. Ditto for the pasta and the Cremebrulee cheesecake.

 

MY POINT

Happy that this stretch of Dadar has got a restaurant like Terttulia.  Charming and open through the day Terttulia ‘s well-stocked bar area whips up a buzz at night.  The standard European  here aims to comfort and not dazzle. Comforting prices too.

 

Ground Floor, Hotel Parkway, Near Natural Ice Cream, Ranade Road Extension, Shivaji Park, Dadar (West). Fo 6002 0202
Hours: Daily, from noon to 1.30am

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5


 

DUBAI

Its cold and sunny here in Dubai ! And boy! Is it teeming with restaurants, gourmets, foodbloggers, foodwriters. instagrammers, tweeters (is that what we are called?). The high-flying,  media-baroness now sought after brand consultant Rita K Mehta, loves the cutting edge “Tresind”. Her gorgeous daughter Faarah, director of an elective educational academy and media house is also busy setting up her granpa (the legendary Russy Karanjia’s) foundation. They update me on all that’s rocking here as we dine at the brand new, super-glam Cle. I also  meet up with Dubai’s leading bloggers @secretsquirrelfood, @thehedonista @ishitaunblogged they guide me through the gastronomique maze of Dubai.  Michelin starred chefs restaurants rub shoulders with cheap and cheerful mall eateries. Want more info? Please mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, instagram twitter @rashmiudaysingh

Review: O:H CHA kitchen and bar

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Oh Cha

Thai / Dimsum

I’m getting high on Thai! And by a yummy coinicidence Im writing my review of Mumbai’s O:h Cha while Im in Thailland. Before leaving, (over months,)  I ate thrice at  this standalone Thai restaurant.  My okayish ho-hum first meal  was followed by two memorable ones. This was due the joining in of a new Thai chef  I was informed by the foodie family Kilachand, who have been regulars here and swear by the food.They are committed foodies, with gourmet genes. Industrialist Anil C Kilachand, (an advisor to a NGO which  teaches English to Maharashtra’s free vernacular schools ) makes time to cook and eat out too, as does his dapper son Tushar Kilachand who  runs the family engineering business. His mother Indira gives us her well-thought out  vegetarian take on the food. Equally discerning  about their eating habits as the exquisite line of childrens clothing they make are the enterprising and lovely Sunaina Patel and Mansi Kilachand.

 

DECOR

Dive into the traffic choked Lower Parel restaurant strip, go through the strange long corridor and find yourself in this pleasing space.

Faux-grass walls (an inspiration from the rice fields), slate-grey paint, colourful gladiator masks, and huge basket-like cane lanterns charm.

 

FOOD

We love the way sweet and fiery notes, soft and crunchy textures snuggle together: be it the piquant prawn or papaya salad. The delicately steamed  fish with  lemon garlic chilly sauce is as superb as the robust grilled spicy pork tenderloin. Must trys are also the airy crunchy Thai style tempura prawns. Chef Satit Chaimano’s curries delight: with coconut milk, lively with kaffir lime and lemon grass.

In the veggie section (there’s plenty,) it’s the stir fried morning glory enlivened with chilli & garlic that comes up tops. End with the flavorsome Lemon Grass Creme Brûlée The enterprising Sanat Patel keeps innovating and has added on Great Value dimsum ( ask for plump shrimp and chive, shitake)

and the weekday

Express Lunch (Rs. 599++)

 

MINUS POINTS

The dreary entrance is a put off, but once you enter it is like an oasis in a desert.There are inconsistencies…the raw papaya salad was superlative one time and lackluster the next. Ditto for the stir fried beef and the waterchestnuts in coconut milk dessert. Okayish Som Tum rice. Rubbery fish cakes.

MY POINT

This  seven month old stand alone Thai eatery is already making waves. Frequented by Karan Johar, Shraddha Kapoor, Ritesh Deshmukh, Kajal Agarwal and the Kilachands, Oh Cha envelops you in the flavors and perfumes of Thaliand. It celebrates the sweet heat of the region’s cooking preparing everything in the kitchen from scratch, including the coconut milk which is extracted in the restaurant kitchen. I don’t know what O:h cha means but (pardon the cheap pun) Oooh! It sure is accha!

 

O:h Cha Mathuradas Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.

Ph: 6633 4455

Open for lunch and dinner.Av meal for 2: Rs 3000

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5


 

FOR THE BOX

THAI ME UP

I write from Phuket, where nature is working her turqoise – blue- water and lush- green- trees magic alright, but here’s the gastronomique surprise:    Spanish  Michelin starred  magic is being conjured.  Having feasted on Thai cuisine, now its time to be blown away by the Michelin Spanish genius Eneko Atxa’s  Aziamedi. Set amid swaying palms by the stunning blue Andaman sea in the luxurious Iniala his dishes are fantastically nuanced and dazzle.   Gaggan’s in Bangkok thrills, want to  more Thai news ? mail rashmiudaysingsingh2015@gmail.com, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh.

Review: HENG BOK

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I can’t stop smiling! I feel great ‘hengbok” as I review “Heng bok” Mumbai’s very first dedicated Korean restaurant whose name translates to “happiness” (in Korean, ofcourse!). Never mind that the driving force  chef James Biaca is from Mizoram. He has already proven his prowess with the well-loved Japanese “Kofuku”. Several research trips to and imports from Korea and voila! Bandra gets “Heng Bok”.

 

DÉCOR

Simple, unpretentious décor. Two boxed in levels, simple wooden tables, a large Buddha as soon as you walk in.

FOOD

Kudos for the deft use of kimchi — that spicy, tangy tangle of fermented vegetables — in many of the dishes, be it Jjigae (soups) hot pots, barbecues. They even serve up Korean sushi and Korean dimsum . And for Japanese buffs there is sashimi and sushi too.

Spicy food and pork-belly lovers this is your heaven. It’s called Gochujang Sangyupsal (pork-belly imported from Belgium is marinated in Gochujang a spicy Korean chilli paste). You barbeque it on your table (they will help you along), when done to choice, wrap it in a lettuce leaf, dab the spicy sauce and sesame oil and let the flavor bomb implode on your taste buds. The less spicy version (samgyupsal) is worth trying .They offer beef and seafood barbecue too. Chicken (dak) is served up only as appetisers Having sparked your appetite satiate it with the either of the other two  classic Korean dishes…the jeongol (hot pot) or the Bibimbap ( must try rice dish). Jeongol (hot pot stew) The large hot pot brims with a spicy broth (choice of pork beef and vegetarian too) and makes for a hearty meal.

Okayish Korean sushi, Hengbok Kimbap, not as exquisite as the Japanese version (also served here). Superb sashimi (which my sashimi expert guest loved)

Even the Japchae (sweet potato glass noodles) were light and tasty, though looked like a gloopy mess.

MINUS POINTS

Deep fried and almost ketchupy chicken starter,

Special dishes have been created for vegetarians and some lack flavor (the lacklustre pancake and glutinous dimsum). The tables being placed too close to each other, a closed up basement level are some of the minus points

 

MY POINT

There is a cook-it-yourself drama on the table (large hot pots, barbecue plates), there are spicy, garlicky blasts in the  food, plenty of non vegetarian (Belgian pork belly, beef, octopus, squid), there is Japanese sushi and sashimi too. Though special dishes have been created for vegetarians, this is not exactly a vegetarian mecca. But it’s a great new introduction to Korean food paired with the Korean Jinro Shoju (must try). We are happy that Heng Bok (happiness) is here!

11/1, Kalpak Corner Building, Turner Road, Bandra (W), Ph 26510044/66/77,

Timing open for lunch and dinner

Meal for 2 Rs 4000

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3

Review: TIJUANA IGUANA GRILL AND LOUNGE

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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