I am a devout follower of Lord Buddha and was hugely intrigued by the irreverent name of Peddar Road’s brand new “Buddha Belly” eatery. What on earth could Buddha’s belly possibly deliver? Nirvana. I hoped.
Mish mash décor with sayings of Hippocrates. Brillat savarin and GB Shaw, photos of skyscrapers plastered all over walls. begin to give a clue of what is to follow.Seriously small, it even squeezes in a low ceilinged mezzanine floor. Malini Patel and Rupal Himani (who love trying out new eateries) were lunching here. While one’s daughter Malaika cooks brilliantly, the others Husband Divyesh cooks exotic dishes .
No two ways about it: affordable pricing. Average of Rs 125 for 4 pieces of dimsum and an array of steamed, fried, baked, panfried dimsum. ( okayish Khaosuey the only main course) Well made and flaky baked dimsum filled with chicken came up tops, Fried chicken ball with a sticky.sweet filling was good, the surprises ? flavorsome vegetarian parmesan spinach dimsum, the mixed veggie crystal one. Superb mustard sauce and lemon grass sauces. Passable coconut mousse and nutella mousse.
Parking is impossibl.No Chinese tea served here. But tasteless sticky rice, clumpy Suimai. Lackluster Black bean chicken dimsun wrapped in cabbage and that Edamame truffle dimsum is a soggy, sans truffle pouch. Tough chicken and chive Gyoza.
No takeway boxes available. No alcohol.
An open all day, well-priced dimsum joint is definitely a great concept and for that alone Buddha Belly deserves kudos. However, it falters in execution, sometimes delivering thick skinned wrappers, at other times lackluster fillings. I am hoping these are teething troubles and our Buddha will outgrow them.
Ketty House, Near Vama, ,Pedder Road Ph 65651545
Open all day. Meal for 2: Rs 800
RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3
It’s a record. Two “first time evers” took place while reviewing Palladium hotel’s much awaited “Mekong” which opened some months ago. I ate the first-meal on the first-day they opened (something I never do). But did so, because two globally acknowledged superstar chefs were in town. Id eaten in Michelin-starred Vineet Bhatias London restaurant and tripped out on his reinterpreted traditional Indian classics. Not only been blown by Bangkok based Gaggan Anand’s masterly use of molecular gastronomy in his progressive Indian cuisine but recently also cheered him for making it to the AsiasTop 50 restaurants in Singapore. It was at this lunch that Gaggan Anand met his hero Vineet Bhatia for the first time. Vineet jetsets between his restaurants in ten cities, writes books and does TV shows.
” Yaar, Vineet is a pioneer. He has inspired me” gushes Gaggan as the stud in his ear glints as he leans forward to hug the senior chef. The wine authority and witty Sanjay Menon joins us but prefers to be incognito. The afternoon sparkles with their joie de vivre. Unfortunately this joy does not extend to the food as well.
Could it be teething troubles? So I ate four more times (paid through my nose). Except for a minor tweaking, my review remains the same.
Feast on the spectacularly dramatic 37th floor view (let in by the magnificent glass windows) of the Mahalaxmi Racecourse and the sea. Happily, the theatricality here doesn’t go over the top. In this sprawling restaurant, large lamps, wine walls and Oriental artifacts seem as authentic as they are flashy. The lighting is subtle yet bright.
Like the name (Mekong, named after the river) the good-looking menu meanders through Vietnam, China and Thailand but it meanders too much and so confuses and makes decision
making difficult. At each meal, the starters score over the mains. Tangy, sweet salads (Pomelo, Raw Papaya), a variety of plump dim sum (great at one meal and not so at another) and deep-fried Vietnamese rolls. Traditional Thai soups, Tom Kha Gai and homestyle Tom Yum delight. Plenty of choice for veggies, robustly spiced Ma La-style Chicken, vegetables, prawns in XO Sauce are the plus points.
Mekong’s kitchen has ample skill. It just doesn’t have nearly enough discipline. In many entrees, the meat or fish is so modestly portioned, overcooked or just plain dull that no measure or mingling of seasonings save it. Mekong’s Steamed Fish is overcooked, the calibration of some dips, sauces and soups not quite right. Noodles with Seafood and Lamb in Yellow Bean are ordinary. As are the desserts. Vietnamese Pho Bo is conspicuous by its absence (though there is a Vietnamese noodle soup) Spring Rolls lack the refreshing crunch of vegetables. Music from the neighboring bar is loud and intrusive.
We go there expecting a lot. We go to celebrate the sweet heat of and perfumes and flavors of Thailand, Vietnam and China ’s cooking and come away with mixed feelings.
On my fourth (most recent meal,) there was marginal improvement in some of the dishes. Also some of the dish-prices had been tweaked downwards, others hiked upwards. A new dimsum chef was in place and new desserts were expected. Attentive service, well stocked bar.
Sure! Mekong is
located sky-high (literally) with prices to match, now if only the food would keep pace.
■ Palladium Hotel, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Ph: 61628422
12.30pm to 3pm, 7.30pm to 11.30pm
Food-3.50 | Service-3.50 | Décor-4.00 | Meal for 2-`6000
EATOUT WITH ME
Im traveling all month, but waiting to be back in town and invite you to eat out with me all you amazingly well informed foodies who have been tweeting fabulous recommendations for #cheapandcheerful eateries. Wish I could thank each and everyone of you, but I cant (space constraint), so here are a few regular responders, the tummy tales @elsonsequeira @RassiBomb @joymanavath @ChandniT @kneadwithlove @DebySharma @pratishthakhan @AjitBalgi @ScrollsNink @doughmydear@akzey@ChantChameli. All of you, please do keep mailing your recommendations (email@example.com) and tweeting and instagramming them @rashmiudaysingh
GREAT FOOD NEWS
Our very own Indian restaurant, Amaya in London has made it to the Daily Mail’s Worlds Top 100 restaurant list. Congratulations Camellia and Namita Panjabi. and Ranjit Mathrani. You make India proud.
I’m rejoicing. Countless new restaurants are opening up and their baby steps are being dissected by even more countless food bloggers, twitterati, instagrammers and more. It’s a good sign that we are truly involved with our food. It was not like this when I started writing about food thirty years ago. Then food writing was considered unfashionable. Thankfully, things are getting better.
“Wont you take me to honky taoooownnnn” blares as I walk into the first floor of this small heritage building (built by a French architect), nudged right next to Sterling cinema. I walk past the ground floor café area into the charming, high-ceilinged, wooden-beamed, tiny, dimly-lit, olive green-walled bar with posters.
Townhouse Café doesn’t encourage you to take mincing bites of measured portions. It exhorts you to dig in to it’s comfort food. To crunch into it’s perfectly deep-fried dishes (great accompaniments to alcohol) be it the Golden Fried Panko Crusted Mushrooms or the bucket of deep fried squid and prawns. Plenty of pasta dishes, half the menu is vegetarian (do ask for the well-made Scallion Crepes and Aubergine Red Pepper Sandwich). While leaving, I bump into owner Anuja Jatkar and her foodie passion and that of her young team shines through, two particularly good fish dishes – the Fish and Chips Burger (crispy fish patty, velvetty tartar sauce within soft buns) and Perfectly Grilled Basa (lemony buttery sauce). Okayish brownie with ice-cream. Go to tipple, imported draughts and interesting cocktails (try fresh coconut water mojito). Check the happy hours.
Only one dessert on menu. Some dishes on menu are not available. No pork belly or pork belly sliders available. Scrambled truffled eggs are soggy and not enough truffle oil.
I was happily surprised by the charming European Townhouse ambiance and comfort fare here.
Plenty of deep-fried comfort fare, but there’s a balance between heartiness and delicacy and plenty for vegetarians. Charming ambiance, comfort food at comforting prices. If in the vicinity, its the perfect open all day, neighbourhood bar.
Meal for two: RS 1,800 approx
16, Murzban Road, near Strerling Cinema, Fort.
Timings 12 pm – 1:30 am
Call 022-2203 7356
What a wonderful world. I repeat. What a wonderful, helpful and yummy world. I’d never met these young and brilliant food bloggers and yet on the basis of my SOS tweets and Instagrams, they came across gallantly to help me hitchhike into the alien galaxies and solar-systems of the internet et al.
EDDIES… AN EDDIFYING EXPERIENCE
Sorry for that cheap pun but my lunch in this new, small Bandra eatery was just that… eddyfying. The dynamic and articulate food bloggers Chandni, Pratishta, Anuja, Roxanne and Kumar (please read the Box, “My Tweet-hearts” ) patiently showed me not only the nitty gritties of tweeting and blogging and all that goes in between, but also shared their views on Eddies. Please take a look at the accompanying photograph, if it had a videotrack attached to it, here’s what you’d see… my charming guests with their cell-phones (of all shapes and sizes) taking photos of the dishes, me taking furious notes of all they advise, plenty of eating. So, what follows is a truly democratic restaurant review.
Airy, cheery, narrow and smallish. The blonde light wood and mirrored interiors give it a casual-comfy, all-day-dining bistro vibe. A couple of plasma screens complete the décor of the well-used small space.
We all agree that what comes out of the 26-year-old chef Nishant Mitra’s kitchen are attractively assembled dishes (dips and a dessert too served in cute cutting chai glasses) that will have diners (not just food bloggers) reaching for their cellphone cameras. What goes into his kitchen are fresh and good quality ingredients. The menu is divided into small plates and fat plates and once again we all agree that it’s the small plates that score over the mains, the burgers come out tops. Ask for the “Unbeetable beet burger” squishy firm with beet and cottage cheese as well as the perfectly juicy, moist with Harissa Mayo Mini Lamb Burger . Go for the refreshing Beetroot Carpaccio (perfectly dressed with caramelised apple vinaigrette), oven-baked discs of sweet potato made zesty with an emmental cheese and jalapeno sauce. Interesting Asian flavours peep through in the chicken plank with bok choy. We polish off the velvetty panacotta and the crazily addictive hazelnut torte. Bliss.
In some of the dishes, the flavour pallete wasn’t just bland but blurry, with not a single clear flavour coming into focus. Getting unanimous dislike votes were the gritty Polenta Fries (albeit with yummy goat cheese dips and tomato jam) and the stodgy Mac & Cheese Bites. Okayish Grilled Prawns (inconvenient in their shells) with the pineapple and wine sangaria dip, the strange marriage of the Russian Strogonoff and Italian Risotto (and the overcooked chicken) didn’t work. No valet parking.
Here it is. A truly democratic restaurant review. The acid test of a restaurant: will you go back? All my guests (except one) will surely do so. Me too. Unpretentious, casual, well-presented European (with a few Asian flavours too) “small” and “fat plates”, plenty for vegetarians, must-try burgers, some salads and superb desserts. Eddies serves up comfort with a bit of spin and a dash of international sophistication, comfort with a cheeky tweak.
Meal for two Rs 1,800 approx
Shop No. 6, Silver Croft Bldg,
16th and 33rd Road Junction,
Cheery. Stamp-sized. Crammed with five tables, open kitchen. Asian multicuisine menu and specials chalked onto the blackboard. A small alfresco area too.
Please notice the three bottles of “Chibs multipurpose sauces” in the photo. Turn up the spice levels of your food and buy them (Red chilly is the best at Rs 68) to take them home too. The star of Nikhil Chibs menu (the first to introduce it to Mumbai), is the velvety, coconutty Burmese Kaukswe, ladled on to either noodles or rice and sprinkled with crispy crunchy condiments and twist of lime.
Go for the meals in a bowl. Ask for the moist steamed crunchy Vegetarian Momos and Prawn Momos. The special of the day, the Bekti steamed fish sparkled with lemon is worth trying, as is the succulent, robustly spiced Korean Bulgogi. Go for the freshly squeezed “Make your own juice”, Nespresso coffee (served in a paper cup, Alas) too. Though not authentic the Bánh mì sandwich is tasty, filling and inexpensive.
Bland Thai curry, Madras curry powder-laden Cambodian curry are avoidable as is the Coconut nimbu pani laced with ginger and honey. Lacklustre Kungpao with peanuts. Hard crusted, oversweet Banoffee Pie. No alcohol.
Open through the day, VFM (average meal for 2, Rs 500. Home delivery too). Though some of the dishes are patchy the Kaukswe and Momos are worth trying. A welcome addition to buzzing Bandra.
Gaspar Enclave, Shop No 11, Pali Naka, Bandra West, 400050
Tel: 6127 8897
Open: 11:30am to 11:30pm
Rating: * Food: 3.5 * Service: 3.5 * Décor: 3