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”.
Simple, unpretentious décor. Two boxed in levels, simple wooden tables, a large Buddha as soon as you walk in.
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.
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
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
Whoa! Mumbai’s restaurant jungle is getting more populated…Blue Frog, White Owl, Lazy dog, Barking deer and now Tijuana Iguana. Coincidentally, I’m writing this from Australia, home to the most amazing wildlife (which I love). At the dinner, before I left Mumbai my wild-life conservationist guest Sam Mistry explained the interesting background about Iguana, the lizard from Central America and Mexico. Not only is he a trustee of the Corbett foundation but even honeymooned with his Doctor wife Rati in Kenya. A brilliant and dedicated doctor she also makes time for regular visits to wildlife parks. Both love animals (Sam prefers them to humans) and yes! they were happy to be in Tijuana Iguana.
As soon as you walk in, through the greenlight haze, the Iguana eyes stare from the large looming poster. Three smallish rooms (on different levels) make up this new Fort restaurant, set up by American businessman Jai Lalwani, who runs hotels and similar ‘Ameri-Mex’ concept bars in the US. We stopped at the bar for a drink and moved up the steps to the tiny space with sofas for dinner.
FOOD & DRINK
A deliciously tangy Margarita, followed with well-made chicken wings
Standard Tex Mex fare heaped over with beans and cheese, be it Quessadillas or Enchiladas, Burritos. Plenty of Burgers ( try black and blue burger with blue cheese) sandwiches (Philly cheese steak). Many a choice for veggies too (including the wittily named “Patel pasta” “Peruvian paella”). Health club section ( grilled salmon and chicken too) The Simply Sinful Snickers Pie with icecream and an Oreo cookie crust, topped with caramel and fudge was a must try. Plenty of cocktails, (go for vodka melon cranberry based “The Good life” ) Shots at the well stocked bar.
My biggest disappointment was the guacamole, as it lacked texture and flavor. A lot of the dishes were just a heap of cheese and beans and lackluster. The Brownie bottom pie was thick and hard. It can get very noisy here.
This open all day, new Fort entrant promises to go from a restaurant into a Happy Hour zone, back to a diner and then into a nightclub, all in one evening. We have yet to watch their bartenders Salsa Meringue, and throw Fire and Toss bottles, but sure enjoyed meeting them much more than we did the Ameri-Mex fare here which still needs to hit it’s stride.
Bombay Mutual Annexe, Rustom Sidhwa Marg,Gunbow Street, Opposite Residency Hotel Fort
Open 12 noon till 01:30am
RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
It’s here. Yet another world class Japanese restaurant, by a US based Japanese chef. No! Yuuka by Ting Yen (from Boston) is not a me-too of Wasabi by Morimoto (of Philadelphia). If anything it sets out to define it’s own identity. It has been making waves ever since it opened a few months ago. Making constant headline news as the nation’s most trusted and high profile “trouble shooter”, is my golden hearted guest, Chairman of a prestigious bank, Deepak Parekh and his brilliant educationist wife Smita. This discerning, well-traveled gourmet couple has not only been making several trips to Japan, love the food, but Deepak has also been participating in and nurturing the growing Indo-Japanese economic relations. Forever, fund-raising for good-causes, this jetsetting discerning foodie couple has been on the top of my favorites list for years. Joining that list are the close friends of the Parekh’s, Ranjan and Jayshree Sanghi of India’s fourth generation automobile pioneering family. Both globetrotting gourmets. He an outstanding sportsperson who’s played football, hockey and squash at competitive levels and she a former state level badminton champion, is not only a Kathak dancer but also a creative cook. Their dinners at home are legendary. They enjoy the experience here.
A wooden staircase climb above the 37th floor of the Ruia’s Palladium hotel, this handsome, high ceilinged 50 seater restaurant has a contemporary sheen. Sushi bar, origami birds complete the pleasant unobtrusive décor.
Drama and spectacle marks the food, as does a calculated balance of the expected and the unexpected dishes here. Plenty for vegetarians. Many a dish is like a sculpted work of art and architecture…like the Avocade tartare presented as a chilled cylinder, in a glass, break it and mix it with butter cream sauce and wasabi corn dashi and pure vegetarian bliss happens . The citrus ponzu marinated strips of salmon slung over a burning fire of coffee beans (with Jamaican rum) have a flavor and drama of their own. Its thirty different types of Maki that Ting specializes in, and the two I recommend are the lusciously rich tuna toro (Toro truffle osscietra caviar ) and the imaginatively named vegetarian Tiger tear (Avocado, habanero, cream cheese sriracha). More Veggie masterpieces are the Enoki mushroom soup, The Okonomiyaki (mushroom, zucchini pancake.) Ting has specially created dishes for the Indian palate (naan bread taquitos, veggies enlivened with the tangy Pico De Gallo.) Well made Black cod and tempura too.
It’s the dramatic finale of breaking open the iced Coconut Sphere with it’s spun sugar veil pregnant with coffee mousse and yuzu sherbet that dazzles.
The extremely dim lighting at night makes it impossible to appreciate the full drama of the dishes here. It’s lovely by day. There are occasional failures of execution: the lackluster, overcooked chicken Katsu, the ho hum duck with apple and prunes. Slow service (inspite of ordering ahead, the edamame is served at the end). Love the name
“Beijitarian” but the vegetables on a crispy flat bread don’t add up to much at all. Ditto for Ting’s Spicy Fried Rice. During my third meal, we found that the sashimi was not as fresh as at the earlier ones.
Here comes Japanese food with a gastronomic swagger and richness with meticulously composed and gorgeously accessorized dishes. I fell in love with the experience gradually (ate here thrice, palate singing, wallet stinging Rs 8000 meal for two). Some dishes served on ice, some on naked flames. Big flavors, art and architecture in the presentations ( few traditional, pristine dishes too, we could do with more). Chef Ting has created many for the Indian palate (veggies delight) without making it tip into Jindian (figure that one!). I’ve eaten Japanese food in all the gourmet capitals of the world and I’m delighted that Aamchi Mumbai is (slowly) getting there. Yuuka may mean “scented or superior flower” in Japanese but to me it stands for a whoop of joy like “Euryuuka”
P.S. Would love to know your views, please mail email@example.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh
Yuuka, 37th floor, Palladium Hotel, Lower Parel, Ph 61628422. Rs 8000 meal for two.
RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
Confession time. I love everything Bengali (food, mishti, Kolkatta. music, literature and ofcourse the people).So, I dash down (with a Bengali family ofcourse) to this fortnight old fine dine Bengali restaurant . Siddharth Chatterjee, sales and marketing whizkid buys his own fish (loves Rohu and Ilish) from the
4 Bungalows fish market. Along with his lovely wife Namrata he cooks for their son Arjun, (state tennis champion) whose top favorite is Bekti.Yes! they love this restaurant.
Walk under the looming pillarless dome of the Sahara Star into this chic black and white floored restaurant. Open kitchen, shelves with books, rabindrasangeet et al ( in house magician too).
Mustard sparkles this great cuisine: whole mustard seeds in hot oil pop and turn nuttily sweet: when ground into a paste, they develop a pungency that is nose-tinglingly memorable. And, for me it is this deft use of mustard in Bengali fish and veg dishes that makes it my favourite. As does the use of the traditional regional mix“panch phoran”. Freshest of river and seafish here: unerringly fried Bekti, steamed to perfection Bhapa chingri, shorshe Ilish, boneless Bekti jhol…distil the exquisite flavors of Bengal. My favorite fragrant lemon Gondhuraj enlivens the chicken. The melt in the mouth succulent mutton Kosha Mangsho is another favorite. Chef Prasanjit Ghosh ensures that even the accompaniments of the puffy, crisp Radhaballobi and Luchi and the Gobindobhog Chaal are superb. Nolen gur icecream seduces with it’s creamy, caramelly flavour and texture .
Sadly the portions are small and the prices high. Though well presented in a coconut shell, the dhaab chingri is too sweet and lacklustre. Mediocre banana flower Mochar ghanto. Ditto for the rossogulla and payesh. No aloo poshto on the menu.
The brand new, open-for-dinner only stylish, fine dine Bengali restaurant of Sahara Star serves up authentic and delicious fare. If it increases it’s portions and decreases it’s prices (Rs 6000 meal for two) it will have us going back for more.
25 Parganas Sahara Star Hotel, Western Express Highway, Santacruz East
Timings: 7 pm-1am (dinner only)
FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DECOR 3.5
Open for dinner only
Meal for 2: Rs 6000
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Open 11am to 12.30am
AV MEAL FOR 2: Rs 1500
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 2 DÉCOR 3.5
European and Continental
One more brand new restobar (this time in Andheri), four fabulous foodie blind dates (who I met over instagam) add upto a fun-afternoon as we review Brickhouse cafe. The first to arrive is the lovely @rinichatterjee new girl in the city, who works for a luxury lifestyle management company.
@ila_ismail a physiotherapist also blogs about travel, fashion&lifestyle,
@raisinghanirashmi a celebrity manager is a passionate homechef and
@truptimarolia has recently quit a job to pursue her dream of opening a cupcake bakery from home. Our review follows.
We all give a thumbsup to the exposed brickwalls rustic doors, wooden tables, industrial, unfinished work-in-progress look. Alfresco area too.
While the bar dabbles in Molecular cocktails (candyfloss, Dutch Kettle) the food is a decent Mediteranean mix and match fare of yum hummus, a surprisingly light risotto with spinach. Even the Fusili ala diavolo is al dente with perfectly cooked prawns.
Philly steak sandwich is just about okay, the Mushrooms soft moist. While the 4 Brick pizza (pineapple spinach mushrooms) is passable. Belgian chocolate Molten lava cake worth trying.
Undercooked chicken, an Epic burger (supposedly Anguswith Jack daniel Barbecue sauce) is an epic underperformer with a laclustre patty and soggy buns. Shrimp Turds (why would anyone name a dish like that?) with bacon wrapped prawns is avoidable. Ditto for the cheesecake.
Open through the day, Brickhouse café has a young, cheery, casual vibe. It offers comfort pizza pasta sandwich kind of food at comforting prices ( Rs 1500 av meal for 2).If in the vicinity it is the perfect place to lounge about and linger than go for a serious meal.
P.S. Our blind-date adventure continued as we popped into the brand new Boston Cupcakery next door. Tasted all the cupcakes, the unique cupcake shakes, the Ganache, chocolate symphony and Red velvet shake come out tops.
Lokhandwala Market, Opposite the HDFC ATM Lokhandwala Complex Andheri (West)
Brickhouse All Day Cafe & Bar Andheri Daily, from noon to 1.30am
RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
My salaam to the Sahib and (never forget) the Memsahib. Interestingly, now that current restaurant trends are all about sleek minimalism, molecular gastronomy and global fusion, Palladium Hotel’s four month old Sahib Room is a thrilling blast from the past, a reminder of how much pleasure can be had just from being tucked into elegance and graciousness. And fittingly my dinner companion is the epitome of style and substance. The ever-gorgeous Dr Jamuna Pai, pioneering cosmetologist is renowned not just for the many firsts to her credit but also for her Bridal TV shows and the innumerable Miss Universe, and Miss India’s she has been skincare expert to. With cutting edge skincare clinics in Mumbai ,Delhi and Pune she has almost become a household name now in India for skincare, but she still makes time to cook Indian food brilliantly. Her fabulous recipes have been part of my Penguin Celebrity cookbook too,.Both Doc and the soft spoken Suchi Kalia give a thumbs up to the food here.
It’s spacious, it’s plush, it offers privacy. We sit under shimmering Ossler chandeliers and Venetian crystals, (plenty of space between tables) and finely curated prints (that date back to the 17th century) around us. We love the community bar table, the quirky magnifying reading glass, quill pen and gramophone in the adjoining Kipling bar (with many an innovative cocktail) and settle down to a leisurely and fun dinner.
Multilayered, rich, spice perfumed flavours from Awadh, Hyderabad, Kashmir and more. Hailing from the Awadh region, 32 year old chef Angad Rai not only brings his training in the Lucknavi kitchens but also khada and khushboo masalas pipri, kachri, patherkephool, nag kesar, rose petals. He handpounds them and teases big effects from the superb softest Galouti and equally good vegetarian waterchestnut and avocado Khaas Kebabs. We trip out on the homestyle Awadhi Purvanchal saag (spiked with bathua And ambada).Exquisite nalli nihari (cooked in Unani masala) must be mopped up with the light saffron flavoured taftan bread. Succulent Lahori chaampain with whispers of saunf. Kashmiri hand pounded Sasranga mutton mellowed with curd, saffron and mogra is a must try. Khaas dal makhni rich with safed makhan too. End with the moist, subtle and flavoursome kache gosht ki Dum Biryani. Plenty for vegetarians (50 percent of the menu)
Try the Kalonjiwale Baigan, tangy Amchuri Bhindi and Ande ki biryani.
Small portions. We could do with more generosity. The seafood (be it the gongura prawns or the jaituni pomfret) though not below par lacks the masterfulness of the rest of the dishes. The light Broccoli Dak Bangla.with kasundi mustard is dragged down with it’s Philadelphia cream cheese slathering. Rajbhog, angoodi rabdi are ho hum, the outsourced paan icecream is a little better, but what is fabulous (and we ask for seconds) is the Khubani ka meetha (unfortunately, on my second dinner I was told it’s not on the menu anymore).My favourite sparkling water (neither Perrier nor Pelligrino) available in this 5 star hotel.
Kudos to The Sahib Room for not taking it’s name literally and serving up clichéd decor or Anglo-Indian food from the Raj. Instead Awadh, Hyderabad and Kashmi distil themselves graciously on our plates in elegant surroundings. I eat two long meals here (pay an average of Rs 5000 meal for 2).There is consistency in the food (except for a few, the desserts and the portions could be bigger), I am told that the chef uses the principles of Unani medicine in cooking to achieve the perfect balance between being rich yet non-greasy. There is plenty of ceremony associated with fine dining yet there’s a relaxed air, that is in sync with most diners’ temperaments. I raise a toast in delight with their paan martini Mera Salaam hai!
The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar Palladium Hotel, Lower Parel/
Av meal for 2: Rs 5,000 Ph 61628000
Open for lunch and dinner
RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 4 DECOR 4
TIMES FOOD GUIDE 2015
Booking restaurant tables under fake names, landing up for surprise checks… am busy doing that twice a day. Exciting, exacting and fattening times are here. I am busy eating for The Times Food guide 2015. Would love to incorporate your recommendations, please do share your favourite restaurants and invite you to dine with me (firstname.lastname@example.org) FB @rashmiudaysingh instagram, twitter. Waitingly yours.