Review

Review: Mainland China Asia Kitchen TFG

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ORIENTAL (Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese)

There were many questions: Where could  well-traveled foodie businessman and the Consul general of Srilanka get a quick working lunch? Oriental cuisine? Well-priced? Brand brand new in South Mumbai? Heres one answer: Mainland China Asia Kitchen.

Both my guests have plenty in common, a discerning palate, both are born in Srilanka, speak Sinhalese. While, the charming bachelor, Safdar Bandukwala hails from a prominent business family there and is Mumbai based, the vivacious  Saroja Sirisena, is the multi lingual Sri Lankan Consul General here. Interestingly,  Saroja holds an expertise in global nuclear disarmament, cooks brilliantly and speaks fluent French. Safdar travels to the Far East for work and  knows  Oriental cuisine really well.

Both epitomize the Island spirit, are friendly and great fun and we had a great afternoon.

DECOR

Colorful, vibrant  ambiance in this Palladium mall eatery, buzzing

open kitchen et al.

FOOD

This second baby of the Mainland China group serves up the popular dishes of Mainland China  and also  some Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese ones. Happily, the tasty, crunchy corn cakes, unerringly fried Bekti, robustly spiced  chilly fish are as good as the steamed  plump, moist veg dimsum  and the fragrant Thai curry.

The Feathery Sponge  is drizzled

with luscious sweet caramel to wickedly flavourful effect.

 

MINUS POINTS

Overcooked prawns in Hunan sauce. Soggy sushi, lackluster salad  and   Khaoswey. The one in their Goregaon branch was much better as was the Dynamite tofu and the  satay.

Hard dense chocolate rolls

 

MY POINT

This is the second MCAK, it is  (the first in Goregaon). Both have identical menus The food continues to be  a mixture of appealing and ho-hum. But it almost always delivers

high-impact flavors (presentation better in Goregaon) at relatively low-impact prices, (Rs 1000, meal for 2). I repeat, Anjan Chatterjee’s  Mainland China’s Asia Kitchen is not about fine dining, but  Fun dining.

MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN

Open lunch and dinner

MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN

3RD FLOOR, PALLADIUM, LOWER PAREL.

PH 24964252

Meal for 2: Rs 1000

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 

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!

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 

 

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: 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

 

 

Review: NUTCRACKER

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Multi-cuisine

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

 

 

DÉCOR

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

FOOD

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

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

MINUS

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

 

MY POINT

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

 

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

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

Review: YUUKA

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Japanese

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It’s here. Yet another world class Japanese restaurant, by a US based Japanese chef. No! Yuuka by Ting Yen (from Boston) is not a me-too of Wasabi by Morimoto (of Philadelphia). If anything it sets out to define it’s own identity. It has been making waves ever since it opened a few months ago. Making constant headline news as the nation’s most trusted and high profile “trouble shooter”, is  my golden hearted  guest,  Chairman of a prestigious bank, Deepak Parekh and his brilliant educationist wife Smita. This discerning, well-traveled gourmet couple has not only been making several trips to Japan, love the food, but Deepak has also been participating  in and nurturing the growing Indo-Japanese economic relations.    Forever, fund-raising for good-causes, this jetsetting discerning foodie couple has been on the top of my favorites list for years. Joining that list  are the close friends of the Parekh’s, Ranjan and Jayshree Sanghi of India’s fourth generation automobile pioneering family. Both globetrotting gourmets. He  an outstanding sportsperson who’s played football, hockey and squash at competitive levels and she a former state level badminton champion,  is not only a Kathak dancer  but also a creative cook. Their  dinners at home are legendary. They enjoy the experience here.

DÉCOR

A wooden staircase climb above the 37th floor of the Ruia’s Palladium hotel, this handsome, high ceilinged 50 seater restaurant has a contemporary sheen. Sushi bar, origami birds complete the pleasant unobtrusive décor.

FOOD

Drama and spectacle marks the food, as does a calculated balance of the expected and the unexpected dishes here. Plenty for vegetarians. Many a dish is like a sculpted work of art and architecture…like the Avocade tartare presented as a chilled cylinder, in a glass, break it and mix it with butter cream sauce and wasabi corn dashi and pure vegetarian bliss happens . The citrus ponzu marinated  strips of salmon slung  over a burning fire of coffee beans (with Jamaican rum) have a flavor and drama of their own. Its thirty different types of Maki that Ting specializes in, and the two I recommend are the lusciously rich tuna toro (Toro truffle osscietra caviar ) and the imaginatively named vegetarian Tiger tear (Avocado, habanero, cream cheese sriracha). More Veggie masterpieces  are the  Enoki mushroom soup, The Okonomiyaki (mushroom, zucchini pancake.) Ting has specially created dishes for the Indian palate  (naan bread taquitos, veggies enlivened with the tangy  Pico De Gallo.) Well made Black cod and  tempura too.

It’s the dramatic finale of breaking open the iced Coconut Sphere with it’s spun sugar veil pregnant with coffee mousse and yuzu sherbet that dazzles.

 

MINUS POINTS

The extremely dim lighting at night makes it impossible to appreciate the full drama of the dishes here. It’s lovely by day.  There are occasional failures of execution: the lackluster, overcooked chicken Katsu, the ho hum duck  with apple and prunes. Slow service (inspite of ordering ahead, the edamame is served at the end). Love the name

“Beijitarian” but the  vegetables on a crispy flat bread don’t add up to much at all. Ditto for  Ting’s Spicy Fried Rice. During my third meal, we found that the sashimi was not as fresh as at the earlier ones.

 MY POINT

Here comes Japanese food with a gastronomic swagger and richness with meticulously composed and gorgeously accessorized dishes. I fell in love with the experience gradually (ate here thrice, palate singing, wallet stinging Rs 8000 meal for two). Some dishes served on ice, some on  naked flames. Big flavors, art and architecture in the presentations ( few traditional, pristine dishes too, we could do with more). Chef Ting has created many for the Indian palate (veggies delight) without making it tip into Jindian (figure that one!). I’ve eaten Japanese food in all the gourmet capitals of the world and I’m delighted that Aamchi Mumbai is (slowly) getting there. Yuuka may mean “scented or superior flower” in Japanese but to me it stands for a whoop of joy like “Euryuuka”

P.S. Would love to know your views, please mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh

Yuuka, 37th floor, Palladium Hotel, Lower Parel,  Ph 61628422. Rs 8000 meal for two.

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5