Review

Review: Villa 69

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Multi cuisine

I am in eight heaven ! Joyfully bonding  and reviewing a restaurant with eight of my fabulous foodie blind dates (I met them over instagram when they hashtagged #dinewithrashmi)  It’s a rainy afternoon and  we are at Juhu’s new Villa 69 and they have come from Mulund, Andheri Vashi, Walkeshwar, Bandra .

Talented homecook Shabnam mukadam (@cookingfiesta1) brings along her most sublime mithai, Photo blogger, marketing porfessional Ritika Betala (@foodiesofindia)

CA turned social media marketer  (@sanjanaj88) are among the first few to come. BMM graduate and food blogger Samina (@theCconfession)

Pro MakeUp Artist.Diane D’costa (@d_diane) Project manager Aaron Pereira @pereiraaaron and

Chartered Accountant turned Lifestyle Blogger  Bhumika Thakkar @bhumika_t join us as we have an amazing time.

 

DÉCOR

By day  this sprawling, very white Villa  (obviously the brainchild of a romantic, with cupids painted on walls) is daylight bathed. It has a charming alfresco courtyard  too. By night it takes on a sizzling, dramatically lit avatar  and throbs with cutting edge music.”Perfect for a date” is the unanimous comment of my guests.
FOOD

In the multicuisine menu which zig zags thru continents, it’s the affordable pricing which stands out ( Av price of main course Rs 395). It’s also the flavorsome Thai curries (we try them all) which come up tops. We all love the daintily presented cottage cheese picatta in the tangy tomato sauce. Sweet spicy honey chilli chicken,crispy panko fish are all worth trying.

MINUS POINTS  

We ask for recommendations and check out the veg as well as the non veg dishes. Suffice it to say that a lot of it does not pass muster, oily flavourless tofu, lacklustre chicken BalineseAyam pelalah, and soggy Fiamma and Toscana pizzas) and totally avoidable desserts.

MY POINT

Villa 69 is one more rocking offering from the successful serial nightclub owner, Suved Lohia. The life-size statue of a horse (glittering mirrors like those in a disco ball) in the restaurant, the Bolly bashes and other night events here make it clear this is a buzz-bedecked party zone. The food has more misses than hits ( the restaurant is totally empty at lunch,) but it’s Villa  69 s  sexily glamorous night avatar which is the hit.

Plot No.30 Near PVR Cinema and Oakwood Premier J. M. Road Juhu

022 6596 9669

Open  from noon to midnight

RATING FOOD 2.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 4

Review: CHINA PAVILION

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Chinese

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I’m doing three things which I love: flying in from Paris, then going directly from the airport to a restaurant review. Most importantly : to a brand new fortnight old Chinese restaurant in Andheri.  Surprisingly it already has many a diner. I go up and chat with many of them. Having heard about China Pavilion’s “Lettuce wrap” from a friend  Sohil Parikh, Neelen Shah and Meghna Vora   have driven from Bandra and  love it. On another table  Sambit Das is celebrating his birthday. Buzzing around them is Erol Leong (ex Golden Dragon, ex China Garden, ex Mayrose)

DÉCOR

Located opposite the police station, the red-tile roofed eatery has a simple, predictably pleasant ambiance.Wooden tables, wooden floored, TV screen, Chinese artefacts et al.

FOOD

There’s Chindian and there’s homestyle Chinese. Its the pricing which is the winner here. Rs 299 (you read that right) for an unlimited lunch here. Student combos (Rs 110 for a limited meal)

The menu offers a choice of  twenty sauces ( sweet spicy Devil sauce, Thai Garlic and more) and you can ask for your choice of meat, seafood and veggies to be cooked in any. Garlic and spice do the garba and the bhangra in a lot of the dishes. Be it Prawn pepper chilly or Chicken jade spicy  with spinach and garlic. Manchurians  and Schezwan sauce drizzled fare here. Bland homestyle fare for you? “Fee noodles” “Egg fantasy” , Bok choy, simply tossed in natural flavors. Must trys? lettuce wraps and crisp yet moist  spring rolls.

MINUS POINTS

No pork. No beef served here. Today there is no crab or asparagus available and only one okayish dessert of honey noodles. The suimai and dimsum, though thin skinned are falling apart, overcooked soggy bassa and some of the dishes are lackluster. No alcohol served here.

 

MY POINT

You can expect moderately priced Chindian and homestyle Chinese fare at this fortnight old Andheri eatery with it’s comfy and gleaming ambiance. Don’t go looking for gourmet Chinese but at Rs 299 for an unlimited lunch you cant go wrong.

 

Opp Versova Police station, Near Cosmopolitan school. DN Nagar, Andheri (W) ph 26352900

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 AMBIANCE 3.5

Meal for two: Rs 1000


OOH! LA! LA! PARIS

2(1)

Breaking news. Even more magic is happening in Paris: Not just in superglam, rarefied gastronomique restaurants but also on the streets and train stations.I eat in the Legendary three Michelin starred chef Eric Frechon’s fabulous and affordable Lazare (in the Lazare train station) I dine at his gastronomique restaurant at the iconic Le Bristol (across the Presidents palace and also the President’s favorite) too. I not only catch up with Alain Ducasse (have shot my TV show in his Monte Carlo restaurant) but also get a peek into the about-to-open, high-profile super hush -hush Plaza Athenee restaurant. And then comes the surprise I love the choux puffs at Ducasse and Michalak’s street side  choux puff counter.

Paris sizzles with high-octane newness and youth… For the first time ever I dine at a restaurant where perfume and food overlap. International perfumer Guerlain’s restaurant by Michelin starred Guy Martin conjures up their signature  perfume inspired dishes. I ’m thrilled  to dine with the dashing young Michelin starred Chefs,  Akrame  (of the 7 month old, Michelin starred Akrame) and the charming Executive chef of the Peninsula John Edern . The brand new less than a month old Peninsula dazzles  and right next to it, the fourth generation family owned Raphael continues to hold it’s own and weave timeless charm as I meet the lovely owner Veronique Valcke,   Coffee with Helene Avril at the Goerge V,  shopping at Maison de Truffe ,Hediard, calling on the Indian ambassador, Elodie Berta’s drive through Paris in the teensy weensy Twizzy electric car (which anyone can hire)  and lighting a candle of thanks at the Madeleine church …all this in two magical days.

P.S. Need Paris info? pl mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter instagram @rashmiudaysingh

Review: Boveda

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Restobar

Global multi-cuisine

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Whoa! What energy! Aamchi Mumbai is rocking with youth and energetic bars and nightplaces…from Colaba (Colaba Social) through Parel (PDT) to Andheri (Boveda). Before leaving for Los Angeles, I visited each of these new arrivals. Thumbs up to the infusion of youthful energy.

Boveda in Andheri is not only for the young nightbirds but is also set up by two 24 year olds and has an equally young chef.

DÉCOR

The sprawling 2,500 sq feet space with it’s suspended retro bulbs, wooden crates for lamp shades exposed brick walls give it an industrial look.  A long dramatically lit-up bar  and an outdoor patio complete the décor.

FOOD DRINKS AND GIGS

43 starters and  6 mains. Dinner is obviously not what you go there for. Plenty of drinks and gigs is what you do go for…there is no entry or cover charge. DJ s (Arjun Wagle  Ma Faiza, Ankytrixx, Sanjay Dutta)   artists ( Whirling Kalapas, Nikhil D’zouza etc) rock the place..

Ask for the robustly spiced, tossed spiced mushroom jalapeno, the deepfried tasty veg croquette plump with paneer and spinach. Enjoy the dominant paprika flavor of the spiced  chicken.  I particularly liked the smoked haloumi cheese on the American pizza. Desserts were woefully lacking, the chocolate ganache tart was good but not the greatest.The must try signature Bóveda cocktails –  BVD, Spiked Old Fashion, Melon Ball and The Green Beast.

MINUS POINTS

More maincourses are definitely needed. And some of the dishes on the menu, like the chorizo prawn stew with pao, the Madras curry chicken with rice lack the zing and don’t pass muster. Ditto for the halumi potato mushroom butter garlic starter. More desserts please!

 

MY POINT

Open only in the evening, this fairly new Andheri arrival is already rocking. Boveda (“vault” in Spanish) doesn’t mean you go looking for Spanish food (there are a few dishes). Don’t go for looking for dinner either, do go for a great night out (plenty of action) cocktails, well-plated starters (please see photo)  and a lusty, young vibe. Rock on!

BOVEDA G04, Morya Landmark One, Plot B-25, Off New Link Road, Oshiwara Village, Andheri (West). 67080858/59
Rs 1800 for two without alcohol
Open  6.30pm to 1am

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5


A TASTE OF HOLLYWOOD

HOLLYWOOD MAGIC ...CHEF HUGO BOLANOS
HOLLYWOOD MAGIC …CHEF HUGO BOLANOS

Hot, hotter and haute. Newest to the iconic legendary Los Angeles restaurants…  I am eating non-stop (guided by my friend, the LA Times food critic, Irene Verbila). Here reality is more exciting than fantasy. See the accompanying photo and you’ll know what I mean. Long necked swans glide gently past
Wolfgang Puck’s (America’s uncrowned King of chefs)  restaurant as his multi-talented executive chef Hugo Bolanos conjures up the most exciting Californian produce driven dishes. Here in Belair, amid the serene,  the worlds most  romantic  12 acres of lush green paradise,  Hollywood legends like Grace Kelly , Marilyn Monroe have lived and dined for over 5 decades. Even today this romantic haven is full of stars lounging in the Californian cool sunshine.

Here’s the hottest new three month old restaurant “Flores and ladies gunboat society” (Southern American fare to kill for). Mario Batalli’s “Pizzeria Mozza” the century old, open 24 hours “Pacific dining car”remain favorites . Quite the opposite is Jose Andres cutting edge “Bazar” as good as ever.  Ive just received the most precious courier (from Napa valley) the  of the most luscious peaches and pluots  from the worlds most legendary fruit grower “Frog Hollow farm”. All thanks to our very own globetrotting gourmet and finance whiz  Arjun Divecha. Meanwhile the swans are gliding gently as I savor Wolfgang Puck’s signature steak over sundaybrunch and hey! Lionel Richie is on my neighboring table.  I have stars in my eyes…and hey waiter is that a star in my soup?

PS Should you need more info on LA eateries please mailrashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com FB, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh

Review: The Irish House

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American, European

 

AMRITA AND RICHARD KOSZAREK CHEER THE IRISH HOUSE
AMRITA AND RICHARD KOSZAREK CHEER THE IRISH HOUSE

“Ireland se aaya mere dost, dost ko salaam karo”.  A couple of months ago, our very own rocking Irish House (the largest one yet) set up in Andheri. More than a year ago, the first of these Irish triplets was born in  Phoenix Mills, followed by Kala Ghoda. Ive eaten and  “happy houred” at all, also given a thumbs up verdict  as we did in our latest Andheri checkout.  Richard Koszarek is famous for  his steaks, pork chops and beans, while Amrita’s  mutton pickle is legendary.

The well-traveled foodie couple Amrita and Richard Koszarek not only spend a lot of time in London but Richard particularly enjoys the pubs there. They say Yes!  to The  Irish House.

DÉCOR

Everything in this predictably themed, wooden-decored space is larger than life; from the expansive,  high-ceilinged hall to the TV screens. Brick walls with trademark Irish house posters (take time to read them Beer Ladder, the Whisky Wall, Beer Kegsand thePost Box, Community tables…you name it.

FOOD & DRINK

Large (that word again) portions of deep fried fare (be it the blistering chilli poppers oozing cheese, or the fleshy mushrooms crunchy with pine nuts) is tasty. On recommendations from (@mihirsagar @dina_bshah @harpr iya_kohli

@abbas_974@thebombayfoodie) I try the  Chicken tacosBeer Can Chicken cordon bleu and Grande nachos, pail of Popcorn et al . Chicken tenders are better in Kala Ghoda but otherwise all the rest of the fare satisfies.Well-stocked bar, with 42 types of beer from across the globe (draught beer is served in Kegs & Towers) Richard recommends the Erdinger wheat beer and Stella Artois. Try the  innovative cocktails (Irish Trash Can, Irish Car Bomb)

MINUS POINTS

The oven was not working the night we were there so Richard couldn’t get his Steak ‘n Kidney Pie. Too many deepfried, overdone starters. The large wedge of oversweet  Irish Chocolate Torte and the Kahlua Mousse were avoidable.

 

 

MY POINT

Packed, bustling and vibrant…Ive checked out all three Irish Houses at different times of day and night.Each time, I found that  when the high-ceilinged space is  sufficiently crowded, it has a lived-in, age-softened feel.

And when most of the generously portioned dishes appealingly complement the atmosphere, it hits the sweet spot. No gourmet flashes, it’s mostly a mix of pub stalwarts comfort foods at comforting prices. Happy hours ( 5 to 8pm   ) add to the happiness. Want a cheery, beery, noisy time ? (age no bar) this way please !
The Irish House, 1st floor,  Fun Republic, Opp. new link Road, Andheri (West) 61046161

Open,  12 noon – 1am

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 4

Meal for 2: Rs 2000


ROCKING HOLLYWOOD...TONY NUNCIO AND TANYA
ROCKING HOLLYWOOD…TONY NUNCIO AND TANYA

A TASTE OF EMMYCITEMENT

I’m eating and drinking Emmycitement…er excitement. Here, in Hollywood,  this glamorous land of eternal sunshine,  the air is so thick with  excitement over the high-voltage Emmy awards  that I could slice it and pop it into my cocktail glass (which I do too). And its evident through all my eatingsbout (from the Voltaggio brother’s “Ink” Nobu’s first ever restaurant “Matsuhisa” to the king of chefs Wolfgang Puck’s “Spago). But it’s in the iconic rockstar “Sunset Marquis” where for over 50 years not only have Emmy, Grammy, Oscar winners, legends (including our very own Bachchan family) stayed but their bar manager and actor Tony Nuncio  has been making waves in Hollywood with his latest creation of the cognac based cocktail “Breaking Dad”. Not only does it  celebrate the Emmy winner of 2013 of the same name but also George Rosenthal’s love for cars and his son. Bacon and seasalt popcorn compliment the drink and Im excited to be in Los Angeles  on the night of the Emmy awards!

P.S. Ive been overwhelmed  and overjoyed by your  response via instagram posts to my request to #dinewithrashmi. Im so sorry that Ive been away so long and unable to keep my promise. Will surely do so as soon as Im back.

Review: Francesco’s Pizzeria

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Pizza and pasta

 

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Happy surprises: I am sure you love them too. I serve up one today. It’s a Value for money, cheery new pizzeria which shot into fame after it started drone delivery services. But that’s hardly why I commend Francesco, especially since I write this from the pizza capital of the world, NYC.

DÉCOR

It’s tucked into the ever evolving urban theme park of Phoenix mills. This seriously small, wooden-floored, white-walled, brightly lit eatery with oval mirrors on the  walls (which  make the café look bigger) has simple, functional  white wooden tables.

FOOD

Fifteen varieries of pizza (we love the  thin and crisp yet fold-able when you crack it,  crust.). You can choose the size of pizza…

7inch (Rs 220) 10inch (Rs 13inch) and 13inch (Rs 475) and your toppings too. For me, pizza has to be in erotic union with pepperoni (thumbs up to Francesco s). The passionate young Mikhael Rajani ensures   plenty of vegetarian options .

The truffle pizza delights but could do with more of my musky favorite.

Try the robustly spiced Peri Peri Pizza, ( paneer and chicken options).

Tasty  ravioli stuffed with beet ( Rs 325)  but too expensive for the small the portion. Aldente  Spaghetti aglio olio. Broffle (brownie waffle),   the tiny, tenderfirm  Cheesecake and the plain looking bambolino buns stuffed with chocolate  come out tops.

MINUS POINTS

Francesco  has stabs of ill-advised innovation, like the

the dryish Bianca Salmone with too little salmon, the ggplanty parmigiano pizza and the red velvet waffle which is just a waffle gone red. Noisy when packed (which it is most of the time). No beer (a must with a pizza) or wine.

 

MY POINT

I welcome this open through the day, cheery, small, well-priced  pizzeria. It is clearly driven by the  mission of feeding you well, as opposed to giving you food for thought or gourmet fare. Of playing to your tummy instead of your imagination. And with it’s  comforting pizzas and pasta it executes that mission more dependably than many other pizzerias with similarly modest but noble ambitions.  Mama Mia (please note my Indian accent when I say that)

Shop 9-11, Next to L’vista Furnitures, Skyzone, High Street Phoenix, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Open 11 am to 11.30 pm

64

ph 67437000

Meal for two: Rs.1000|

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3


 

GOD IN NYC

Pardon the blasphemy! I’m convinced that God lives in this adrenalin-fuelled dagger-shaped New York City. How else do I explain the  most divine of palate-pleasures on the street to my transcendental experiences in the greatest cathedrals of cuisine? I’ve been in NYC less than 30 hours and am already getting blown away by

dish after dish’s   visual and gustatory starbursts. I write on my laptop from this sublime heaven of haute cuisine (also a shimmering

Parthenon of pleasure ) – Daniel Boulud’s  Daniel, which has been crowned with 3 Michelin stars for the past 21 years and continues to reign supreme.

The ever smiling spectacularly brilliant Daniel’s   creative French 15 course menu dazzles, and pairing these with wines is NYC’s best sommelier, our very own Raj Vaidya (originally from Mumbai). My dinner companion Rahul Nair, NYC based foodie and screenwriter  obviously has food and films in his genes as his father Sameer Nair now heads up a leading mumbai film and TV production company.Last night’s Jean George’s champagne shrimp salad seduced at The Mark, and I had an exciting Lebanese lunch at Ilili thanks to the king of hospitality design Adam Tihany and his lovely wife Marnie.

Within the next five days I will have sniffed out NYCs  cheap and cheerful and worshipped at  many a haute temple. Please email Rashmiudaysingh@gmail.comtwitter instagram @rashmiudaysingh and I will share the good word with you. Amen!

Review: Spice Klub

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North Indian. Molecular Gastronomy.

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Taaza Khabar: A month old pure vegetarian Indian restaurant goes the Molecular gastronomy way. I was lucky enough to have dined at Ferran Adria, Spanish wizard’s El Bulli (it is now shut) and also at the  London’s Fat Duck, Spain’s “El Celler de can Roca”,  Stockholm’s Oaxen where I was blown by each one’s amazing creations using cutting edge scientific techniques, ingredients and methods to make the familiar look unfamiliar and vice versa. The question always remains: does this unlikely transmogrification of ingredients and other cerebral shenanigans taste good or not?

DÉCOR

This Lower Parel 100 seater restaurant seems to have been kept deliberately non descript ( semi-industrial fit-out with exposed brick walls) to keep the focus on food.

FOOD

Ever had a vada pao which has a mousse aerated by infusing nitrogen in it?chutney in edible plastic pouches ? Quivering explosive orbs of papdi chat with coriander chutney foam? Happily, they also taste good. As does the pao bhaji fondue.    The passionately dedicated owner Aditya Gupta studied up and ensures the use of liguid nitrogen, dry ice, dehydrator  a( for  dahi bada and dhokla. Siphon for chilli palak soup, alginate bath and more. Rose caviar partners The chocolate flower pot is filled with rasmalai and saffron mousse and sprinkled with pista chocolate soil. Regular North indian fare marks the mains, be it Paneer Kadai, Veg Kohlapuri, Amritsari vadi aloo or the must try dahi pakodi. Gluten free & multigrain Rotis too.

MINUS POINTS

Some dishes are just gimmicks—and lackluster to taste too. The Pani Puri served in test tubes and syringes, being a case in point. Slushy with masala, Rajma in the mains. The Bubbling kulfi ( liquid nitrogen et al) is all show and no go, with over sweet, synthetic sauces. I just couldn’t get myself to try the soap cake with it’s Dairy foam.  No alcohol.

MY POINT

I commend this pure vegetarian eatery’s efforts ( starters and desserts) at Molecular gastronomy  ensuring  measured eccentricity. These dishes validate the  experimentation and they reflect a thoughtful,  equilibrium between what’s merely edgy and what’s tasty.Not always cutting edge, some dishes tip over into gimmickry. The North Indian mains are predictably comforting and so provide the much needed balance. Jaded vegetarians looking for newness this way please!

SpiceKlub, 8A Janata Industrial Estate, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (W)

Ph 24925544

Open 12 to 4pm 6.30 to midnight.

Meal for two Rs 2000

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3

DUBAI’S CULINARY MECCA

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Found. Atlast. Is it tangy? Is it sweet? Is it a salad? Is it a complete meal? Is it squishy? Is it crunchy? Here it is, the authentic recipe of my most favorite refreshing sweet, tangy, juicy, crispy, healthy, refreshing “Rojak”. I taste it in the most unique of circumstance and venues. I marvel at how the world is shrinking into an amazing and delicious small space. So,I bring for you, this recipe of the Indonesian/Malaysian/Singaporean “Rojak”. It is made by a brilliant German chef. And it is on one of my trips to Dubai that I come across this refreshing delight. To make the global gourmetization even more exciting, I taste this dish in a legendary Thai hotel in Dubai, which turns out to be a culinary mecca.

1

CULINARY JOYRIDES AROUND THE WORLD 


“Culinary joyrides around the world” those are the brilliant Chef Joachim Textor’s words. This is the joyride that he takes me through his amazing cooking. He has travelled and lived in  the remote corners of the world. From along the Great Wall of China to Irkutsk (the Paris of the East in the 19th century) to the Omul salmon recipe from the largest fresh water lake in the world: From the southernmost tip of South America, steamed Alaskan crab to Traditional Tasmanian recipes…………he has them all. 
Chef  Textor having completed his culinary education and masters in Germany has worked in 11countries and has to his credit the opening of four hotels and dozens of restaurants. His passions are cooking and travel and exploring new culinary horizons. In pursuit of this he has been to 486 cities and 90 countries from the North to South  pole,
As we sit and chat, in the stunning and picturesque Anantara, I am more and more delighted. Set amidst lush landscaping, with the private beach just behind us, beachfront lagoon pools around us, it is difficult to believe I am in Dubai.

I don’t have the time to dine in all six of the restaurants and bars of Anantara, the culinary mecca, but the  specialty Asian, Mediterranean flavors and the Middle Eastern cuisine, the Thai cuisine seduce my tastebuds and my eyes.

Named after the Arabic word for ‘water’, the Mai Bar (which I love) has a terrace shaded by palm trees and a swim-up bar in the pool. There are  Australian-inspired flame grilled delights too but I don’t have the time to try these.

It is in the terrace of the Beachhouse with it’s fabulous views of the Dubai shoreline that I enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine, including pizzas, tapas and seafood. It is here that I taste the Rojak along with the charming and well informed Hayley Burgess.

 

ROJAK REIGNS

I first tasted the Rojak on the street side in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It was a delightful mix of bean curd, boiled potatoes, prawn fritters, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts, cuttlefish and cucumber mixed with a sweet thick, spicy peanut sauce. Then in Singapore I tasted their version of Rojak with a sweet and spicy chili sauce. I was told that in Penang, where it is a local favourite, it is always called pasembor, but in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore it is called Rojak.

Ofcourse, there are all different kinds of fruits and fritters which are added and mixed into this. From raw mango to green apple to pineapple, benkoang (jicama), bean sprouts, Chinese-style fritters). And many more.  But here is Chef Textor’s amazing recipe, which is a must try…

ROJAK RECIPE

Ingredients

Serves: 6

  1 medium cucumber

  2 small young green mangoes, peeled

  1/2 medium pineapple, skinned

  50 g Papaya

  20 gr carrot julienne

  45 gr pear

  40 g bean sprouts

  35 fried tofu

  1 large yam bean (sengkuang/jicama), peeled

  1 tsp lime juice

  ½ tsp lemon juice

  20 gr dried shrimps

  30g roasted peanuts, chopped coarsely

  35 g fried Chinese bread stick, thin sliced

  ½ tsp sesame oil

  1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  For the rojak sauce

  15 dried chillies, soaked and deseeded

  2.5 cl Tamarind sauce

  1/2 cup (125 ml) tamarind juice

  20 g caster sugar

  1 teaspoon (5 ml) dark soya sauce

Directions

1.        Pound the chillies in mortar and pestle until it becomes a fine paste. Put that paste and tamarind juice in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and dark soya sauce and cook until the sugar dissolves and sauce is thick. Set aside and let cool.

2.        Cut the vegetables and fruits into small wedges and put into a large mixing bowl. Add the rojak sauce and mix well.

3.        To serve, garnish the top of the rojak with dried shrimps, chopped peanuts,and all remaining ingredients and sesame seeds.

 

Chef Textor explains that “Rojak” actually translates to mixing and mingling and denotes  multi-ethnicity. Through this conversation, I urge the brilliant, well traveled chef to compile all these recipes into a book.

I request him to distil all the excitement of discovery and travel in his first of its kind cookbook. It will be so exciting, so
useful and usable and divided cuisine wise as well as through ingredients and courses… and should he have the time and the inclination to put together this global cookbook what would he like to call it?  “Culinary joyride around the world with Joachim Textor” ofcourse!

Review: Hai Bao

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Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Asian

I’m a “Shabu shabu” fan. Dunking thin slivers of raw beef (preferably Wagyu)  in a pot of boiling broth on my table and then pampering my palate with the pristine flavors and textures has been one of my passions around the world. Alas!  this Japanese “Shabu shabu” comes to Mumbai’s “Hai Bao” in a totally different (mainly seafood, veggies added on) but flamboyant avatar to Juhu’s new eatery. It has it’s fans (like the family I bump into here) They’re totally hooked  “The concept is cool, shabu shabu a knockout, addons are superb, it’s a filling yet light meal” say the well known dashing fashion designers Riyaz and Reshma Gangji who along with Aman and Ananya  eat here regularly.  Also checking out this new restaurant is the brilliant Chef Himanshu Taneja, passionate and adventurous foodie wanting to try out all that is new in the city.  Hai bao has serious detractors @chingypatel (Absolutely avoidable! Terrible food and service! People get enticed cause the Shabu Shabu concept is relatively new in India.) @TaariniNB

(you have to pretty much cook their own food, including the meats. Kinda painful.)

The truth lies somewhere in between.

DÉCOR

Profusion of plants (mainly artificial) in this  sea facing, high-ceilinged restaurant with wooden furniture.

FOOD

You name it, they got it. Over the past few months they’ve added on plenty of Chinese dishes especially for the Indian palate (Vegetarian soups, Paneer soya chilly, Chicken crushed pepper, chicken Sichuan pepper. Many vegetarian options too.) Their version of “Shabu shabu” dunking and cooking raw seafood and meats in a choice  of broth ((Tom Yum/ Laksa /Clear Seafood ) with 24 varieties of sauces is a filling, tasty  option. Try the Hanbun combo ( dumplings, fish fillet, cuttle fish, prawns, chicken, eggs and a range of vegetarian  options like pakchoy, shitake mushrooms and broccoli.You could opt for the barbecue grill on the table too. Try the Prawns in shells  enlivened with garlic and mellow with butter, well made

Scallops in white sauce and an okayish panfried pomfret. Attentive service under Leo Pinto, (Ipad menus, fancy call buttons connected to waiters wrists et al ) add  a dimension to the experience.

MINUS POINTS

Some of the raw seafood (for the Shabu Shabu) is not fresh. Thick skinned Chicken kothay, Veg kothay. Avoid the insipid  Laksa broth, the tasteless Hokkein rice. Stay clear of the oversweet and strange desserts, be it  the tender coconut with strands of fresh malai jellied and reset in a hollowed coconut shell or the syrupy sweet mango pudding.

 

MY POINT

“Profusion” accurately describes Hai Bao… from the number of dishes, cuisines, versions of “Shabu Shabu”, dipping sauces to the number of plants here.  Since opening they’ve hiked up set lunch price from 499 to 599 and 999 (with Shabu shabu). The non veg Shabu shabu meal, enough for 4 to 6  (priced between 1100 to 1999) and veg (Rs 750). Generous portions.  Authentic flavors give way to robust, spicy Chindian ones. Adaptation, thy name is “Haibao”.

 

HAIBAO , opposite Ramada Palm Grove, Juhu Tara Road, Ph 26101800

Open lunch and dinner

Meal for 2 Rs 2000

RATING

FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 


 

YOUR REVIEWS OF HAI BAO

Your reviews are invaluable. A zillion thanks. Been flooded with your twitter and instagram and mail reviews (rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, @rashmiudaysingh) Sorry unable to print all your reviews due to space constraint.

MUST GO @crazyloveshoesOh amazing! Just amazing!!

@meghna0205Omg I’ve been dying to go here for ages!

@mumbaifoodieBeen there twice last month! Really love the shabu shabu concept.

@foodavalanche ( the shabu shabu tastes brilliant though it’s for a min of 5 or 6 – keep some space for the the laksa soup & their coconut desert.)

@sozzlebeeShabu shabu finally in india.. Went thete almost 6 months back.. Lovely selection of seafood n meats… Quantity definately humongous.. Got excellent service but drinks need to be worked on bigg time…

DON’T GO @vanillachic89Not the best option of people who love to eat meat but aren’t great at cooking it – the taste was great but too much effort – and ended up feeling more stressed that relaxed.

@chingypatelAbsolutely avoidable! Terrible food and service! People get enticed cause the Shabu Shabu concept is relatively new in India.

@duhitachadhaAvoidable!!

@AssLikeNat
avoid
@swetasmishra
#Haibao very very avoidable. Dodgy meat, insipid broths and rather cloying service. Pity because its a good concept.

Review: THE TREESOME CAFÉ

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Fusion

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Here, in rocking Versova ( Oooh! I love Versova) I am bopping around the globe in the ten day old “The Treesome Café”. While the food itinerary is not coherent, the trip is a lot of fun. As our my Versovite guests. Foodies to the core (one is a budding chef) they not only love checking out new restaurants but also live next door to this one. It’s a fun yet inspirational evening, as in these selfish and materialistic times, it is a joy to meet selfless crusaders.

Be it the lovely Natasha Sara owner of an eclectic hair studio (which combines hair fashion with spiritual wellbeing guidance for body mind spirit) Or her friend and brilliant criminal lawyer Suman Prasad. Together, for the past three years, they have taken on the welfare of an abandoned old lady in Versova. The crusading twosome is doing this through the law and government in order to help many other senior citizens in this similar plight. Having trained as a chef, Asmita Prasad gives us her culinary insights to the food here. They all live close by and are sure to be regulars at this new Versova Cafe.

DECOR

Pleasant. A fairly small, boxed in airconditioned area and an alfresco one (total of 1300 sq ft) are done up in casual, relaxed style. Two bars, exposed industrial- pipes look and tree mural on the wall complete the décor.

FOOD & DRINK

Be prepared to get your tastebuds assaulted, cajoled and seduced.Many a bar-bite and very few main courses serve up desi-global innovative flavors. South Indian masala infuses the delicious Rajnikanth omelette, while the butterchicken gives a  spicy charge to the bland risotto.Unerringly cooked plump garlic Barcelona prawns,  thermidor sauce drenched grilled fish delight. Flavorsome Goan prawn curry, chicken cafreal and must try Kheema pav too. Innovatively plated on trays made of grey slate (the dish of  yummy baby burgers is served under a bird cage. Pl see pic). Many a creative cocktail, try the chatpatta Jamun mojito.

MINUS POINTS

Uncomfy seating, big, fat sofas crammed into a small indoor space. Not enough vegetarian options (I am told they are adding to the veggie menu)  Indie steak (paneer and dal makhani) is a mish mash, the bhel lacks zing and the so called Maldivian fish cake Bokiba is lackluster and avoidable. Chewy Chicken

Gangnam Style ( served skewered in four fluted glasses). Stodgy Shroom cupcakes  and the pizza base not crisp enough. No beef  and only one pork dish. No desserts on the menu.

MY POINT

Open through the day, Treesome café (named after the fig tree outside) is more of a bar ( many an innovative cocktail) with many a bar bite.      Although the menu has weak spots, with a few  dishes not from the heart but from a marketing plan, the gifted chef Rohan DSouza’s (who has worked with Marco Pierre White)  cooking is exuberant and  reflects a steady, precise hand.

It’s mostly a mix of pubgrub  stalwarts  comfort foods, pizzas, burgers, bhel, kheema pao et al, creatively served (sometimes over the top). Beyond  bits of mild nonsense and odd affectation are real merit and considerable merriment.  Three cheers! Tree cheers!

THE TREESOME CAFE Jewel Shopping Centre,

Seven Bungalows, Andheri
Ph 60020202

Open noon to 1.30 am

Meal for two: Rs 2000

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 


 

YOUR REVIEWS OF TREESOME CAFÉ

Wow! Each one of you has made such insightful and relevant remarks (on instagram and twitter)  that I wish I could print them all. Sorry space constraints.

‏@andshesmiled1h

(Butterchicken risotto…

Ultimate indo-italian soul food)

mariyakach ( Rajnikant masala omlette is the yummiest. Great ambiance and food)

@waterdaughter1007

(YummmmYummmmYummmm…. And full of tasty fluff)

@npunjabi20

(Can eat yummiest Omlette and burger anytime of the day) @mansidavda

(Tasty Cupcake Shrooms , Orange & Lemon Grass Cooler)

@shyamalb

(Great place!! Amazing food )

The opinion was divided about the presentation (esp bird cage) many found it gimmicky, too loud,  others loved it.

@thebigbhookad@crazyloveshoes@voraviya@tarunkapoor11

@meghasarin @chicorychai@ekazloveatfirstbite

@yasmeengindodiya@antarazandc

@purplefoodie@mamatha_1@romakripalani

@cookingfiesta1  @ila_ii@ankitawagle

Thanks for your feedback @karanrajkohli @riotofflavours

@ankitawagle @simranimita @rajvi85

@pereiraaaron@d_diane@the_locamojo @shunzie

@vivekmittal23@poonampalnitkar

@saurabhhmehtalol@saumightsay

@dubai_fo0d @arunkatiyar

value your feedback. Instagram and twitter @rashmiudaysingh mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com. Waitingly yours

 

Review: Spesso Gourmet Kitchen

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Vegetarian global multi-cuisine

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

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

 

DÉCOR

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

 

FOOD

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

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

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

MINUS POINTS

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

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

 

MY POINT

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

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

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

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

SPESSO

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

TIMINGS 11 am till dinner

RATING

FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

Cost per meal for two; Rs 1200


 

YOUR REVIEWS OF SPESSO

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

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

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

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

@eteepodar@tarunhasan@theashishsingh

@ila_iiLooks good .@divj@gaurav_agrawall

@priti3566@deepakbhatia2014

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