food review

SPECTACULAR FEAST

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Feasting on the spirit of Dubai with Cynthia Munoz and Chef Alan Gobeil in Zeta
Feasting on the spirit of Dubai with Cynthia Munoz and Chef Alan Gobeil in Zeta

Here’s a feast to beat all feasts. It pampers all my senses…there is light, sound, dance, music and ofcourse food. As though all this were not enough there is also the worlds tallest building and the worlds biggest choreographed fountain to keep me company. If the accompanying photograph had a video and sound track, heres what you’d see and hear… glittering and shimmering fountains leaping and swirling and twirling into the evening sky as different colored lights bathe and sway with them. These fountains dance to music and Whitney Houston’s husky ”I’ll always love you” echoes sensuously as the fountains sway to it’s melody. And as though blessing it all and taking the ringside seat like a benevolent all-caring Pasha is the worlds tallest building, The Burj Khalifa which shimmers glamorously. And right here while feasting on this spectacle I am feasting on the freshest of fare created by the brilliant Executive chef Alain Gobeil . All this is the glamorous Zeta Restaurant where the heart of Dubai seems to throb  in all it’s  glory. In many different ways.

THE FOUNT OF GREAT COOKING

What are the ingredients of great cooking? I not only learn about them but also taste them here.  I am feasting on spectacular food which matches the location, There is freshness, there is tang, there is texture, there is flavor and  Canadian Chef Alan Gobeil’s global travels and training shines through all his cooking. Here, he conjures (only apt word) modern Japanese fare with plenty of Sushi, ceviches, salads and tartares. And with us too is Cynthia Munoz from Peru, a country known for it’s great and vibrant cuisine with many a choice of ceviche. We discuss the absolute necessity of freshness and the chef points out that it is imperative to buy the best you can get. “Don’t alter it” he stresses, “don’t overload it, respect it”.  Yet another tip from his is to concentrate on  ingenius pairings. Like for instance the prawn avocado salad has wedges of orange in it, also crunchy flying fish roe. “You must add crunch to your salads, use whatever you like or whatever you have readily available.” He says. This touch of his is evident in all his creations.  As Cynthya points out the food here is light and refreshing and not greasy. As we nibble and talk, the

The Dubai Fountain, the world’s largest choreographed fountain system set on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, at the center of the Downtown Dubailights up with its thousands of lights and  colored projectors. Whoa! It is now  shooting water up to 500 ft into the air and what a range of music it has… from  classical to contemporary Arabic and world music. Even

Thriller” by Michael Jackson. I am amazed to know from the chef that some years ago there was only sand here and now

parkland, the worlds biggest mall, homes and nine hotels surround this man-made Burj Khalifa Lake. Including the swanky Address Downtown hotel where I am getting a taste of Dubai. Modern, fresh, cutting edge and gloriously spectacular!!!

 

 


 

ZETA SALAD RECIPE

 

IngredientS

 

Salad:

50 gms Prawn, poached and chilled /  60 gms Avocado /10gmsTomato/ 100 gms lettuce/ 40 gms orange segments/  5 gms chives/  a few sprigs of mixed cress/ 5 gms spring onions/ 5 gms tobiko (flying fish roe) optional/ salt and pepper to taste.

Cocktail sauce dressing:

500 gms Mayonnaise/ 1 ml Tabasco/ 200 gms tomato ketchup /  5 ml lemon juice/ 5 gms fresh red chilli/ salt and pepper

METHOD

Mix all ingredients together to prepare the cocktail sauce dressing, adjust seasoning and spice to taste.  Toss the chilled prawns in the dressing. Place the prawns on a plate and assemble the salad by placing in an attractive manner all ingredients in and around the prawns. Garnish with tobiko, cress, green onions, and place dots of cocktail sauce dressing in a few areas. Enjoy!

Review: BOMBAY CANTEEN

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Indian Cafe & Bar

We are rejoicing! Many reasons…not only is it a joyful experience but there is distinct joy in the food too. There is  a palpable youthful vibe not just in the ambiance, the staff, the diners but once again, in the food too. Bombay Canteen celebrates India and ofcourse Bombay.  Much like my brilliant world renowned artist guest Jaideep Mehrotra  whose  works embody the melting pot of cultures in our metropolis, a melange of the eastern & western sensibilities. Like the Sachin Sculpture at Sasmira Junction, which pays tribute to a local lad using state of the art material to create it.Both, he and his lovely wife Seema feel that ‘Bombay Canteen’ has both these elements and manages to capture them well in their flavours and presentation.

 

DECOR

Walk into this airy 4,000 sq. ft  of brilliantly done up space  and be charmed by the Bombay nostalgia in this unfinished “bungalow” with it’s stained glass, long rustic bar, printed tiles, manually lettered pricing boards.Thankfully it   does not degenerate into a themed cutesy cafe,

space,  Kudos to the Busride Design Studio.

NYC to MUMBAI

This Goan chef, worked in Mumbai and took NYC by storm way before glamorboy Vikas Khanna. I first met Chef Floyd Cardoz fifteen years ago, when I had been flown down to NYC  by Asia Society for a panel discussion on Indian food with the icons, Madhur Jaffrey  and Danny Meyer. I ate with Danny Meyer at “Tabla” , Floyds introduction of Indian food to America and loved it.  A couple of years ago, i ate at Floyd’s  “Northend grill” and came away disappointed. Both have since shut, Floyd still straddles both continents (Whitestreet in NYC and Bombay Canteen here). This one marks  his return to and celebration of Indian cuisine. Along with Chef Thomas  Zachiaras they use only local ingredients (many not served in restaurants) and evolve Indian cuisine by making it “cool”. Their passion shines through.

FOOD

Flavors and textures do a rocking jugalbandi! Like the crisp Arbi tuk and mugra chaat. Goan pulled pork does the dandiya with theplas. Eggs Kejriwal get yummier with Kerala coconutty chutney. It begins with the “chintus” (tiny floating snacks much like David Chang’s Ma Peche) super

Unda Curry Devilled Desi Eggs, paper-thin lotus-root fryums. Chhotas (salads, tacos and more) Badas (

Spiced Grilled Chicken Kaleji ) and we also ask for the “Patiala” ( large sharing dishes) fish. Chef Zachiaras’ coconutty My uncles mutton curry delights. Whoa! the rum-spiked Gulabnut, is Floyd’s improvement on the cronut, but for me its the fleshy guava tan ta tan ( tart tatin) with it’s red chilly icecream that works the magic. A fully stocked bar,c raft beers by The Gateway Brewing Co are the other upsides.

MINUS POINTS

My assistant calls to book the table in his name (I never book in mine) and is told they are booked up till 9.30pm.He persists and finally secures a booking for 7pmand for atleast the first two hours the cafe is more or less empty. The loud music jars and keep getting louder. Multi-Grain Khichdi, Steamed Kokum Idiyappam, banana deep fried pakodas

are ho hum. Infact, the vegetarian fare does not sparkle as much as the non veg one. Milk Braised Kashmiri Raan not available.Ice Cream Sandwich and masala chai popsicle sound better than they taste,

 

MY POINT

Balle balle! Indian cuisine gets its much needed complement of playfulness, modernism and global sophistication. Thankfully no molecular gastronomy here! No chicken tikka masala either!  Sure they don’t ace everything, the portions could be larger, the vegetarian fare more finetuned. Accessibility is the guiding ethos,  it is a go-to, drop-in (open for dinner only) canteen for enlightened food lovers on all budgets. I love the way this canteen  marries locally sourced, serious food with an ultra-casual, spontaneous dining ethos, Eating here feels unencumbered, honest and joyful…that word again!

P.S. I just hope this brand new Canteen keeps it up.

 

Bombay Canteen, Kamala Mills, S.B. Road, Lower Parel, Open for dinner only 7:00 pm – 1:00 am

Ph 49666666 Meal for 2 Rs 2000

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 4 DECOR 4

 

 

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: BRICKHOUSE CAFÉ AND BAR

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European and Continental

 

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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.

 

DÉCOR

We all give a thumbsup to the exposed brickwalls  rustic doors, wooden tables, industrial, unfinished work-in-progress look. Alfresco area too.

FOOD

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.

 

MINUS POINTS

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.

MY POINT

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.

 

Brickhouse Café

Greenfield Apartments
Lokhandwala Market, Opposite the HDFC ATM Lokhandwala Complex Andheri (West)

022 26364403

Brickhouse All Day Cafe & Bar Andheri Daily, from noon to 1.30am

RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 

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