mumbai

JW Cafe at JW Marriott, Sahar

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Walk past the glittering chandeliered lobby into this vast, 7000 Sq ft high ceilinged JW Cafe at JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Sahar with open kitchens, metallic screens and pillars. Handsome space but overall, it disappoints. Read my detailed review on TimesCity.com.

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Review: The WOK

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Wok speaks to the moment’s casual ethos. Instead of plates, your food is served to you in cardboard boxes.It is a grab and go refueling station for the office-goer and shopper. Does home delivery too.

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Review: Romano’s

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Italian

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Cracklingly new. Shiningly new. Newingly new. Now, that Ive hammered the message through about this brand new Italian restaurant, let me tell you that I got to know  about it not through a PR release or chef, but through my long-distance call to my very knowledgable foodie-dynamo buddy Dilip Joshi who  has answers to all (almost)  my questions.

 DECOR

Nudged into the armpit (almost) of my most beautiful T2 airport (Im quite crazily in love with it) the brand new JW Marriott glitters. Walk past the shimmery lobby with dripping chandeliers and youre in for a surprise. The sprawling, high ceilinged, dimly-lit dark wood, very handsome and macho  restaurant is a total contrast to it. A pleasant contrast. An open kitchen bustles into view and two staircases lead into the bar area on the mezzanine.

FOOD

Traditional Italian. Short menu. No pizzas. No Ossobuco coz no beef (ofcourse) Im told their chef is from Naples, but was on leave when we ate here. Food was still good. Which is a super sign. For starters, the Buratta (Rs 695)  (from Bangalore) was voluptuously creamy, kissed by basil pesto and a must try. It was the superlative  sea bass (Rs 1595) baked in parchment paper, flavorsome with lemon sauce and clams that was the star of the show. Delicious Pepper spring chicken  rosemary potatoes pickled  chillies (Rs 1295). Huge big sharing portion of delightful tiramisu (therefore priced at Rs 650).

   

MINUS POINTS

Okay! since it is not even a fortnight old, there being no Gelato no Proseco no Grappa is understandable. But why was the spaghetti alio olio so limp and overcooked? And the  

Scallops in  Butter brandy (Rs 745) with grit in them? Vegetarians need more dishes, please. The side dishes of vegetables do not count (though our side dish of green beans was yum) The sommelier was knowledgable, helpful, though the wine list could do with more Italian wines.

 

 

MY POINT

Though  Romano’s homestyle Italian menu and cooking aren’t particularly adventurous or inventive, (not enough vegetarian dishes) it’s dishes do a deft, unusual seesaw between heartiness and delicacy. These strengths and the restaurant’s macho cozy setting will take Romanos a long way.

P.S.Even though only a fortnight old, it was already quite packed.

 

ROMANO’S JW Marriott Sahar,  IA Project Road, T2 Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport 

28538661

RATING FOOD 3.5 DECOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5

Open for dinner only

Meal for 2: Rs 5000

 

Review: ASADO

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Multi-cuisine

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Whats going on? Why has Bandra’s newest restaurant been proclaiming it is a “Latin American fine dining restaurant”? Help! I am seriously questioning my own knowledge of geography. Does  Latin America include Italy and Japan et al?  Ofcourse, this cuisine does have influences from all over the globe. But confusion gets more confounded when the waiter in Asado  tells me that “pasta is a Japanese dish”. Thankfully, my guest Pierre Ortoli has not only lived and worked in Buenes Aires  as has Dr Mathilde Richou osteopath but her father also has vineyards in Argentina. Our review follows

 DÉCOR

Kitschy or cute? Handpainted walls  recreate a quaint Latino town in this  65-seater. Clear blue skies, fake birds perched on fake lamp posts too. Outdoor seating too. Casual, relaxed ambiance.

 FOOD

So don’t get stuck on the label  and go looking for “Latin American” fare (they do have a few names of dishes from there. No ceviches). You’ll enjoy the flavorful edamame truffle risotto, okayish beef empanadas. It’s the Brazilian beef steak (Rs 2000 plus) done rare that dazzles. Both our desserts…churros and Tresleches were just about okay.

MINUS POINTS

Stodgy Kataifi prawns and vegetarian flautas. Ditto for the veg wraps. Fatty pork spare ribs, though Bbq sauce delicious. All the Vegetarian dishes we tried  were limp and floppy. The servers were uninformed about the cuisine.

MY POINT

Asado “Mumbai’s first Latin American fine dine”  doesn’t just flit tentatively across a few borders but knocks down a whole bunch of them altogether.

It bops around the globe and serves some okayish though expensive dishes and wines (our bill for three was Rs 14000, with wine). Our meal began with great expectations and ended with a whimper.

P.S. But then I walked outside onto Bandra’s SV road  and found myself wanting to give Asado the benefit of the doubt. It has the location. It has the enthusiasm. With better judgment, research, a lowering of prices and a Latin American trained chef perhaps it could live upto it’s ambitions. We wish it all the best!

ASADO  Monorama Chambers, Ground Floor, S V Road. Bandra West

Ph 6568 6666

RATING FOOD 2.5 SERVICE 2.5 DÉCOR 3

Review: THE ROLLING PIN

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Vegetarian bakery, patisserie and cafe

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Are you a vegetarian who does not eat eggs ? Read on and you will be happy you did.  Over the years Mumbai has spawned many a shudh vegetarian Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Mexican, Italian, multi-cuisine  restaurant. This is the very first dedicated Patisserie-Bakery-café serving not just vegetarian but  “eggless-vegetarian” fare. “it’s a brilliant idea. India has the largest population of vegetarian Hindus in the world” opines my guest and blind date, London’s Michelin-starred Benaras restaurant  ‘s  Atul Kochhar (see box) To check out the patisserie I invite two gorgeous French ladies, Stephanie d Aboville who curates unparalleled access to Paris and beyond. Francette Harrison, a French “Jain” (she does not eat onions and garlic). She has moved here ever since her husband has been heading the Four Seasons and  knows Mumbai amazingly well. We also meet two regulars Hiloni and Surabhi who swear by this café.

DÉCOR

The large glassed in TRP stands right opposite the Phoenix High street. It is well light, airy, has an open kitchen and many a counter stacked with pastries, breads and cakes.

FOOD

This includes eggless and gelatin free desserts, breads, croissants, burgers, sandwiches a few multi-cuisine light meals too. Amongst the savories, the soft  paneer bursting with peppery notes is everyone’s favorite. Our Jain Francette loves the  3 jain sliders. The masala corn served in a cone is chatpatta good.   The opinion starts getting sharply divided when it comes to the sweet stuff.  The chocolate bar is everyones favorite.

The rest are not our favorites, But here again, the “eggless-vegetarians” like Hiloni Punatar point out that the

Madagascar mousse Chocolate mousse bar
and Raspberry princess are the best eggless desserts you can get in the city.

MINUS POINTS

While some of the savory dishes like the  Patti samosa are  too spicy or too stodgy, the vada pao is okayish, the khao suey lacklustre. Many of the  desserts are too stodgy, not light enough, the macarons chewy.

MY POINT

Kudos to the Guptas for catering to the niche vegetarian consumer (theyve set up pure vegetarian Mexican, molecular gastronomy restaurants too). In TRP, there are over 65 varieties of eggless and gelatin -free pastries and desserts. Here are some reactions on my instagram and twitter page… @anupa30Eggless macaroons is just absurd ! This is echoed by

@divyabarmecha and @chefkunal . say  @chef_sandeep @tulsi78  “it is heaven for me as I always wanted to try macarons cos of eggs couldn’t try”. So while some of these desserts are yum, many more do not match up to the ones made with egg, but they do fill in a huge need out there. “Eggless vegetarians” this way please!

 The Rolling Pin

Janta Industrial Estate, opposite High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel.
24979952

Open 9.30 am to 11.30 pm

RATING FOOD 3 DÉCOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5

Meal for 2: Rs 800

 

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!

CATERERS & DESSERT MAKERS

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Two joyous whoops! Double celebration time! A shiny brand  new 2015 (I wish you miracles!) . And more of my dreams come true as I discover some amazing talent that creates magic out of home. Ive been finding different ways and means of tracking talent that hums out of home kitchens (so I can include it in our very own Times Food Guides) and this time I find it when I happen to pop in to the dynamic entrepreneur  Shaan Khanna’s Spicy Sangria gathering. It’s at the elegant and stylish Mana Suneil Shetty’s fabulous home store which is buzzing with great food and unique flavours. Heres a taste…

4

 

Nidhi Gadia’s waffles

How about some mobile pleasure food? Waffles on a stick. Waffle House specialises in a wide variety of Waffles. The charming Nidhi Gadia is already well loved for her sweet as well as Savoury waffles along with mobile pleasure food – Waffle Sticks ! : +919820026511

Instagram& Twitter: @wafflehouse_in

 

 

 

 

Raashi’s The Picnik Basket

Make your life into a picnic… add oomph to your table with onion marmalade, slow-roasted bruschetta, cranberry mustard,chocolate peanut butter..or whip up a gourmet meal in minutes with thai curry paste, flavoured mayo’s, marinara & barbecue sauce! The gifted Raashi Sawhney also makes hampers and gifts and  more.

@thepicnikbasket

9987687005/9321954055.

 

Shweta & Sanya’s Teacharmers

Amazing fragrance and flavors.Superb packaging too. The lovely Shweta and Sanya of Teacharmers have a exclusive range of exotic blooming tea from all around world such as rose,chyrsthameus as well as pyramid silken teabags for the ultimate tea experience .

Shweta/sanya -9821532699/+91 98-70-061617

 

Nitika and Minnie’s Cocoa Bean

Chocoholics this way please! The talented Nitika and Minnie serve up an array of the most intense and flavourful sweet delights. Cocoa Bean – Their desserts are all about taste and texture!!! Highly recommended are the  malakoffs and truffles.
Nitikakhemani 9820144272
Minnie mehra 9833079217

 

Srikanta & Neha’s Open Table
Try Open Table’s delicious fresh dips – from a Layered Lebanese Dip to Sundried Tomato Dip, everyone has a favourite! Essence and color-free Cooler concentrates (Simply Rose and their Ginger Lemon Appetizer) Prices: approximately Rs 200 for a box of dip, Rs 220 for a 550 ml concentrate bottle.
Srikanta Taparia 9819592278  Neha Chokhani 9820133487.

 

Amrita Diwanji…Food Photographer

A photographer with a great passion for food, the brilliant Amrita Diwanji has

shot for Ellipsis, Cheval, & Burgs.

+91 98205 48700

 

Rohan’s Pack a Pav

In his time off from work, Rohan Mangalorkar potters around in the kitchen whipping up yummy recipes (his mothers) that typically involve bread, meat, and inventive condiments. Tasty, juicy homemade mutton shammi kebabs, chicken seekh kebabs, and veg shammi kebabs sandwiched between fluffy pavs.

Pack-a-Pav, a stall that pops up at  food festivals and can be called for your next party catering too. “This works well at sundowners or parties that need bread to soak the alcohol,” says Rohan.We agree!

Rohan  9920230240,

@Rohan_power

 

Sanjnaa’s Ellipsis Bakery

Brownies, cupcakes red velvet Oreo and chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked breads…the  gifted Sanjnaa Talwar of Ellipsis gives a sneak peek of their about to open standalone bakery in Worli. “It is a month or two away” she says, but trials are on …give us this day, our daily bread!

 

 

Shweta Parikh 

This talented young home baker, sources the finest of ingredients  and take orders only on weekends. She specialises in customised fondant cakes, cupcakes, macarons, cookies, cake pops, brownies, cheesecakes.  And if you are looking for eggless, she has those for you as well.

Shweta Parikh

91-9930514430

 

 

P.S. You’ll find ALL the above and much much more in your very own Times Food Guide 2015 (the “caterers and dessert makers” volume). Should you wish to be part of the Times Food Guide 2016 and this column please mailrashmiudaysingh015@gmail.com, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh waitingly yours…

MY FOODIE FINDS

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As the Times Food Guide 2015 goes to press, here’s what I find …

HEALTHY YUMMIES

Looking for oven fresh healthy and yummy weight watchers  goodies? brownies, Raggi and oat cookies, assorted muffins  and more by talented Pallavi Dayal.
(9619483431. 02223865852)

DELECTABLES

Superb Gourmet & Classic Salads, Dips, Dressings, appetizers & Desserts are brilliantly prepared by

the two sisters Janaki Grover  and Devaki Trivedi.  Fashion  and home accessory designer Rakhee Grover Jain swears by their“Saladicious” fare ( 98202 22342
98200 24842).

H.A.S. It All Foods

Call H.A.S it all.  husband, wife and son (Haresh, Anju and Siddhanth) for healthy low-calorie fare to tiffin services and multi-cuisine corporate party orders. Superb roast cashew peanut chaat, swell n simple
Indian and western desserts.( Ph 23517086, 9870408072, 9870008081)

PARFAIT PERFECT

 Sharmeen Indorewala’s rich, creamy, frozen, preservative free , gluten free dessert in 10 fun flavours.

Place your orders for delivery/pick up at (9920029229)

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