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.
Profusion of plants (mainly artificial) in this sea facing, high-ceilinged restaurant with wooden furniture.
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.
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.
“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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org, @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.
#Haibao very very avoidable. Dodgy meat, insipid broths and rather cloying service. Pity because its a good concept.
Mumbai’s second WHATSHOTTASTINGSESSION with talented home caterers and bakers.
Company Name: Sweet Bliss by Ravisha Sharma
Twitter & Instagram handles: @ravishasharma
Specialties: Cupcakes, marshmallows, cake pops,
Company Name: T’s Kitchen by Tejas Navin Master
Phone: 099203 16702
Specialties: Chicken Cafreal, Goan Roast Chicken, Mutton Sukha, and Pasta
Company Name: Cocoa Love by Harpriya Kohli
Twitter & Instagram handles: @harpriya_kohli
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/cocoaloveandmore
Specialties: Cheesecakes, Tea- time cakes- Vanilla pound cake,
Pineapple upside down, Carrot cake and Marble cake,
Cupcakes, brownies (Plain, Walnut and Flavoured)
Desserts (eggless)- Chocolate mousse, soufflé and
Tiramisu, Chocolates (flavoured)
Company Name: Sweet Escape by Nikita Bokadia
Instagram handles: @nikitabox
Specialties: Brownies, shaped cakes and chocolates
Company Name: Bakery Junction by Lakshmi Nambiar
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/BakeryJunction
Specialties: Cakes, Cupcakes, Theme Cakes
Company Name: Tooth Fairy by Rachana Shah
Instagram handles: @toothfairybakes
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tooth-Fairy/
Specialties: Semi-sweet gooey chocolate
brownies, Oatmeal cookies, banana-chocolate
loaf/muffins and any other tea-time binge snack
Company Name: Cheesecake Republic by Aishwarya Jalan & Shruti Jalan
Phone: 9820302204 / 9820401012
Instagram handles: #cheesecakerepublic, @shrutijalan14,
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/cheesecakerepublic
Specialties: Baked & No bake cheesecakes, tea time
cake loaves, carrot cake, squidgy cake, mud cake with
or without rum, mud cake with or without pecans,
Honey almond cake, lemon bars and many more.
Company Name: The Odd Hour Kitchen by Shivani Savant
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/TheOddHourKitchen/info
Specialties: Muffins, Cookies, Quiches, Breads & Cakes
Company Name: Just Cookies by Dinesh Poddar
Company Name: Bhuke Plate by Cherina Gamadia
Instagram handles: @bhukeplate
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/BhukePlate
Specialties: STUFFED PASTAS, MEZZES, SALADS
Company Name: The Little Food Co by Bhakti Mehta
Twitter & Instagram handles: @littlefoodco
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Food-Co/
Specialties: Thai paani puri, Mexican fish tacos, Mushroom & leeks lasagne, crepe station, falafels, baked fish, soy honey chicken
Company Name: The Hungry Bunny by Sama Ankolkar
Twitter & Instagram handles: @thehungrybunnymumbai
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/THBMumbai
Specialties: Muslim and Italian dishes
Company Name: HOT ROCKS BBQ by Srikar Shetty & Neville Patel
Twitter & Instagram handles: @hotrocksbbq
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hot-Rocks-BBQ
Company Name: Food Biz by Amar Jog
Phone: 98196 95223
Twitter & Instagram handles: @AmarJog
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/foodbizinc
Specialties: Appetizers, Ethnic Foods, Modern European, Concept Stations
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)
Walk into the handsome, contemporary space and be pleasantly surprised. Open kitchen, wooden floor and a patisserie counter complete the décor.
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”.
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.
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”
Ground floor, Regent Chambers, Jamnalal Bajaj Road, Nariman Point
TIMINGS 11 am till dinner
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)
Do keep sending me your reviews of all and any eateries you like or dislike email@example.com @rashmiudaysingh (twitter, instagram)
Vegetarian Italian, Mexican
Shudh vegetarian goes global and upmarket in Breach candy. It also crosses the Indian borders (or does it?) to serve Mexican and Italian cuisines. I lunch with a gourmet veggie twosome: a former state level badminton champion, the multi-talented, lovely Jayshree Sanghi of India’s fourth generation automobile pioneering family is not only a Kathak dancer (trained under Padmashree Sunaina Hazarilal) but a creative cook whose dinners are legendary. Equally sporty (US champ in racquetball and squash) Navin Deo, having spent 40 years in a high profile US government job is back in India and making Impactroses which have been in huge demand. Im bowled over by his long stemmed roses (see pic)with their personalized gold embossed messages on the petals. We eat our way through the entire menu: result? the roses and the giant cookie dessert are the only highpoints of our lunch.
Happy surprise. The second floored restaurants pleasant ambiance with pale purple sofas, yellow-cushioned chairs with wooden geometrical frames, simple black-and-white caricatures, and graphics.
Along with their ala carte Mexican and Italian menu they offer daily (except weekend dinners) a “Sunday food festival” (Rs 999 for one) you can order all 28 dishes. But we are told very strictly that it cannot be shared. So we get 2 of these and plenty a la carte ones too. The Picante Pizza (even a wheat-watchers one,) al dente aglio olio and lasagna pass muster. It is the giant, freshly baked gooeycrisp cookie topped with warm chocolate sauce, and the moistwarm Molten Chocolate Cake that saves the day.
Desi palate tuned fare, with plenty of cheese and ketchup.Soggy nachos, ketchupy Habanero Cottage Cheese, ditto for the quesadillas
Burrito lacks punch, overdressed salads, a strange Arabic pizza and so on. And on. No alcohol.
Open through the day, pleasing ambiance, well-presented food, attentive service are the plus points. Sure! a restaurant is in the business of making money and has to cater to all tastes but except for a few dishes, the vegetarian Italian Mexican fare bends over backward to please the Indian palate and tips over to become a mish mash of Gujjutalian and Mexidesi. Tasty no doubt!
Picante Ristorante, 401, Akruti Skypark, Mahalaxmi, Bhulabhai Desai road.Ph 23529393
meal for 2 Rs. 1500.
Open noon to midnight
RATING FOOD 2.5 DÉCOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5
MUMBAI TO DUBAI
Khulja simsim. Your twitter and instagram messages as well Dubai foodies guide me through Dubai. It’s food scene dazzles with world class restaurants (love La Serre, Zuma, La Petit Maison). I also eat at two brand new, must-try restaurants Yuan (Atlantis) and Katsuya (Dubai mall) with Dubai-based foodie extraordinaire and global philanthropist Dr Rajen Kilachand. He also takes me to high tea (Fortnum and Mason), along with his friend the legendary Rusi Karanjia’s granddaughter, the gorgeous Faarah Mehta. I trip out on Umai (The Oberoi) cutting edge sushi and cod, Soy (Dubai mall) VFM Chinese, many a local eatery, belly dancing too. Two “first time evers” … the Awesome Oberoi’s breakfast “Lollipop waffles” (you read that right) and the fabulous traditional “pre-iftar” dinner at Desert Palm while the spectacular sun sets over the lush green polo grounds behind us. P.S Happy to share info please email firstname.lastname@example.org twitter and instagram @rashmiudaysingh
DESSERT MAKERS (WHO WORK OUT OF HOME)
I am very khush! Have discovered amazing home baking talent. Here are some of the results of my latest #whatshottastingsession.
HERES HOW I DID IT
Anyone who bakes professionally out of home can take part. For the past 20 years, I have been regularly conducting these sessions (in Mumbai and Chennai) in order to discover and encourage home talent and to include the talented ones in The Times Food Guide.
I was flooded with Instagrams, tweets and mail requests. I invited 21 dessert makers (and 6 gourmet tasters) to the centrally located, evergreen Gaylord with Noel and Robert being ever helpful.
LOOK WHO’S BAKING
Passion powers these talented women, some have switched careers, others moonlight. From strategic global account manager, engineer, fashion stylist, product manager to CA, doctor, recruitment firm director and architect. Many are professionally trained too. From popcorn cupcakes to gluten free treats…they do it all. Please excuse my sketchy writing…to get full details you’ll have to wait for the Times Food Guide 2015
Sugarfree , gluten free and healthy desserts from Charvi Bubna’s “cheat clean” (Try her brown rice flour and honey brownies. 9820934080)
Eggless expert Shailee anklesaria’s “Sugar fairy” makes cakes et al, super oatmeal cookies (9820246367)
Egg and gelatin-free “Choco kisses” from Kairvi mehta and jayshri Mehta (9820029065)
Tara kapur’s “bombay bizarre baker” (9820006440) caters to all those with food allergies. Go for gluten free almond cake,
“Charlene and the chocolate factory” (9833258908)
Charlene Vaz specializes in truffles and chocolates with an indian twist.
Yummy Japanese chocolates by
Varsha kalani’s “okashi” 9833505747
Call “the dessert table” (9867385908) Delafruz tangri and Jalpa timbadia for super customized desserts with matching crockery and cutlery. Must try Chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting.
Shillpa Bhambri is the only exception, she’s been featured since my first book (1997), her latest fusion cupcake was a hot seller (Cakeline 9619559433
Hand painted cakes and more by Jahan bloch ‘s “chic confections” (9930704646).
Dimple sanghvi’s “the mad batter” . candy castle cupcakes , glitterati cookie tower (961911760)
Egg and gelatin free desserts in jars by Innovative Nishita Kamdar ‘s “JAR designs” ( try paan velvet 9819365658)
Internationally trained Shikha Murarka’s “MishMash” s (9819766027) sugar and fondant work ( popcorn cupcakes, a handbag cake) were delicious.
Mango yoghurt cheesecake, red velvet cookies were Shanaz Barodawalla’s signature “sweet flavours” ( 9890453087)”Knead with love” s Richa Lulla’s (9833480814)
Umehani rangwala’s “lovecrumbs” caters to all your cake needs (8108429266)Try Witty meha Agarwal’s “the big apple baking co”’s orange cream. 9833015376″My butter half” by yeshi chaudhary ‘s red velvet was yum. 9769299795
Thanks foodies extraordinaire for tasting, eating, tweeting… Urvika kanoi ( professional chef who helped coordinate this tasting session.) Vasudha kejriwal ( marketing manager) Dinesh bahrani ( Head chef at Boveda)
Kritika dayal ( at a leading magazine firm)
Ronak Rajani ( social media marketer)
Rishab verma- (LCB trained pastry chef )
WITH SHUKRAAN FROM DUBAI
A million thanks for all your Eating-out advice in Dubai (on instagram and twitter.) Will be conducting more #whatshottastingsessions as soon as I return. If interested please contact, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh email@example.com
Global progressive Indian
I’m in Juhu’s new Spare Kitchen and I’m rejoicing. Not only is it a worth-eating-in restaurant but I’m also lunching here with three foodies who I’d never met before (except over instagram @cherryred_22 and twitter). Hailing from a well-traveled family, not only is the talented Anju Agarwal’s cooking superb and popular with Ruchi, (her vivacious daughter, studying medicine) and the bubbly Gauri (in 10th grade) but her blog is well-loved too. We eat our way through the multi cuisine menu, I enjoy every moment of my lunch with the bubbly threesome, hearing about their idli cupcakes to their herb garden on the rooftop of their 8 floor bungalow.
Drive into Juhu’s King hotel’s side entrance and walk into this large 5000 sq ft Spare Kitchen ( for sure it’s much more than a kitchen,) it has an outdoor area (woodfired pizza oven here) a lounge, an open bar and a Private dining too.
Brick walls, dark wood tables flat screen TV s complete the décor. At night, the haze of dramatic blue light enlivens the restaurant.
Comfort food with a twist.Please take a look at the photo, Ruchi is holding up the “Bruschetta two ways” which distils the freshness and flavor of tomatoes on toast and gazpacho in a shot glass too. The gifted young partners chef Rakesh. Ricky and Gaurav ensure that many a dish tells a story through it’s ingredients and presentation. Happily, taste and flavor keep pace with the story (except in some dishes). And though it is a mish mash of a menu with Indian starters and mains, plus pastas, burgers, pizzas and European fare, it still works. Must trys? Succulent kababs, be it the tenderfirm and unerringly spiced chicken seekh sesame, coriander crusted chicken tikka or the Dual Paneer tikka 2 ways ( sundried tomato and and basil pesto.I Bombay’s better butter chicken (makhanwala lightly done with Italian tomatoes, sans cream) is flavorsome and the beer batter fried fish and chips and pizzas delicious too. But the magic is created by the Chemistry of mango dessert a charmed wedding of tangy kachi kairi jelly with the spike of aam ras, mango cheesecake with chocolate fudge.An equally mega voltage chocoholics dream come true is the Chocolate ecstasy (rendered in 5 textures and temperatures) from the simple chocolate tart, to cutting chai with an edible chocolate spoon .
While the presentation of the Chowpatty TSK platter (Bhel vada pao, pao bhaji pani puri shot) is brilliant the flavors lag behind. Ditto for the concept of the “nizzas” naan-pizza ends up falling flat. Lackluster chowder (though authentically served in a bread bowl) is lackluster as does the
Malabari Lamb perched atop tiny uttapam discs.Superb desserts, but strawberry rasmalai cheesecake,? Skip it, and take a pass as well on the gelatinous greentea panacotta.
MY TRIED, TESTED AND TASTED VERDICT
The Spare Kitchen has (finally) managed to break the jinx ( three predecessor restaurants in this venue met an untimely end). Ever since it opened, nine months ago, it has been magnetizing regulars and Bollywood too with it’s choice of progressive Indian, pasta, pizza, burger kind of fare served through the day (Rs 1500, Meal for 2) Sure it has its share of flaws, but food’s the center of a meal, so you’ll be served a final balance of basic satisfaction and innovative presentation. Comfort food with a spin. A welcome one!
P.S Feedback (@krishpatel689…”awesome) @stuffednstarved @noturpapa whats yours?
THE SPARE KITCHEN Kings International Hotel compound, ground floor, Juhu Tara road, opposite Juhu church, Ph 65893333,
Open noon to 1 am.
Rs 1500 for a meal for two
RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
WHATS HOT TASTING SESSIONS BEGIN
I am on the lookout for home bakers and caterers to include in your very own Times Food guide 2015. Overwhelmed with your fabulous response. This years first “Whats Hot Tasting session” was held yesterday. Should you be interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet or instagram (@rashmiudaysingh). Waitingly yours
One of Mumbai’s latest trends? Swanky, new office buildings getting pregnant with restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bars and nightclubs. The latest to join this brigade is the 10 day old Tea Trails. Is it world class? Or is it a chai ki dukan? I get Tea-lover NYC based “sexiest chef on earth”Vikas Khanna’s opinion. From views on the growing popularity of tea in the US, smoked tea (which he cooked with for his Masterchef show) it’s health benefits to adding thandai to tea…he gives us plenty of tea-gyan. To meet him my foodie blind dates (instagram and twitter buddies) the lovely @nehads12 Neha Shah working with a high profile international bank dashes down from Nariman Point. The well-informed @Gayayadav Gayatri Yadav, business development manager drives in from Malad. Dynamic professional, Shilpa Chawla, my loveliest reader past 20 years and author, foodstylist Chef Michael Swamy (who works closely with Vikas) shares his take on the food as well. Through it all, inspite of his frenetic two day trip for his new book and hosting a movie premiere, the tall, lovable, down to earth Vikas, our Punjabi munda hugs every one, smiles, laughs incessantly and turns out to be everyones cup of tea.
Walk into BKC’s gleaming, glass building and zoom up the hi-tech lift to the third floor. The Tea Lounge is plonked in a high-ceilinged open-lobby kind of space. Wooden partitions, a small food counter give it a makeshift look. Innovative lights, posters. WIFI in this small 40 seater space, bathed in natural light during the day.
A simple, easy to navigate menu of 45 – 50 variants of teas with various blends.From Flavored blacks, white, greens, Oolong to Tisanes, Bubble Tea and chai here. Our vote goes to the “Tea Explorer” ( Rs 250, 4 teas, white, Oolong, International, green and Tisane).Perfect for the beginner. I love the sensuous Lapsang Souchong (Rs 150) which is infused with smokey flavors by being smoke-dried over pinewood fires.
Though a bit too sweet, Apple and cinnamon infused Turkish Red Apple (Rs 95) is good as is the fruit-filled Mango Taiwanese Bubble Tea (Rs 110 or 130) even though it doesn’t have the tapioca balls. We sip and sample plenty of teas (including the kullad (Rs 70) and the coolers.
All served in glass pitchers with inbuilt infusers, a timer sand watch, brewing instructions et al. Complimentary cheese straws too.
Flavorsome Thai curry, well-made Tea infused Burmese Tea Leaf Salad stand out in the lunch specials. In the all day menu, it’s the crisp onion bhajias, the simple slice of the pound cake that are worth trying, the rest of the outsourced desserts and a few savories are average or below par.
Inaccessible, third floor location in the Capital Building (but a plus point for those working here) Dry, lackluster sandwich, muffins lack chocolate, Flavorful but soggy Tea biscuits, gelatinous blueberry cheesecake, lemon tart encased in a hard shell. The tall, cool lemon and mint iced tea disappoints as does the slow service. Shilpa never got her order of Japanese tea inspite of requesting for it through the evening. My favorite Japanese Genmaicha and Gyokuro teas are not on the menu.
MY TRIED, TESTED AND TASTED VERDICT
Sniff, swirl, sip and spit…Ive done many a tea tasting sessions around the world and been romancing tea forever. So when Tea centre opened in Churchgate decades ago I was over the moon. I came to Tea Trails with joy and expectation. Happy that the dynamic Kavita and Uday Mathur’s passion for tea spills over and they have taken care to ensure accurate brewing (timer et al) and serve up a flavor of world teas as well as our chai. Not exactly a gourmet tea lounge (a few rare teas could’ve been added) Food needs to be finetuned as does the service, but these could be just teething troubles. Open through the day till 7pm, I welcome this Tea Lounge… ideal for chai and gupshup for tea lovers in the vicinity or should I say vicinitea?
TEA TRAILS, The Capital, Bandra Kurla Complex.
Open 9am to 7pm
Average spend Rs 600 for 2.
FOOD 2.5 TEA 3.5 SERVICE 3 DÉCOR 3
MY HUNT HAS BEGUN
I’ve been tweeting and instagraming for Home dessert makers for the Times Food Guide 2015 . Wow! What a response. Thanks a million. Will be inviting you for my “Whats hot” Tasting sessions so if you want to be included please mail email@example.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh,
Image Posted on Updated on
We are excited. It’s a brand new 6 week old restaurant. I swoop down with eight of my blind dates( foodie readers who Id never met except over twitter and instagram).This Pan Oriental casual eatery has been newly born to the established 20 year old “Mainland China” family. Its more Oriental than Chinese. It’s more casual. More affordable. Is it worth going to? Nine of us troop down, eat, tweet and instagram for three and half hours. Our review follows…
DÉCOR We all love the mega-voltage energy of the colorful ambiance. Ride up the escalator in the gleaming Oberoi mall and walk into a vibrant, high-ceilinged hall. Buzzing open kitchen, Oriental grocery shop front décor, with a retail shelf hanging over the kitchen fitted with long ladder on rails, walls plastered with street scenes of countries of the Far East.
FOOD On the subtle-to-blunt spectrum, the food here falls almost smack in the middle. It serves up the popular dishes of Mainland China and also some Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese ones. Robust flavors gallop across our taste buds, be it the Dynamite tofu (lives upto it’s name) the crisp sambal fish made more lively with salsa and intensely flavored Black pepper chicken. Chatpatta Kimchi rice too. Flavorsome curries be it the Thai green or the Burmese Khao suey (complete with crunchy condiments) here. Amongst the more subtle and steamed dishes the plump chicken suimai is worth trying, but it’s maestro Chef Rajesh Dubey’s the unerringly cooked Seabass sparkled with Tamari sauce and presented with panache that dazzles.Infact, creative presentation marks many a dish… eg balls of dynamite tofu served in a Martini glass. Desserts are above par, but it’s the feathery sponge that is drizzled with luscious sweet caramel to wickedly flavorful effect
MINUS POINTS Gloopy sushi , undercooked prawns in the Thai curry, lackluster Mee Goreng lamb and the Korean Bulgogi (we try the mock meat version) is not authentic but tasteless too. A thick sticky skin clasps the vegetarian dimsum. We try booking ahead, but because of their no reservations policy, end up waiting for our table. When full (like it is when we visit it) the restaurant can get very noisy.
MY POINT A brilliant concept, executed with gusto and delivered in a vibrant, high ceilinged ambiance, bar et al. The food is a mixture of appealing and ho-hum. But it almost always delivers high-impact flavors (well presented plates) at relatively low-impact prices, (Rs 1000, meal for 2).
Anjan Chatterjee’s Mainland China’s Asia Kitchen is not about fine dining, but Fun dining.
MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN, Oberoi mall, Film city Road, Goregaon East. 28423141 9322249924 Open lunch and dinner RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVIE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
MEET MY FOODIE BLIND DATES
Whoa! Take a look at the photo and you ‘ll know what fun 9 strangers can have together simply because we are foodies. I invite them over twitter and instagram and they travel from far and wide. I love meeting each one…from the corporate lawyer and chef to belly dancer by passion. Kavita Tejnani certified Yoga Instructor, finsancial insurance advisor, thoughtfully brings Sindhi sweets and a thank you note.Passionate belly dancer, Chitra Kannan the Vice President of a packaging company , Jyoti Narula Ranjan @jnrispartof techie turned entreprenuer is now building @SynTalk. @priyahgandhi a corporate lawyer between jobs and @theglobalfoodie Urvika Kanoi a classically trained chef from LCB ( setting up her own restaurant soon) all share their views. The fit foodie @KamathGurudutt and the HR professional @elsonsequiera are the two gallant males amongst us. Adding even more fun to the lunch is Perzen Patel better known as @BawiBride, a Marketing Manager by day and Parsi caterer/food blogger by evening. Needless to add all of us love to cook, eat, tweet, blog, instagram and yes we all enjoy Mainland China Asia Kitchen.
P.S Join in. Be my next foodie date email firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh
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Vegetarian Burmese and Tea salon
It’s largely pleasurable. It’s satisfying. It gets our unanimous vote. It does so not only because like our brand new Prime Minister “ vegetarian chhe” but because this 2 week old, brand new Burmese (hold your breath) pure vegetarian eatery deserves it. The arguments about authenticity (Burmese cuisine is predominantly non vegetarian) could go on forever. But what comes to the table delivers pleasant surprises.And bowls over the dyed-in-the-drool gorgeous vegetarian gourmet Mandira Bedi. She’s so magnetized by this vegetarian arrival, that she makes time from her TV shows, corporate events, charity work and designing stunning sarees to drive across town to dine here. The other committed and well-traveled vegetarian gourmet is the London based hot shot lawyer Sunil Sheth, who heads up the most unique international charity (Princess Anne, grand patron) for those with the double disability of being deaf-blind. He is here in India to expand charitable activities. And the ever-helpful Mandira gives him many a brilliant suggestion over a fun-dinner.
Walk past the bar (No! alcohol, please note) into the earthy-wooden-toned room which has skilful patches of vibrant color. From (backlit) parasols hanging upside (on the ceiling),a wall with a “Prayer Wheel”, splotches of color of Burmese laquerware et al. Free wifi, and a TV screen too. Not super fancy, but thankfully not overcute thematic either.
Never mind if they don’t use the Burmese cuisine’s predominant non vegetarian ingredients, fish oil et al. They coax masterful flavors from Chilli oil, onions, garlic coconut and Burmese spice mix Yessa. The must trys? Salads …crunchy with Achow nuts and tangy with chilli oil and lemon. Be it the zingy ginger salad, the chatpatta raw mango or the fermented tea leaf laphet salad.
Flavorsome thin peppery broth and the “samuza hincho” baby samosas dunked with carrot cabbage and capsicum, are delightful. The two young, dynamic Marwari owners,Ankit Gupta and Chirag Chhajer ensure that every last detail is perfect.
In the mains, go for the uniquely tasty creamy coconutty rice with the contrast of peanut tomato chutney. The ever popular (originally breakfast dish) oh no (Burmese for coconut) Khao suey coconut curry with noodles and condiments (fried garlic, onions, nimbu etc) just about passes muster and could do with more punch. Mandira is particularly thrilled with the Red Velvet, and the large wedges of tasty desserts from Sanah Ahuja’s Crumbilicious.
The biggest let downs are the stuffed doughy, hard buns (Paukse). Okayish Pyan Boo Palata (paratha) with a corn coconutty mash. Hard tofu stir fried with tofu and lacklustre Burmese Falooda too. It can get noisy and there is no alcohol.
This mid-priced (Rs 1500 for 2) new Fort eatery distils the spirit of Burma in it’s earthy, wooden interiors. Though not authentic to this low impact cuisine’s non veg fundamentals, it still serves up deliciously surprising textural contrasts and flavors in it’s vegetarian spread. It pays great attention to detail (imports sunflower seeds, teas to chopsticks). The soups and salads (love them) score over the mains. It is a winner, but will this new Tea salon and vegetarian eatery (like our vegetarian Prime Minister) continue to deliver? I toast it with my favorite cup of “Monkey picked Oolong tea” and surely hope so.
INSTAGRAM AND TWITTER FEEDBACK
Thanks for flooding me with feedback on this 2 week old Burma Burma. @chingypatel (“loved it” “the tealeaf salad is an acquired taste in the beginning, but grows on you”) @panktiv (“loved the tealeaf salad…said its like Burmese bhel” (I agree) @meau01 (“Very inexpensive”)@mohidkadri (“yummy and so tasty salad”) @elisha_saigal (“food is good. Fresh ingredients and knowledge rich staff” “but after serving the main course they go into a lull as though dreaming of scuba diving in Myanmar” ) @chingypatel (“BurmaBurma rocks”) @foodcookeat (“that sounds awesome”) @nsonal tells @hspicture (lets go there).
Look forward to even more feedback from you…as you can see its invaluable.
BURMA BURMA Kothari House
Off M. G. Road
Near Allana Centre Fort
Open lunch and dinner
Meal for 2 (Rs 1500 per head)
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
Tea salon, patisserie, chocolaterie
I confess. I’m a dessertaholic and a chocoholic. So, I conduct three tasting sessions at this new French-inspired Patisserie, Chocolaterie and tea salon. I land up in La Folie, when I go to do a clothes trial (her boutique is next to La Folie) to the dynamic and multi-talented Shaina NC’s boutique. This to walk the ramp (with Vivek Jain) for the mammoth 7000 audience, celebrity studded fund raiser for Cancerpatients for which Shaina made time inspite of her hectic electioneering. I do a marathon hour long tasting with patissieur extraordinaire, Cordon Bleu trained Firoza Moos ( pay bill of Rs 5015). The third tasting feedback is on twitter and instagram.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
Another confession…I don’t know the French language at all, inspite of spending years in Paris while writing my foodbook. So interpreting “La Folie’s” French words is tough, but Ive had the good fortune to interview and taste all Sanjana Patels French mentor’s (Alain Ducasse et al) creations. Less than two months ago, I not only ate Pierre Herme’s patisserie but also flew down to Delhi to anchor Pierre Herme’s interview for a national magazine’s conclave.
Wedged into Kala Ghoda La Folie is a small, stark space with tables and a dark wood bench running along one wall. It seats 8 to 10. Quite a contrast to the ornate French La Duree with it’s jewel box looks.
There’s a catwalk here too…behind the glassed off counter, gleaming superstar desserts preen and strut… pralines, truffles, macarons, entremets ( that French for textural layered desserts) theres a huge choice of teas and coffee too.
Hero #1 is the“100% Chocolat” dense and moist with a dark chocolate cake base, crispy praline, bitter chocolate mousse capped off with chocolate fondant. Heroine #1
Rouge Velour (big fat, bright red rose) moist, zesty lemony sponge cake with strawberry compote Supporting hero #1 Infinite Caramel seasalt cream with hazelnut praline and milk chocolate. Child star#1 Colorful candy cake layered with Mentos, Éclair Nutties and marshmallow.
Full marks to La Folie’s slim chocolate squares…single origin Venezuelan and Equador chocolate truffles. Macarons (lemon grass and basil, pop rock candy ) delight.
Timing: though they say they open at 11am, at both our tastings, they were not open till 12 noon. A lot of the menu is not available…Black Forrest, tarts, Viennoiserie, cookies, tea time cakes and hot chocolate. Some of the non-chocolatey patisserie, like the raspberry litchi Damask,mango lemon Pabana are too gelatinous for my liking. Some complain about the high price.
La Folie’s Sanjana’s French-grounded creations bridge the classically saucy decadence of the past and the progressive derring-do of a new generation.
She treads the right middle ground between hyper-imaginative artistry and molten chocolate pandering. Ofcourse it is expensive ( Rs 215 to 235 for a pastry, Rs 75 macaron) but worth it. Now, if only the whole menu was available, the opening timing fine tuned, some of the desserts less gelatinous. I fell in love with it gradually, not all at once. The experience had a sweetness all its own.
TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM FEEDBACK
Thanks for your poetic responses to La Folie, space constrains me from printing all “ To call La Folie “superb” is an understatement” (@nehads12) “game changer” (@priyamganeriwal) “Taking desserts to a whole new level” (@brandedbawi)“Every penny is worth being spent…world class ingredients ( @nehathacker07) “Better than Pierre Herme (@ urvashipunwani) I love (@priyashamdasaninichani)“definitely one of the best in the country” (@theglobalfoodie) Thanks @etiennedmarques @mewsaliday @foodiebevdi, Manan Modi for your feedback.
@stuli1989 way too expensive. too rich (@ virajsahah)
Disappointing mango tart (@brandedbawi)
. But those interested please see twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh for dessert pics and responses.
La Folie 16 Commerce House, Rope Walk Lane, Next to Trishna. Kala Ghoda, Fort Ph 6772 2181. Daily 11am-11pm.
RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DECOR 3