Palladium Hotel

Review: YUUKA

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Japanese

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

DÉCOR

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

FOOD

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

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

 

MINUS POINTS

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

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

 MY POINT

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

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

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

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

THE SAHIB ROOM & KIPLING BAR

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Indian

My salaam to the Sahib and (never forget) the  Memsahib. Interestingly, now that  current restaurant trends are all about sleek minimalism, molecular gastronomy and global fusion, Palladium Hotel’s four month old Sahib Room is a thrilling blast from the  past, a reminder of how much pleasure can be had just from being tucked into elegance and graciousness. And fittingly my dinner companion is the epitome of style and substance. The ever-gorgeous Dr Jamuna Pai, pioneering cosmetologist is renowned not just for the many firsts to her credit but also for her Bridal TV shows and the innumerable  Miss Universe, and Miss India’s she has been skincare expert to. With cutting edge skincare clinics in Mumbai ,Delhi and Pune she has almost become a household name now in India for skincare, but  she still makes time to cook Indian food brilliantly. Her fabulous recipes have been part of  my Penguin Celebrity cookbook too,.Both Doc and  the soft spoken Suchi Kalia give a thumbs up to the food here.

DECOR

It’s spacious, it’s plush, it offers privacy. We sit under shimmering Ossler chandeliers and Venetian crystals, (plenty of space between tables) and  finely curated prints (that date back to the 17th century) around us. We love the community bar table, the quirky magnifying reading glass, quill pen and gramophone in the adjoining Kipling bar (with many an innovative cocktail) and settle down to a leisurely and fun dinner.

FOOD

Multilayered, rich, spice perfumed flavours from Awadh, Hyderabad, Kashmir and more. Hailing from the Awadh region, 32 year old chef  Angad Rai not only brings his training in the Lucknavi kitchens  but also khada and khushboo masalas pipri, kachri, patherkephool, nag kesar, rose petals. He handpounds them and teases big effects from the superb softest Galouti and equally good  vegetarian waterchestnut and avocado Khaas Kebabs. We trip out on the homestyle Awadhi Purvanchal saag (spiked with bathua And ambada).Exquisite nalli nihari (cooked in Unani masala) must be mopped up with the light saffron flavoured taftan bread.   Succulent Lahori chaampain with whispers of saunf. Kashmiri hand pounded Sasranga  mutton  mellowed with curd, saffron and mogra is a must try. Khaas dal makhni rich with safed makhan too. End with the moist, subtle and flavoursome kache gosht ki Dum Biryani. Plenty for vegetarians (50 percent of the menu)

Try the Kalonjiwale Baigan, tangy Amchuri Bhindi  and Ande ki biryani.

MINUS POINTS

Small portions. We could do with more generosity. The seafood (be it the gongura prawns or the jaituni pomfret) though not below par lacks the masterfulness of the rest of the dishes. The light Broccoli Dak Bangla.with kasundi mustard  is dragged down with it’s Philadelphia cream cheese slathering. Rajbhog, angoodi rabdi are ho hum, the outsourced paan icecream is a little better, but what is fabulous (and we  ask for seconds) is the Khubani ka meetha (unfortunately, on my second dinner I was told it’s not on the menu anymore).My favourite sparkling water (neither Perrier nor Pelligrino) available in this 5 star hotel.

MY POINT

Kudos to The Sahib Room for not taking it’s name literally and serving up clichéd decor or Anglo-Indian food from the Raj. Instead Awadh, Hyderabad and Kashmi distil themselves graciously on our plates in elegant surroundings. I eat two long meals here (pay an average of Rs 5000 meal for 2).There is consistency in the food (except for a few, the desserts and the portions could be bigger), I am told that the chef uses the principles of Unani medicine in cooking to achieve the perfect balance between being rich yet non-greasy. There is plenty of ceremony associated with fine dining  yet there’s a relaxed air, that is in sync with most diners’ temperaments. I raise a toast in delight with their  paan martini  Mera Salaam hai!

 

The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar Palladium Hotel, Lower Parel/

Av meal for 2: Rs 5,000  Ph 61628000

Open for lunch and dinner

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 4 DECOR 4


 

TIMES FOOD GUIDE 2015

Booking restaurant tables under fake names, landing up for surprise checks… am busy doing that twice a day. Exciting, exacting and fattening times are here. I am busy eating for The Times Food guide 2015. Would love to incorporate your recommendations, please do share your favourite restaurants and invite you to dine with me (rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com) FB @rashmiudaysingh instagram, twitter. Waitingly yours.

Restaurant Review: MEKONG

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Global superstar chefs Vineet Bhatia and Gaggan Anand at Mekong
Global superstar chefs Vineet Bhatia and Gaggan Anand at Mekong

It’s a record. Two “first time evers” took place while reviewing Palladium hotel’s much awaited “Mekong” which opened some months ago. I ate the first-meal on the first-day they opened (something I never do). But did so, because two globally acknowledged superstar chefs  were in town. Id eaten in  Michelin-starred Vineet Bhatias London restaurant and tripped out on his reinterpreted traditional Indian classics. Not only been blown by Bangkok based Gaggan Anand’s masterly use of molecular gastronomy in his progressive Indian cuisine but recently also cheered him for   making it to the AsiasTop 50 restaurants in Singapore. It was at this lunch that Gaggan Anand  met his hero Vineet Bhatia for the first time.  Vineet jetsets between his   restaurants in ten cities, writes  books and does TV shows.

” Yaar, Vineet is a pioneer. He has inspired me” gushes Gaggan as the stud in his ear glints as he leans forward to hug the senior chef.  The wine authority and witty Sanjay Menon joins us but prefers to be incognito. The  afternoon sparkles with their joie de vivre. Unfortunately  this joy does not extend to the food as well.

Could it be  teething troubles? So I ate four more times (paid through my nose). Except for a minor tweaking, my review remains the same.

DÉCOR

Feast on the spectacularly dramatic 37th floor view (let in by the magnificent glass windows) of the Mahalaxmi Racecourse and the sea. Happily, the theatricality here doesn’t go over the top. In this sprawling restaurant, large lamps, wine walls and Oriental artifacts seem as authentic as they are flashy. The lighting is subtle yet bright.

FOOD

 

Like the name (Mekong, named after the river) the good-looking menu meanders through Vietnam, China and Thailand but it meanders too much and so confuses and makes decision

making difficult. At each meal, the starters score over the mains. Tangy, sweet salads (Pomelo, Raw Papaya), a variety of plump dim sum (great at one meal and not so at another) and deep-fried Vietnamese rolls. Traditional Thai soups, Tom Kha Gai and homestyle Tom Yum delight. Plenty of choice for veggies, robustly spiced Ma La-style Chicken, vegetables, prawns in XO Sauce are the plus points.

MINUS POINTS

Mekong’s kitchen has ample skill. It just doesn’t have nearly enough discipline. In many entrees, the meat or fish  is so modestly portioned, overcooked or just plain dull that no measure or mingling of seasonings  save it. Mekong’s Steamed Fish is overcooked, the calibration of some dips, sauces and soups not quite right. Noodles with Seafood and Lamb in Yellow Bean are ordinary. As are the desserts. Vietnamese Pho Bo is conspicuous by its absence (though there is a Vietnamese noodle soup)  Spring Rolls lack the refreshing crunch of vegetables. Music from the neighboring bar is loud and intrusive.

MY POINT

We go there expecting a lot. We go to celebrate the sweet heat of and perfumes and flavors of Thailand, Vietnam and China ’s cooking and come away with mixed feelings.

On my fourth (most recent meal,) there was marginal improvement in some of the dishes. Also  some of the dish-prices had been tweaked downwards, others  hiked upwards.  A new dimsum chef was in place and new desserts were expected. Attentive service, well stocked bar.

Sure! Mekong is

located sky-high (literally) with prices to match, now if only the food would keep pace.

■ Palladium Hotel, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Ph: 61628422

12.30pm to 3pm, 7.30pm to 11.30pm

Food-3.50 | Service-3.50 | Décor-4.00 | Meal for 2-`6000

 

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EATOUT WITH ME

Im traveling all month, but waiting to be back in town and invite you to eat out with me all  you amazingly well informed foodies who have been tweeting fabulous recommendations for #cheapandcheerful eateries. Wish I could thank each and everyone of you, but I cant (space constraint), so here are a few regular responders,  the tummy tales @elsonsequeira @RassiBomb @joymanavath @ChandniT @kneadwithlove  @DebySharma @pratishthakhan @AjitBalgi @ScrollsNink @doughmydear@akzey@ChantChameli.  All of you, please do keep mailing your recommendations (rashmiudaysingh2014@gmail.com) and tweeting and instagramming them @rashmiudaysingh

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GREAT FOOD NEWS

Our very own Indian restaurant, Amaya in London has made it to the Daily Mail’s Worlds Top 100 restaurant list. Congratulations Camellia and Namita Panjabi. and Ranjit Mathrani. You make India proud.