ORIENTAL (Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese)
There were many questions: Where could well-traveled foodie businessman and the Consul general of Srilanka get a quick working lunch? Oriental cuisine? Well-priced? Brand brand new in South Mumbai? Heres one answer: Mainland China Asia Kitchen.
Both my guests have plenty in common, a discerning palate, both are born in Srilanka, speak Sinhalese. While, the charming bachelor, Safdar Bandukwala hails from a prominent business family there and is Mumbai based, the vivacious Saroja Sirisena, is the multi lingual Sri Lankan Consul General here. Interestingly, Saroja holds an expertise in global nuclear disarmament, cooks brilliantly and speaks fluent French. Safdar travels to the Far East for work and knows Oriental cuisine really well.
Both epitomize the Island spirit, are friendly and great fun and we had a great afternoon.
Colorful, vibrant ambiance in this Palladium mall eatery, buzzing
open kitchen et al.
This second baby of the Mainland China group serves up the popular dishes of Mainland China and also some Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese ones. Happily, the tasty, crunchy corn cakes, unerringly fried Bekti, robustly spiced chilly fish are as good as the steamed plump, moist veg dimsum and the fragrant Thai curry.
The Feathery Sponge is drizzled
with luscious sweet caramel to wickedly flavourful effect.
Overcooked prawns in Hunan sauce. Soggy sushi, lackluster salad and Khaoswey. The one in their Goregaon branch was much better as was the Dynamite tofu and the satay.
Hard dense chocolate rolls
This is the second MCAK, it is (the first in Goregaon). Both have identical menus The food continues to be a mixture of appealing and ho-hum. But it almost always delivers
high-impact flavors (presentation better in Goregaon) at relatively low-impact prices, (Rs 1000, meal for 2). I repeat, Anjan Chatterjee’s Mainland China’s Asia Kitchen is not about fine dining, but Fun dining.
MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN
Open lunch and dinner
MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN
3RD FLOOR, PALLADIUM, LOWER PAREL.
Meal for 2: Rs 1000
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
Coming soon: The Times Nightlife Guide 2015. Ive been researching and writing these annual nightlife guides for over a decade. This inspite of the fact that I am an early-to-bed-early-to-rise person. So, every year, I stay awake through many a night and do several night life rounds with Mumbai’s young party-birds who guide me.We pop in unanounced into the city’s nightclubs, discotheques and lounges checking out the buzz, music and ambiance. This time two gorgeous San Francisco based sisters, who redefine “beauty with brains” sparkled my night as we not only checked out Exo, but also celebrated their father, Arjun Divecha’s birthday. He is not only a high-flying global investor but also a discerning globe-trotting foodie and co-owner of the legendary Froghollow farm. Stanford graduate, PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, vivacious Mia is a foodie, and world traveler. Vibrant Zai, metalworker and designer’s handcrafted furniture and home goods business is all set to take off in SanFrancisco. They not only thought that Exo is world class but we also had a fun time (see photo).
We loved the stunning view from the sexily glamorous, Exo. It pulsates and rocks on the 37th level of the Palladium hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows, Ossler chandeliers, leather upholstery and foot-tapping music by Exo’s resident DJ Madoc are some of the key highlights of this twofloored nightclub.Rishi Acharya’s haute spot also plays host to some of the most popular guest DJs specializing in different genres of music. A few weeks ago, I had also popped in here for a sundowner only to find it packed and throbbing with the uber stylish guests.This time, we nibbled on their okayish snacks (they were from the Pan Asian Mekong Kitchen, next door).Guzzled on the premium booze ( Do ask for their signature cocktails, Spectrum and GQ.) Arjun cut the birthday cake (swiftly and thoughtfully served up by Exo staff) we danced as the music pumped up and left to check out two other nightplaces. But not before concluding that Exo lived up to it’s name… The word “Exo” comes from “exosphere” suggesting height and an out of the ordinary experience.
■ Palladium Hotel, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel. Ph: 61628000
Open from 18.00 hrs to 03.00 hrs Thursday through Saturday 18.00 hrs to 01.30 hrs Wednesday and Sunday. Cover charge: Rs 5000 per couple (on weekends)
DÉCOR 4 BUZZ 4 Nightout for 2: Rs 8000
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (email@example.com) FB @rashmiudaysingh instagram, twitter. Waitingly yours.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tweeting and instagramming them @rashmiudaysingh
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.