rashmi uday singh

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!

SINGAPORE SURPRISES

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Simone Arora, Zarine Khan, Connoor Kripalani Thadani, Urvashi talwar, Sajni Gill SSTANDING Raj Anand and Phillipe Chaumat In Singapore
Simone Arora, Zarine Khan, Connoor Kripalani Thadani, Urvashi talwar, Sajni Gill SSTANDING Raj Anand and Phillipe Chaumat In Singapore

I’m convinced that the very gorgeous Zarine Khan’s family is not only the first family of film in Bollywood but also of food as they are all super-gourmets. So when I met both mother-daughter  (Simone Arora)  super-talented celebrated home decor designers  I couldn’t resist getting all their Singapore foodie secrets from them. I spotted them at  the French showcase of innovations designs and trends in home and dining décor, Maison Objet, which I regularly attend in Paris and now past two years in Singapore. The dynamic Raj Anand and Philippe Chomat  welcomed them  to this  sprawling show, the second edition in Asia which displays cutting edge designs of tomorrow today.. Also here were superstylish Singaporean foodies… Urvashi Talwar, Sajni Gill, Singapore’s restaurateur and  home-décor entrepreneur and  best-selling author Conoor Kripalani Thadani, I not only got updated on the latest in dining trends but also  got the latest on where to eat in Singapore ..please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh and will share with you. Happily!

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: 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

 

 

MUMBAI TO DUBAI

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Atul Kochhar with Mana Al Suwaidi in Dubai
Atul Kochhar with Mana Al Suwaidi in Dubai

Talk of meaningful coincidences! I have a blind date with the Michelin starred Atul Kochhar, from London who sent me a direct tweet to say he wants to meet up in Mumbai. I invite him to TRP. Two days later I go to Dubai for their fab food festival. This time I am invited by the dynamic and hospitable Mana Al Suwaidi and guess where to? To Michelin starred Atul Kochhar’s restaurant in Dubai.High ceilinged handsome Rang Mahal where  this highly acclaimed chef weaves his Indian magic. As one of the celebrity chefs at the Dubai Food festival he also wows Dubai with his cooking demonstrations. He distils the world on our plate while still retaining authentic Indian flavors. Its wonderful how the Dubai Festival makes many a celebrity chef accessible to all,  meeting chefs, watching them cook and getting a taste of their creations too…therein lies the festival magic!

Review: Mainland China Asia Kitchen TFG

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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.

DECOR

Colorful, vibrant  ambiance in this Palladium mall eatery, buzzing

open kitchen et al.

FOOD

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.

 

MINUS POINTS

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

 

MY POINT

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.

PH 24964252

Meal for 2: Rs 1000

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 

MY FOODIE BLIND DATE IN NYC

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for the box

My idea of Columbus-fun? Straight   from JFK (after a 24 hour journey) to a foodie blind date in Manhattan. All thanks to twitter and instagram. We meet at the moderately priced,Cookshop (10th Ave) and enjoy their robust and delicious meatballs, fish and chips fare (plenty for veggies) as we do the sensational desserts. It’s a treat to meet each one :“Mihir never sleeps Pathare”, user experience designer and home chef,  Renate Aller, well-known artist, Elaine Goldman, art collector and Phiroza Kothavala hotelier extraordinaire. The exceptionally gifted Chef Ashfer Biju of the iconic Pierre is the only one who Ive met before. We have a super-rollicking time, eating, tweeting, eating.  Please instagram, tweet (@rashmiudaysingh) and mail (Rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com)  your Value for money NYC recommendations … so that in the land of Columbus I can continue to discover and feel like Columbus too!

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!

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)

THE DEVIL IN PARADISE

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FOR THE BOX.

I write from this heart shaped island, Tasmania and  photograph two of my favorites here…the furry devil (only found here) and apples ( Mindblowing variety and tastes in this “apple isle”, apple museum too). I’m in the stunningly beautiful ( sunny but  freezing Cradle Mountain)  here I pet this Tasmanian Devil, am crunching on apples, feasting on the local, fresh food in restaurants and getting more and more surprised and seduced by this amazing gourmet island. From  nibbling on the most amazingly delicious  sheep’s cheese (double the amount of calcium, suitable for the lactose intolerant) to tasting the intense and delightful Tasmanian saffron (yes! not only is it grown here but is also of the highest quality). It is constantly scientifically monitored… that Tasmania has the most pristine air in the world ( yes!). Any wonder that here down under, I’m feeling on top of the world?