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MINISTRY OF CRAB

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Crab and prawn cuisine

LEAD PHOTO

Hype. Hoopla. Awards. Crowned Srilankas “best restaurant 4 times in a row. Ranked 35thbest in Asia 2019, Maestro Dharshan Munidasa’s “Ministry of crab”  finally opened two months ago in Mumbai. Having had many a magnificent meal at the Colombo flagship, I was apprehensive about it’s Mumbai debut. Can the same high standard of live Mud crab be maintained? Will the fluffy woodfired Srilankan “kade” bread be as addictive? And wont the  Mumbai vegetarian be disappointed? The Colombo MOC has only veg side dishes. It offers only  three desserts and we Mumbaikars have a sweet tooth.  In short, Is there hope behind the hype?

BOOKED & COOKED

This is the first time that my ploy ( of my assistant booking in a fake name) did not work. Reason? Since we were six diners, they insisted my assistant  give   credit card details. That would’ve given my name away. So we  cancelled. We tried reserving many a time later, but it was all booked up.  And much later just two of us booked there. Under a fake name. Ofcourse!

 

DÉCOR

Majestic. Housed in a tall stand alone  corner building in Khar. A glamorous highceilinged space with arched glass windows. A sweeping staircase takes you upto the mezzanine bar. On the ground floor the  show kitchen takes centre stage. Railings and fluting, wallpaper and mirrors are art deco-inspired. Kudos to Basrai for the artful use of  tropical woody natural materials

 

FOOD

Go on. Get ready to make slurping noises, put on your bib and crack that perfectly cooked crab bathed in (my favourite)  bold lusty pepper sauce.

Take your pick ( Crabs  sizes, small, medium, half a kilo, XL,  the OMG and 2kg Crabzilla.) Pair it with pepper sauce, olive oil and chilli, soy, or garlic butter  and do lick your fingers,  every now and then.

My other addiction is the Prawnzilla served in a  glistening  pool of  the bold garlic chilli sauce.

Appetiser? Go for the crab salad scooped into a luscious avocado with a whisper of wasabi, perfect Crab cakes with raw mango sweet chutney. Must ask for the baked crab risotto, a masterly balance of  texture and flavour.

Vegetarians, youre in luck, delicious Coastal Indian dishes infused with coconut ( Goan curry with baby aubergine,  mangalorean gassi)   japanese style stir fried greens too. Keep space for a happy ending… “story of cocoa” . brilliantly presented in a giant cocoa  bean pregnant with

bitter chocolate mousse and coconut gel. Equally good is the deconstructed  spongy version of French Toast

sparkled with sago pearls and burnt butter icecream. Superb vegan icecreams and signature granitas too.

 

 

MINUS POINTS

Crabzilla was not available when we dined there. Kade bread baked in an  Irani bakery did not match up to its Srilankan counter part. Singapore Chilly crab sauce needed it’s sweetness to be toned down.

Lacklustre vegetarian ishtew and an oversweet Black pearl dessert were the other minus points.

 

MY POINT

Peel away the hype, take away the highprofile cricketing legends  partners with chef Dharshan Munidasa) and what do we get?  A seriously great restaurant dedicated to using only the highest quality of wild caught, even-clawed lagoon crab. Only live fresh crabs are used. And this shows in the glistening sweetness enhanced by the perfect cooking  of each crab (no matter which sauce you pick, it has oomph). Vegetarians are taken care of, as are those with a sweet tooth. My apprehension of maestro  Chef Dharshan Munidasa not being present in Mumbai is proved base less by the brilliant young chef Jerry Simon Thomas who ensures consistency in quality and recipe. Except for a few dishes which disappoint MOC Mumbai more than claws it’s way to meet up to expectations.  Be ready to shell out  high prices for stratospheric  quality. After all, we are in a three-levelled, high-ceilinged glamorous crab heaven.

 

 

MINISTRY OF CRAB

442, Chitrakar Dhurandar Marg, 14th Rd, Khar West

⋅Open 7:30PM

 +91 77108 98811

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.75 DÉCOR 4

Meal for two Rs 8000

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FEASTING REDEFINED

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It’s the first time ever. In less than twenty four hours, I experience the true taste and meaning of “feast” in all it’s multi-dimensional glory. Not just of gourmet  flavours, authentic  local cuisines but much much more. 
 I revel in the taste of the indomitable spirit and unrivalled cultural vibrancy of a city, of HongKong. 
It’s also a precious taste of a family legacy of the Cheng family. A tribute of deep love by the brilliant young Harvard educated granddaughter Sonia Cheng who honours the Shunde roots and life of her grandfather Dr. Cheng Yu-Tung in the magnificent Rosewood Hongkong.
I feast on HongKong’s glittering, stunning harbour view, as I do on my first time ever experience of Shunde cuisine and  both are awesome. 
I feast twice. I watch the hugely knowledgeable Chef Li cook up and then taste the amazing wok fried milk with crab and birdsnest. His skill and control of the fire and wok is admirable..And the umami caressed wokfried milk with crabmeat and birdsnest dazzles.
This in the  elegant Legacy House. 
Here, the Cheng family’s roots in China’s Guangdong province in the Pearl River Delta are reflected in the delicate Shunde cuisine served here. 
The Shunde cooking styles date back over 2000 years to the Qin and Han dynasties. With a natural abundance of produce and fish originating from the Southern China, regional Shunde cuisine is justifiably renowned for intricate, elaborate preparations that bring out the inherent flavours of the pristine ingredients. 
Home of Shunde cuisine Legacy house also serves the much-loved, Chinese favourites. I trip out on   the perfect Peking duck from Chef Li’s wok the most robust and delicious lamb and from his steamer authentic Cantonese dimsum followed by the chilled mango pudding sparkled with citrus. 
TARTS  TRAMS & CHAMPAGNE 
I get a taste not just of the finest iconic egg tart (Hongkong is famous for it) but do so while riding on the rooftop iconic antique tramcar. Its time to celebrate and Waldo Hernandez and his dream  team mind read and voila! There is champagne too. All part of Rosewood’s amazing “sense of place” curated experience. And this winds and continues into an amazing, curated, researched “Foodie journey”  of Hongkongs hidden gems. 
It’s a dream come true. Eating local with a local …for 10 hours. Continuing my passion for Delicious Discoveries Sniffing out hidden gems the best local joints serving the iconic eggtart and pineapplebun,  bamboo noodle shop, lotus root cake, dimsum  to the black sesame cake and lots more. The lovely Lotus Leung  guides me  through this nonstop discovery, peppered with wonderful anecdotes and stories and recipes Ending up at the deliciously authentic Sangkee 

restaurant (also a favorite of Sonia Chengs)

Should you want a list of the names and addresses please email me Rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.comhappy to share them with you.
TO THE MANOR BORN
In this magnificent vertical  65 storey estate
which pays homage to Hong Kong’s impressive
verticality, there are  also  beautifully landscaped lawns, verdant gardens and
terraces with fabulous harbour views. It’s a 
 homage to Rosewood’s origins as an aristocratic manor. And crowning it, is the exclusive Manor club
 I not only begin my day with the authentic Hong Kong breakfast, explore Hongkong all day, trip out on Shunde cuisine but taste the most deeply delicious hot and sour soup. And it is in The Manor club too thatI happen to meet the brilliant chef Sandro Gamba who heads up the exciting and diverse restaurants here.
And also (by a serenditpitious coincidence) the India connection.  Marc Brugger who helms the Rosewood HongKong is an Indophile who has not only spent time in India, (cooks a great fish curry too) but is also married to an Indian. 

And spearheading this amazing global Rosewood group and powering it with it’s unique magnetism is our very own dapper dynamic Radha Arora. Jai ho!

BOX

Hot and Sour Soup

Condiments:

10g Bean Curd – cut into Julienne

5g Wood Ear Mushroom – cut into Julienne

20g Dried Mushroom – Soaked with Water and cut into Julienne

10g Bamboo Shoot – cut into Julienne

50g Lobster Meat(optional)

10g Fishcake (optional)

 

 

Soup Base:

Paste Chili Bean           2 – 3g Vinegar       8g (Season to Taste)

Sugar                           3g

Dark Soy Sauce            2g

Chili Bean Paste           2g

Corn Starch                  5g

Salt                                 Season to Taste

Chicken Powder             3g

Sesame Oil                     1g

Water                              230g

Egg                                 10g

 

Method: 

Blanch all the condiments ingredients, keep aside.

Boil up all the ingredients of the soup base, add all the condiment ingredients and adjust the thickness with Corn Starch.

Finally add the Egg into the soup..

LILT-Modern Asian| Bar room

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Modern Asian
One more new restaurant opens in the Lower Parel  area. It announced it’s arrival with hype and hoopla as the culinary hot-spot, serving “modern Asian with an Indian twist” . It’s “Lilt Modern Asian” and there is an obvious 
investment of money, time and dreams. We popped in unannounced into a more or less empty restaurant. Does Lilt have a memorable harmony? Or does it strike discordant notes? Read the full article on https://www.bombaytimes.com/
LILT 1

Review: House of Daaruwala

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I admit. I have a big fat soft spot for  Irani cafes. And I mourn their dwindling numbers as also the lack of  good Parsi food restaurants in our city. So when I hear about Andheri’s brand new Irani café lookalike “House of Daaruwala” I dash across the city with big hopes through equally big traffic jams.

Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.

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House of Daaruwala : with  gorgeous actor producer foodie Neetu Chandra.

Recipe: Kimchi

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MAGICAL KIMCHI

This  ain’t a bowl of mere fermented vegetables. It’s Kimchi. It’s magical. It’s origin is centuries old. But it was sent to space on board Soyuz with South-Korean astronaut Yi So yeon.

It was declared ” vitally important to the morale of Korean troops” (President Park Chung Hee).It’s been cited by Health Magazine as one of the world’s five “healthiest foods” and it dates back to the period of the  Three Kingdoms (37 BC‒7 AD.

Till today, it’s a very central part of the Korean meal. It is served as “Banchan” a collective name for small side dishes served along with cooked rice.

On my very first trip to Korea, I’m fortunate to not only taste kimchi in the finest three Michelin starred Korean cuisine restaurant but also blessed to get a taste of “vegan” kimchi in  a monastic meal ritual cooked by a monk in the mountains. And finally actually got to make the kimchi myself, in the finest kimchi making class of Korea…with Master Lee and two other brilliant chefs.

IN KOREAS BEST RESTAURANT

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At the best of the best La yeon withChef Sung il Kim and Yaeeji Kim. 

I’m on top of the world. In every sense of the term. I’m dining in three Michelin starred Layeon perched on the rooftop of  Shilla Seoul, the luxury powerhouse.

The gracious and stately Shilla stands behind Seoul’s  medieval city walls but continues to  reign supreme. La Yeon interprets Korean cuisine with great care and sophistication. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of  Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with  banchan and the most addictive umami rich kimchi.

I’m  not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the everhelpful Yaeeji Kim.Highest quality ingredients, authentic flavors and creativity infuse the dishes… from mellow and soothing to royal-cuisine Hot Pot here.

BLISSED TEMPLE MEAL

 I m in  heaven and didn’t even have to die to get here… Just drove four hours in snow to reach the beautiful Naejang mountains. Can spiritual vegetarian meditative monk s food  be so seductively gourmet and varied? It sure is  I’m Tasting blessings… literally too.  All this at  the fabulous formal multicourse  monastic meal ceremony (barugongyang) The  lovable loving and friendly monk.

At Cheongjinam Temple.  We  sit on the floor with empty bowls baru in front of us. And as if by magic the silent servers glide in and fill them up. Making food and partaking in it is part of the meditative process in the temple and here, they eat only what they farm and make on site. Amazingly gentle and vibrant flavors and textures seduce . We wash the dishes after the meal with the water in each bowl and walk out in a single file.

We move in to the dining area and our eyes and taste buds are luxuriously  memorably  pampered. After that  lunch, monk Jung Kwan takes us on a fascinating walk to see her storage facilities where her “jangs”, sauces and kimchi are being fermented. Since garlic, onions are not used it is these fermented pastes that add a zing to her  vegetarian masterpieces.

lovable inspirational monk for delicious blessings which we tasted too. If this isn’t heaven what is?

Note:  A unique and blissed out treat. And to be lunching with Koreas finest gourmet chefs, Mingoo Kang ( chef Michelinstarred Mingles)

 Hyunseok Choi (chef of ever popular Choi)

Jinpyo Kim, CEO Plating Company

All this made possible thanks to the lovely  Editor in chief of Tasty Cookbook,Eunsil Jang.

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Jinpyo Kim 
Hyunseok Choi 
Monk Jeongkwan 
Mingoo Kang 
Eunsil Jang 

KIMCHI MAKING CLASS

Its  a dream come true. Not only to learn   kimchi making from Master Soyoung lee,but to do so with my own hands and then to have the privilege of a home-cooked lunch by  her. Kimchi making is done in winter (when the ingredients are available) and its all about bonding and a wonderful family feeling as we chop the vegetables and massage the spices into them. All this with Chef Choi who’s doing pathbreaking research in fermenting and Chef Heesuk Cho a  professor in Korean cuisine. Not only have most of the great Korean chefs trained under her but her restaurant (I had an amazing meal here) continues to inspire many others.

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Learning from the maestros Master Lee, JungYoon Choi (centre)  and chef Heesuk Cho.

It’s all thanks to the super helpful and amazing JungYoon Choi, a chef with 20 years of experience working in Spain, Australia and Korea. Trained at Alicia Foundation and El Bulli and is now executive chef of the Sempio Korean Fermentation Culinary Research Center in Korea. with top chefs and gastronomy-related professionals to research on Korea’s fermentation food culture. She very generously shares the authentic recipe for the kimchi.

 Kimchi

Kimchi
 Magical kimchi.

Main ingredients

     -Cabbage 5ea

     – Coarse Salt 7cups

Side ingredients

– Chives 200g (Cut 4cm)

     – Leeks 200g(Cut diagonally)

     – Red Brassica juncea 100g (Cut 3cm)

– Chopped raw shrimps 100g

– Chopped Sea staghorn 100g

– Radish 2kg (Cut 5cm)

Spices

– Crushed Chili pepper 6cups

– Chopped Garlic 1 1/2 cups

– Chopped Ginger 1/2 cups

– Salted shrimps 1cups

– Anchovy liqueur 1cups

– Sugar 1/2cups

– Coarse Salt 1/2 cups

Recipe

  1. Mixed all the spices and ingredients. (Let this ripen for 30 minutes.)
  2. Rinse pickled cabbage in cold water to remove moisture.
  3. Ready to the seasonings between the prepared cabbage.
  4. Store prepared Kimchi in a container.

The best tasting kimchi is stored in room temperature for an average of six months to reach its full flavor.

After that delicious home style lunch, we all get the fabulous kimchi to take home. As Choi says “my mother will be thrilled with this kimchi, for her and all of us, it is more valuable to receive this than an Italian designer handbag” That’s how magical kimchi is!!!

KOREA’S BEST

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Here in Seoul’s three Michelin starred  Layeon I’m not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the ever helpful 

Yaeeji Kim. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of  Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with  banchan,. I do  it all… beef tasting restaurant “ Born and bred” , fried chicken and beer (Chimac) eatery, Korean palace cuisine Hansikgonggan , Modern Korean “Mingles” European influenced Korean “Toc Toc”. Pure vegetarian temple cuisine in the mountains, a foodie blind date in “Balwoo Gongyang” but that is another story.

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At three Michelin starred Layeon with Chef Sung il Kim and  
Yaeeji Kim.

Recipe: SUN & MOON

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Sometimes a restaurant experience extends to  more than just the food.  It’s drawbacks become it’s charms… its tiny home-style space, its one man service,  generous portions of the Korean owner-chef Sun’s (not sure if I’ve got her name right) blazing lustily spiced food.

Read my review in today’s Bombay Times.

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Checking out SUN AND MOON with Ashmit Patel, Nina and Prakash Vasa.

SEOUL FOOD

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Lights. Camera.Eat. So what if its    minus two degrees in the Korean capital of Seoul. Here, on the TV set, under the bright lights, its sizzling hot. And what better way to learn about Korean food than  from the maestro,  70 year young, legendary actress and chef Soomi Kim? And to be invited to cook and shoot on the sets of her hugely popular TV show. Superstar chef Hyun Seok Choi  teaches me more fundamentals as does Jin Pyo Kim the mover and shaker of Seoul’s restaurant scene. All thanks to Jung Yum Choi Im  learning how to make “kimchi” the traditional way. And tomorrow driving four hours to the mountains to the celebrated Buddhist monks monastery. To get her blessings and to eat her vegetarian food. Cant wait to learn from her how to make vegetarian kimchi. Need recipes? Please email rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.com

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Filming and tasting: Korean superstarchefs, Soomi Kim,  Chef Hyun Seok Choi  and Jin Pyo Kim. 

Review: BOMBAY VINTAGE

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“… yeh hai Bombay meri jaan”the old hindi song echoed in my ears, when I lunched at Bombay Vintage. It did so  not just because I was lunching at a restaurant which serves up Bombay’s melting pot cuisines but even more because of my lovable guests (one was my #foodieblinddate) .

Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.

BOMBAY VINTAGE
FAB FOODIES Aaditya Bhatt, flanked by Utkarsha Kesarkar and Jumana Hufeza Electricwala.