Whoa! The capital of this tiny jewel of an island is rocking with high-energy. And here in Colombo Im getting high on music and food in it’s newest uber cool sophisticated hot spot. I get a taste of the hugely talented chef Paul Lenz’s giant tomahawk steak, Kathryn Farmer’s smooth as silk singing and Timothy Wright’s gracious charm. Capital Bar and grill shimmers in the shimmering Shangrila which preens on the Indian ocean. Authentic Chinese, modern Srilankan restaurants all under one roof here. Close by, Michelin starred chef Rishi Naleendra opens Botanik, not too far away the Mediteranean Asian fine dine Epicure magnetises. Monsoon with it’s South East Asian fare and it’s tropical eclectic ambiance joins the newness parade.
Bengali, chinese, North indian
I love Kolkatta and also Calcutta (just got back two days ago). And so the opening of Andheri East’s “Kolkatta Calling” has me and the charming Naina and Dr Bhabatosh Sahu very excited. We not only have a long discussion on Bengali food (he cooks brilliantly) but I am floored by the fact that this genius did not complete school (studied till the ninth standard) but went on to complete his Masters in H.R. Phd in management (from prestigious institutes), is a professor in IIM. Fellow in Wharton and heads up a cutting edge company which is driven by high end chemistry and makes building blocks for DNA/ RNA, I love these happy ending stories, does our restaurant review have on?.
Frayed copies of “The adventures of Tin Tin” (in Bengali, please note) nakshi pakhas (traditional hand fans), Tagore poetry scrawled on walls…make up the décor. Old Bengali songs resound in the in the very rustic small eatery with it’s benches, Pepsi fridge and wall clock.
We bought some of the popular Kolkata-based farsan brand Mukharochak (kept in a shelf for sale)
Bengali, Chinese and North Indian fare here. Stick to the Bengali starters (chops, cutlets and rolls) in the appetiser section. My favourites Bekti paturi and prawn malai curry have just the right balance of texture and flavour. The succulent mutton in the robustly curry Thakur Barir Pathar Mangsho
just about passes muster. MINUS POINTS
Skip the Gobi Manchurian and Chilly Chicken on the menu.Avoid the dry and tasteless Kobiraja, as also the Cholar dal. Sadly there was no Radhaballabi or mochar ghanto. Very sadly too the sweets were dry and tasteless be it the rossogulla or the Payesh.
Rustic ambiance in the small eatery tucked into Andheri East’s crammed streets. Okayish and moderately priced (Rs 1000 meal for two) Bengali fare with disappointing mishti. Maybe it was just an off day for them, so I am making plans to go back with my Bengali gourmet buddy Kalyan Karmakar (@finelychopped) meanwhile do share your experiences with me (email@example.com, twitter and instagram @rashmiudaysingh)
Near Sher-E-Punjab Colony and Tolani College of Commerce
Open noon to 3.30pm, 6pm to 11.30pm
RATING 3 DECOR 3 SERVICE 3.5
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.