India is shining. And how! I’ve never seen such a full-on star cast of Indian chefs together. I write from the stunning seaside city of San Sebastian (which has the largest number of Michelin starred restaurants in the world). Fittingly enough the gigantic gourmet Gastronomika is taking place here. Eye-opening sessions, cooking demos with tastings, tours and more. And amid all this high-end gastronomy, India is the guest of honor. The dynamic director Roser Torres dons a red salwar kameez especially to welcome dream-team India. Our very own, worlds 7thb est, Asia’s best Gaggan Anand has flown in from Bangkok. What a cluster of Michelin stars: Vineet Bhatia (London), Sriram Aylur (London), Srijith Gopinathan (SanFrancisco). Saurabh Udinia and Manish Mehrotra (New Delhi) and covering both North and South India are Manjit Singh Gill and his dreamteam, And from Mumbai our very own chef Thomas Zachariah are making India proud. Jai hind!
Stop press. Our very own Indian Gaggan Anand is blazing global headlines. His Bangkok based restaurant is crowned “Asia’s best” and seventh best in the world. I write from the high-octane excitement of the high-ceilinged historic Royal Exhibition hall, Melbourne. Here the worlds most prestigious, glittering Oscars of gastronomy The worlds 50 best are in progress. The air is crackling with excitement and every square inch is bristling with culinary star power. The hon’ble minister of Tourism Steven Ciobo, several other dignitaries and the worlds most celebrated chefs have flown in. For the past fifteen years, The Worlds 50 best been a mega force and credible guide to global gastronomy and to gastro-tourism. It is helmed by the dynamic Charles Reed and powered by the dream team of Tim Brooke Webb, Helene Pietrini and William Drew. They’ve held the awards in Melbourne for the first time and Australia is playing magnificent host, with it’s fabulous food and wine. I am getting high not just on Australia’s spectacular produce and restaurants but also on Gaggan being crowned the seventh best in the world. Jai Ho!
No two ways about it. It doesn’t get any better than this. It’s the annual awards ceremony that foodies the world over wait with bated breath for. The Worlds 50 best restaurant awards celebrate extraordinary culinary talent providing an annual barometer of the greatest gastronomic experiences across the globe. As for the past 15 years, once again this year, London’s historic guildhall in London saw the worlds superstar chefs and the whos who of the culinary world flying in to receive their awards. Mind-blowing geniuses from Peru to Japan, Australia to Russia sit shoulder to shoulder as the glittering awards ceremony gets underway. I attend as chairperson of the Indian subcontinent. Over the past two decades, having eaten in their fabulous restaurants, it’s a sheer delight to meet my heroes.
Stop press! Hot news for foodies. At the most prestigious “Asia’s 50 best” awards ceremony our very own Indian cuisine came up tops. Gaggan Anand, a Kolkatta born, Bangkok based chef’s restaurant Gaggan was voted as Asia’s best restaurant. Making it to this coveted list are restaurants from Mumbai, Delhi and Srilanka too.
SNAPSHOT OF THE BEST
Please take a look at the photograph I shot in Singapore last week at the most prestigious Oscars of food awards… Asia’s 50 Best 2015. As you can see, there is many a winner from the Indian subcontinent along with Asia’s best our very own Gaggan as well as the lifetime achievement award winner the legendary Tetsuya Wakhuda. Whoa! what excitement and anticipation there was before the awards were announced. And when Gaggan’s name
was announced there was an uproar of delight and celebration. And the hall was chocobloc with the crème de la crème of the foodie world. Superstar chefs had flown in from all continents, including South America. It’s here amidst all this spectacular talent that progressive Indian cuisine was honored.Kolkatta born, ponytailed Indian chef partner Gaggan Anand and Rajesh Kewalramani’s restaurant “Gaggan” (Bangkok) was declared “Asia’s best restaurant”.
Ive had the most mindblowing meal in Gaggan, Bangkok. Here this brilliantly creative chef makes art and science copulate in his kitchen and the results are astonishing. Our very own papdi chaat’s tangy, chatpatta flavours are recreated in a quivering white blob. The plump potato filled snack, the samosa appears on a plate in fantasy form and so on. Dish after dish delights. Also here to receive the award for India’s best restaurant was the brilliant Chef Manish Mehrotra. He transforms comforting and well-loved ingredients (aam papad, chyavanprash) and teases with surprises.Global favorites (foie gras, smoked salmon, truffle oil) are married with Indian regional dishes with panache.And therein lies the magic.
Interestingly long with this progressive Indian restaurant is the landmark Bukhara which has not changed it’s menu past 35 years. To receive the award for New Delhi’s award winning Bukhara’s rugged charm of the North West Frontier cuisine were chef JP Singh and Bindu Panicker. Grand corporate chef Hemant Oberoi’s Wasabi was awarded too and he consistently and brilliantly marries authentic with creative and produces Japanese masterpieces follow. Im delighted that Dharshan Munidasa’s Ministry of Crab and Nihon Bashi from Srilanka are both on the list. He dazzles us with outstanding and authentic flavours.
This is it. This are the ultimate guiding-lists you must follow if you are a global-foodie. Do you (like me) like to see the world through your tastebuds? I save up and travel to eat and to find the finest. The best. These are the “Worlds 50 best” and “Asia’s 50 best” the most accurate snapshot of dining opinions. Meticulously, painstakingly compiled from votes of food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and highly regarded ‘foodies’. Powering this initiative is the London based dynamic team of Charles Reed, group editor William Drew, Tim Brooke Webb and Rachel Quigley. Through the year they ensure that the voting process is carried on systematically and accurately throughout the different regions. Each time the actual award ceremony becomes more spectacular than the last. Each time it has many more who’s who of the culinary word attending it. And each time it delivers an exciting and accurate compass to Asias 50 best and the Worlds 50 best restaurants. As William Drew, group editor said
“Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants aims to celebrate success, reward innovation and hard work,” he ends with ” and provide diners with guidance on the greatest places to eat across the continent”. Lets raise a toast of gratitude to that!
TOP 10 WINNERS 2015
Gaggan – Bangkok, Thailand (GagganAnand)
Narisawa – Tokyo, Japan (Yoshihiro Narisawa)
Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet – Shanghai, China (Paul Pairet)
NihonryoriRyugin – Tokyo, Japan (Siji Yamamoto)
Restaurant André – Singapore (André Chiang)
Amber – Hong Kong, China (Richard Ekkebus)
Nahm – Bangkok, Thailand (PrinPolsuk)
8½ Otto E Mezzo Bombana – Hong Kong, China (Umberto Bombana)
Waku Ghin – Singapore (Tetsuya Wakuda)
Jungsik – Seoul, Korea (Jung SikYim)
Ofcourse! Its true that a picture is worth a thousand words…but this accompanying photo I’ve shot is worth many more. Please take a look at it: in it are superstarchefs whose restaurants have been crowned The Worlds best (Joan Roca) Asia’s best (David Thompson) and also our very own India’s best (Manjit Singh Gill, Hemant Oberoi, Manish Mehrotra), not to forget our Indian in Bangkok (Gaggan Anand) and from Srilanka (Dharshan Munidasa). It sure is time to celebrate. For many reasons…firstly, am thrilled that so many of our Indian restaurants are being awarded on this international stage. Happy, that Asia’s gastronomy is being given the due prominence it deserves and focusing the spotlight on is the whole team of “Asia’s 50 best” ( Charles Reed and William Drew, editor of “The Restaurant Magazine” are in the photo too)
THE OSCAR OF FOOD AWARDS
Prestigious, glittering, coveted are some of the words that describe the awesome “Asia’s 50 best” award ceremony. Not only have the whos who of the restaurant world jetted in from all parts of the world, but are here with bated breaths. There is anticipation and excitement and the air is so thick with it that I could have cut it with a knife and plopped it into my champagne glass. William Drew the editor in chief of The Restaurant Magazine flags off the ceremony and whoa! The applause never stops. Here’s a quick look at our winners.
Having stood the test of time, ITC Maurya (Delhi’s) North-West Frontier restaurant with its short menu (the same since it opened 35 years ago) continues to draw packed houses. I have eaten here several times (including shot as a judge on Times Now’s TV show) and this cavernous and rustically decorated restaurant is arguably India’s most famous. Dal Bukhara and Sikandari raan have assumed iconic status.
I am so delighted that Bangalore’s Karavalli has made it to Asia’s 50 Best list. I just shot for the Times Now TV show as a judge here and was absolutely thrilled by the consistency, freshness and authenticity in Chef Naren Thimmiaih’s vast repertoire. Old classics are as fabulous as the new additions. Robustly spiced crabs, delicately steamed fish, velvety curries…I ate them all in the charming alfresco courtyard.
I reviewed Delhi’s playful and eclectic Indian Accent within a few days of it’s opening. And am happy that Chef Manish Mehrotra continues to dazzle with his cookery with a global hue
Chicken tikka quesadillas with Swiss gruyère; tandoori bacon prawns with wasabi cream; masala miso Scottish salmon.
I love the karela enlivened with churan.
Fine dining taken to it’s finest here. I have filmed my TV show in the ITC’s traditional temple to “dum” cooking done lovingly and slowly
in a sealed clay pot. Done over a low fire intensifies natural flavors, while the judicious use of aromatic herbs and spices adds another level of complexity to the dishes. The regal ambiance adds yet another dimension of pleasure.
Luxurious modern Indian food with a global twist a la Grand corporate chef Hemant Oberoi
where upscale fine dining gets finer.
The cuisine offers a modern take on local street food and traditional regional dishes using some very un-Indian ingredients such as scallops, black cod, morels, foie gras and halibut. New techniques, innovative presentations and the use of organic produce and spices.
What! How come a Japanese restaurant located in Mumbai gets an international award?
A collaboration between Japanese Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and Taj Hotel legend Hemant Oberoi yields specially created Japanese vegetarian dishes which are masterpieces in taste and texture. Tomato Carpaccio topped with wasabi and yuzu sorbet and the black cod miso are my favorites here.
Ive had the most amazing authentic Japanese cuisine in the heart of Colombo at Japanese-Srilankan Dharshan Munidasa’s restaurant.
Kolkatta born Gaggan reinvents Indian food with modernist techniques in Bangkok with plenty of molecular wizardry too.
Not only do “Asias 50 best” and “Worlds 50 best” awards encourage restaurants and promote tourism but also serve as guideposts for us foodies, directing us to the best places to eat in. And then ofcourse, when our very own Indian restaurants get honored, it is time to say “Jai ho”
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 (email@example.com) 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.