Found. Paradise island. Its so exclusive and remote that the only way to get here is by a private chartered plane.
Its one of the few islands in the world that is located on a shimmering coral reef. It has it’s very own 24 powdery white beaches and only 40 luxury suites. So not only do I picnic on a secluded, sun-drenched beach but do so on world class gourmet food. I revel in a seven course tasting menu under the stars on the beach. And just as much as the world class cuisine hits stratospheric heights, the breathtakingly beautiful depths of the ocean’s silent and magnificent treasures reveal themselves to me as I learn to snorkel and dive from the experienced instructors here. Named Lizard island by explorer James Cook over two centuries ago, this sensationally beautiful island shimmers in the sun in the turquoise blue seas on the Northern most tip of Australias awesome Queensland.
DIVING INTO GOURMET FOOD
Please take a look at the photograph I shot on one of their secluded most beautiful beaches. Chef Mark Jenson has cooked up the most delicious fish, which is not only found in the waters around here but is also the most prized and most in demand Coral Trout ( Recipe follows). Joining us right after his deep sea scuba dive is Emilio Fortini the sporting and sunbronzed Chief of the island resort. The dynamic and charming Italian ensures that there is perfection in every detail of the understated luxury here. A wine afficianado and gourmet himself he epitomizes the spirit of the island. As does Chef Mark who having traveled the world and taken a year’s sabbatical only to eat around in Asia infuses his cooking with many a vibrant Asia flavor. He changes the menu daily and his dishes are influenced by the unique environment in which the island is located.
I love the culinary offering here which reflects the tropical climate here and draws influence from South East Asia and the Mediterranean. Not limiting to these Chef Mark also interprets modern Australia and portray through food the many cultures that embody this magnificent country. Over 90% of the produce that he uses is locally sourced from Far North Queenslands fertile soil and the Great Barrier Reef. I trip out on his premium produce coral trout, red emperor, tropical lobster, red claw yabbies and fantastic rare tropical fruits and vegetables. Succulent meats from the Atherton Tablelands where their volcanic soils and high rainfall allow the animal to graze on prime pastures.
Its not just about the superb food here. Ive yet to come across a resort which has it’s own Research centre. A mindblowing trip to the internationally acknowledged research centre reveals all the path breaking studies done here on marine life and the coral reef.
It’s a heady feeling to be connected to nature in every way and yet to be coddled in luxury, from the spa to the beachfront villas. To be massaged under the sky on a beach with the local macademia nut oils and the premium French beauty products. If this is not paradise, what is?
P.S. while it’s blissful most of the time, the only “downside” to this paradise is the lack of phone connectivity. There is only satellite wifi and Im crossing my fingers that this mail goes through now.
Crisp Coral Trout
On my request Chef Mark Jenson shares his superb and easy to make recipe. You can substitute the coral trout with any other fish.
First step is to make the sahn rhot paste. The next step is to make the sauce from the paste. The third step is to cook the fish and plate up.
Sahn Rhot Paste
30 gr red chilli
10 gr garlic cloves
10 gr coriander root
Rough chop and blitz in blender.
40 gr sahn rhot paste
60 gr light palm sugar
30 ml fish sauce
80 ml tamarind concentrate
As needed Oil
Gently fry paste in oil. Add sugar and lightly caramelise. Add fish sauce, tamarind water, bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
Coral trout (or any pan size fish, gilled, gutted and scaled)
Score fish 2 cm deep to resemble diamond shapes on both sides. Use a small skewer to separate the fish wings. Dust the fish with cornflour to absorb the excess skin moisture. Fry in vegetable oil at 170C for 8 minutes till fish is cooked translucent at the bone in the thickest section of the fish.
Pour the tamarind sauce on the plate. Remove the skewer and stand the fish up resting on the fish wings. Garnish with coriander leaves and chilli julienne. Enjoy!
What you see in the photograph is the two kilo “crabzilla” at maestro chef Dharshan Munidasa’s world renowned “Ministry of crab” Its on the prestigious “Asias 50 best restaurants” list as is his Japanese “Nihon Bashi”. He has single handedly putting Srilanka, the beautiful, tiny island on the world gourmet map.
His modern Srilankan “Kaema Sutra” delights. And it’s his commitment to the finest, freshest ingredients and “No freezer restaurants” that is admirable.
No two ways about it. We’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for this two month old seafood “Bastian”.
Read my detailed review on http://www.whatshot.in/critic-review/bastian-r-9368
Two. That’s the magical number. And it’s not about the two fleshy, Dungenes crabs that the brilliant young chef Srijith Gopinath is holding as we stand by the sun drenched SanFrancisco bay. Its about the two Michelin stars he has received. And here’s the amazing news…he is the only Indian chef in the world to do so. The night before, I tripped out on this soft spoken genius Keralite chef’s original Californian-Indian masterpiece in one of San Francisco’s most prominent century old, award-winning landmarks helmed by the dynamic and charming Ashrafi Matcheswala. Located in Campton Place, the throbbing heart of this beautiful city, everything is a hop step away. I dine at Café Zoetrope owned by my hero Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather fame) to the emperor of Peruvian cuisine Gaston Acurio’s La Mar. Luxuriate in the fleshy, shiny juicy cherries in season, dine at the hot new “Progress”, see the iconic play “Beach, blanket Babylon” . Finally, visit Café Buena Vista ( Irish coffee was invented here). We raise an Irish coffee toast to chef Srijith. Two toasts.
ROKA is London’s award winning Japanese restaurant, serving contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine in striking yet informal surroundings.
ROKA brings its unique style of contemporary japanese robatayaki cuisine and its sophisticated design to Mayfair.
What you are holding in your hands is an open invitation to join me at a uniquely spectacular banquet. If you take a look at the accompanying photographs Ive shot, you may begin to get an idea of whats in store. Ofcourse, its just a whiff, a tiny flavor. It begins with the amazing breakfast safari in the magnificent desert and a platter of Bedouin breakfast. It ends with an elegant, authentic Thai meal in a Palace, with the worlds tallest singing and dancing fountains regaling us. In between I not only dine in world class restaurants. Meet world-renowned chefs (our very own Sanjeev Kapoor is here too) but also taste the food of a myriad restaurants in the “Beach canteen”, watch cooking classes, eat at the “Ripe market” in the park. The Dubai food festival not only serves up a flavor of the world but also the homegrown authentic, exoti Emirati ones. And I relish each one!
BREAKFAST IN THE DESERT
Its exhilerating to speed over rolling sanddunes. Nothing can match the vivid blue skies and cool desert Februrary sunshine as we head towards the Bedouin camp. Here not only do I bask in the sun as I sip on the Arabic coffee (heady with cardamom and saffron,) but also chat with the chief of the Bedouins (looking majestic in his crisp white headgear). A bumpy roller coaster ride on a camel and my appetite is kickstarted. The wholesome Bedouin breakfast (please see photo) of wheat noodles (balaleet) with a whisper of sweetness, the airy light pancakes and “rotis” with zattaar nourish and energise. I couldve stayed on for hours but it’s time to drive on and watch wild animals in the conservation camp
PALACE OF PLEASURE
From the wilds of the desert to a luxuriously pampered dinner in the shimmering majestic, Arabian-inspired Palce hotel in Old Town, right near Dubai Mall. This Palace hotel sprawls langourously around the placid lake. And it is in this lake that twinkling, dancing, singing fountains leap and piroutte in the sky. They provide an amazing backdrop to our dinner at Thiptara, the authentic Thai restaurant. It is here that Chef Chaiwat conjures sweet, spicy magic. In between tripping out on Thai dimsum, succulent Chicken satay and fragrant velvetty curries we converse with renowned chef Yousuf Khumayes from Saudi Arabia. He is here for the food festival and has not only been inaugurating but also sharing his views on healthy cooking at many a Food festival event. Explaining the exciting details of the Food festival (which is on till end of February) the dynamic director, Debora Greenwood elaborates on how this is a treat for foodies,
Through it all, I not only fall in love with this charming, Arabesque hotel which the dapper Fabrice Dufry helms but also nibble on the masterful Thai fare from which lemongrass, galanagal,
Makrut and other Thai herbs leap and delight. Much like the fountains around us.
MIDDLE EASTERN FUSION
It’s a delight to meet the young, and down to earth, renowned chef Yousef Khumayes who has been cooking since the age of four. Since then he’s certainly left a track of awards and accomplishments in his wake as an adult! Originally from Jeddah, (his mother is Irish) Chef Khumayes also has international exposure (having honed his skills in leading hotels and restaurants around the world) he has evolved a wide variety of culinary styles and techniques that he often blends in what he dubs ’Middle-Eastern Fusion’, something that is evident in his delicious, exciting, and surprising dishes. He continues to blaze trails in‘Top Chef’ creating winning dishes and winning hearts too.
He shares with us one of his favorite yummy recipes
Scallops and quinoa salad:-
8 ounces dry sea scallops/
4 teaspoons light soy sauce/4 tablespoons canola oil/
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic / 3 cups water /1 teaspoon salt /1 cup sliced snow peas. /1/3 cup rice vinegar/ 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil /1 cup sliced scallions / 1/3cup finely diced red peppers / 1/2 A red chilli finely chopped /1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
Toss scallops with 2 teaspoons light soy sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Place a large, pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until the quinoa begins to colour, 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to the side, covered, for 8 minutes. Stir in snow peas, cover and leave for 7 minutes more.
Meanwhile, mix 3 tablespoons canola oil, with 2 teaspoon light soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Add the quinoa and snow peas, scallions and bell pepper, mix to combine.
Remove the scallops from the marinade and dry. Heat a big pan on high till it’s really hot. Add the rest of the canola oil and cook the scallops, turning once, until golden brown, about 3minutes each side. Toss the scallops into the quinoa salad. Serve with coriander and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and enjoy.
Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Asian
I’m a “Shabu shabu” fan. Dunking thin slivers of raw beef (preferably Wagyu) in a pot of boiling broth on my table and then pampering my palate with the pristine flavors and textures has been one of my passions around the world. Alas! this Japanese “Shabu shabu” comes to Mumbai’s “Hai Bao” in a totally different (mainly seafood, veggies added on) but flamboyant avatar to Juhu’s new eatery. It has it’s fans (like the family I bump into here) They’re totally hooked “The concept is cool, shabu shabu a knockout, addons are superb, it’s a filling yet light meal” say the well known dashing fashion designers Riyaz and Reshma Gangji who along with Aman and Ananya eat here regularly. Also checking out this new restaurant is the brilliant Chef Himanshu Taneja, passionate and adventurous foodie wanting to try out all that is new in the city. Hai bao has serious detractors @chingypatel (Absolutely avoidable! Terrible food and service! People get enticed cause the Shabu Shabu concept is relatively new in India.) @TaariniNB
(you have to pretty much cook their own food, including the meats. Kinda painful.)
The truth lies somewhere in between.
Profusion of plants (mainly artificial) in this sea facing, high-ceilinged restaurant with wooden furniture.
You name it, they got it. Over the past few months they’ve added on plenty of Chinese dishes especially for the Indian palate (Vegetarian soups, Paneer soya chilly, Chicken crushed pepper, chicken Sichuan pepper. Many vegetarian options too.) Their version of “Shabu shabu” dunking and cooking raw seafood and meats in a choice of broth ((Tom Yum/ Laksa /Clear Seafood ) with 24 varieties of sauces is a filling, tasty option. Try the Hanbun combo ( dumplings, fish fillet, cuttle fish, prawns, chicken, eggs and a range of vegetarian options like pakchoy, shitake mushrooms and broccoli.You could opt for the barbecue grill on the table too. Try the Prawns in shells enlivened with garlic and mellow with butter, well made
Scallops in white sauce and an okayish panfried pomfret. Attentive service under Leo Pinto, (Ipad menus, fancy call buttons connected to waiters wrists et al ) add a dimension to the experience.
Some of the raw seafood (for the Shabu Shabu) is not fresh. Thick skinned Chicken kothay, Veg kothay. Avoid the insipid Laksa broth, the tasteless Hokkein rice. Stay clear of the oversweet and strange desserts, be it the tender coconut with strands of fresh malai jellied and reset in a hollowed coconut shell or the syrupy sweet mango pudding.
“Profusion” accurately describes Hai Bao… from the number of dishes, cuisines, versions of “Shabu Shabu”, dipping sauces to the number of plants here. Since opening they’ve hiked up set lunch price from 499 to 599 and 999 (with Shabu shabu). The non veg Shabu shabu meal, enough for 4 to 6 (priced between 1100 to 1999) and veg (Rs 750). Generous portions. Authentic flavors give way to robust, spicy Chindian ones. Adaptation, thy name is “Haibao”.
HAIBAO , opposite Ramada Palm Grove, Juhu Tara Road, Ph 26101800
Open lunch and dinner
Meal for 2 Rs 2000
FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
YOUR REVIEWS OF HAI BAO
Your reviews are invaluable. A zillion thanks. Been flooded with your twitter and instagram and mail reviews (firstname.lastname@example.org, @rashmiudaysingh) Sorry unable to print all your reviews due to space constraint.
MUST GO @crazyloveshoesOh amazing! Just amazing!!
@meghna0205Omg I’ve been dying to go here for ages!
@mumbaifoodieBeen there twice last month! Really love the shabu shabu concept.
@foodavalanche ( the shabu shabu tastes brilliant though it’s for a min of 5 or 6 – keep some space for the the laksa soup & their coconut desert.)
@sozzlebeeShabu shabu finally in india.. Went thete almost 6 months back.. Lovely selection of seafood n meats… Quantity definately humongous.. Got excellent service but drinks need to be worked on bigg time…
DON’T GO @vanillachic89Not the best option of people who love to eat meat but aren’t great at cooking it – the taste was great but too much effort – and ended up feeling more stressed that relaxed.
@chingypatelAbsolutely avoidable! Terrible food and service! People get enticed cause the Shabu Shabu concept is relatively new in India.
#Haibao very very avoidable. Dodgy meat, insipid broths and rather cloying service. Pity because its a good concept.