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.
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.
Sure! I have dined in the gourmet capitals’ worlds best restaurants but this is the first time that I’m getting a taste of freshness redefined. Here under the stunningly vivid blue sky nestled in the north west coast of the beautiful Mauritius island is “On the rocks” Here the brilliant chef Igor Bochia conjures his simply superb and superbly simple magic. Freshest of fish, be it the Dorado, tuna or red snapper is grilled on the table, right in front of each diner. The sporty and sporting Nishal Seebaluck points out that their luxurious landmark not only specializes in food but also in water sports, snorkelling, scuba diving and more. They also serve up gourmet omakase Japanese, authentic Mauritian and Creole tasting menus, Superb Italian and Indian too. Cooking classes as well as Mauritian rum tasting classes. I raise a toast to the exquisite “On the Rocks” with the finest local rum…served up only on ice… on the rocks of course!
The rise and the rise of Asian cuisine; that’s the one trend that continues to dominate our restaurantscape. Not only have I tracked it over the past three decades in Mumbai but have recently watched it internationally too.
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Juhu is the latest. Bangkok, Hong Kong, China, Tokyo, Manila, London and now Mumbai. Mango Tree put down it’s roots in Hotel Horizon, in March this year. As a rule, I’m wary of chain restaurants. So did a thorough and systematic check out over two meals spread over three months.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.
Enter through Pali Bhavan, walk through a dimly lit narrow curtained archway and enter a totally different world. Sexily glamorous space. Mood lighting, pendant lamps (inspired by ngob, Thai farmers’ palm leaf and bamboo hats), indoor palm and plantain trees, masterful orchestration of vibrant colour and design by the brilliant Ashiesh Shah in this intimate 40 seater space charms.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!
It’s heady. Its memorable and its incomparable. I refer to the amazing spectrum of tastes that I am feasting on. Here in Russia’s most magnificent 143 year old landmark, Im not only devouring Russian cuisine, history and culture but also a taste of India. From taking a Masterclass in the most supreme of all Epicurean luxuries, Caviar to tasting traditional and contemporary Russian dishes to vegetarian Asian delights and (here’s the happy surprise) superb Indian cuisine too.
It’s great to be part of gastronomic history: dining in Russia’s first restaurant which had electricity, feasting on 143 years of history in this stunningly beautiful Grand hotel Europe in St Petersburg with its high stained glass ceilings, balconies where the Tsars sat is a treat. Luxury and class drips from every detail. It is here that Tchaikovsly honeymooned, where Elton John played on the piano Bill Clinton, Whitney Houston and our Prime minister Modi dined. And this is where I attend an amazing caviar master class.
OF CAVIAR CROWNED
It doesn’t get any better than this: attending a caviar masterclass in the home-country of this supreme epicurean pleasure. And that too in Russia’s only caviar restaurant, Caviar Bar & Restaurant, which serves only the best caviar with vodkas you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Would you believe that the best way of tasting caviar is to put a bit of it on the back of one’s hand and lick it off? The caviar master and sommelier articulate and knowledgable Nikita yurin explains it all… the very basic… only fish eggs produced by the sturgeon fish ( a prehistoric huge fish ) can be called caviar to the types, preservation, history, telling fake from real. etc.
It’s a joy to accompany the dapper, dynamic Sven Gevers, a knowledgable caviar buff, who helms this landmark. This discerning, highly qualified economist and globe trotting gourmet even breakfasts on eggs and caviar. Chipping in with her experiences and helping translate many a Russian term, is the ever helpful Irina Khlopova.
Before us are Mother of pearl spoons (essential to serve the caviar to avoid metal oxidation). The finest caviar to the least expensive salmon one, a line up of vodkas and champagne. Also accompaniments, take your pick (though toast is the most traditional) Russian coin shaped pancakes or blini, Boiled potatoes
Pancakes go well too.. One thing is for sure, points out Nikita, “caviar should not be eaten with onion or lemon” It should be
Stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator, as close to the freezer as possible.
We taste the finest Beluga (made from the Beluga fish of the sturgeon family) caviar, it has the largest grains, is creamy, has a fishy flavour, of seaweed and even walnuts.
Oscietra fish (16 types) Sevruga Sterlet (smallest grains) and Bester are some of the main varieties of caviar. In this short space its impossible to include it all,
All I can say, is that it’s fascinating to learn about these precious black pearls, which Russia s been eating since before the 14th century. It’s methods of production and preservation, which determine the taste and price of caviar. When pasteurized the price and taste gets compromised.
CAVIAR WISHES AND CHAMPAGNE DREAMS
To crown it all is the Tchaikovsky night where I taste Russia’s food, history, art, culture, dance all in one bite of this traditional “egginanegg” dish you see in the photograph. It has egg crowned with caviar which pirouette with salty buttery nutty notes on my palate as the ballerinas twirl to Tchaikovskys compositions. Caviar wishes and champagne dreams do come true. May yours too.
Amid the finest of caviar, the best of Russian and modern Russian dishes, Japanese and Asian dishes our very own Indian dazzle too . Appreciated and enjoyed by Hema Malini to our Prime Minister Modi who stayed here but happily by the Russians too. Seeing the popularity of Indian cuisine the multi-talented Executive Chef Ian Christopher Minnis is in the midst of coordinating a “Mystery of India” festival here. He ensures the finest gourmet dinners in St Petersburg’s most gastronomique L Europe restaurant (serving authentic Russian masterpieces) to the legendary caviar bar to the Asian restaurant Azia. It is here that the young talented chef Indian chef Sachdev Kathait’s Indian menu is in great demand. Authentic delicious dal, kebabs and tandoori, Chef Kathait ‘s unique “pickle prawns” and “cheese chicken” combine the best of both worlds but retain their authentic Indian flavour.
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Mysterious magic in a bottle! Beloved of all, including royalty, movie moghuls, superstars from all walks of life whove stayed here. Please see the accompanying photograph I shot of this world renowned rose-petal jam and it’s creator the Swiss Patisseur extraordinaire Yves Matthey. It is in his jewellery store like cake shop that this gifted genius ‘s home-made delicacies that include the signature 1963 Mandarin Cheese Cake, pastries, chocolates and breads, that I first tasted this renowned homemade Rose Petal Jam. Originally from a small town in the Alps in Switzerland, the land of chocolates, Chef Yves passion for patisserie is all thanks to his mother, who enjoyed baking and making jam at home. Along with the helpful Jenny An I taste the world here.
THE BEST OF ALL WORLDS
It is fitting that this iconic rose petal jam is created in Hong Kong’s most iconic and oldest Mandarin Oriental. The epitome of contemporary luxury combined with Oriental heritage. Most exciting it not only has a collection of 10 outstanding restaurants and bars but three have Michelin stars too. And here with it’s emphasis on gastronomic dining there is equal importance to food and health too.
It is here that I get a taste of the world, all under one roof…Michelin starred Chinese on the rooftop, French by the Michelin starred Pierre Gagnaire. From Classic British to an Indian dish too.
It’s been reigning supreme as Hong Kong’s favorite dining room for decades.Any wonder that it has retained it’s Michelin star for nine consecutive years? It is here that the brilliant 38 year old Executive Chef Robin Zavou and his dream team serve up classics and many a time with a contemporary spin too. High-quality ingredients and seasonally inspired dishes.
A crustacean bar runs the length of the restaurant and I love the natural daylight and spacious seating, and legend has it that some of Hong Kong’s boldest business deals have been concluded in this very space.Princess Diana, Princess Anne,Prince Andrew,
Helen Mirrin and many others have dined under the moulded scallop-inspired ceiling and the handsome Mandarin Grill’s signature white lily floral displays. Chef Robin Zavou generously shares his classic Sole recipe. Should you want it please mail firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIAN AT CHINNERY
Delicious surprise! Here in Hong Kong’s iconic Chinnery (which was a gentleman’s club till 1990) I not only taste Indian food but on requesting, meet the Indian chef Satpal Sharma. All four brothers of his are chefs and Satpal has been working here past 19 years. The days of the Raj live on here, traditional British dishes, such as Roast of the Day and Fish & Chips, alongside a selection of Indian curries are served. The Chinnery offers the most extensive collection of whiskies in the region.
Food and health…Ive been researching that exciting connection for several decades. Here in Hongkong, Im over the moon. Reasons? Firstly It’s the cradle of Traditional Chinese medicine which believes in the intimate food-health connection. And even more so when I find that Hong Kong’s most iconic, the oldest heritage hotel has always had a Doctor of Traditional Chinese medicine in the spa. I book an appointment with Dr Clare Peartson and also take a long lesson from her on Traditional Chinese medicine’s view of Food. Please take a look at the accompanying photograph. It is not only the iconic harbour view of Hong Kong but has been shot from Hong Kong’s most iconic Mandarin Oriental. The dapper Pierre Barthes from France who helms this icon also very strongly believes in Traditional Chinese medicine and it’s belief in the connection between food and health. That this hotel gives equal importance to it’s constellation of ten fabulous restaurants ( three with Michelin stars) and a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor speaks volumes for this global renowned icon.
Happy news! There’s a new Keralite in Khar. Sandeep Sreedharan engineer and MBA turned chef restaurateur, fuelled by passion has set up Curry Tales and has plans to set up many more.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.