Monthly Archives: December 2015

My Top Ten for 2015

It is next to impossible to pick my Top Ten favourite dishes  in Mumbai for 2015. Most dishes that I have sampled this year, were delectable, some I tasted for the first time, others, my all time favourites. But these ten dishes took my taste buds by storm and struck me as unusual and unique, in texture, flavours, presentation and creativity. Hence, these find a place here………

1.The sliced chicken with stone ground mustard at Ming Yang, Taj Lands End, Mumbai was a memorable dish. The subtle yet, distinct flavours of this dish haunt my taste buds even now. An absolute winner!

2.The authentic Andhra thali at Gongurra, Juhu, with a variety of fiery and flavourful dishes, all cooked home style wowed me instantly.

Gonguura Special Thali

3.The Jackfruit Biryani at Monkey Bar, Bandra, is one of the best I have ever had.  The texture and unique flavours, of this well made biryani, struck me as outstanding. Sadly it is currently off the menu as Jackfruit is not in season, but I hope it is back.

4. The Murg Musallam biryani at Times of Biryani, Andheri West, is the best thing to happen to the gourmand in me this year. Fragrant, nouvelle, value for money, delicious. Irresistible, the biryanis at this place are. Difficult to choose one fav, but this one scores a wee bit over others.

Murg Masallam Biryani- Times of Biryani

5.Sambal Bajak, a red fragrant curry at 38 Bangkok Street, a vegetarian, Pan Asian cuisine restaurant, was one of the nicest curries I tasted this year. And that too vegetarian!

6.Being a dessert person, I enjoy most desserts, but this one was the piece de resistance. Chocolate and sour cherry dome at Shiro, Worli was mastery at its best. Rich, sinful and decadent, it was beautifully presented and an amalgamation of a myriad textures and flavours.

Chocolate cherry bomb

7.Kasundi Mustard Basa with red rice risotto at Le Pain Quotidien was a fine example of Indian flavours, meshed perfectly in global cuisine. The artisanal flavours of this fish, rendered me speechless.

8.Baked Parmesan polenta with chipotle fig relish at Asado, The Cocktail street, Bandra was a unique discovery my taste buds made in 2015.

9.Litti Chokha, a winter favourite from Bihar  at the newly opened 29, a regional Indian cuisine restaurant, was a gastronomic delight. The stuffed bread made from pulses and cereals, with the crunchy baigan bharta, with a distinct tangy and smoky flavour, was a memorable experience.

10.What can I say about the aromatic Mushroom Hot pot rice at Ruka, Juhu, the newest entrant in Juhu? A dish, one can never tire of. Perhaps I saved the best for the last?

So let us see what 2016 has in store for my gourmet escapades. Here’s wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous 2016. Eat well, enjoy, stay healthy and fit.

 

Jeon Comes To Juhu

Juhu, one of the upmarket western suburbs of Mumbai beckoned me yet again. This time, another stretch, another hotel. Hotel Sea Princess where I was stepping in after a decade or more. Nothing had really taken me here the last few years. The food was nothing to boast about but thankfully this has changed with Jeon, the all day dining restaurant that has opened recently.

Lamb stew with creamy polenta

Multi cuisine dishes is what this place serves and an extensive buffet for dinner as well. The food menu has been designed by gourmand Dharmesh Karmokar and their all day specials include a list of global and Indian favourites – Balti Spiced Chicken, Bekti and Crab Cakes, Macadamia crusted lamb rack, Mushroom Ravioli, Pizzas and an elaborate Indian menu.

A Chicken and fennel soup is what I began my meal with. Comforting, flavourful and aromatic. It appeased my taste buds instantly.

Balti Chicken

 

Chef Brian Louis recommended Balti spiced chicken. Well presented, I however found the dish did not live upto its name and was a tad too bland. The chicken skewers were grilled to perfection but lacked the zesty flavours I was eagerly awaiting.  The garlic mayonnaise served along, did not help.

The Bekti and crab cakes made up for this one though. Soft and creamy, the crab cakes were melt in the mouth with the right amount of flavour and zing to it.

The Harissa crusted Basa  we ordered for our Mains, was a pleasant surprise. Crisp, well fried and the crust lent a unique flavour to the fish. Served with pok choy and hollandaise sauce, it was a dish I will not forget easily. But the portions, I thought could have been more generous, given the price.

The ravioli in mushroom sauce was equally delectable and the ravioli was generously filled. Obviously the Italian fare here is good.

We decided to settle for desserts from the buffet and opted for a fruit custard and gajar ka halwa. The gajar ka halwa was sweet, creamy and the way it should be, but alas! the fruit custard with tinned fruits was a disappointment. The fruits, completely marred the taste of the custard. Fresh fruits would have been a better and safer bet.

Jeon Interior 2

Overall, Jeon with its lively ambience and chic decor, great service and good food has the potential to become a dining hotspot in Juhu, if a bit of tweaking is done.

Rating: 3/5

Ruka: Ravishingly Japanese

Ramee Guestline Hotel Juhu, is suddenly a hotspot, courtesy the newly opened luxury Japanese Restaurant, Ruka. The name of a bright blue flower in Japanese, this restaurant by the same name, too seems to have brightened up this property.

 

The sophisticated and elegant decor in dark colours, enhances the ambience of this chic, but warm restaurant. Guests can choose  to sit at the casual bar area,  or an intimate dining area or even opt to sit at the sushi bar and watch the chefs at work.

Chef Masato Toida at Ruka's Sushi Bar

Chef Masato Toida from Japan and his team have clearly transformed this place. In command, Chef Toida comes with 43 years of experience and is a complete master  of the art of Kaiseki, which is the detailed and beautiful presentation of a multicourse Japanese meal.

Indeed, I was blown away at the neat and intricate sushi and sashimi platters he laid out for us. These tasted as good as they looked, or perhaps even better. One of the most varied Vegetarian sushi platters, I have ever come across.  Papaya, capsicum, tofu, radish, were some of the ingredients adeptly used in the sushi. My other favourites were Avocado Nigiri, Unagi Nigiri and Temari Sushi.

Nigri Sushi Platter 2

Of course I am always partial to a Tuna sashimi and this one was an absolute treat. Slicing creates texture and if the slices are of different widths, the texture of each slice will be different. This one was done with complete precision.

Tuna Sashimi

The crispy prawn tempura rolls wowed my palate. The amalgamation of multiple textures made this dish exciting. The smooth outer covering followed by the crispy layer and the melt in the mouth prawns seated within, were delectable. Mastery at its best. The rock shrimp tempura in contrast seemed a trifle ordinary today.

Each dish struck me as poetry on plate and painstakingly created by the chefs. The ingredients were fresh which is the key to any cuisine, especially Japanese cuisine.

The Mushroom Hot Pot rice was served traditionally in the pot in which it is cooked. The aromas wafted in the air and filled my nostrils as the lid was removed. Comforting subtle flavours of the  truffle oil, miso and exotic mushrooms enveloped my taste buds. The soft, warm and almost mushy rice melt in my mouth. This was easily the piece de resistance this evening.

Seasonal Mixed Salad

The food menu  at Ruka offers a compilation of unique yet traditional specialties. On the menu are signature dishes like Saikyo Miso Marinated Cod, Roasted Lobster with Shiso & Ponzu Butter, Rice Hotpot with Grilled Chilean Seabass, and Scallop Gunkan.

For those who enjoy their drinks. There is a lot to choose from as well. A range of stylish signature molecular cocktails showcasing elements of science and art with the use of gels, air foaming, dehydration, and layering with tools like vacuum sealers, blow torches, nitrogen guns, are what the bartenders will enthrall you with.

Omakase Dessert Platter 2

What do I say about the coconut custard that I rounded off my meal with? It was love at first sight as I saw the foamy dessert with fruits and a layer of custard right below, placed before me. Creamy, sweet and light, it was an absolute surprise for my palate.

Ruka is bound to redefine Japanese cuisine in Mumbai. Light, simple flavours, characteristic of Japanese food, artful presentation and well-informed service staff. Dining at Ruka is  indeed a pleasure.

The only place of its kind in the Western suburbs, Ruka is certainly going to ensue that Juhu is a much sought after address from now.

Rating : 4.5/5

 

Easy cook, Easy Eat

A plethora of ready to cook meal boxes, replete with ingredients have inundated the market. People who love to cook but don’t have the time to labour over it or  those who don’t want to order food from outside,  or beginners in cooking, have a lot to choose from. Truly.

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I love to cook and when I don’t want to, I simply order a takeaway or eat out, so never really felt the need for such a box with pre-portioned ingredients, but finally gave in and decided to try Built2cook.

In 90 mins the pre-portioned ingredients for my Chicken Stroganoff in  a box arrived at my doorstep. The  recipe had been carefully crafted by 5 star chefs and  tested, so I had nothing to worry.

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I got going with my utensils as the ingredients – chicken, cream, demi glaze, sauces, vegetables,  oil, herb rice, etc  were all neatly packed amd labelled. I could see, these were sourced from quality sources.

In minutes, following the easy-to-follow recipe with simple instructions along with pictures, my Chicken Stroganoff was ready. Incredible. What’s more, at Rs 250, I had before me a dish, which I normally relish in fancy places at almost double the price.

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The creamy texture, crunchy veggies, succulent pieces of chicken, simply melt in my mouth and the accompanying herb rice was an ideal match for it. The meal was an extremely satisfying one.

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What is nice is that Built2Cook has about 12 recipes and there is a weekly rotation.  So one never gets bored. The shelf life of the product is 24 hours since there aren’t any added preservatives. Built2Cook has been operational for four months in Hyderabad and has recently launched in Mumbai, currently delivering between Andheri and Malad. I am blessed.

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Although I know I am not going to be needing this too often, it is comforting to know, something like  Built2cook exists. Good quality, easy to prepare dishes, completely hassle free and the end result: delicious, affordable food.

 

Warm Ramen & A Cool Bar

A bit late in the day to visit the much acclaimed  The Fatty Bao in Bandra West, Mumbai. But it’s never too late, as they say and 2015 is not yet over!

Innovative Asian fare is what I had set out to experience. Yes, there’s a cool bar too, but I was not exactly seeking cocktails on this balmy afternoon.

The place was buzzing and I could get the waft of aromas which made me even more hungry.

The steamed Bao, with diverse fillings was what I was looking forward to. Pan seared chicken with spicy mayonnaise and pickled cucumber filled generously in a Bao, presented itself as we ordered the Teriyaki Glazed Chicken.

The chicken was well done, yet, succulent and had a good bite to it. Enveloped in the teriyaki sauce, it added a zest and zing to the palate. The mayonnaise further lent an exciting texture to the filling. Loved every morsel of this. Filling and replete with fresh ingredients, this one was a winner all the way.

Char Siu Bao The Fatty Bao - Photo Courtesy Kunal Chandra

Just as our palates were absorbing the taste of the Bao, our prawns in xo sauce arrived. Fresh, juicy prawns, swathed in this interesting sauce, but did not really stand out, to my mind, after the outstanding Bao.

The steamed Edamame with sea salt was crunchy as it was flavourful, albeit subtle. Simple yet, luscious flavours. One almost felt healthy biting into that.

Fatty Bao is indeed the perfect destination for a quick lunch or a leisurely dinner. The service is quick, yet not overtly overbearing.

This place is bound to  appeal to anyone who appreciates well-crafted drinks like Fatty Sour and Mickey Ninja, as well as inventive Asian food served in a vibrant and chic atmosphere.

You know you are in safe hands, as the country’s most popular chefs – Manu Chandra and his trusted lieutenants Chef Prashanth Puttaswamy and Chef Karishman Dubash, are at the helm.

I loved the fact that The Fatty Bao’s menu is firmly steeped in fresh Asian flavours and yet is quirky and fun.

Exotic Mushroom Ramen  - The Fatty Bao - Photo Courtesy Kunal Chandra-

 

Open Baos, Dim Sums, Soulful Chasu Ramen, melt in the mouth Pork Belly, Lamb Shanks braised in a Masssaman curry, are some of the must-try dishes on this exhaustive menu.

The Malaysian Kapitan Chicken curry paired well with our Chilli Basil Chicken noodles. The curry offered comforting flavours and was soulful. Just right for this weather. A medley of textures and flavours juxtaposed flawlessly.

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We rounded off our meal with The Passion Fruit Pannacotta. It was creamy and melt-in-the-mouth. The passion fruit flavour was predominant and the honey comb added the right amount of crunch and element of sweetness in the otherwise tart dessert. The pannacotta, was not too sweet and yet, fulfilled the craving for a dessert.

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The Fatty Bao, has won me over with its food and service. It is the contemporary twist to the Asian flavours that really sets this place apart.

 

 

Rating : 4/5

 

Fresh, flavourful with global appeal

Le Pain Quotidien is not a cafe I generally frequent in Mumbai. But alas! I want to remedy that now. I stepped in for lunch yesterday to sample their new menu to commemorate their 25th birthday worldwide and discovered what I have been missing for such a long time.

Known for its farm fresh ingredients, pure and organic, it is indeed a delight to dine here and more so now with the new menu which actually tells you where those fresh ingredients are sourced from. Yes, the names of the vendors are listed there. I really appreciate this transparency. Makes one feel so comfortable in the knowledge that you know where, what you are eating, is coming from. Kudos!

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Seasonal and local produce is what LPQ is promoting with a vengeance. And I love that concept of  Think local, Be Global.

The new menu has 50% new inclusions. There is a sumptuous breakfast and brunch, all day meals which include  drinks, soups, salads, tartines, main course and of course desserts.

A whole new section of set breakfasts- The Farmer, The Angler, The Desi and The Botanist, have been introduced with something for everyone’s palate, uniquely presented in an LPQ-way. I am definitely coming back to try this.

Long-standing favorites are still on the menu, including the famous Belgian Waffle, Eggs Benedict, the signature Smoked Chicken & Cheddar Tartine, The Cobb Salad, Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli or Chicken Stroganoff.

The new menu has a special focus on vegetarian and botanical (or vegan) offerings.  More than before, shall I say. But of course, there’s a lot for carnivores too.

We sipped our Green Juice with kale, green apple, celery, lemon & ginger and I have never enjoyed a fresh juice more. Tangy, tart, spicy, sweet, it was a medley of all this and more.  One could taste each ingredient. Rejuvenated me instantly.

Our Detox Salad with mixed sprouts, red cabbage, kale, carrot, red spinach and chia seeds came next.  A visual delight for sure. Normally, I would have perceived this to be boring and insipid. But I was proven wrong.  It was delicious  and the fresh ingredients, the crunch and the bite that it offered in abundance, got this one, my vote instantly. And yes, I  certainly got that boost and  my vitamins for the day.

The sharing platter- Botanical left me speechless. The oven roasted tomato tapenade was luscious and teased my palate no end. Paired well with the in-house rye bread.  The quinoa scramble was an absolute treat. The black olive tapenade and the exotic veggies were great too. It was difficult to hold oneself back and we nearly polished off the entire platter.

The Salmon and ricotta Tartines (open bread sandwiches) struck me as unique. The salmon was of the highest quality and completely melt in the mouth slices. The layer of cheese on it enhanced the flavour by adding the right amount of zest to it.

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The Omega 3 Avocado Mash Tartine  is a new addition and one you should not miss. Creamy and flavourful, there is a burst of flavours in one’s mouth.

 

In the main course, the Kasundi Mustard Basa with the red rice risotto swept me off my feet. The otherwise, insipid and flavourless Basa had been perked up beyond imagination with the mustard and the subtle spices. The well made risotto complimented it to perfection.

Basa

 

Each dish surpassed my expectations and Chef Amit had proven his culinary magic yet again.

Decadent desserts are on offer. Be it the new entries,  Baba au Rum or the Belgian Chocolate &Cacao Cake or the all time favorite Soft-Centred Chocolate Cake and Apple Crumble with vanilla ice cream.

We were asked to try the Belgian chocolate & cacao cake and it was the perfect recommendation. Rich, gooey, melt in the mouth chocolate in a soft, well-baked cake. This was pure sin. The peach and almond pie was equally a delight in a crunchy crust base with a soft and creamy topping.

 

Alain Coumont, the Belgian chef and restaurateur, and founder of Le Pain Quotidien has lots to be proud of.

I had one of my best dining experiences at LPQ BKC, Mumbai in a  long time.

Rating: 4.5/5