Tag Archives: affordable

This one’s worth a wok oops! Walk!

My happiness knew no bounds as I discovered that Wok Express was opening in my neighbourhood. Well, almost. In Lokhandwala Andheri West. Just a longish walk away from home.

To my utter surprise not only were my old favourites a part of the menu, but they have also introduced Sushi, I discovered. Something I have a terrible weakness for. I was ecstatic. And affordably priced? That was an added bonus.

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The veg cucumber cream cheese roll, was made to perfection. Melt in the mouth. Equally delicious was the Veg california roll, every sushi’s lovers comfort item. The packaging struck me as so hygienic and classy.

The orange chicken roll and teriyaki chicken roll swept me off my feet. Outstanding. The freshness of the high quality ingredients was evident. Flavoursome and an amalgamation of myriad textures. I could go on gorging on these.

Of course I could not resist my favourite Edmame & Truffle dumplings. These never let me down. The creamy and crunchy textures, left me craving for more.

And no visit to Wok Express is complete without the famous Bubble Tea. So, as always, we were sipping one.

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The chicken bun which I sampled for the first time, took me by surprise. With a generous tasty chicken filling, this steamed bun was light, yet, could fill you up easily. Totally, a value for money item. The chicken sticky rice and a vegetarian version too, are new inclusions in the menu. Clearly, there is a lot to choose from now at Wok Express outlets.

The location of this Wok Express is of course its USP apart from the great, reasonably priced food.  For once, I decided to skip the customised wok. Saved that for another day. Which means I am going back really soon !

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Fun, Frolic, Flavours Galore: Monkey Bar

It was not even a weekend and I could hear the buzz inside Monkey Bar Bandra, from the road, as I stepped out of my vehicle.

New in Mumbai, after making its debut in Bengaluru in 2012, this gastro pub is already the talk of the town. Oops! Suburbs.

The place was teeming with youngsters and even a few older couples and friends. I was almost transported to a pub in Europe. The bar counter was packed as many people stood there, sipping their beers or cocktails.

I settled for an Aam Panna strongly recommended to me, as I was not having any alcohol. My partner opted for a Masala soda. My aam pana was a bit too salty and synthetic. Nothing to write home about.

Our Peppered calamari rings arrived along with the prawn pickle and pao. The calamari was fresh and well fried, with a dash of garlic, curry leaves, spices et al, which was good to whip up an appetite. The prawn pickle was delicious, but not exactly a balchao. The kadak pao or brun pao was too kadak for my liking and a tad too chewy. These perked up our taste buds nevertheless.

The menu was quirky and unusual. Loaded Nachos, Butterfly Chicken, Tikki of Joy and Goan Chorizo Pao. Also Char-grilled burgers, a delicious selection of small plates, soul-satisfying main courses to cater to every palate, cocktails in Nutella jars and copper tumblers, as well as delicious desserts.

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The pricing struck me as affordable and the dishes innovative with the right twist. Everyone seemed to be having a good time without a care in the world. A great place to unwind and relax.

I loved Chef’s value addition to the Indian dishes, as well as regional favourites like Laal Maas Phulkas, served with mirch achar, ker sangri sabji and coriander chutney or Aunty Pereira’s sorpotel pickle pot. Innovation at its best!

Even the mains were unique. We settled for a Butter chicken khichdi which was abundantly flavourful and comforting. Well presented too. But it was the Jackfruit biryani that was the star of the evening. Aromatic, with subtle flavours, it was appetizing to the core.  Good portions too. Well-prepared succulent pieces of jackfruit and the delicately flavoured biryani rice, were married perfectly. I am never going to miss a Mutton biryani again.

Butter Khichdi Chicken (1)  - Monkey Bar - Photo Courtesy Kunal Chandra

Other fun dishes were Chandraji’s Mutton Curry Balti (a succulent mutton dish served with Gobindobhog rice), Peshavari Chicken Chaapli and Via Amritsar (a really cool take on the humble aloo vadi); hearty meals for meat lovers like the In ‘N Out (Monkey’s version of Scotch eggs),Duck Boti Roti (Peking-inspired duck confit and egg baida roti served with onions and mint chutney), Crab Rangoon  etc.

Chef Manu Chandra has really let his imagination run riot and yet, kept his food so authentic and of great quality. No element of monotony at all in the menu. Absolutely laudable.

Jackfruit Biryani -  Monkey Bar - pic 3 Photo Courtesy Kunal Chandra

The Rasmalai Pannacotta was a bit of a dampner as the flavours were not upto the mark and did not appeal to us. The Chocolate popcorn proved to be our saviour. One can never go wrong there.

The exposed walls, cosy nooks and corners, mismatched, yet warm, lights and fixtures, all culminate in giving a fun, yet warm appeal to this place. It beckons you instantly, making you relax and enjoy. And we were no exception. We stepped out after a fun evening.

Rating : 4/5

Australia’s Favourite Pizza Now Yours?

Eagle Boys Pizza, one of Australia’s largest pizza chains is now in India. Has been for a while with two outlets in Pune and four in Mumbai. The newest entrant, their fifth, is the Oshiwara outlet in Andheri West, closer home. Hence, I pay a visit on a rainy evening.

While the parent company offers a variety of products including gourmet pizzas, gluten-free, low fat and healthy options, the Indian franchise too boasts of fresh ingredients, including a dough made several times in a day. The state-of-the-art oven in their kitchen which gets a pizza ready in minutes sans any smoke, is praiseworthy.

The passion and dedication of the Director, Rakesh Nanda is evident. Settled in Australia for years and now back in India, he has started this chain and appoints franchisees who are equally passionate about pizzas.

The outlet of course is ordinary, with basic seating. As most pizza joints, it thrives on take away and home delivery.

A glance at the menu reveals a fair amount of variety. From a Basic Pizza to a Classic, and a Super to a Gourmet, with multiple toppings, they have them all. And yes in non vegetarian and vegetarian versions too. They also do two pastas – Tomato and Chicken Penne, desserts and a few drinks. Non alcoholic of course.

Our Green Apple and Exotic flavoured mojitos arrive. Refreshing, but a tad too sweet. But then a pizza place is not exactly known for its mocktails. As long as it quenches our thirst.

The spicy garlic scroll is served. I bite into it and a burst of cheese fills my mouth. The menu never mentioned cheese in this one. I am taken aback. The staff informs me this too has cheese as opposed to the cheesy garlic scroll. The difference? Only some more garlic and spice, I am told. The menu needs to explicitly mention the cheese bit, I suggest.

The taste of the scroll is flawless. Spicy and creamy. The garlic could have been a bit more pronounced though. Delicious nevertheless. This is their innovation in terms of Sides instead of the usual garlic bread, Mr. Nanda informs me.

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We opt for a Chicken Supreme pizza from the Gourmet section and a Aussie favourite chicken in 7″ each. Sadly, the person taking our order does not ask us about our base preference ( thin n crispy or deep dish or cheesy blast or big cheese). We are served the Deep dish which has a really thick crust, not something am too fond of. However, a bite into the first one and I have no regrets. The crust is soft, not chewy like many other pizzas one often have. The freshness of the dough here plays a role for sure. One can taste the difference. The toppings are generous and fresh. Good quality stuff. The pizzas are affordably priced and come in 7, 10 and 13 inches.

My vote goes to the Chicken Supreme. It is an interesting mix of several flavours. The cheese element is right too, not overpowering and yet, enough to make one enjoy a pizza. After all what is a pizza without cheese? The one with pineapples too is tasty but Chicken Supreme, emerges a clear winner.

These two varieties, albeit in a small size, prove to be filling and we are unable to try a thin crust pizza. They have run out of dessert that day and so we are forced to skip that too. The triple chocolate pizza that they serve as dessert, surely sounds inviting. Reason enough for me to go back.

The staff needs to be a little more adept at communication and be able to explain the menu better. The Pizza definitely scores over some other chains. They have some exciting offers too on Mondays and Wednesdays. Worth checking out.

Rating: 3.5/5

Divine minus the wines too! Cafe D’Wine

The name of the cafe obviously suggested it had a lot to do with wines, so I did not step in with too many expectations from the food. But alas! I was wrong and how. The menu itself was an exercise in choices. Soups, salads, pizza, pastas, steaks and more. Whew! Of course the wine list was never ending too, but I was not in the mood for a wine so stuck to a simple, but refreshing basil and lemongrass cooler. In appearance like an aam panna, it had a light flavour which rejuvenated me immediately.

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New world cuisine is what this cozy cafe in Bandra offers. The décor is very European, simplisitic, yet stylish.The walls are laced with attractive Mediterranean tiles, inverted wine glasses hanging from the ceiling, slated wood furniture and a detailed Italian mural.  Bohemian chic! I got a good vibe as we settled down on our table.

The Butter chicken savoury custard floored me as it came with mini paratha pieces. A truly innovative presentation and twist, but the authenticity of the butter chicken was intact. Very robust, very Punjabi. Loved it.

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Just as I was waxing eloquent about this one, the Mediterranean sauteed fish blew my mind and yes, taste buds too. Pieces of rawas fish combined with 3 peppers and the lip-smacking teriyaki sauce was delightful. Spicy, it teased my palate beyond comparison. I was already mentally satiated.

The chicken stroganoff further nailed it. Served with home made purple fettucine pasta instead of the usual herb rice, this one was a clear winner. The presentation was so appealing. The taste of course further took the experience to another level. The creamy sauce of the stroganoff was generously filled with cheese, mushrooms and interestingly, spinach too. What a twist this was! I just could not let go off this medley of flavours and textures from my mouth or memory. It surpassed my expectations.

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There are great options for vegetarians too. Pumpkin ravioli, cheesy gnocchi et al. The menu is refreshingly different. Kudos to the chef. Everything on the menu sounds enticing. Signature items lof this cafe are “Smoked Chicken Salad”, “Red Bean Hummus”, “Butter Chicken Savory Custard” and “Ceylon Tuna Parcels with marinated Okra” . A must try in the menu is Norwegian Grilled Pink Salmon Steak, which is a new addition, I was told.

Sanjay Mirani, Managing Director at Café D’Wine previously associated with brands like Athena, Da Vinci and Ivy, has done a great job yet again. Affordably priced, this cafe serves great food and wines which do not burn a hole in your wallet.

Sadly, the desserts which they outsource, had not arrived n time, so was unable to sample that. But no loss really, considering I had enjoyed my meal thoroughly. This one was a divine experience, minus the wines too!

Food rating: 4/5

Delicate Dumplings and Robust Chinese Breads: Mamagoto

My favourite Pan Asian cuisine restaurant, Mamagoto has a whole new menu with Dumplings & Chinese Breads. A lethal combination really, considering I love both.

Hearty comfort food with varied ingredients, textures and flavours, is yet again the hallmark of this new carefully crafted menu. There is a lot of variety and some of the offerings are unusual and relatively unknown. The vegetarian options too are plenty.

Jungle Shrimp Dumpling

Jungle dumpling, with a green coloured covering made of potato starch et al, arrived on our table. Soft and spongy, the dumpling melt in our mouth. The shrimps were soft and made for a great filling. Our taste buds really came alive. There is a vegetarian version of this too.

One can never go wrong with a Gyoza  or pot stickers as they are popularly known. The Old school gyoza proved us right. The chicken dumpling was light and had a flavoursome filling. Served with momo sauce, the right amount of zing was imparted to this dumpling. I specially love their thin covering and marvel how chefs keep it intact despite the generous filling.

My palate was sufficiently tingled with these two dumplings and I was looking forward to the rest, as Chef informed me there were 8-9 varieties to follow.

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To break the monotony, Chef sent us the Cheesy Veggie Bun. Steamed to perfection, this one reminded me of the ones I had eaten in the Chinese Market in Calcutta for breakfast quite often. The filling was a treat- stir fried pak choi, pine nuts, spices and cheese. The creamy cheese complimented the crunchy pine nuts. Pak choi added a unique flavour to it, making it an innovative fun bun. But yes, wholesome too.

The traditional Peking dumpling was something I was waiting for. Simple, with no fuss, this one was a delight. The chicken filling was tasty, but unpretentious. Dipping it in vinegar, soy and red chilies gave it a bit of a boost, although it was wholesome and delicious on its own too.

Chinese Chicken puffs were heavy in texture. Literally too. Minced chicken wok tossed in a 5 spice aroma and baked into a puff. Although well made, I think I preferred the good ol’ lighter dumplings. What struck me was how each dumpling was distinctly different from the other in appearance, flavour and texture. Full marks to the chef.

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The Tokyo Metro Mantou aka Chinese bread with aubergine for veggies and chicken for the carnivores, deserves a special mention. I have had nothing quite like this one ever before. Innovation at its best. The crumb crusted aubergines were a class apart. The typical slimy texture of aubergine had been so well masked and yet, the flavours were intact. Of course the chicken version was naturally better, although less innovative, I must admit.

I loved the way the menu was an amalgamation of classics and yet, the chef had added his own contemporary twist to these. Indeed laudable.

Each item on the menu was more unique than the previous one. There was a storm in my taste buds, as I relished a medley of flavours and textures.

The Grand Finale to the meal I was told, was the the seasonal Mango Coconut Sago Pudding.But alas! I was a bit disappointed. The sago was too tough, a bit undone. Should have been soaked a bit more perhaps? That took away the flavour and taste of the dessert. The mangoes on top too were not overtly sweet and so the dessert proved to be a bit of a dampner.

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But we were not complaining as our taste buds had been treated well with the dumplings and Chinese breads. I wanted that memory to linger longer in my taste buds.

Affordably priced, given the exotic fresh ingredients, used, this menu too is value for money. If these lil “pick me ups” or dim sums are what you enjoy, this new menu is just what you may be looking for.

Rating: 3.5/5