Tag Archives: cafe

This Bake House Cafe Makes Your Day

Mumbai is inundated with new restaurants, gastro pubs and cafes. Professionally, one ends up visiting many, but it is only a few which leave a lasting impression and beckon you again even for family meals. Bake House Cafe, Kalaghoda, in the recent past has been one such place that has caught my fancy.

British art running along the walls, extending to the leather upholstery, creates the quaint and easy-going atmosphere of a British café right in the heart of Kalaghoda. Apart from the spacious seating area downstairs, there is a beautiful wooden steps going upstairs where there is more seating. The area on top is more for leisurely dining and relaxing with friends or perhaps even working.

Mezze Platter

Expect classic as well as European comfort food, made with quality produce here. The food is simple, although new flavours and little detours by talented Chef Zeeshan Jamal liven up the reasonably-priced menu.

Offering breakfast, pizza, burgers, mains, desserts, salads and soups, this place is suitable for any time of the day. The organic black risotto rice, cheddar mushroom and asparagus omelette and creamy spinach and caramelised onion pizza deserve a special mention.

Almond Crusted King Fish at the Bake House Cafe

At pocket friendly prices, this place focuses on Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and everything in between. The menu consists of sections in details like Breakfast, Soups, Salads, Small bites, Main courses, Pastas, Pizza, Burgers, Sandwiches, Milkshakes, Juices and more. Whew! That sure, is a varied menu.

The Three Melon Feta Salad, was fresh and flavourful. The Butter lime garlic prawns were fresh and the garlic added a touch of zest while the lemon gave it the requisite tangy flavours.

The Gymkhana sandwich was well-made, full of familiar flavours and satiating too.

Other dishes worth trying by Carnivores are Almond Crusted King Fish, Grilled Indian Salmon and the Tenderloin Steak. There are ample options for vegetarians too. The pizza here is strongly reminiscent of the ones at Indigo, Colaba. The Chef has after all worked there.

The Breakfast menu is tempting as hell and one needs to step in exclusively to relish a breakfast here one day. I certainly plan to do that.

The food here is made with superior quality ingredients and the flavours shine through effortlessly. The presentation is good but the food, simple and unpretentious.

There is a vast array of desserts to choose from. The Banoffee pie and Croissant bread pudding caught my eye. The pudding was typically home style and left me speechless, while the Banoffee pie, albeit well-made, paled in comparison today.
I left this cafe, satiated and pleased, as the food here surpassed my expectations.
Rating: 4/5

Vibrant cafe, eclectic bar : Canto

The ambience of Canto all day cafe and bar, in Girgaum, South Mumbai, which transforms into a high energy pulsating place in the evening transports you to a cheery cafe in Europe. The natural light filtering in through the French windows and the roominess all around adds to the charm. The welcoming vibe is comforting and beckons you immediately.

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Seated on a corner table I skim through the menu which offers a vast variety of global food with chef’s own twist. Soups, salads, small plates, mains, desserts are what you can expect to find here. Mushroom on toast, chilli polenta, are bound to tease the Vegetarian palate. Carnivores have a lot to choose from. Chimichurri chicken tikka, lamb meatball, eggs kejriwal and more. Those seeking something light yet filling can settle for the pizza, sandwiches and burgers.

Watermelon salad at Canto

The sambar risotto sounds exciting and entices me immediately. A spoonful of it and am convinced of chef’s creative streak. The spicy flavours mesh well with the creamy risotto. Banana wrapped fish too is worth a try. Served with fried rice, it is value for money and the delicate flavours are handled with flourish.

The bar menu here is equally eclectic and well crafted offering something for everyone, no matter what your tipple. The bar is well-stocked and eye-catching too in terms of decor – aesthetic and classy.

Molten chocolate, crepe suzette, tiramisu are among the dessert offerings. Simple but well made.

The ingredients used are of great quality, the cooking styles have been kept simple and the food is flavoursome. The presentation, is appealing and the staff is warm and amiable.

This is the kind of place one can sit quietly for hours, reading a book and tucking into the food all by oneself or relaxing with friends in the evening with good food, music and fun cocktails.  Truly, Canto is your neighbourhood cafe and bar alright. Only wish I was residing in South Mumbai for once!

Rating : 3.5/5

Drinks for the festive season

The spirits during this season are high and there isn’t any reason, why we can’t enjoy the festive season, without consuming any spirits. Is that possible? Of course it is… in fact, there are plenty of delightful seasonal beverages that can help you ring in the yuletide festivities without compromising on your desire to go alcohol free or risking the fact of getting drowned in alcohol.

If you want to sample a few of my favourites, to keep you cheery, check out this quick menu.
Cinnamon Laced Double Chocolate: Make a cup of deluxe hot cocoa, dissolve a piece of bitter chocolate cube to give the added double chocolate effect and sprinkle with powdered Cinnamon.
Hot Toddy with apple cider: In a pan combine apple cider, cinnamon, star anise and cloves, bring to boil. Remove from heat and allow the spices to steep for 10-15 minutes, strain spices stir in honey till dissolved serve with sliced apples, lemon, cinnamon sticks and star anise.
Spiced tea: In a big mug place tea bag and honey, add enough boiling water to fill the mug add cinnamon and lemon, steep for 3 minutes and remove bag, sprinkle lightly with nutmeg and serve.
Virgin Fruit Muddle: Take a bowl full of diced mixed winter fruits, muddle them, add half cup of orange juice, a dash of lime, and top it with room temperature Apple Juice. Serve in a beer glass or brandy balloon.  
If you are out on the streets you could try the many variants of Café Coffee Days’ Magical brews.
fruit-kiss
And if you neither want to take the trouble of making your own brews that I offered nor do you want to step out at Café Coffee Day’s offerings, you could try the four variants of Gold Fogg’s latest offering, which includes: The Gold Fogg Energy Drink, Mish Mash – Fruit Kiss made of apple, strawberry, mango, peach, guava, grape and passion fruit all packed in one.
So compliments of the season and go on for a non-alcoholic drinking spree !

Chai, Teas & More……

A cuppa tea is welcome anytime for a tea lover like me. Can never resist a well-made one and when it is in a great ambience, even better. The newly opened Tea Trails at Vile Parle, close to the station, offered the perfect excuse to make trip there. India’s first chain of Tea Cafés which serves carefully curated range of the finest Teas & Eats  had after all launched their 11th outlet.

The inside area of the cafe is bright and cheerful, well-lit with high ceilings. It exudes a warmth which is so unpretentious. There is an outdoor seating area too, which is perfect at this time of the year.

The outlet  is characterized by its specialty teas, loose leaves, custom blends, mindful tea preparation and sourcing, equipment and tea-related paraphernalia, new approaches to the tea service, and new ways to experience tea.

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The menu is exhaustive as far as the tea and chai offerings are concerned. Indian teas, herbal teas, kulhad chai, floral and fragrant teas. Something for every tea lover’s palate. The specialty teas include Smokey Chinese Lapsang Souchong and the South African Red among several others.

The eats are exciting too and quirky. We tried the Eggs Kejriwal, with fried and fluffy eggs served wrapped on a pav. A filling snack and boasted of the quintessential Mumbai flavour but the chewy pavs diluted the effect. Should have been toasted or grilled.

fried-eggs

The samosa thauk I thought was unique and the gravy in which the samosas were immersed was tangy and delicious. The Teazza – pizza with tea herbs was delightful and a good example of innovation.

Vegetarian dishes is what this cafe offers . but there is a lot of variety. It also serves some egg dishes.

The teas are delectable and served by the well-informed staff. The fruity infusion I tried was comforting. Although I felt, the teas are a wee bit overpriced for that quantity.

The staff is warm and friendly and the service unobtrusive.

Overall,  the decor  in black and green, is inspired from their theme “a cup of life” and is replete with a modern, vibrant and friendly vibe. This is certainly the perfect place to relax and unwind over a cup of tea.

Rating : 3.5/5

 

 

 

 

Fun Times Back in Bandra

People in Bandra are going to be excited this Friday. Café Basilico, one of Bandra’s hotspots, returns in a new avatar at a new location on Hill Road. Reason enough to celebrate. I missed it terribly, for the short while that it was away.

I was lucky to get a sneak preview. The menu clearly looked interesting with a strong focus on local produce, I noticed.

Not surprising, as the produce is going to be sourced directly from Farhan’s Bhiwandi farm. I am all for seasonal produce and fresh ingredients. Makes a world of difference to flavours in food.

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad

The roast organic tomato soup was comforting, more so as I chatted animatedly with a friend. The smoky flavour was distinct and soothed my taste buds. The slight piquancy enhanced the flavours.

The fig and goat cheese salad was hearty and the ingredients, fresh and crunchy. The Mozarella and Chicken croquettes salad too was interesting and had unique contrasting flavours. We were off to a good start.

Mozarella and Chiken Croquettes - Salads

 

The signature Mediterranean Platter was a treat and the baba ghanoush and hummus particularly appealed to me.

One can rarely go wrong with prawns and the peri peri sea food prawns were fresh and succulent, with a dash of spice to them, just enough to tingle our palates.

The assorted vegetarian tempuras too were well made. I did not enjoy the falafel in comparison.

But it was the Harissa Chicken which got my vote. The chicken was grilled to perfection and swathed in the harissa sauce, it simply melt in the mouth, leaving the taste buds crave for more.

The Basa too was well-marinated, and surprisingly I enjoyed it. And that is a huge compliment considering I dislike Basa immensely. Only creative chefs can turn that around and make it tasty and appealing. Chef Das certainly managed to do that.

What struck me as interesting was the fact that Café Basilico boasts of an extensive menu with several vegan options curated by Ayesha. That truly is much needed today. Kudos!

For people like me who love breads, this place is a haven.The Sandwiches and burgers section  is exhaustive. Hummus & Iceberg or the Chermoula Grilled Chicken sandwiches and the Blue Cheese Beef Steak or the Soya, Barley & Mushroom Burgers, there is something for every palate.

Café Basilico’s pizzas are all prepared from their traditionally organic tomato sauce with  vegan options too. That’s not all. There is an array of pastas to choose from too.

 

 

 

 

One can be experimental and enjoy one’s meal with seasonal fresh fruit juices, flavoured coolers or refreshing lemonade, iced teas and coolers like Tropical Guava Cooler or Cucumber Cooler.

Cucumber Cooler

The menu never ceased to surprise me. There were a plethora of coffees, green tea, premium teas and caffeine free herbal infusions  too. And yes desserts too.

The mini tarts- chocolate, mango and lemon that we sampled were delicious as far as the filling went, but the tart was too soft and crumbly.

Overall, the food is of a very good quality, as is the variety and presentation. The decor is elegant and subtle and gives you the feel of a global cafe, yet, providing you privacy, if you want.

Cafe Basilico lived up to my expectations yet again.

Fun times are back in Bandra and how!

Rating : 3.5/5

 

 

 

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

Fizz, Fun, Farcha & More….

Brun maska, cloyingly sweet chai, khari biscuits, are so Bambaiya and the Irani cafes at which we relish these are such an intrinsic part of our lives in Mumbai. Or shall I say, were? Yes, unfortunately, the favourite hangout of many of us -the Irani Cafes are fast disappearing. No wonder, when I first heard of SodaBottleOpenerWala  opening in Mumbai and Restaurateurs duo, Sabina and AD Singh doing their best to keep the flag of Irani cafes flying high, I was both touched and thrilled.

After opening several SBOWs (as we fondly call these), across India, Mumbai too got its first one recently in Mumbai’s plush BKC.

Getting a table here at night is an achievement by itself. We were lucky, as Shonali the Manager, juggled one for us albeit near the bar. That was in fact the most happening area with mixologists displaying their flair for bartending, adeptly preparing and mixing an array of drinks.

Shekangebin is what we opted for. Shikanji with jaggery, prune pieces was refreshing as it was sweet. Served in rustic, but cute bottles, it got our vote instantly. Of course there were several alcoholic and non alcoholic options in the menu. Raspberry soda was tempting but I let that be for another time.

Shekangebin

SBOW is definitely a happy place with a great vibe to it which welcomes you immediately and you feel at home from word go. So typical of an Irani cafe too. Warmth personified.

Our Chicken Farcha arrived. Boneless pieces of chicken fried to perfection with a spicy and delicious taste. I loved the way it was served in the traditional way on aluminium trays et al. No frills and yet, so appealing

Spicy mushroom on khari was delectable. Expectedly oily of course but we were not complaining. The mushroom topping was creamy and left you craving for more. The place was teeming with people who were having a good time. Us included.

How can one come to an Irani cafe and not eat keema pav? We succumbed and later, patted ourselves on the back for our perfect choice. The keema with its sweet spicy and tangy flavours was so typically reminiscent of the real one we are all used to. Served with the hot pav, it was a great combination. I have so many fond memories associated with this dish.

Keema Pav 1

A plethora of mutton dishes are on the menu to tantalise the taste buds of mutton lovers. And of course chicken too.

The menu here has been well-planned and with Chef Darius at the helm, there is no concern about the authenticity of the dishes. But I like the fact that apart from Parsi and Irani favourites, Mumbai street food, which we all cannot do without is also included. Dhanshak (classic Parsi dish of mutton with lentils and served with caramelized rice and kachumber), Paatra Ni Macchi (chutney steamed pomfret), our version of the Berry Pulao (veg, chicken and mutton), Prawn Patio (A tangy prawn preparation, sweet, sour and mildly spicy) and other old time favourites like Sali Mutton and Chicken, Goan Fish Curry, Chicken Baida Roti inspired from Bade Miya,  occupy a pride of place on the menu.

Sali Murghi

Vegetarians can equally feel at home at SBOW. Aloo Aunty’s Vegetable Cutlet, Tardeo A/c Market Mamaji’s Grilled Sandwich and the Bombay Raasta Sandwich, Bharuchi Paneer Akuri with dry fruits et al,  are dishes everyone and anyone who loves food will enjoy.

The rules don’t change. One has got to keep space for the bakery items when at an Irani cafe and we did the same at SBOW. Freshly baked in the morning and sold by the piece, there is a wide selection and everyone can find their favourite item on the menu, I assure you. From Badam Nan Khatai to Shrewsbury Biscuit, Mawa Cake to Lagan nu Custard, there is everything. I gorged on the Apple Pie with Custard. The custard was a bit too sweet for my palate but the warm apple pie, filled generously with all things nice was an absolute delight and comforting.

This quirky SBOW, encapsulating all the elements of a typical Irani cafe in terms of decor, bric-a-bracs and more, is a must-visit for anyone who loves Irani food and fun. One can relax, enjoy great food and service, here.

This SodaBottleOpenerWala opens its doors and lets you into a place which is bound to be special to any Mumbaikar.

Rating: 4.5/5

Let there be light in your life!

An entry into Light House Cafe Khar, Mumbai transports you into an eclectic and pulsating place. The decor is chic and the bulbs all over add an interesting element to the place. The vibe is unmistakable. You know at once you are in a happening place.
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We did not like the sound of the two Mocktails that were on offer the preview night and they were kind enough to serve us one of our choice- Italiano. This apple juice based mocktail was refreshing and had the right amount of zing. We loved it. We were off to a great beginning for sure.

Pepper and Lime calamari came next. One can rarely go wrong with Calamari. Delicious. But the size of the calamari struck me as too small which deprived one of the real joy of relishing this sea food delicacy. Furthermore, it was a tad over- fried. But the flavours were good nevertheless.

The Murg Sonali Kebab, was a treat for the palate. King sized chicken pieces, well marinated and grilled to perfection. Ignited our palate.

The music was getting louder and the place was buzzing. A closer look at the menu revealed that the offerings both drinks and food are so affordably priced. Really pocket- friendly.

The cocktails sounded exciting with unusual names n unique ingredients but we decided to give it a miss.

In the mains we tried the Udon noodles first. Soupy n light these had a subtle, Palate- tickling flavour. The Masala chickpea tagine was a pleasant surprise. With just a hint of spices, one could actually savour each ingredient. Only wish the portions were a wee bit bigger.

The Grilled BBQ Chicken had a delightful presentation and an equally tantalising taste. The pairing with cous cous gave it an edge.

Sadly no desserts in the menu. Sorely missed and shouldbe included in the menu I feel.

Interior Image, Light House Cafe

Light House cafe is definitely a place which is going to pick up and be a hot spot. The service staff could do with some more training and finesse.

Food n Mocktails Rating : 3/5

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

An Interesting Mex-Asian Experience: Kurries & Burries

It is not too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year is it? So, Happy New Year everyone. Have a gourmetastic 2015!

I began my year by visiting a cute, no-frills, QSR Kurries & Burries in South Mumbai near Wilson College.The sincerity and earnest effort of the Proprietor Kushal Todi has got to be lauded. Under his mother’s guidance (who is a great cook) he has started this initiative. Kudos!

The menu is exhaustive and this Café Mex-Asian serves interesting Mexican and Asian food. And all vegetarian. Quite a challenge, but one that is met adeptly by Kushal. A lot of the items on the menu can easily be served as Jain dishes too.

One can look forward to relishing Mexican, Thai, Burmese, Oriental and Chinese food, at pocket-friendly prices. We began with the flavourful Mexican soup made with Mexican beans. The spice element added the right amount of zing to it and the creamy texture was perfect. A good beginning. The crackling spinach with paneer which Kushal recommended was different. Only the paneer pieces were too generous and filled the mouth, with the spinach getting lost somewhere. Else the concept was exceptional, I thought.

Kurries & Burries - Naked Burrito

The Mexican Mex-wich was filling. The mexican beans, cheese sauce, sour cream and salsa teased our palates. A bit too heavy but completely value for money. Sandwiches, Wraps, Noodles, Rice, an array of Mexican dishes. This place has them all. Oodles of paneer, baby corn items on the menu. A vegetarian could not ask for more.

The Indian touch in the food is unmistakable but unpretentious too. K&B is very affordably pried and is bound to be a haven for college students and office goers. It has a visit ratio of 2 – 2.5 times as compared to any other food eatery at the same cost. The platters are an excellent way to try out a lot more.

I was skeptical about a vegetarian Khow suey but it turned out to be good. Authentic flavours and great toppings. And the coconut milk was not overpowering. We enjoyed it. The chef is obviously good.The ingredients are of a good quality and fresh too.

The dessert – Mexican sweet cup was disappointing. Very grainy and synthetic. Maybe we should have tried the chocolate nachos instead. Maybe next time?

Overall a place for good food, but personally, am not a great fan of Mexican food and hence would not dream of mixing it with Asian, my fav cuisine for sure.