Tag Archives: dimsums

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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A ‘wok’ to satiate your taste buds: Wok Express

Pan Asian meals are sure shot winners. Most of us enjoy these and I am no exception. And with a new Wok Express opening in Bandra, I decided to pay a visit.  Reasonably spacious, with a no-frills atmosphere, Wok Express was packed on a weekday for dinner. A good sign for them, I thought.

The menu is varied enough with dim sums, bubble tea, and of course the Wok meal served in a box comprising a base of noodles (udon, flat wheat, ramen) or steamed rice,with veggies or chicken, fish, prawns and a delectable array of sauces. Sambal. Toban, Teriyaki, Pumpkin curry sauces sounded out-of-the-ordinary compared to the usual black pepper, chiili basil et al. There is a fair amount of vegetarian options too.

I settled for Har gau prawns, as I can never resist prawns. And this classic is my favourite. Steamed to perfection with a moist and tasty prawns filling, i was off to a good start. My Thai Bubble tea was a bit of a disappointment. Attractively presented, the flavours sadly were not so exciting. Some how never enjoyed the tapioca pearls. Have tasted better ones in Bangkok.

The crystal dumplings too were well-made. Had a bite to them and the texture with the right amount of crunch, was appeasing to my taste buds.

The staff appeared a wee bit confused with the orders. Probably teething problems so typical of a restaurant of any stature or size.

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My wok with Udon noodles (my favourite),  fish and prawns, the sweet and spicy sambal sauce, a generous amount of veggies and roasted peanuts, cilantro, friend onions, as condiments was a flavourful and wholesome wok. One selects one’s own ingredients and ticks them on the box. The person behind the counter then prepares it as per your selection.

As I picked up my wok (it is self service), it struck me that the quantity was enormous. Absolute value for money, given the quality of the ingredients and the generous helping. I was blown away by the medley of flavours in my mouth. The sambal sauce offered the perfect balance of sweet n spicy flavours. Textures too were plenty- crunchy, smooth, melt-in-the-mouth. The bell peppers, zucchini and carrots, added the health quotient to my meal.

Good stuff. It reminded me so much of the meals I had in Bangkok eons ago. Finally, India had places to match that quality of Pan Asian food. The medium sized wok itself was so filling, could well imagine what the large one would be like. Priced between Rs 190- Rs 240 for a medium sized wok, it is really easy on the wallet and something which will go down well with the youth too.

What is nice is that the menu keeps changing every few days, so one never gets bored. The day’s special is highlighted on a black board.

The Tab Tim Grob aka water chestnuts in syrup n coconut milk though refreshing in summer is not something I enjoy, so decided to give it a miss. Wish there were more options.

Wok Express is the perfect place to devour a good meal, in a jiffy and head back to work or pick it up and relish it while you are on the go. Just what this fast-paced city of Mumbai needs.

Rating: 3.5/5

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

A Majestic Dining Experience : Emperor, Deltin Daman

Oriental food is always a lure for me as I relish that immensely. Naturally then, lunch at Emperor, the swank, new fine dining restaurant at Deltin Daman, seemed like an appealing idea. I was in for a surprise. The décor is understated and elegant and yet has the richness, befitting an Emperor.  An interesting amalgamation of textures created as a result of the clever use of flooring, lighting and colours makes this restaurant chic and attractive.

The food at Emperor is undoubtedly a feast for all the senses. Pomfret garlic spring onion, on a bed of bean sprouts, was as aromatic as it was visually appealing. A bite into it and there was a burst of flavours in my mouth. Subtle, yet flavoursome. The pomfret and spring onions juxtaposed unusual textures. Crispy calamari, another starter, was fried to perfection and the calamari was soft, not chewy, as they sometimes turn.

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The chicken ginseng soup was heart-warming with strong flavours. The corn, spinach and water chestnut dumpling stole my heart with its soft, yet crunchy texture and delicious flavours. Chicken Char su pao dumpling was as authentic as it can get.

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The presentation of each dish caught my eye. Chef Love Mathur, is not only a chef extraordinaire, but also has an eye for details. His presentation is virtually poetry on plate. A man of few words, Chef Mathur lets his food speak for him. And trust me. that does say volumes about his expertise and versatility.

In the main course, the Jasmine chicken fried rice with its aromatic, mild flavours and prawns schezwan style were the highlight. The wok tossed beans, although a simple dish, were a real surprise  and tantalised my taste buds.

Chef Mathur obviously believes in less is more, and lets the flavours of the ingredient be predominant and does not let spices and seasonings overpower it. Even the cooking methods used are gentle and do justice to the ingredients.

The litchi toffee in the desserts, disappointed me a wee bit as the juicy flavour of the litchi was lost on the caramalised toffee. The steamed lotus bun with Mango Tropicana added the wow factor to the entire meal and was the perfect way to end our meal. It was an unusual pairing I thought and yet one, which complimented each other.

Impeccable service, palate pleasing food and elegant décor, makes Emperor an outstanding place to dine. Easily, one of the best Oriental meals I have had across the country. A feast truly for kings!

Belly Belly Good!

 

Buddha Belly. The name itself intrigued me and I was curious to check out this new eatery. What added to the mystique was the fact that Buddha Belly is formed on the basis of a belief in 3 core principles: Healthy Food with Integrity – Using the finest, highest quality organic ingredients, with a complete rejection of preservatives, Innovation of Food and Dim Sum for everyone – to ensure the highest quality and finest dim sum is available to as many people as possible. Way to go!

With these thoughts in mind, I entered the Juhu outlet. Small, but well laid out and appealing. The décor was simple but the place had a unique energy of its own.

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We began our meal with the refreshing Lemon grass iced tea- sweet n tangy, it perked us up. Chicken sui mai. The steamed dim sums arrived in a basket. The aroma was appetizing and made me hungry. Soft and well prepared, the filling was delectable, as was the covering of the dim sums. Spinach prawns roll was unique and lived up to its appearance. Subtle flavours and the combination of spinach and prawns was a winning one. Full marks here too. The chicken and chive gyoza, although fried, was a treat for the palate.

Each dim sum was better than the previous one. The quality was undoubtedly good. The dips served along were fiery but perfectly paired. I particularly enjoyed the lemon grass one. Limited menu, but enough to satiate a dim sum lover, trust me.

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The brainchild of Arjun Singh Ahluwalia, Buddha Belly is indeed a haven for dim sum lovers like me. Shockingly affordable by today’s standards, the taste and quality are unparalleled.

Chef’s famous Luo Bo Gao arrived next. Made with radish and carrots, the base reminded me of our own Kothambir wadi in Mumbai. And yes, it was as oily. The taste although outstanding, this one did not favour my palate owing to the high oil content.

The lemon grass sticky rice which I always relish anywhere, bowled me over. It was authentic and flavourful to the core. Interestingly served too in a banana leaf. Kudos to the chef.

Sadly, the chicken khao suey did not excite me. Presentation: full marks, but the flavours did not match upto the ones I usually enjoy. Disappointing. The coconut milk based gravy was too thick and bland. And yes, the boiled eggs were missing. cannot get the one I eat at Auriga out of my mind.

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This one dish apart, it was an enjoyable culinary journey which I revelled in thoroughly. The staff is alert, cheerful and quick. Good food n paisa vasool.

Passionfruit, nutella and coconut mousse are the three options from the chef’s stable. For a change I decided to skip dessert as I wanted the taste of the dim sums to linger longer.

 

 

 

 

 

More, More…..at MoMoCafe

I have visited and dined at several MoMo Cafes at Courtyard by Marriott Hotels across India, but somehow my recent experience at the one at Chakan Pune was exceptional.

The warmth in the cafe was not merely owing to the bright sunrays and light permeating from the glass windows. It was the staff and the service that made all the difference.

The breakfast buffet was a sumptuous spread. Eggs to order from a live counter, waffles, Asian delicacies, Lip-smacking South Indian fare and of course cold cuts, baked beans, an array of breads et al. Lunch too was a lavish affair as was dinner.

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The freshness of the ingredients was laudable as I relished each morsel we ate here.  The dishes were simple, mostly classic ones but cooked to perfection. No artificial flavours or preservatives at all. The diversity of the fare which is a blend of global food and regional delicacies, is the highlight.

The chefs clearly have an eye for detail, as the presentation of the dishes is outstanding.

The desserts were easily the wow factor. Chef Jitendra was truly creative. His melt in the mouth caramel custard was beyond my expectations. A simple dessert but speaks volumes for a good chef. The real test to my mind and he passed it with flying colours. He was innovative too. The star anise flavoured chocolate mousse was unique and flavourful. The spice had been cleverly and subtly used. The bite-size fresh fruit tarts were a treat for the eye and palate. Equally delicious were the Indian sweets prepared by a Maharaj. Authenticity of these sweets, was what struck me as inimitable. Jalebis, gajar halwa, mango phirnee. Each tasted better than the other.

Fruit tarts

The team of chefs under the leadership of Executive Chef Girish Kumar are truly exceptional. The flavours, textures, presentation and taste of the food is unparalleled.

Noticing my reluctance to eat a full-fledged dinner, Chef Anurag went out of his way to send me some light and fluffy chicken steamed momos. A sweet and thoughtful gesture, I will never forget.

So even if you are not staying at Courtyard by Marriott Chakan, Pune, make sure you stop by for a meal the next time you are heading to Pune. Trust me, you will end up staying here.

At MoMo Cafe yeh dil maange more!

Ooh la la …… In Seven(th) heaven

The much-awaited Shangri-La Hotel, Mumbai, located in Lower Parel opened its doors to guests recently. I was lucky to visit the Hotel for their sumptuous Sunday brunch at Seven, the all-day dining restaurant.

Located above the luxury Palladium Mall, the hotel features spacious and well- appointed rooms; CHI, The Spa – a fantastic spa destination; Seven, the all day dining restaurant; Ekayana, which offers an unparalleled selection of classic cocktails, wines and spirits, with a snack menu to suit every palate.

The sheer vast expanse of Seven, struck me, as we entered. Well spread out, the live stations and display counters looked neat and extremely appealing with their spread.

The cold station with vegetarian, non vegetarian delights as well as Charcuterie and Seafood like Crab, Smoked Salmon, Gravlax, Honey roast ham, Ham & Chicken terrine was a haven for any gourmet.

The cream of cauliflower with blue cheese was a treat for the palate and unique in its flavour and taste. Equally delightful was the Laksa with vegetables and condiments. Flavoursome and filling.

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Always partial to dimsums and sushi, I feasted on both. The spinach dimsum was a pleasant surprise. Chicken dimsums on the contrary turned out to be a wee bit disappointing. The sushi varieties, rendered me speechless.

In the main course, shitake ginger fried rice, was one of the best I have ever had. And one can never go wrong with wok fried prawns in black bean sauce. I love that sauce too much to be able to resist it. There were a lot of Indian dishes too as well as grills, but I skipped those.

The alert staff impressed me, as did the Restaurant Manager and the other F&B service team who painstakingly, explained the buffet spread and served us with a smile on our table.

Buzzing with activity, Seven has a wonderful energy about it and the space and elegant décor, only adds to the charm.

One can savour each morsel at a leisurely pace and do justice to the spread. Actually you can’t. The menu is an exercise in choices. Geoff Simmons, Executive Chef, has done a splendid job. There is something for every palate.

What can one say about the desserts? Sinful indulgence, at its best. Pastries, ice creams, cotton candy, raspberry roulade, pecan tart, apple crumble, mousse, sago pudding. Temptations galore. I settled for the Maracaibo Chocolate Dome, which was decadent. The tiramisu was too full of the mascarpone cheese, thereby other flavours getting subdued.

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We spent a delightful Sunday afternoon, tantalising our taste buds with different cuisines and exotic flavours. Can’t wait to go back for more.