Tag Archives: panasian

Pleasing my Palate in Pune

My foodie trails take me to several places and recently I found myself at Double Tree by Hilton, Pune, a hotel located in Pimpri-Chinchwad away from the hustle-bustle and yet, with all basic necessities a stone’s throw away.

The gourmand in me beamed with pleasure as a large, warm, chocolate chip cookie was handed over to me at the time of check-in. That is a Hilton tradition. The warm cookie was comforting after my journey and simply melt-in-my-mouth.

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3 Spices, the vibrant all-day dining place at the lobby level impressed me. It exudes an air of bonhomie and comfort. The cheerful and warm staff settled us in and we looked around the buffet spread for lunch. There was no run-of-the-mill stuff here. Food from around the world – Indian, Pan Asian, Global- something for every palate.  And attractively displayed. The bar at the entrance is well-stocked and the bartenders adeptly mix cocktails of your choice.

There was a live chaat counter too. Just perfect for this weather to perk up my taste buds.

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The roasted chicken with rosemary jus, the mangshor jhol or quintessential Bengali mutton curry with birasta pulao, struck me as outstanding. The bhakris, chicken in khada masala and stuffed okra that chef specially made for us to give us a taste of the local flavours took my taste buds by storm. The flavours were distinct and no where did spices overpower the ingredients.

The Pan Asian fare was equally well-made sans any additives and preservatives.

The a la carte menu here is exhaustive and boasts of everything from curry laksa and classic caesar salad to penne pasta genovese and chicken tikka pizza. The 6 seeti ka mutton and Kerala Pomfrt curry from the regional specialities are a must-try.

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The desserts were equally unusual. The beetroot halwa, Um ali- the Egyptian bread pudding, caught my fancy and both of them surpassed my expectations. The creamy texture of both desserts wowed my palate.

The varied fare at this buffet with unusual delicacies, certainly sets it apart from many others.

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Although for dinner, 3 Spices had an Awadhi food promotion, which looked immensely tempting, I decided to skip it as Miyuki, the small and cosy Japanese restaurant behind 3 Spices, beckoned me. Chef Nirmal’s work at the Teppanyaki griddle, mesmerised me as he treated us to an exotic meal complete with salads, sushi, sashimi, fried rice with chicken teriyaki and of course dessert. The flavours were simple and subtle, in keeping with Japanese cuisine and the ingredients fresh. The Sashimi particularly stood out for me in the entire meal.

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The service staff at all the F& B outlets is impeccable. Well-trained, courteous and most importantly well-informed.

My breakfast next morning was an enjoyable experience again. The live counters with eggs and waffles were fun to watch as chefs adroitly dished out waffles and eggs for diners a la minute. The ‘Kadak chai’ tapri or stall served piping hot masala tea, in keeping with the culture of Pune.

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Cereals, Pan Asian dishes, fruits, South Indian fare, bakery items. There truly was a lot to choose from. The array of fresh juices- mixed, watermelon, orange, carrot and ginger in glass bottles impressed me beyond words.

Chef Joy who is at the helm and his team of talented chefs ensure that the F&B offerings are unique and monotony never sets in for a long staying guest. They constantly endeavour to create new dining experiences for guests.  The attentive and affable waiting staff executes this to perfection and together, they contribute to a memorable dining experience for the guest.

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Tarta, the tiny and attractive bakery and patisserie in the lobby is hard-to-miss. Fresh breads, pastries and cakes galore, are on display and irresistible.

I have stayed at many hotels in India and abroad, but the F&B offerings here at Double Tree by Hilton Pune, Chinchwad are something I will long cherish and remember.

 

 

 

 

 

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House of Aroma : Lemon Leaf

This truly was a case of taking your neighbourhood eatery for granted. Lemon Leaf has been in Andheri West, Mumbai for a while now and I have never visited it. During the Chinese New Year, when an exciting menu was on offer, I decided to check this place out.

On a weekday evening too, this place was buzzing. Upon entering there was a positive and warm vibe to this restaurant, which I instantly fell in love with. Ameya’s professional and warm welcome, added to the feel-good factor. We were off to a great start.

The menu for the festival was limited but complete with something for everyone. My Golden Corn & Crabmeat Soup was a delight for the palate. Mildly spiced and yet, delectable. It boasted of distinct crabmeat flavours. Set my taste buds tingling alright.

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The BBQ chicken Baos were equally well-made. Steamed to perfection and a generous amount of BBQ chicken enveloped within. Quite filling actually.

The Chicken Siu Mai was aesthetic to look at and packed with flavours. Flavoursome and replete with a myriad textures, it provided the right bite. The accompanying sauces were equally adept at wowing the palate.

Chicken Siu Mai with Pickled ginger

The other options on the menu were 3 Mushroom Dumpling with mushroom broth, Pepper fried Chicken Piccata – with pickled vegetables and so on.

The service I noticed, despite the packed restaurant, was prompt and efficient. Kudos!

For main course, we were recommended the Hakka egg noodles and it paired exceedingly well with our shredded chicken, in a piquant and spicy sauce. The liberal amount of chicken in the sauce along with an oh-so! generous portion of noodles proved to be a meal that satiated us.

We rounded off our meal with a Hazelnut chocolate pot with toffee sauce and a dollop of Vanilla ice cream. I loved the panache with which it was served to us. The hard outer shell of the chocolate pot melted with the hot sauce and gave way to the creamy mousse within. A well-presented dessert and decadent to taste as well. Only the vanilla ice cream could have been creamier.

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No additives, no MSG, no artificial flavours. The food at Lemon Leaf indeed surpassed my expectations. I was glad I had finally discovered this restaurant. This visit was definitely just the beginning.

Rating : 3.5/5

 

 

Aroma, Art and An Appetizing Meal at Shiro

I am a little partial to Pan Asian cuisine, I must confess. After Indian ghar ka khaana aka home cooked food, it is my favourite cuisine. The sheer variety, usage of spices, unusual flavours, cooking methods, appeal to me and make we want to eat more of it.

The new menu at Shiro, unarguably, one of the finest places for Pan Asian cuisine in Mumbai, beckoned me. I was informed that some of the classics and old favourites had been retained but almost 40% of the menu was new inclusions. That sounded exciting.

Shiro’s decor and interiors always have a calming effect on me. Something to do with the Zen ambience, I guess.

Our Sushi and Maki rolls arrived. Aesthetically presented as ever. The crispy duck maki rolls got my instant vote. The texture was unique, as were the flavours.

Crispy duck maki

The Chicken summer rolls from Vietnam are my all time favourites and Shiro offers the best ones. The shredded chicken, herbs, peanut hoisin sauce filled in rice paper rolls are light and mouth-watering. It is the simplicity in the flavours which sets them apart.

The Chilean seabass with lime reduction tantalized my palate. The light but distinct flavours, were comforting. The fish was fresh and I loved the way the texture was kept intact. Absolutely melt in the mouth. The Miso black cod was delightful. But the sweet potato mash served alongside got brownie points instantly.

With each dish, the degree of innovation in the new menu struck me as commendable. The Chefs had put in a lot of thought.

Chilean seabass with chilli lime reduction

The skewers were equally a treat. Loved the subtle Thai flavours. These live grills are a new inclusion and a welcome addition to the menu, I can assure you.

Quality ingredients, palate tingling flavours and a plethora of choices, characterize the new Shiro menu.

Our main course was served. Chicken Massaman curry, garlic fried rice, Yaki udon noodles, prawns and assorted mushrooms with spicy thai herb sauce. We were spoilt for choice.

The use of garam masala in the Massaman curry fascinated me. A striking similarity to Indian cuisine, I thought. And yet the masalas were not overpowering. The medley of mushrooms was exotic to say the least and paired well with the noodles and rice. Aromatic all the way.A perfect recommendation by the Chef. I was satiated and yet, craving for more.

Vegetarians need not despair. Plenty of exciting options for them too in the new carefully planned menu.

Massaman curry with mix vegetables

It was dessert time. The chocolate and sour cherry dome bowled my taste buds completely. A work of art on plate it was.  It literally exploded in my mouth unleashing a burst of chocolate and sour cherry.It was an outstanding combination. Undoubtedly my favourite dessert at Shiro, hereon.

Chocolate cherry bomb

It was one of the most memorable meals I have had in a long time. Impeccable service, warm hospitality and an absolutely sublime dining experience.

Rating: 4.5/5

When Bangkok Moves Closer Home and Heart

For us carnivores, the prospect of eating Vegetarian food and that too Pan Asian is daunting. But a visit to 38 Bangkok Street has made me think again.

An eatery which throws up a host of flavours, textures and aromas by way of variety in the all -Veg menu. The menu is exhaustive, well thought of and an exercise in choices.

38 Bangkok Street specializes in Pan Asian Cuisine – salads, curries, woks, noodles from the streets Thailand, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam to name a few. The best of all these cuisines, in nutshell, is on offer.

Our Laksa Penang soup arrives. The waft of the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves pervade pur nostrils even before we taste it. The first spoonful and we are reassured it is the real thing. High quality ingredients in a bowl of heavenly soup. A great start.

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Grilled tofu over a bed of Asian greens- our salad arrives next. It is light and flavourful and perks up our taste buds further. The greens are fresh and crunchy. I particularly enjoy the silken tofu which is grilled to perfection.

The fried Yasai tempura took me by surprise. Crispy, crunchy and flattering for my taste buds. Loved the vast array of exotic veggies that were used. Had to compel myself to stop, else I would have happily polished off all of them.

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The water chestnut dim sums were delectable. A nice moist covering and the filling too was crunchy owing to the water chestnut filling. Could have been a bit less spicy though. The accompanying sauces too were interesting.

The banana leaf wrapped cottage cheese was a tad disappointing. A bit too bland and the cottage cheese texture too was a bit rubbery.

Banana leaf wrapped cottage cheese

The options in the menu were ample. Unique Asian starters like the Crunchy Java Lotus Stem tossed with ginger garlic, Mock Duck Chilli Garlic, Cottage Cheese Sambai Bajak tossed  with  bell peppers and homemade Malaysian style fresh red chilli sauce etc.

The presentation of each dish served struck me as elegant and aesthetic. The chef obviously had an eye for detail.

Our main course comprised Tek Tek noodles, Nasi lemak and a spicy red curry, Sambal Bajak. The fragrant rice steeped in coconut milk and the Sambal curry got our unflinching vote. One of the best curries I have ever tasted. We did not miss non-veg at all for once. The noodles were nothing to write home about. Strictly ordinary.

The entire meal was overwhelming, in terms of the quality, variety and flavours. I had never enjoyed a Pan Asian meal which is vegetarian, to such an extent.

The service too is prompt and the place has a nice family ambience.

Our dessert was a pumpkin coconut cake with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. The cake was soft and moist and absolutely melt in the mouth. Full marks there too.

The zesty flavours of the fare at 38 Bangkok Street had tickled our palates beyond a doubt. We will surely be coming back soon for some more.
Rating: 4/5

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 !

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