Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stir it up!

Review – All Stir Fry

The moment you think All Stir Fry, you think the wok. Infact, it is actually the first restaurant in Mumbai to introduce wok fried cuisine. Honestly for me the wok is passé, hibachi or Japanese live cooking is the newest addition to what you may call ‘the interactive dining’ scene and is something that we should be looking forward to. It is available at Indiana Jones albeit at exorbitant prices. However Culinary Muse foresees ‘the lack of affordable places that serve the Japanese Hibachi’ situation change soon!

So coming back to All Stir Fry, as I said the Wok is very mundane so we decided to sample the a la carte menu. Friday evening, and as usual Gordon House, Colaba is buzzing, not the usual Polyesther crowd, well it was too early for even the early birds of the partying scene. It was the patrons of All Stir Fry! With it’s contemporary décor, dim lighting and table and bench seating (that can cause quite a backache), All Stir Fry makes for a very relaxed and casual ambience. The noise levels could go high with the crowd and the wok. Red, black and white seem to be theme with a brightly lit green wall that has what looks like lights in the shape of white woks.

The menu is pretty exhaustive with a variety of Pan Asian Cuisine. Actually reading it could get a bit confusing so practice reading the newspaper or more appropriately the ‘Orbituary Section’ before you try out this cramped menu.

For soups we order for a Veg Dumpling Noodle Soup – which was tastless, the noodles and the dumpling were also very doughy not the silky smooth you would expect. The Chicken Hot Sour on the the hand was good, peppery and sour to the right amount.

For appetizers we order the Chicken Dimsums (they have a separate menu for the steamed and satay fare) which was beautiful, silky and light. Just the natural mince chicken and vegetables filling making it out favourite dish for the evening.

In the main course we ordered for Burnt Garlic Fried Rice – the fried rice came with specs of garlic flakes which didn’t quite any sing to usual mundane dish. It was just the usual fried and nothing worth writing home about. The Pan Fried Noodles in Oyster Sauce was yum, with fresh crunchy vegetables and the aromatic flavor of the oyster sauce. The Stir Fried Chicken was also good with a pleasant garlicky taste.

On the whole the food was good with a few tiny glitches here and there. One noteworthy thing is the variety that this place serves up and the quantity of each dish which is very good. Making it apt for families and large groups unlike places where quantities are poor or individual oriented.

A meal for two would cost between Rs 350 – 550 per head, a pretty reasonable amount in today’s times


Food: Good
Ambience: Pleasant but could get noisy
Service: Friendly

Quicktip: If your alone or going with a colleague, the wok is advisable but if your going with a group or your family opt for a la carte. Menu starring Sumptious Quantities and Great Variety!

The Co-ordinates

All Stir Fry, he Gordon House Hotel, 5, Battery Street, Apollo Bunder, Colaba , Mumbai

Phone: 22894400, 22864451, 22894452

Timings: 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM to Midnight

Food Type: Chinese, Mongolian

Payment Methods: Credit cards accepted

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It’s the thought that matters...

Review – Food For Thought, Kitab Khana

I love libraries and bookstores! Can spend an entire day at such places surrounded by books of all shapes and sizes & the smell of the oak wood shelves. And thus when I noticed this new book shop in flora fountain I couldn’t help but get inside.

It was sheer luck and I must say a good one that I noticed this store while scurrying for my admission fornmalities. The name itself ‘Kitab Khana’ is very old school and just adds to the vintage charm that flora fountain/fort exudes. Not the usual Landmark and Oxford kind, this bookshop is neither humouguous nor is it over flowing with people. Just the perfect atmosphere! You know the kind Bombay Stores and Fab India give. Ofcourse not a day there is a sale.

What I like about this place is the layout and architecture. At every turn you’ll find something new. Some of the walls are engraved with doha’s by Sant Kabir, verses of Sant Tukaram and other great philosophers.

Located to the far left corner of this bookshop is a quaint cafeteria called Food for Thought. A charming and dainty café, of just 7-8 seats, walls of which are adorned with movies related to food – Ratatouille, Julia and Julia, No Reservations. Mental Thought: Culinary Muse loves this and promises herself to get these for her home. Anything to do with food!

The all vegetarian menu lists down a limited yet impressive selection of Appetizers, Salads, Sandwhiches, Pastas, Deserts and Drinks

Penne Aglio Olio

We get on to ordering. The first Penne Pesto – is brilliant with yummy, nutty green sauce, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil flavor and a portion of bread on the side. The second pasta – Penne Aglio Olio was too dry and tasteless, quite a disappointment compared to the Penne Pesto. In the drinks we had the Ginger Lemonade, which was quite refreshing considering it is still so hot. The Earl Grey Tea was the normal, tea bag version.
Apple Crumble

In the desserts, we had the Apple Crumble – beautiful presentation with Cinnamon Powder sprinkled all the over, the dish was an equal delight in taste. The crunchiness of the outside crumb and the soft warmth of the apple inside was just brilliant.

A meal for 2 here would cost anywhere between Rs 250 – Rs. 500


Food: Good
Ambience: Old School
Service: Slow yet Hospitable with the owner personally interacting with everybody

Quicktip: Don’t be lazy, forget Flipkart for a day, come buy a new book or just explore the ambience of Kitabh Khana and give Food For Thought a try! The Apple Crumble is a must!

The Co-ordinates

Kitabkhana, Somaiya Bhavan, 45/47, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Flora Fountain, Fort , Mumbai

Timings: 10:00 AM to 7:30 PM (Open All Days)

Food Type: Continental, Fastfood, Confectionery, Cookies

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

All ‘Thai’ ed Up

Decoding Thailand through it’s Food
Me: (holding up a garment) Do you have a big size in this?
Shop Lady: (exasperated but in sing song voice) No madaaame, Only 1 sigh, free sigh
Me: Ok. How much for this?
Shop Lady: Cheap Cheap Madaam! 1 piece for 150 baht if you buy 3 piece 100 baht
Me: (mustering the Sindhi Indian in me) Give me 1 piece for 120 baht
Shop Lady: Cannot Madaame! (waving her hand at me)

My reaction ranges from paying 150 baht if I really like it and walking off if I don’t. But the very dominant shopaholic in me makes me opt for the 1st option most of the time!

This was my seventh visit to Bangkok. Yes 6 trips before and this was the seventh time we were going to this land of massage parlours, prostitutes, shopping and thai curry! My love for this country and particularly this city Bangkok goes much beyond the shopping though. This time I realized that it’s the food. The spicy flavours, soupy  and sticky textures and most of all the sumptuous quantities are some of the reasons why Thailand comes No. 1 on my list of Uber Delicious. Simply put I love the food there! The use of condiments and spices makes it very close to Indian Food but something that takes it a notch above is the freshness of the ingredients. You can’t help but note the crunch in the vegetables and fruits when you eat. And what more it doesn’t even pinch your pocket, the food is really very cheap. Yep I would not exactly ‘haven’ for the vegetarian, Thailand still remains my choice when it comes to food.

Let me now list down dishes that you must try when in Thailand –
Green Thai Curry

1)      Red & Green Curry: But Obvious? Not quite. I know we’ve had a an overdose of the thai curry specially since the the Thai Pavilions & Tamanak Thai’s but people who have tried Thai curry in Thailand will agree that the one found in India, even in the five stars is no match! The flavours and smell that fresh ingredients like lemon grass, kafir leaves, bird eye chillies and spicy berry (gundha as the gujaratis call it) conjure are pure divinity. Add to it the Shrimps or Chicken and eggplant and couple it will Thai version of steam sticky rice and your on Cloud No.9. The dish is available at all street food stalls, restaurants and food courts in Thailand and costs anywhere between 40 baht – 80 bahts approx Rs 60 to 120 for a huge bowl

Steamed Sea Bass

2)      Steamed Sea Bass in Lemon Sauce: Now this has to be my most priced seafood find! An entire steamed trout sea bass cooked in lemon juice gravy with finely sliced garlic, lemon zest and the Thai bird eye chilly. The taste? Imagine a spa in your mouth! The dish is available at  most street food restaurants and costs anywhere between 350 – 400 baht approx Rs 525
Chicken in Holy Basil

3)      Stir Fried Chicken/Seafood in Holy Basil: Another ambrosial dish from the Thai kitchen this dish consists of minced chicken or seafood cooked in light soy sauce and the holy basil leaf (tulsi). The  balmy dish is simply marvelous and can be had by itself or with steamed rice. The dish is available at all street food stalls, restaurants and food courts in Thailand and costs anywhere between 40 baht – 80 bahts approx Rs 60 to 120.



Raw Mango

4)      Exotic Fruits: Apples and oranges are passé. Try these yummy sweet and juicy Thai fruits and you would know what it feel like to live in heaven. The Mangosteen is personal favourite. Deliciously sweet and sour you can never have just one of this soft squishy fruit. The next is the rambutan, quit similar to litchi, only better. Even their raw mango is yummy. Must be had with their sweet and spicy masala. These are available at street vendors in Thailand and cost anywhere between 30 – 60 baht per kilo

Mama Noodles

5)      Mama Noodles in Dark Soy Sauce: These are basically curly noodles tossed and fried in dark soy sauce with pakchoy and green peppercorns. You can also have a soup version but I prefer the stir-fried one. At some places its more spicy due to use of a lot of peppercorns. All I can say the spicier the better! This is available with street vendors and all food courts. I had it at the Platinum Food Court and MBK mall food court, the latter being tastier and costs between 40-60 baht approx Rs 60
Noodle Soup

6)      Noodle Soup with Bean Curd Dumpling: This dish reminded of Kung Fu Panda  - Po’s father the Crane making yummy delicious gigantic bowls of the soothing noodle broth. The soup comes in the same huge China bowls, it’s a clear with mild flavours of juices of the vegetables and bean curd. Talk about Noodle Soup for the Soul. The dish is available at all food malls and street carts ans cost between 80 – 100 baht  approx Rs 120 - 150

Chicken in Cashewnuts
7)      Chicken in Cashewnuts and Vegetables: The dish is made of chicken cooked with diced veggies likes peppers, babycorn, mushrooms and cashews. Kindoff edulcorated, the dish is still yum. The dish is available at most restaurants and costs Rs 80 – 100 bahts approx Rs 120 – 150
Khaw Soi

8)      Khaw Soi: Not very frequently found in Bangkok, this dish seems to be a staple of Northern region of Thailand specially places like Chiang Mai which are home to the Lanna (Burmese) tribe. Traditionally a Burmese dish, the Thai add their own touch with a broth a of medium consistency not too thick and not to thin with egg noodles and obviously accompanied with the usual condiments.

Thai Shrimp Fried Rice

9)      Thai Fried Rice with Shrimp: Short grain rice tossed up in a lot of vegetables and thai bird chillies, this can make a sumptuous meal in itself. Stuffed inside it you will find large chunks of Shrimp

Other food that you could try are –

Smoked Sausages

Sticky Rice with Mango

Not only is the food in Thailand great, so is the humility and hospitality of the people. Simple gestures like folding their hands and greeting you with ‘Swadika’ (thankyou & welcome), an equivalent of the Namaste everytime you enter a restaurant or pay them just adds a very personal touch and makes you feel welcome

Quicktip: Eat at the street food carts and street restaurants, its very hygienic the ingredients are always fresh. You may have a bit of problem with the language but most of the restaurants come with photo menu’s so all you need to is point out and then plop in!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pune Calling....

Review – Deccan Harvest

It's Wednesday and Culinary Muse is back to give you a taste of her gastronomical discoveries. This time around, she managed to go further and discover what Pune has to offer.

Not the usual Koregaon Park fare, she managed to discover this new place, a little off Pune limits in the well planned township of MagarPatta, called Deccan Harvest. At the outset the restaurant is a huge canopy surrounded by sprawling lush lawns. On the way to the entrance a small pond of lotus flowers greets us. A breathtakingly beautiful sight. And one that you would never get to see in Mumbai due to the lack of space obviously.

On the inside, the place is well done with the glass walls giving you good view of lush greenery shining in the Deccan sun. A well stocked bar area to one the other side and another floor of cushion and bolster seatings. However, a mephitis smell emanated from somewhere, we couldn't figure out. Out of the umpteen amount of split ACs, only a few were working. So after a few shifts here & there we settled on a long table that accommodated a huge group like ours, right in front of a 'working' AC. Inspite of that, we were feeling hot and the notorious stench didn't seem to go away. Note to myself: Don't judge a restaurant by its cover!

We get down to ordering, the menu describes the place to be a 'fine dining and wine lounge' and offers quite a variety of Indian, Chinese & continental aliment. We start with Cream of Chicken Soup – a tasteless thick starchy broth, not very appealing to our tastebuds.

Cream of Chicken

We move on to the appetizers, the Chicken Tikka – flavourful succulent chunks of meat were good, a sigh of relief from the banal soup. The Chicken Salt & Pepper– crisp battered fried chicken flavoured with peppers and garlic was brilliant and left us wanting for more. The Veg Salt & Pepper too was a delight as was the Paneer Tikka.

Chicken Tikka

Moving on to the main course we ordered for Grilled Chicken in Red Wine Sauce – smoked chicken pieces served with French fries and sautéed vegetables. First of all, I would have preferred this with mashed potatoes instead of French Fries. The dish seemed like an incomplete version of the Marsala and even though the breast pieces of chicken were grilled to perfection and coated with a dark brown sort of Worchester Sauce, the dish lacked taste and flavor. The Indian Fare was much better – the Butter Chicken coupled with butter roti made for delectable combination.

Grilled Chicken in Red Wine

On the whole it seemed to be a pretty average place with a beautiful locale. The service however was pathetic with waiters passing rude comments. While placing the order we happened to say that we wanted Veg. Paneer Tikka. The waiter taking down our order, Smart Alec that he was, commented back saying, Paneer is veg only. Calling this behavior rude would be an understatement.

The place was also little pricey and a meal for two would cost anywhere between Rs 500-600. Think they wanted to keep up to the whole 'fine dining'promise. But as they say promises a meant to be broken!



Food: Average

Service: Let's talk about Mimoh Chakravorty's acting instead

Ambience: Beautiful


QuickTip: If you are around the area, it would be worth going there just to absorb the nature. Stick to the Indian Food.


The Co-ordinates

Deccan Harvest
143 Magarpatta City, Opp Tower 1, Off Pune Solapur Road, Magarpatta, Hadapsar, Pune

Phone: 66491018

Timings: 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, 7:30 PM to 11:00 PM

Food Type: Indian, Continental, Chinese

Payment Methods: Visa, Master, Cash



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