Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gimme Mo and Mo

Review: Busaba                                               

Busaba, the brainchild of Nikhil Chib, chef & entrepreneur, started off much as an outcast in SOBO, which was dominated by the regular Chinese eateries and Bademiyan. Being located next to Mr. Akerkar’s Indigo also didn’t provide much solace to it’s situation. But things got lucky, people started travelling more to southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and wanted the same food back at home (even though they packed theplas to eat there).  So Busaba gained popularity amongst the discerning palate that wanted ghar ka dal chawal but also once in a while wants Korea’s bibimbap not just because it’s cool to eat with chopsticks but because the subtle flavours appeal to him more than the rubber served at American Restaurants (read Mc Donalds), the Pav Bhaji Pasta (read the so called Arabiatta) served at Italian restaurants and the same old cashew chicken and fried rice served at Chinese restaurants. He now wants the Satays, the Jasmine Sticky Rice, Thai Curry and the Laksa’s. All these dishes are flavoursome if not spicy and strike chord with our firmly routed culture of adding condiments,that only add to the taste but the smell, the freshness, the texture, the consistency and the digestion.

Nikhil Chib actually started his career in India with a shack in Goa called Busabong. But that was just one of those ambitious things you start with your friends. After that either differences creep in or life happens. So he started Busaba with a menu that a) did not stick a particular cuisine and b)stayed away from the popular Chinese cuisine, both smart moves from Chib. Although Busaba has its teething problems in the beginning and if you have travelled to South Asia you would notice that the original dishes are far superior in flavor, Busaba has managed to secure it’s position. It still stands like an adjoined twin to Indigo but has its own of fan following and is crowded on most days. Personally I prefer it over Indigo, maybe because I am biased to Asian Food.

Lounge Area

Upper Area
When you enter Busaba, you get this bohemian sort of feeling like you’ve entered a den and from somewhere you are going to hear Dum Maaro Dum. The ground floor is Lounge with a bar.A red wall with a huge mirror and chandeliers leads you to the second floor which is quite a contrast to the one below. Understated and serene came to my mind the moment I set foot. The wooden flooring adds to the earthiness. There are two sections and the one that overlooks the road is great, with a view of trees lit with stars romancing the dim lighting indoors and the candle that illuminates just the face of the person you love makes for a perfect setting.

Enough of gyan, getting down to food, we start of with the much spoken and appreciated dish over here – the Chicken Momo’s. I have no words to describe this dish, all I can say is do you remember what you felt during your first kiss?  Nikhil Chib has managed to replicate it with some dough and chicken. Just top it with some homemade chilli sauce and sit back and enjoy the unadultered purity of the moment. A warning don’t be ambitious and order the Prawn Momo’s which have been injected with a overdose of sodium chloride making them taste brackish. The Chicken Satay with peanut sauce is the usual fair but delicious with a nutty flavor.

   For the main course, we order for for the Korean Bibimbap - rice pickled with vegetables (kimchi) and meat of your choice topped with fried egg. Along with comes a clear vegetable soup that I thought in this case was very acerbic due to overcooking of the avocado(avocado when overcooked gives out this bitter taste that extremely unpalatable.  This dish is an acquired taste. We then move on to the Khow Suey, again which didn’t impress me much. The usual noodles served with curry, which I thought was too thick. Whenever I have eaten Khowsuey it has been this flavoursome curry of a soup like consistency. I found this Khowsuey here quite bland even after adding the condiments. 

The next we ordered for their Pad Krap Row (no am not abusing) which is strifried meat, choose chicken again unless u want blood pressure, in garlic, holjy basil and bird chillies. The celestial combination makes for a very appetizing dish. Teams well with sticky rice. The next dish, Green Thai Curry is nice, although if you’ve already travelled to Thailand and tasted it there you won’t’ be impressed. However this one is the closest I have seen to the original. The milky flavor of coconut milk coupled with peppers, kafir leaves and fresh basil are quite delectable. It’s a bit dulcified though. Our next is the Steamed Fish with Lime, Chilli & Garlic. The presentation of this dish is excellent. It is served in a platter shaped like a whole fish and a small candle lit below to keep it steaming hot. The silky texture of the lusturous fish combined with lemon zest and kafir leaves make for a buonissimo experience. Best teamed with steam rice.

Chocolate Fondant
For dessert we order the Banoffee pie, which is a pie make of toffee, banana’s and cream. This was disappointing, way to dulcified and Milk Maidlike. The next Chocolate Fondant, a soufflé style cake that oozes out heavenly thick melted chocolate when you cut into it. Again the second orgasmic dish after the MOMO’s.

Busaba falls on the slightly dear side of the price bar if not exorbitant with per head costs ranging to Rs 650 – Rs 750.

Food: Ambrosial
Ambience: Understated & Serene
Service: Friendly

Quicktip: A must visit for a zealot of Asian Food. Come in smaller groups of maybe 2 or 3 to be able really enjoy a sumptuous meal as the quantity is not that great. The Momo’s and the Chocolate Fondant, 2 dishes that are an absolute must have! They come under my ‘Dishes to have once again before I Die’

The Co-ordinates
Busaba, 4, Mandlik Road, Colaba, Mumbai -400032,
Landmark: Near Indigo Restaurant
022-22043769, 022-22043772

12:30 PM to 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM to 12:30 AM
Visa, Amex, Master, Cash, Credit cards accepted

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Enter The Dragon

Review: Ming Yang                                          

You know you have entered a restaurant at one of the Taj Group of Hotels when 1) it’s not too crowded (certainly too expensive to be crowded) and 2) the hospitality with which your greeted at the entrance. So we enter Ming Yang, the upscale Chinese eatery at Taj Lands End frequented by Crème de la creme and  Bollywood celebrities, and we are greeted by friendly North Eastern staff.

Adorned with carved wooden furniture and pale jade green interiors, Ming Yang gives me the feeling that China Garden gave in its first avataar at Kemps Corner. You know the feeling of being transported to China probably during the era of one of the ancient dynastys (not that I have been there in person but Kylie Kwong does a good job at transporting me with her show My China).  The sound of flowing from the waterfall at the entrance just adds to beautiful ambiance.

I open the menu and I am immediately struck by the prices! All Chicken appetizers are above Rs 500 and Seafood is twice that. Forgive me for playing Mc. Scrooge here but I believe in getting value for my money. This better be an extraordinary experience, I thought to myself and looked at my accomplices who seemed to mirror my feelings.

We get down to ordering the food. Our maitre d’, the North Eastern looking lady, let’s call her Kanchi Re (yes she reminded me of the women in that song) takes our order with just a nod no pen and paper in hand.

The soups come first – the Hot and Sour Soup is quiet the quotidian, the Lemon Chicken Coriander one with egg droplets is quite zesty & flavorsome. While we ordered only one portion of the Lemon Chicken Coriander soup we were served two. On questioning, the server gave us a confused look and took it back to the kitchen. After some time Kanchi Re came, apologised and said that we can have it and we won’t charged extra. We were beginning to like Ming Yang (yes we are a Sindhi family and a free anything doesn’t hurt). 

For the starters again we ordered for a Mixed Platter Dimsum which consists of 10 dimsums where Kanchi Re told us that we could customize it in case we didn’t want Veg dimsums. So we ordered half and half combination of Prawn and Chicken dimsums. However to our dismay we were served half chicken and half veg ones. I was about to get irritated! Get a writing pad lady! I wanted to yell but Kanchi Re walks in again with an expression that read somewhere between ‘constipation’ and ‘Shit I screwed it up again!’ and told us that she will give us additional prawns ones as well with no extra charge. You should have seen the smiles on our faces.

Continuing to the rest of the appetizers – the Chicken Chilly Mountain a fiery dish with piquant pieces of batter fried chicken, chillies and sesame seeds, was quite a delight. 

The Ming Yang Chicken - sliced chicken with cashew nuts (it seems be a popular ingredient, wonder if it’s an Indianisation or do the Chinese really have cashews in their food) however, which boasted of being the Chefs specialty lacked flavour. 

The Chicken, Prawn and free Veg dimsums - morsels of chicken, prawns & vegetables wrapped in slender wanton dough were light & delicate with no overpowering flavours just the natural juices of chicken, prawns and vegetables. Saporous I would say.

For the main course we had Chicken in Black Pepper Sauce, again nothing very distinguishing about its taste. Next the Basa Fish in Schezwan Pickled Chilli sauce - tender basa fish marinated in a mix of Chilly, garlic and lime. The fiery flavor of the pickled chilli combined with the velvety texture of the Basa fish tasted brilliant. Warning a potent dish, definitely not for the faint hearted. This we coupled with the Burnt Garlic Rice.

With some very discerning dishes like the Basa Fish & the Chicken Chilli Mountain and some quotidian ones, Ming Yang was a mixed bag. What I really like about the place is that after reading my comments in the feedback form served with the bill, Chef David, the head chef, actually came to our table to take suggestions on how it could be made better. This in my opinion is the hallmark of Taj or any other place where they truly believe that the ‘Customer is the King’. Stratospherically priced at Rs. 1000 – Rs 1500 per person

Food: Mixed Bag
Ambience: Excellent
Service: Confused yet polite

Quicktip: If it’s your turn to treat, don’t opt for Ming Yang especially if it’s a large group. If someone else is treating, don’t miss out. If you are going Dutch call in sick!

The Co-ordinates
Ming Yang, Lobby Level 1 at The Taj Lands End, Band Stand, Bandra (W), Mumbai -400050
Timings: Lunch: 12:30 pm - 14:45 pm
Dinner: 19:30 pm - 23:45 pm
Serves Alcohol and Accepts Cards

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

For the Love of Seafood!

Review - Apoorva

Located on Mumbai’s very own Wall Street – Fort, Apurva is a sea food lover’s dream. Although this area is flanked by many popular eateries and seafood joints like Trishna & Mahesh Lunch home, Apurva has managed to distinguish itself from the crowd with its authentic coastal & Manglorean fare. The restaurant maintains its cost effectiveness, catering well to both the parsimonious and the wealthy.

In the day, it is pretty crowded with herds of office goers flocking here during lunch hours. In the evening too, it’s pretty crowded with families and ‘packs of men’ celebrating their few hours of singledom, the famous ‘boys night out’ over fried fish & beer. You would be lucky if you didn’t have to wait for a couple of minutes. There are two sections - the upper one is air-conditioned while on the ground floor there is the sasta and tikau wall fan  and mirrors all around. Do people really like to see themselves while eating? Voyeurs! If you are with your family then I’d suggest you opt for the air-conditioned section and if you with your buddies, your ‘pack of single men’ take the ground floor. The pricing in the menus is different; obviously the food on the upper level is more expensive. Note the upper air-conditioned section is low ceilinged so if your tall be a little careful.  

For appetizers we first order fish - the Surmai Tawa is delicious, one mid-sized slice of Surmai Fish which can suffice two people. Coated with delicious batter, it is crunchy on the outside while tender fresh on this inside.  The Rawas Tikka is delectable, with succulent pieces of the tandoored fish which just melt in your mouth, a must have at this place. The Bombay Duck is crispy fried but I found it a oily and less meaty. The next appetitzer Clams Sukha  is  amazing if you’re a fan of shell fish, this one is cooked in a dry malvani style masala of chillies, grated coconut, mustard seeds and of course the unctuous shell fish meat  (I hope no PETA people are reading this). Then we are served the prawns- the Prawns Koliwada are batter fried prawns, quite the usual crunch with a hint of spice and the Prawns Chilli are what fine dining gurus like Veer Sanghvi would call Sino-Ludhianvi food with garlic, chillies and peppers, however its quite tasty. The Squid Butter Pepper Garlic is rubbery but then again I am not quite a fan of squid.

After this, comes the most satisfying part and if I may say the most orgasmic moment in the history of food, Apurva’s speciality, the Crab Butter Pepper Garlic - A whole crab cooked in loads butter, spring onions and garlic. Insert Salivating Smiley here. You would be given a along napkin – a bib to be precise, nut-cracker like cutters and a marrow spoons to scoop the meat out.  Even if you’re the most sophisticated eater in this world, I suggest you use that bib. This is going to be messy!  The waiter will serve you the pieces of crab ask him for extra gravy on the side, brace yourself and dig in. Literally. If this is not the most orgasmic food moment of your life I don’t know what could be. The crab meat, velvety soft and naturally juicy is combined with the zing of butter and garlic. Simply Sinful! It’s quite a tedious task though, scooping out the meat and then chewing on the bones. So you might end up losing some weight insteadJ (seriously praying that no one from PETA is reading this!)

Then comes the main course- a spicy fish curry called Gassi flavoured with tamarind, chilly, mustard seeds. Had best with Neer Dosa, a very thin rice dosa or Steamed Rice. You can even have the prawn or chicken gassi. There is also the soulful Chicken Stew, delicately flavoured with coconut and non spicy. Best had Appam, a thick dosa or rice (Yes lots of carbs so plan a rigorous workout the next day)

If you are wondering on my carnivorous review with nothing on the vegetarian side, in my defense, I would say that even though the restaurant also has of vegetarian food on the menu, I would not recommend you go there if you come from a place where eating meat is sin. If you are forced by your non vegetarian colleagues you can try the Navratna Korma or the Chinese. A warning you will feel like Bella amongst the Cullens more appropriately Bella amongst the Cullen Sucking on Blood!

All in all if you’re a seafood aficionado this is the place for you. The price per head is also economical with Rs 250 – Rs 400.

Food: excellent                                                                                         
Ambience: Hell who cares
Service: Prompt

Quicktip: Go in big groups to be able to order a lot. Variety’s the Spice! Men should celebrate ‘boys night out’ here over your beer, fried fish, some more beer and ‘how they wish they had a BMW 7 series’ talk.

·         Apurva Bar & Restaurant, Noble Chambers, S. A. Brelvi Road, Near Horniman Circle, Fort, Mumbai400001, India
·         2870335,2881457
Timings: 11:30 AM to 4:00 PM, 6:00 PM to Midnight
Serves Alcohol
Accepts Credit Cards
Home Delivery within 5 kms

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