Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Idli, Appam, Sambhar Khao Quick Gun Murugan Ke Gun Gao

Review – Dakshinayan


Matunga maybe Mumbai's South Indian food haven with the Madras Cafes and the Anand Bhavans but SOBO isn't far behind either. We have a our fair share of Udupi's the Shiv Sagars and Sukh Sagars, which are now by the way multi cuisine, with menus gloating of nachos, pizzas and Chinese food, and then we also have places like Dakshinayan that take South Indian Food more seriously and give it a kind of sophistication.

Located in Walkeshwar, opposite the Teen Batti Police station, Dakshinayan can give the phrase 'hole in the wall' a bit of a complex. Yes not a very big place, the décor too is minimal yet elegant. Terra-cotta crafts adorn the walls while brass curios of sacred cows and diyas are placed on panels. And while the upper half of the walls are painted white, the other half is dark brown giving an effect of thatched mud with Karnataka Chittara style white motifs running throughout in straight lines. The simplistic and understated décor makes for genteel ambience.

The place is pretty crowded for a week day like Thursday. Then again that's the benefit of being located in an area dominated by the community that made thepla a world delicacy. For Gujjus, weddings and eating out are daily affairs like brushing and excreting. No offense meant but a close observation of gujjus (most of my friends are Gujaratis – vaishnavs, jains, lohanas you name it), they are pretty much the reason why Mumbai's restaurants run and inflation is the way it is and they have no qualms about this claim to fame.

Molgapodi Idlis

The waiter dressed in traditional South Indian muddus (lungis) gives us our menu, which enlists typical dishes like dosas, idlis, uthpams. We start with Steamed Idlis – fluffy and soft, served with fresh coconut chutney and spicy sambhar. We also ordered for a 'Ginger Ale', no they didn't serve the Schweppes one, but this one is also brilliant and refreshing answer to the Mumbai heat. The next was the mini idlis with Molgapudi Idlis – coined sized idlis coated with the famous gun powder chutney, mind blowing quite literally. 

Mysore Masala Dosa

Next we move on to the dosas – the Mysore Masala was has an earthy flavor to it with mysore chutney coating inside and balmy potato bhaji filling. The Garlic Sada Dosa was a disappointment, it tasted kind of sour like the batter had gone rancid. 

Stew & Appam
Our next dish was the Appam and Stew – the stew was rich and smooth ,a delectable gravy with vegetables and flavours of spices like dalchini (cinnamon sticks) and bay leaves, combined with fluffy appams the dish made for soothing dish. The Bissibelle - a lentil rice kichdi like dish, was spicy and flavourful.
Mango Ice Cream

We finished the meal with fresh Mango Ice Cream which was dulcet and yummy.

Our server in traditional muddu

On the whole this no frills place, offers authentic and tasty South Indian fare at reasonable prices – a meal for 2 would cost anywhere between Rs.250 - 300 and the service super fast, we were done with our meal in half hour.


Food: Good

Staff: 'Quick' gun Murugan in lungis

Ambience: Traditional and no frill

QuickTip: If your fed up of the Shiv/Sukh Sagars and you are not in the mood to travel upto Matunga, Dakshinayan is a great option for South India Cuisine. The Appam and Stew is a must have!


The Co-ordinates


183, Teen Batti Road, Walkeshwar
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400006
022 23676701

Timings: 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM

Food Type: Pure Vegetarian, South Indian, Tamilian

Payment Methods: Cash



Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Band, Baajaa, Baraat

Review – Wedding Café & Lounge


Located on Andheri's very much buzzing, traffic choked and crowded Link Road, above the Mercedes and Apple showroom; Wedding Café's is the newest addition to the burbs. With an exterior brightly lit like a house where someone is to wed, the interiors were quite a contrast, soothingly lit in mellow lighting. The place isn't much of a café, more like a lounge; it has an impressive bar area, sofa's for the lougy feel, the dining tables and private dining areas. Earlier they had a designer store by Umair Zafar which is now being converted into another private dining area. The wedding café brings into India the new trend of themed restaurants that have already been popular abroad. The Café is positioned to be a one stop shop for wedding planning – with the owners, the Lucknowalla's wedding planning consultancy called Vivaah, and tie-ups that offersolutions from the mehendi, outfits to jewellery. Novel concept but popularity? we still need to wait and see.

Coming back to the place, everything at the café was white in a very western way. Whoever designed this place took the concept of the 'white wedding' too seriously. From the table covers, a frosty white lace to the walls, eggy white to the annoying lampshade in the middle of the table again white. Frankly I was sort of disappointed to see a lack of the whole Indian shaadi touch to the place. I'd expected to see bright coloured dupattas for white curtains, diyas instead of electric lamps, genda phool instead of roses. Yeah am a sucker for Indian traditional wedding, s Chopra style, those that start with mere haathon mein 9 -9 chudiyaan hai and end with Shahrukh Khan devouring his phirni. But I am not complaining the the dim lighting, rose pink brass cutlery and not to forget nice techno music made for pleasant ambience.

Coming down to the food! Oh wait did I mention the menu looks like a wedding album? Oh yes a long horizontal wedding album which lists down the menu along with perspective honeymoon places! So ladies whenever you want to make the hint take the guy there :P. Also the menu boasted of Italian, Spanish, French, American and Japanese cuisine. Every dish also had a wine written below indicating the 'Perfect Match'. Impressive

Finally coming down to the food, we started with the soups. The first one a Cream of Asparagus, which was light, creamy, mildly flavoured in short quite nice but the killer was the Cream of Chicken Soup – lighly flavoured and creamy with chicken juliennes the broth should be truly embodies what is called chicken soup for the soul. The soups were served with toasted garlic bread which just added to the delight.

Moving on to the appetizers we ordered for Vegetarian Tapas. Tapas is a Spanish word for snacks, usually served with drinks (See More in World Café Section). The presentation of this dish was brilliant, but taste wise it was quite a disappointment. The tofu, deepfried and crusted in a bland black cover, the veg balls tasted like koftas gone bad, the sautéed mushrooms were very okay, the Mozrella sticks were palatable and the stir fried vegetables were insipid. The next dish was the Shrimps on Skewers – which tasted delectable with butter garlic sauce painted on it. However the shrimps tasted a bit stale, not fresh succulent.

Moving on to the main course, we ordered for the Fettucini with Basil and Grape tomatoes – the flat pasta cooked in scarlet red tomato and basil sauce was fiery and flavourful. The Chicken Marsalla – chicken grilled to golden brown perfection stuffed with mushrooms topped over saffron flavoured risotto (there is a choice between mashed potato and saffron risotto, choose the risotto) was brilliant from the well cooked chicken steak to the flavoured mushrooms and mild saffron milky flavor of the risotto, the dish was a delight. The next dish – the Costa Rican Stuffed Tortilla with Pumpkin Sauce - a sort of rajma wrapped in tortilla was too dry and lacked any kind of flavor. And pumpkin sauce? Is that even edible?

In dessert we ordered for the Love Boat – with again looked really impressive on presentation but tasted nothing better than a Mongenise pastry. Not the goeey melt in the mouth kind

On the whole, the place had some really good moments and some not so good ones. The vegetarian food needs some serious working on. Priced on the richer side of the world, a meal for 2 would cost anything between 750 – Rs 1000 w/o alcohol


Food: Mixed bag

Staff: Hospitable

Ambience: Good

QuickTip: 'To be Weds' come here with the folks, yours and the laws, for a nice continental ambience and meal. Or ditch the folks and come celebrate your last few days of singledom with your single friends, who are turning green out of jealousy and those that are married, who will tell you about the 'grass' that may be greener but is also catching fire on the other side. Whoever you come with try and order as much as non veg.


The Co-ordinates

Wedding Café & Lounge,

B-104-106, Kotia Nirman,

Above Mercedes Showroom,

New Link Road, Andheri (W), Mumbai

022 61558999 

Timings: 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM, 7:30 PM to 12:30 AM

Food Type: Continental

Payment Methods: Visa, Master, Cash



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yogurt All The Way

Review: Yogurt Bay

After appaling dinner at Mosate, we thought of checking out this new teen hangout located on Bandra’s own very Kamaki/ Baga Strip Carter Road. Thanks to my best friend cum sista cum yo mamma cum agony aunt J.GO.

A hole in the wall, this place is adjoined to the Café Coffee Day on Carters. It’s only savior from going unnoticed is a bright sky blue neon sign that says“Yogurt Bay” and crowds of people hoarding both in an outside the place. The guys serving up seem to be college going or just out of it, managing a smile through exasperated looks. This seemed to be the new 'it' place in Bandra for sure. And it isn’t just the cute guys serving but also the flavours like Strawberry Almighty, Blueberry Cheese cake, Jack Sparrow, Chunky Munky, that do the trick.

They serve up Frozen Yogurt and  Parfaits (frozen desserts) & Smoothies. Priced a little bit on the upper limit with athe starting price of a small swirl being Rs 60,  although with the good  quantity is quite justifiable. They also have these yummy toppings like gems, fresh fruits, chocolate bars, Japanese Mochi etc.
BlueBerry Cheese Cake Yogurt comes with Biscuit Crumbs

Highly recommended flavours are Strawberry with fresh strawberry topping and the Blueberry Cheese Cake. And Ol ya ladies out there, fretting about their weight, guess what? Its fat free!

Quicktip: With Summer of May 2011 heating up everything, go get your dose chill at Yogurt Bay with your best buds. Better than ice cream or dessert, this guarantees the belly of your’s doesn’t bulge even after you indulge! (Wow that rhymed, Culinary Muse has become a poet, Adaab arz Hai)

The Cordinates
Yogurt Bay, 11 Gagangiri, Off Carter Road, Bandra (W), Mumbai
022 30629191 
Check them on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/yogurtbay

No ‘Mo’ for me please

Review – Mosate

Thanks to the Rajiv Gandhi Sea-link (thankgod  for that name, we don’t need anything more named after Shivaji) Bandra, the queen of the suburbs is less distance and a lot less traffic away. Don’t get me wrong, I am a total SOBO but I definitely think that Bandora, as the Portugese call it or Vandra as  the Marathis call it has great options as far as food is concerned. So if like me your running out of options in town head to you know where!
So on a fine Saturday evening, Culinary and familia headed to Bandra for a weekend dinner ritual to Bandra. Read on to know the chronicles of our evening.

You need to take the first left from the Sea Link, that looks like a dark alley. Alittle right and little left, you need to figure your way to Ambedkar Road. Please get the directions right before going to this place because it can be a bit complicated if your not familiar with Bandra. Located somewhere next to Barbeque Nation and instead of the Retro Rock Bar Club XI is Mosate, which means a Royal Village in Thai or so its menu says.
Beautifully decorated patio lined with waterfalls and mellow lighting leads you to the place. At the entrance you are greeted by a Chinese Laughing Buddha showing off his huge belly (tempting to touch just like a bald mans moon), a little ahead a Thai doll does the ‘Swadika’ a welcome by joining hands just like the Namaste and little ahead to the left Indonesean Garudas decorate the walls. Looking at the medley of objets d'art that decorate this place, it is clear that Mosate doesn't put "all its eggs in one basket" and serves up dishes from different South Asian countries. The beige and wood theme of the place along with mellow lighting adds to the beauty of this place.

We settle in a table with a wooden bench to one side and chairs on the other. Not very comfortable seating to note. We are served the Menu which just testifies my ‘eggs in one basket theory’. It boasts of Phad Thais, Viatenamese Pho’s, Malaysian Noodles, Chicken Pattaya Style, Khowsueys, Laksa’s and Nasi Gorengs. The Culinary Muse in me was quite impressed. If I wasn't with my family I would started dancing to “Aaj phir Jeene ki Tamana Hai” ala Waheeda Rehman Style. Yes I am a bit biased to Asian food.

Three Mushroom Soup

So we order the Three Mushroom Soup which was highly recommended by our maitre d’ in vegetarian soups. The charcoal coloured soup looked like diluted sauce soy sauce with green and red chilly flakes floating around. It didn’t taste any different except the soy sauce was full bodied and not diluted. Acerbic is the word that would describe it best. We asked him to take it back and bring us the normal Chicken Hot & Sour and Manchow Soup. I think they took the sour part of the Hot & Sour soup too seriously and made it too sour for the tastebuds. The soup tasted something like astringent not that I have tasted it but I know it cant taste worst than this. The Manchow was still edible, nothing worth writing about though.
Now after such an experience you would expect me to walk out of the place.But for the sake of you, my beloved readers, CM decided to give another shot to this place so that you would not have to go through the ordeal.

Mushroom, Babycorn, Brocolli Hakka
Thai Spicy Wantons

Our next dish again on the recommendation of the maitre d’ was the Mushroom, babycorn, broccoli Hakka style – lucky for the maitre d’ we are suckers for garlic, the dish was edible. The Spicy Thai Style Veg Wantons were like in my sisters words ‘cooked in Maggi ka Masala’. Don’t get me wrong I am a total sucker for Maggi too but you don’t want to spend Rs 160 for it. The next was the Chicken Pattaya style which literally salvaged the situation it had a pleasant oriental flavor to it and tasted yum. The Fish in Hot Basil Sauce backed up the chicken in the salvage operation with balmy flavor of the basil.

Little did we know that the salvage operation was about to fail and from here on it would only be downhill!

Chicken Farang
In the mains we order for the Chicken Farang Stir Fried with Mushroom, Brocolli in Oyster Sauce. Not to mention again on recommendation by the maitre d’. The dish looked like a crime scene from Dexter. The scarlet thick sloppy dish didn’t leave a very good taste in any of our mouths!
Reasonably priced a meal for two would cost between Rs 500 - 1000.

Food: Puke
Staff: Puke
Ambience: Brilliant but whats the point

QuickTip: Don’t go there! If you happen to, then order by instinct and not by the maitre d’ recommendations

The Co-ordinates
Mosate, Jharna Apts, Dr Ambedkar Road, Khar West, Mumbai
Landmark: Next to Barbeque Nation
Phone: 26465133, 26465134

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Sang To Me Under the 'Banyan Tree'

Review: Banyan Tree Bakery+Café, Fort
(not to be confused with Under The Banyan Tree at Peddar Road)
“All the while you were in front of me I never realized
I just can't believe I didn't see it in your eyes
I didn't see it, I can't believe it
Oh but I feel it
When you sing to me”
I enter this café on a hot summer afternoon and Marc Anthony sounding sonorous as ever is crooning about his moment of epiphany, of finally finding his love. He says he couldn’t see it but he feels it, when she sings to him. Am thinking - Good Music: Check. And I am definitely with someone whom I would love to listen to sing to me. Good Company: Check.

Located a little ahead of my favourite cinema, Sterling (because seeing a movie there is not like eating a five star restaurant and one can still afford a samosa and popcorn in the intervals without getting broke for the entire next week unlike some hoity toity cinema (read Inox), Banyan Tree is a quaint café cum bakery and a part of renowned artist Bose Krishnamachari’s gallery BMB. The concept is not new with Jehangir Art Gallery Banyan Tree gives you this artsy feel the moment you enter it, you know the kind you get when you watch a Rahul Bose or a Nandita Das movie. There is a small book shelf right at the entrance displaying books or variety of subjects like art and culture along chic merchandise like tote bags for sale.

Blackened Chicken Satay
We take seat on these minimalistic yet spacious chairs, a wooden table with menu ahead of us. At the first glance the menu has quite an impressive spread with Mezze Platters, Asian styled appertisers to soups and salads, grilled and baked range to pastas and pizzas. To begin with we order for a Malabar Cooler and the Blackened Chicken Satay. The Malabar Cooler a mixture of coconut water, mint leaves and lime was rejuvenating is this  blazing Summer of 2011. The Blackened Chicken Satay however is overly spiced with peppercorns. It tasted like chicken satay mixed with chicken chilly. That’s a lot of confusion for the taste buds
Corkscrew Pasta
Our next dish is the Corkscrew Pasta (wonder where it got that name from) which is a fiery cheese and paprika based fusilli pasta. Brilliant flavours of Chantilly flavoured cheese asparagous, piquat paprika and artichokes. The dish is served with a sizable bun that is copiously dripping of butter and is mildly flavoured with garlic and oregano. Garlic Bread with some zing. But it definitely tastes brilliant with the pasta.

Garlic Bread

Our next dish was the Penne Arrabiata –  mildly flavoured however the shitake mushrooms just spoils the whole dish. Not recommended for the Arabiata fans. We ask for the Olive Prawns. However the waiter comes back saying that it is not available so we try the Green Thai Curry instead. Quite a disappointment the curry was milky and bland quite unlike Thai Curry.
On the whole the food is pretty average, but the ambience of this is brilliant. The Corkscrew Pasta is a must have here. Quite a reasonable affait with an average meal for 2 costing Rs 500/-
Food: Average
Staff: Friendly but mismanaged
Ambience: Exellent
QuickTip: if your fed up of the CCDs and baristas drop in for the Corkscrew Pasta with someone you would love to listen to sing, if you know what I mean ;)
The Co-ordinates
Gallery BMB, Queens Mansion, GT Marg, Near Cathedral School, Fort
Ph: +91-22-65109308
9 AM to 11:30 PM

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cloudy with a chance of Dal Bhaati Churma

Review – Sudama Restaurant, Hotel Shri Krishna Palace
It's Friday afternoon, I look up from my cab window, clouds lining up in Marine Drives sky line. It's 12:30 pm and the sultry weather working on my appetite. I check my BB for recent updates. It's buzzing with Will & Kates wedding. I wonder why so much hype? It's just another almost bald guy who looked like he had borrowed his dress from Maganlal dresswala marrying a botoxed damsel dressed in froth! Yes it's a different thing that he is the future King of a dying economy and instead of rejoicing the British should be cursing him for blowing up all their tax money on his wedding!

"Arrey aadat apni sasuri bahut kameeni hai, bahut kamini hai. Humka peeni hai peeni hai humka peeni hai", I wake up from my reverie. My Indian Idol of a cab driver singing and bobbing his head to his favourite Sallu bhai number at the same time while maneuvering through the busy lanes of Tardeo/Nanachowk/Grant Road. Yep I really don't know what this area is called. All I know is that am hungry and I need food.

The cab comes to halt outside what looks like a line of hardware shops. Somewhere in between is a tallesh building that reads 'Hotel Krishna Palace'. Bingo. I enter restaurant on the ground floor - Sudama. 

The AC breeze a welcome relief. Dressed in wooden paneled and white walls the restaurant has a very contemporary look. The staff welcomes me with a friendly smile. In no time I am offered the menu, which is actually quite and exhaustive list of South Indian dishes, Punjabi, Mardwadi, Gujarati, Chinese and even a bit of Italian.


I go right to the Mocktails. Something to cool me down. I order for an Ectasy – a sort of apple & kiwi fizzy drink which turns out to be quite refreshing for a hot summer day like this. My second mocktail the Flute Champaign  - a mix of custard apple and Sweet lime was also scored full points on the refresh-o-meter. I  move on to the food and on the maitre d' recommendation I try the Wanton Hunan Soup – a pungent and caustic combination of garlic and chillies. It just didn't do well with me. 

Babycorn Mushroom Chilli Garlic
Thai Pattaya Paneer
For the starters first comes the Mushroom Babycorn Chilli Garlic – babycorn and mushrooms sautéed in brilliant flavours of butter, green chillies and garlic made quite an appetizing dish. Quite a relief after the lovecraftian soup The next starter, the Thai Pattaya Paneer – velvety chunks of well cooked paneer painted with peanut sauce also made for a delectable appetizer. Please note not many places get their paneer right. At most places the paneer is a like a rubbery piece of car tire. A good piece of paneer is one which melts in the mouth at the same time does not look like bhurji on the plate which means that its not too soft and Sudama's paneer was just the right consistency. 

 Next, choosing from the Indian starters range, I call for Tilpuri Kabab – a sort of mixed vegetable kabab wrapped in till or mustard seeds. The kebab was quite bland and tasteless. The Paneer Makkai Sheek also didn't impress us much with no distinguishing flavor. The next was a Cheese Corn Ball and overload of cheese and no corn in sight. However it was still melt in the mouth yummy!

Lahori Paneer
In the main course I called for the Lahori Paneer – a bright red dish with topped with cream. Again the paneer was brilliant and the Lahori flavor is nothing but a Makhani gravy. Quite a delicious meal and when had with buttery Garlic Naan, it was like a marriage made in heaven. The other dish was Navratna Korma – a mix of vegetables like peppers, peas, carrots in orange gravy. Tasty and delectable went very well with their Pudina Naan. 

Navratna Korma

Next I called for Dal Bhati Churma – a traditional and now popular Rajasthani dish. Warning the dish is huge sin to your body as it entails a lot of calories but is a huge boon to your mouth because it entails a lot of yumminess! Ok so the Batti which is a sort of baked round breads about the size of golf balls is served drenched
Dal Baati Churma

 in ghee along with a bowl of Panchmel Dal or 5 cereal dal and Churma - unsalted flaked remains of battis mixed with crushed jagerry. Now all you have to do is take some batti add some panchmel dal on it and add the sweet churma. And what you get is pabulum dish, brilliant in flavours and nutrition but also high in calories. I would definitely advice you to eat this in the winter because right it's just to hot to have this dish. The Dal Baati Churma at Sudama was excellent and definitely a must try. 

Next we move on to the Paalakwale Chaawal – a khicdi comprised of rice in a spinach gravy. Immaculate. There were no added spices like chillies etc to disturb the dish. The natural juices and flavor of spinach tasted balsamic and soothing. A must have at this place and even the menu says so.

I topped all this off with a Phirni – a dulcet rice pudding that was sweet to right amount.

After all this I was so stuffed, I actually needed someone to pick me up and put me in a cab. But alas, I knew no one could have picked me up at that time without fracturing themselves that is. So with some help of the sturdy table I picked myself managed a smile at the waiters who greeted me goodbye and walked right outside Sudama. Yes without falling or damaging anything in the restaurant.

On the whole the meal was quite good. I would suggest sticking to the Chinese starters and Indian Main course of traditional dishes. An average meal would cost anywhere between Rs 150 – 300 per head which is quite an affordable amount these days.


Food: Good especially the Indian fare

Ambience: Good

Service: Friendly and prompt

Quicktip: Women, head here with your kitty party group and you would be guaranteed a good meal at affordable prices. Also if you're a non-vegetarian and like me you have to eat veg food on a particular day of the week due 'family rituals' head to this place with your family. If you are a vegetarian then definitely head to this place for some amazing variety.

The Co-ordinates

Sudama Restaurant, Hotel Krishna Palace 96 / 98, Sleater Road, Nana Chowk, Grant Road; Call 23873311; Time 11.30 am to 11.30 pm
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