Saturday, November 30, 2013

Swadika... Welcome to Thailand

Review: Spices, JW Marriott

CM personally feels that there are two cuisines that Mumbai restaurants have not been able to do justice to – Thai & Mexican. While we have made some headway in Mexican, moving away from the fusion Gujarati sev & rajma tacos with restaurants like Sanchos & Sammy Sosa, Thai is something we still haven’t mastered.

Yes I know we have the likes of Thai Pavilion by the Taj Group & Koh by Kittichai. But if you have ever been to Thailand and had even the moderate street Thai curry you will know that the sweet gravy served in the guise of Thai curry here is bullshit. Not many Mumbai restaurants have got the intricacies of this beautiful and flavourful cuisine right. So when I got an invite for JW Marriott’s Asian restaurant – Spices, I went without any expectations.

As Vir Sanghvi puts it, our definition of fast food is limited to the crap that American chains serve us. If you want to know what yummy & nutritious fast food is, one that does not taste like the tire of your car or the eraser of your pencil – then Thai street food it is. Even the most moderate, small roadside Thai hawker will serve you some of the most amazing dishes. Every vendor specializes in that one dish – Som Tam (papaya salad) or Baked Fish, which will linger in your tastebuds forever.

JW Marriott has this Thai Street Food Festival going on. Did it fit in Culinary Muse’ quest for authentic Thai Food in Mumbai, you are about to find out...

I begin with the Som Tam – nutritious, healthy, cholesterol free papaya salad. The solace of the chef making it fresh, right in front of you is brilliant. You have to consume this fresh, immediately after it’s made. The one at Spices matched all my check points. Fresh ingredients, dried shrimp (yup this will tell you the authenticity of the dish) ground peanuts that added the crunch. Sweet, sour, spicy tangy all in one bite!

Next were the starters –
Pandan Chicken

Pandan Chicken- succulent pieces of chicken wrapped in pandan leaf. Yummy and perfumed with lemon grass
Lemon grass chicken

Lemon grass chicken – Had beautiful flavours to it

Prawn Sesame seed – a tad oily but delicious at the same time
Prawn Sesame seed 

Banana fritters – well done banana bhajjis, thai style

Then came the soups –

I had the Prawn Tom Yum – this was extremely fiery, would pass of as sambhar so stay away from it

The live stations –

They had 2 live stations, one for Phad Thai & The other one for Thai barbeque

Thai Barbeque Station

The Phad Thai was delectable. Silky flat noodle sheets stir fried with veggies, meat of your choices, yummy flavor sauces, topped with egg. CM could’nt get enough of this

Phad Thai 

The Barbequed Meat
The Barbeque Station too was brilliant – beautiful fresh rock lobsters, mackerel, baby pomfret, & chicken sate. Nom Nom

Then came the Thai Curry Station-

Green Thai Curry With  Prawns 

Beautiful baskets of fresh ingredients – galangal, lemongrass, kafir leaves lay infront and you can direct the chef to make your curry with the meat & veggies of your choice. Now this is my ultimate test. If a restaurant can get its Thai curry right, there is no doubt on their thai food capabilities.

I tried the Green Thai Curry With  Prawns – it was ------ wait------ for------it – Immaculate! Not to sweet, not too tangy, full of balanced yet bold flavours. This definitely falls under one of the best thai curries I have tasted in Mumbai. Even if you don’t come here for the festival you must not miss the thai curry at Spices
Lobster Ka Prao with Thai Basil Rice

Pair it with their sticky rice and you know what it’s like to have a spa in your mouth.
In the main course they also had the Lobster Ka Prao – beautiful lobster pieces cooked in thai basil sauce was delectable too.

For the desserts –

The Rambutan a delicious lichi like fruit. The Egg Custard was yummy. The rest of the desserts were very ok, not great!

The Thai Street Food Festival is on till December 01st & costs approximately 2300/- with unlimited beers.

But I would suggest you go to Spices even for an a la cart meal if you can't catch the festival. On an average a meal would cost Rs 2000 for 1 without alcohol.

Food: Yummy
Ambiance:  Serene                                 
Service: Good
Quick Tip: Go there for the Phad Thai & Thai Curry with Sticky Rice

The Co-ordinates:
Spices, JW Marriott
Where: Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai, Mumbai
Tring Tring: 022 30932030
Timings: 7 PM to 12 Midnight
Food Type: Asian, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese
Payment Methods: Credit Card Accepted

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Star of Asia

Review: Auriga

 Located next to the controversial DB Realty project and Famous Studios, Auriga stands out with it's asymmetrical shape and bright lighting on the exterior. It gets this unusual name from one of the 48 modern constellations in space.

The 30 seater, 2 level lounge- restaurant boasts of a plethora of pan Asian dishes. Thankfully not the usual boring stuff! Kudos to Chef Nilesh Limaye & owner Kritika Nagpal, who have gone beyond the 'hot & sours' and 'black beans' to include dishes like pomello dimsums and  Edamame Exotic Vegetables in Orange Ponzu Sauce. The eatery also boasts of separate vegetarian kitchen.
Spicy Shanghai Crab Meat Soup

We start with the soups. The Spicy Shanghai Crab Meat Soup – thick white broth with slivers of crab meat and egg drop was beautiful and silky. 

Glass Noodle soup with Dumplings

The vegetarian broth – Glass Noodle soup with Dumplings was delicious as well

Pomello & Cashew Dumplings

The Pomello & Cashew Dumplings were beautiful delicate parcels that burst with citrusy goodness. I never would recommend vegetarian dumplings but this one is a must have!

Star of Auriga

In the drinks, we tried the signature Star of Auriga drink – an apple flavoured rum based cocktail was very refreshing.

The Chicken Dumplings were great too!

Chicken Dumplings 

The Rice Paper Rolls were ok... quite tasteless.

Rice Paper Rolls 
The Shrimp Tempura was crunchy not the oily kind.

 Shrimp Tempura

The Khowsuey served with a plethora of condiments had a distinctively zesty taste to it thanks to the lemon grass.
The Sticky Rice was a mish mash. Looked and tasted more like the famous Indian breakfast item ‘sooji’. Avoid!

Sticky Rice
The Fish in Kaffir Lime Leaf Curry was flavourful.

Fish in Kaffir Lime Leaf Curry

Passionfruit Cheesecake

We end the meal with a very contemporary take on the cheesecake – Passionfruit Cheesecake. An ephemeral experience!
On an average a meal would cost Rs 2000 for 2 without alcohol.

Food: Yummy
Ambience:  Chic                                 
Service: Good

Quick Tip: Auriga is one of the few Asian restaurants that has a lot to offer in vegetarian food! Go there for pomello dimsums, khowsuey, their signature drink and end your meal with the Passion Fruit Cheesecake. That is what heaven would be like!

The Co-ordinates:
Where: Dr B E Moses Road, Famous Studio Lane, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai
Tring Tring: 022 30932030 ext:904
Timings: 12 Noon to 3 PM, 7 PM to 1 AM
Food Type: Asian, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese
Payment Methods: Credit Card Accepted

*PS: The portions in the pictures above are small portions meant for reviewing. The actual portions are bigger.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

An Ode to Sriracha Sauce

Review: Sriracha Food Festival @ Koh, Intercontinental

Sriracha is a hot sauce made made of chillies, garlic, vinegar & salt originating from the eastern region of Thailand. Mostly used as a dipping sauce, Sriracha is paired with Seafood and also goes as a condiment with famous Vietnamese soup ‘Pho’

Sriracha Sauce

South Mumbai’s contemporary Thai restaurant Koh has organized a special menu around this piquant and zesty sauce. Culinary Muse had the chance to review this. Here are some of the must haves and must avoid -

We start with the Sriracha Mary – A bloody mary with sriracha sauce. I have one word for it – Caustic. This has to be the worst drink I have tasted so far!
Sriracha Mary

The Fire Roasted Veg Chowder was brilliant – a healthy broth, spinach, corn, asparagus and hints of sriracha that added a nice flavor to it

Fire Roasted Veg Chowder

The Hat Yai Grilled Prawns were cruchy with the balmy flavor of lemongrass... hmmm spa in my mouth
Hat Yai Grilled Prawns

Marinated Chicken Wings – What’s with Asian restaurants having wings on their menu? I mean you can cover yourself with the garb of contemporary but wings is too pedestrian!
Marinated Chicken Wings

Veg  & Chicken Sriracha Dumplings – delicate parcels of yumness

Cabbage Kimchi with Glass Noodles – No flavors to it, this was just some vegetables put together. Yuck

In the mains, Pokchoy, Shitake Mushrooms and Asparagus was delectable drenched in a very flavorful sauce
Pokchoy, Shitake Mushrooms and Asparagus

The Sweet & Sour Chicken was very ok

Wok Tossed bean sprouts with marinated tofu with Enoki Mushrooms and Snow Peas was mild flavoured yet delicious

The Sriracha Nasi was wholesome flavourful too

The Janta Burry Two  Flavor Noodles was extremely delicious

The winner of the evening... wait for it........ wait for it ..............were the desserts!

The Sriracha Caramel Toffee Pops- hmmmm mmmhmmmhmmm

The Apple & Pear Crumble with Coffee and Chocolate Sauce - dulcet pie with tangy sweet flavours of the fruits was beautiful!

On an average a meal would cost Rs 4000 for 2 without alcohol. The Sriracha Festival is on till today October 13, 2013.

Food: Mixedbag
Ambience:  Chic                                                                      
Service: Good
Quick Tip: Go there for the desserts... especially when your having a rough day!

The Co-ordinates:
Koh – By Ian Kittichai
Where: Hotel InterContinental, 135, Churchgate, Mumbai
Tring Tring: 022 39879999
Timings: 12:30 PM to 3 PM, 7:30 PM to 12 Midnight
Food Type: Contemporary Thai
Payment Methods: Visa, Master, Cash, Credit Card Accepted

*PS: The portions in the pictures above are small portions meant for reviewing. The actual portions are bigger.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dim Sum Republic

Review: Chao Ban

Frankly speaking, I was very disappointed when Joss shut. My family was a regular patron and we loved our khowsuey and sticky mushroom rice. I know, I know “there is Umame”, you would argue, but Umame is stupendously over priced for the minuscule portions they serve.

If Farrokh Khambata is hearing me somewhere... We want Joss back! Period.

Coming to Chao Ban, the latest addition to South Mumbai’s ever increasing Chinese food scene. Does it have what it takes to make the cut? Will it give the Lings Pavilions and the China Gardens tough competition? CM is here to find out.

To begin with, Chao Ban is owned by the Global Kitchen Group, which runs Irish House & Serafina. For Chao Ban they have got onboard famed Baba Ling’s (of Lings Pavilion) brother who consults them on their menu.

The almost 12 page menu boasts of extensive variety of dim sums – steamed, fried, pan fried, soaked & Cheung fun.
Hot Xian Soup

We started off with the soups, not the usual hot & sours and manchows thankfully, we go in for the Hot Xian Soup – a thick orangish red soup with a mix of chicken and seafood – quite bland and not very flavourful. Can be avoided

Chive and Prawn Dumplings

The Chive and Prawn Dumplings – delicate parcel of heaven. Must have!

Non-Veg platter 

The Non-Veg platter – a variety of fried, pan fried dumplings with spring rolls and barbecue wings (yeah I don’t know what that is doing on the menu). The pan fried dumplings were yum but everything on this platter was soaked in oil!

The Chicken and Mushroom Bao – delectable savory mixture wrapped in the slightly sweet bun.
Soaked Chicken Dumpling in Soy Chilli sauce

The Soaked Chicken Dumpling in Soy Chilli sauce was delectable. Chicken Dimsums soaked in light balmy soy gravy topped with garlic shavings

Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun 

The Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun can be described in one word - Immaculate!

The Sticky Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaf with Chicken was yum but a tad bit oily.
Stewed Chicken with Bamboo Shoots,
Mushrooms & Chinese herbs

In the mains we order for the Stewed Chicken with Bamboo Shoots, Mushrooms & Chinese herbs – a dish full of potent flavours, the gingery-peppery aroma can get to you. Pair this with a portion of fried rice and you will be set.

Pan Fried Noodles 

The Pan Fried Noodles – rice noodles covered with a thick white sauce and exotic vegetables. Very earthy not as over powering as the chicken but delicious.

My overall take
 -- The quantity of the appetizers is poor eg. dimsums were just 3 pieces per portion but the quantity of main course is HUGE
 -- The food could be a tad bit oily

On an average a meal would cost Rs 2000 for 2 without alcohol

Food: Good
Ambience:  Chic
Service: Good
Quick Tip: Go there for the dimsums...the Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun & soaked Dimsums are a must!

The Co-ordinates:
Chao Ban
Where: Rampart Row, Ground Floor, 30, K. Dubhash Marg, Kala Ghoda, Colaba, Mumbai
Tring Tring: 02249150050, 02249150055
Timings: 12:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Food Type: Chinese, Fusion Asian
Payment Methods: Visa, Master, Cash, Credit Card Accepted

Sunday, August 18, 2013

We no speak Italiano

Review: Ristorante Prego

A namesake of Westin’s most patronized restaurant, Prego is the latest Italian eatery in SOBO.  Located on the ground floor of CR2 Mall, the same space where once Ruby Tuesday’s was, Prego also belongs to the same group.

Well designed, the restaurant boasts of contemporary chic interiors
 Cheese Risotto Croquettes

We begin with the Cheese Risotto Croquettes – yummy cheese parcels filled rice, a little bland but nice nevertheless.

Then we try the Herbed Flat bread with Chorizo – the bread was very chunky and the entire dish was very tasteless. How can one manage to make a dish with Chorizo so sad it’s hard to fathom.
Goat Cheese & Argula Leaves Pizza

In the pizza’s we tried the Margherita and Goat Cheese & Argula Leaves Pizzas. Both pizza’s had extremely thin crusts. Quite nice and tasty.
Green Apple Martini

The Green Apple Martini was in one word - PUKE. Artificially flavoured, this drink almost tasted like medicine and looked as if it was made from Hulk pee.
Grilled Chicken

In the main course, we tried the Grilled Chicken Breasts on a bed of potatoes served with Peppercorn sauce. This dish was very ok. Not as bad as the Chorizo flat bread but not great either.

The Belini was beautiful quite a refreshment from the Green Goblin... er Apple Martini
Tiramasu & Blueberry Cheesecake

In the desserts, the Tiramasu was delectable, light and airy.

Chocolate Martini

The Chocolate Martini was yum, quite a chocolate overload but yum!

The Blueberry Cheese Cake was yum too, but not as good as the Tiramasu.

Prego is quite reasonably priced, much unlike its namesake in Westin and other counterparts like Spaghetti Kitchen and Bascilico. On an average a meal would cost Rs 600 without alcohol

Food: Mixed Bag
Ambience:  Chic
Service: Ok
Quick Tip: Go there for the vegetarian fare & the Tiramasu

The Co-ordinates:
Ristorante Prego
Where: 31, Ground Floor, CR2 Mall, Nariman Point, Mumbai
Tring Tring: 022 30932030
Timings: 12:00 PM to 12:00 AM
Food Type: Italian, Continental

Payment Methods: Visa, Master, Cash, Credit Card Accepted
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