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.

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