Cafe Review – Le 15 Cafe, Colaba

Poached Eggs With Tomato Sauce at Le 15 Cafe, Colaba

Poached Eggs With Tomato Sauce at Le 15 Cafe, Colaba

For past few days, we’ve been scrolling through Pooja Dhingra’s (of Le 15 Patisserie fame) Instagram timeline to get the glimpse of her new café in Colaba. Dhingra has brought in her Le Cordon Bleu classmate chef Pablo Naranjo Agular to head the kitchen. Designed by The Bus Ride Design Studio (who’ve also designed the Bombay Canteen and Tilt All Day among others), the Parisian interiors are colourful and flowery with huge windows letting in enough sunlight. The upholstery has been designed by fashion designer Masaba Gupta; we loved the bright pink and blue cushions. Continue reading

My 10 Favourite Dishes of 2015

2015 was quite action-packed when it comes to food; we saw some big restaurant openings, budget bars (not all of them worked though) and a number of cafe style eateries. Home chefs and pop-up regional meals became bigger and better and we had restaurants focusing on regional Indian dishes (my favourite part of 2015). I had the privilege of tasting some of the finest dishes by excellent chefs and it only made sense to end the year with a round-up of my most favourite dishes.

Amlori (Red ant Eggs) @ Gitika’s Pakghor, Mumbai

Amlori (Red ant Eggs) @ Gitika’s Pakghor, Mumbai

Amlori (Red ant Eggs) @ Gitika’s Pakghor, Mumbai
2015 turned out to be quite adventurous for me. I went for Gitika Saikia’s pop-up not once but twice and tried all sorts of exotic ingredients – a piquant red ants’ eggs chutney, stir-fried silkworm, duck intestines and the sweet and tangy rice beer; definitely a meal worth remembering. The Amlori – red ants eggs were my favourite. The eggs were stir fried with onions and garlic in mustard oil and mixed with hen eggs to make it look and taste like bhurji.

Mutton Curry and Rice @ Monkey Bar, Bandra West, Mumbai

Mutton Curry and Rice @ Monkey Bar, Bandra West, Mumbai Photo Credit: Cryselle D’Souza

Mutton Curry and Rice @ Monkey Bar, Bandra West, Mumbai
When Monkey Bar opened in Mumbai, I expected it to be a fun and upbeat place with a food menu that plays around with ingredients and serves bar food like never before. The Laal Maas Tacos, Duck Empanadas and Black Burger were all impressive, but my meal ended with me getting nostalgic over Chandraji’s Mutton Balti. The typical Kayastha-style mutton curry – a recipe that Chef Manu Chandra has learnt from his father – is something I have grown-up eating and to find it on a restaurant’s menu was the ultimate food high for me. Continue reading

Restaurant Review: Bay 15, Goa

Last weekend I spent a leisurely time in Goa at the lovely Bay 15 (I’ve written a detailed post about the property here).

A considerable amount of time was spent eating; our dinner on Friday night lasted for three and a half hour, which explains a lot. The restaurant has three menus – Goan, pan Indian and Mediterranean. Or, you can opt for a six-course tasting menu.

Bay 15’s al fresco restaurant is spread across the lawn with a spectacular view of Arabian sea and Mormurgao port in the evening. On our first evening, Chef Mir Hafizur Raheman had prepared a degustation menu which started with Watermelon and Feta Bite with Minty Melon Shooter – refreshing but lacking the seasonal sweet taste of watermelon.

Watermelon and Feta Bite with Minty Melon Shooter

Watermelon and Feta Bite with Minty Melon Shooter, Bay 15 Goa

The second course – Crab, Mango and Avocado Salad – impressed us tremendously. Fresh crab paste was sandwiched between layers of chopped avocado and ripe mango which added a nice sweet-sour touch to the dish. The flavours were in complete tandem with each other and the plates were wiped clean. Continue reading

#ExperienceTaj – Golden Dragon

Disclaimer – This is not a review of Golden Dragon. When you visit a 110-year-old hotel’s 40-year-old restaurant. it’s not just food that you eat; there are stories, memories and anecdotes that create an experience worth remembering.

Last week I was invited for lunch at Golden Dragon, The Taj Mahal Palace’s Chinese restaurant. The idea was to introduce food bloggers/writers to restaurant’s dining experience with a menu including signature dishes and regular favourites. A small group of three food writers; Romi Purkayastha of Follow The Eaten Path, Roxanne Bamboat of The Tiny Taster and me joined by Nikhila Palat – Taj Mahal Palace’s Public Relation Manager and Parveen Chander – the Deputy General Manager at The Taj Mahal Palace, was hosted at this 40-year-old restaurant. 

Opened in 1973, Golden Dragon was the first restaurant to bring authentic Chinese cuisine to Mumbai. At the time when Chinese food meant Indo-Chinese or Kolkata-Chinese for us, Golden Dragon introduced Mumbaikars to Szechuan and Cantonese cuisines. A fleet of five chefs was flown in from China to get the right cooking techniques and authentic flavours. They carried their own pots and ladles and no one except those five chefs was allowed to touch them, until an Indian chef convinced them that he was worthy of cooking their food.

With stories like these, our meal started with a cup of traditional Chinese tea which was served from a pot with an unusually long spout. This peculiar pot was used to serve tea in the times of war. It allowed the server to pour tea from a distance stopping him from overhearing the private (read top-secret) conversation. Tea was followed by a dimsum platter which had a mix of signature as well as new dishes. I loved the Flaky radish dimsum – grated radish wrapped in a flaky, deep fried shell, which has been on the menu since the time Golden Dragon opened. The other favourite was the crunchy Lotus root and celery dimsum. These were lapped up with sweet chilli sauce, the best I’ve had in Mumbai so far. Golden Dragon has one of the best dimsum selection in the city and has a special dimsum lunch menu on Sundays. 

Despite being a non-vegetarian I preferred the vegetarian dimsum, but the Crispy prawn taro with it’s crispy, mesh like coating is a must try too. The appetizers’ platter was a mix of dishes made popular by Golden Dragon. The Golden fried prawns – prawns coated with a thin batter and deep fried, is something you’ll find on every Chinese restaurant’s menu. 

Contrary to the popular belief, that authentic Chinese food is bland, the food from Sczechuan region is extremely spicy, thanks to the famous fiery chillies. The Song of the dragon chicken – batter fried chicken is served in a pot of hot chillies. One has to dig through the pile of chillies to reach the chicken. 

The Standing pomfret (named so because it’s presented in a way that it looks like it is standing) – steamed pomfret in a sweet and sour sauce was more appealing visually. The sauce somehow overpowered the fish. From the main course I loved the Konjee crispy lamb – spicy stir fried lamb, another favourite at every Chinese restaurant. The Fried rice was light, mildly flavoured with fresh and crunchy vegetables and so was the Hakka noodle.

What I loved about their dessert is that they were not your run-of-the-mill honey noodles with ice-cream etc. The Toffee banana – banana coated with sticky toffee, was a bit of a struggle to eat but the Candied ginger and bitter chocolate dimsum was absolutely beautiful. Served in an orange reduction, it had fresh litchis as garnish.

The perfect ending to this absolutely soulful meal was meeting Chef Hemant Oberoi, the Executive Chef (and a legend) at Taj Mahal Palace.

It’s delightful to see that a city where restaurants open and shut every few months, places like Golden Dragon have held their ground and are serving great food despite the tough competition from stand-alone restaurants.

Restaurant Review – Brunch ‘n’ Munch, Malad West

It was Sunday morning and I woke up craving a big breakfast, preferably English breakfast. Sadly, there aren’t many places serving a good English breakfast in Goregaon and Malad and going to Indigo Deli burns a big hole in the pocket, especially during month end.

While I was thinking of options I remembered Chef Joel D’souza tweeting about a place in Orlem, Malad which serves English breakfast. Orlem has some very shiny gems hidden in its by-lanes and the three month old restaurant/cafe Brunch ‘n’ Munch is definitely one of them. Located in the same lane as Uncle’s Kitchen, this restaurant is sandwiched between a tattoo parlour and a salon, all three owned by the same guy J’son D’Souza.

We found the 20 odd seater packed when we walked in at around 12pm. We sat in the outside section which gives a feeling of a side walk cafe. Since the restaurant is in one of the quieter lanes, there was no traffic snarls or market chaos.

It was too hot and we were desperate for some chilled beer but sadly they do not serve alcohol, not yet. We hope they acquire the liquor license soon and add that missing note to the perfect Goa like ambiance. Till that happens, you can settle for the Virgin mojito which was pretty refreshing.

we ordered an English breakfast (Rs 200) with scrambled eggs, toast, hash brown, baked beans, salamis, sausages and bacon. The glistening meat on our table was enough to whet my appetite. I dug in my big breakfast while the recently-turned-vegetarian husband nibbled on a toast and waited for his vegetarian burger (Rs 70).

The burger had a vegetable patty and the buns were really fluffy. It tasted a bit like McDonald’s Mc aloo tikki, only bigger. They have some meat heavy burgers like the bacon beef, the bhukkad with double beef/chicken patty, bacon, eggs etc. 

The Cold coffee (Rs 50) was a no frills attached drink – plain, simple and chilled. Something you would make at home.

The small, almost bite sized pancakes were fluffy and were served with maple syrup. We were absolutely stuffed by this time but wolfed down the last bit of pancake with the syrup.

Finally, I have found a place close to my house where I’d love to plonk myself every Sunday for a hearty breakfast. If you’re an animal lover you’ll love this place even more because there’s a pet clinic next door.
Must try: English breakfast
Meal for two: Rs 550 (inclusive of taxes)

Shop No 12, Costa Gravas, Sunder Lane, 
Orlem, Malad West
Phone: 9699699599

Facebook: Brunch ‘n’ Munch