Must Visit Places to Eat at in Mumbai

Eating out in a new city is always fascinating and exciting as it gives you a clear understanding of the city’s pulse, its culture, its people and its history through its food. It is quintessentially important to dine like a local while in Mumbai if you want to experience the real essence of the city’s food scene.

This list includes places that you must try when you’re in Mumbai next –

Ashok Vada Pav

The humble Vada Pav is an absolute go-to snack for virtually every Mumbaikar. Why this place in particular you ask? Well, Ashok Vada Pav really steps it up and it without a doubt is the big daddy of Vada Pavs. 🙂 Consistency, a power packed flavour blend and a whole lotta Choora (deep fried batter bits) is what makes it stand out from the crowd. A batter fried Potato Pattie nestled in a Pav (bun) that is slathered with a controlled proportion of green chutney (coriander + green chillies), dry red chutney (garlic + red chillies), stuffed with batter bits that adds a much needed crunchy texture and served with fried green chillies that are seasoned with salt. Even if you have a ‘regular’ Vada Pav in the city, give Ashok Vada Pav a try! They really are ‘next level.’ 🙂

Location – Kashinath Dhuru Marg, Near Kirti College, Dadar West, Mumbai
Price – approx Rs 100 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 8km (15 mins)

Kyani & Co

One of Mumbai’s oldest quintessential Irani cafes in Mumbai, Kyani is a landmark and an integral pit stop of every heritage walk organised in the city. Known for it’s rustic old-world charm with tables and chairs that take you back in time. Founded in 1904, this cafe is one of the few places that still serve Sosyo (a local cola drink). Visit this place for a classic Cutting Chai with Bun Maska (bread roll with butter) or a lavish breakfast of Akhuri (Parsi Scrambled Eggs) on Toast, Frankfurters and Baked Beans. They also serve Kheema with Pav, Mutton Salli Boti and Masoor Morgi. Their Kharis (Puff Pastry), Sandwiches and Mawa Cake are to die for.

Location – JSS Road, Jer Mahal Estate, Opposite Metro Cinema, Marine Lines, Mumbai.
Price – approx Rs 350 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 21km (30mins)

Olympia Coffee House & Stores

Adding to the list of Mumbai’s oldest Irani cafes, Olympia Coffee House is another must visit place for breakfast. Kheema Pav (minced mutton with soft pillowy bread), a cup of tea and a good company is all you need at this cafe in Colaba. A few other dishes on the menu that deserve a special mention are Bhurjee (scrambled eggs), Kheema Ghotala (minced mutton with eggs), and if you’re feeling adventurous, try the Bheja Masala (goat brain in a spicy sauce). This place makes it to our list for because of the delicious food they serve and for their reasonable pricing.

Location – Rahim Mansion, 1 Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Colaba, Mumbai
Price – approx Rs 300 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 20 Km (33 mins)

Sardar Pav Bhaji

This famous snack/meal that was ‘invented’ in Mumbai will get most people salivating just as it’s the mentioned in conversation. People travel from all over India to try this butter laden tomatoey vegetable gravy that’s accompanied with piping hot pavs (bread) that have been slathered in butter. But Sardar Pav Bhaji takes ‘regular’ Pav Bhaji to a whole other level. Brace yourself for a spike in cholestrol as this dish comes with a generous amount of butter. Though you would enjoy a momentary high with the heavily buttered preparation, this certainly is not for the faint hearted. Sardar Pav Bhaji has been known for just this one dish and has made waves on social media for their heavy use of butter. It’s a treat to watch the cooks prepare the dish at their live cooking stations, tossing almost 100 gms of butter on each plate. We thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend you to try it too.

Location – 166-A, 166-B, Tardeo road junction, Mumbai
Pricing – approx. Rs 250 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 16 Km (23 mins)

Juhu Beach Food Center

From Gola, Pav Bhaji, Bhel Puri, Sev Puri, Sandwiches, to Faloodas, Chinese, South Indian and Mumbai Pizzas; you would find every kind of Mumbai street food here at Juhu beach. It’s crowded but you would definitely experience the essence of Mumbai in the hustle bustle of this one-stop street food destination. We would highly recommend the chaats, Gola (crushed ice with flavoured sugary syrup on a stick) and the Falooda (a milk based drink with icecream, vermicelli, flavoured syrups and basil seeds).

Location – Juhu Beach Road, Juhu, Mumbai
Price – approx. Rs 400 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 6.5 Km (15 mins)

Elco Pani Puri

The go-to place for everyone who loves ‘Mumbaiya chaat.’ Known for their chilled Pani Puri (a hollow deepfried semolina wafer, filled with sweet sour and spicy water), Elco is a haven for Chaat, Chindian dishes and South Indian specials. They serve only vegetarian, but don’t let that deter you from giving this place a shot; You will not be disappointed. You have the option of sitting/standing outdoors, or you can eat at more relaxed pace at their massive multi-floor dining area indoors. While Pani Puri remains the bestselling dish on their menu, Delhi and Dahi Papri Chaat, Dahi Raaj Kachori, Ragda Pattice and Pav Bhaji are exceptionally well made too. This place is hygienic and consistent with their flavours and it is one of our favourite spots to treat our friends who visit the city looking for a taste of local street food.

Location – 2/A, Elco Market, 46, Hill Road, Bandra West, Mumbai
Pricing – approx. Rs 450 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 6.4 Km (11 mins)

Delhi Darbar

Delhi Darbar has been one of the must visit foodie restaurant for a very long time and it’s been one of our family favourites too. For years, this place has managed to attract people from all over Mumbai with their delicious Mughlai food. It is by no means a place for a dining experience as it can get crowded and noisy. Walk in like a local with a sole mission to eat to your heart out. Famous for their Butter Chicken, Murgh Mussalam, Mutton Nihari and Bheja Fry; this place will leave you wanting more. Oh and their Roomali Rotis are simply out of this world. They’ve got a special menu created just for their Arab customers. They also have a Chinese menu which can be ignored as they are excellent primarily with their Mughlai dishes. Some of the dishes are only available on certain days of the week so it’s advisable to have a look at their menu online before visiting.

Location – 10/14, Holland House, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Colaba, Mumbai
Price – approx. Rs 1000 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 20 Km (33 mins)

Gaylord

Located at Churchgate, this restaurant boasts of being the most loved restaurant in the location as patrons still travel all across Mumbai to have a meal here or to catch up with friends over a cup of coffee. It has a cute bakery attached to it that has been the go to place for pastries, pies and other baked goodies for years. Tourists love this place for its Victorian charm, its food and hospitality. You get a mix of continental and Indian cuisine. One of the few places in the city where the owner has welcomed generations of patrons and has known families by their names. A very warm and cozy restaurant, a must visit when in Mumbai!

Location – Mayfair Building, Veer Nariman Road, Mumbai
Price – approx. Rs 1200 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 19 Km (29 mins)

Café Mondegar

Fondly known as Mondy’s, this place has been a tourist hub for ages and a hangout place for college goers and locals alike. The best part about Mondy’s is the vibe that makes you not bother about sweating it out in the non ac section to experience the good old Bombay charm. You will find yourself amused with the story that speaks through Mario Miranda’s murals on the restaurant walls. Look out for the vintage Jukebox that still works adding to the charm of the restaurant. The food is good; dishes like Classic Bolognaise, Roast Chicken and Grilled Club Sandwiches are popular. They also have an English/American breakfast which is also popular with tourists. A must visit place for every newbee in town.

Location – 5A, Metro House, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Near Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai
Price – approx. Rs 1200 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 19 Km (31 mins)

Café Royal

Café Royal is the first place that we think of when it comes to Sizzlers in Mumbai. This place has been is one of the oldest restaurants in Colaba. It continues to have the same char on their Chicken Santa Fe as it used to decades ago. They have modified their menu now and have introduced an Indian section with kebabs and curries; they also have some quirky appetizers. The Café Royal Signature Sizzlers are a must try, you will definitely not be disappointed.

Location – 166, Opposite Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai
Price – approx. Rs 1200 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 20 Km (33 mins)

Leopold Café & Bar

Affectionately known as Leo’s, Leopold Café has been at the top of the list of “must visit places in Bombay” for every tourist. The place still has that Irani café charm and is always busy. Finding a table could test your patience but trust us it’s worth the wait. We know patrons who have been ardent fans of this place and still order the same set of dishes everytime they visit. For us it has always been Beef Chilly, Crispy Chicken and Steamed Rice with Prawns. Their Butter Garlic Naans are unlike any other naan that’s available in Mumbai; plump, soft and buttery. They also serve breakfast and have Indian kebabs and curries. If you’re in Mumbai, you must not miss this place.

Location – Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Near Colaba Police Station, Colaba, Mumbai
Price – approx. Rs 1600 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 20 Km (33 mins)

K Rustoms Ice-cream

Ending on a sweet note, we’d like to add K Rustoms to our list for churning out years and years of delicious icecream sandwiches. This iconic parlour has been handing out these slabs of goodness sandwiched between thin wafers since 1953. Though nothing has really changed about the look of this place, the number of flavours have certainly grown! Locals love the Paan, Coffee Crunch and Kharbuza (Melon) flavour, Doodhi Halwa (Bottlegourd sweet) is the latest entrant in the list of flavours they have to offer. Don’t be surprised if you’re not greeted by the staff like the other ice-cream chains, just go there for the icecream – it’s worth it!

Location – 86, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai
Price – approx. Rs 150 for two
Distance from Grand Hyatt Mumbai – 19 Km (30 mins)

Mumbai is truly a melting pot of cultures and cuisines; and there are new restaurants popping up every week. This list is just a few of our all time favourites that have a lot of nostalgic value and the list doesn’t end here. A few other places we recommend are: Ram Ashray (Matunga), Gajalee (Juhu), Lings Pavilion (Colaba), Shree Thaker Bhojanalay (Kalbadevi), Swati Snacks (Tardeo), Bademiya Seekh Kebab Stall (Colaba) and the most important thing that you can’t leave Mumbai without having is Cutting Chai!

Location – Almost at every street in Mumbai
Price – approx. Rs 20 for two

Click on this link for exciting offers for your next stay at our favourite hotel Grand Hyatt Mumbai! http://bit.ly/2jcl8ma

Imperial China, Hilton Mumbai

It’s funny how whenever we’ve passed by the Hilton Mumbai, we have always wanted to check it out but never really ended up stopping by. So when we were invited to review one of their restaurants – Imperial China, and we were really looking forward to dining there.

The Crystal Lounge

Cosy and intimate are two words you think of when you enter this beautiful boutique hotel. The interiors will take you to a forgotten era with decor that oozes sophistication and timeless beauty. Everything in the hotel has an old English charm to it. The Crystal Lounge near the lobby is styled after a 19th Century Summer Palace. So beautiful!

The first thing you notice as you enter the restaurant are the wooden carvings and white French windows with Venetian shutters. A life size paper fan swings back and forth creating an amazing environment to unwind in; Very romantic as well. Imperial China boasts of a menu from the Sichuan province and also has a bevy of Southeast Asian dishes to choose from. We had a lovely time chatting with the newly appointed Chef Balajee, who spoke about his experience as a chef and the time he spent in Bhutan and Nigeria. He hadn’t changed anything on the menu yet but will soon curate dishes that reflect his passion for Asian food.

Chilli Cheese Momos

Chef Balajee recommended we start off with Cheese and Chilli momos, a dish that he had fond memories of from Bhutan. It was everything you love about momos – plump and delicious. The accompanying sauces added a power packed punch, which definitely makes you go back for seconds.

Two Treasure Dumplings

Salt and Pepper Prawns

Imperial Pork Ribs

Spicy Peking Pot

For appetizers we had Two Treasure Dumplings which has Prawns, Scallops and Celery. Juicy and delicious, the dumpling wrapper was super thin and was steamed to perfection. We also tried Salt and Pepper Prawns which are one of our favourites. Fresh prawns, wok tossed with bell peppers; what’s not to like. 🙂 The Imperial Pork Ribs was lipsmackingly good. The dark garlicy Chinese BBQ sauce with Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushroom makes this dish a definite must have. We also tried a couple of the Hot Pot soups. We had the Peking Duck and the Thai flavoured Prawns. They were strictly OK. We’re huge fans of hotpot, where the broth is usually the hero of the dish and has an immense amount of depth and flavour. So the hotpot soups were not up to the mark.

Imperial Lobster

Singapore Curry Style Prawns

Moving on to main course. We had the Imperial Lobster, made in a spicy XO sauce, a Singapore Curry style Prawns and a portion of Jasmine Rice. Both dishes had bold flavours yet were very well balanced. The Imperial Lobster had a generous portion of lobster meat and the XO sauce was made really well. The Curry style Singapore Prawns was rich and spiced with hints of lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves singing throughout the dish. We thoroughly enjoyed it with Jasmine Rice.

Lemongrass Creme Brûlée

Coconut Pancake with Icecream

For dessert, we had a Lemongrass Creme Brûlée and Coconut Pancake with a scoop of Vanilla ice-cream.

Dining at Imperial China was a wonderful experience. The restaurant staff were courteous and well trained when it came to knowledge of each dish. The food gave us a good understanding of the history of the restaurant and we can’t wait to see how Chef Balajee brings his influence and experience to new/revamped menu. Even with a few misses, we would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking to enjoy good Southeast Asian fare. We will definitely be back for more.

Genting Dream, Hong Kong

Passports, check! Travel Documents check!
Camera, battery packs, wallet, check! check! check!

We left home excited and were looking forward to our first trip to Hong Kong. We’re big fans of all things Asian, so visiting a part of Asia closer to Mainland China had us excited. After a 60 minute ride to the airport, and breezing through security and immigration (carry on baggage for the win!), we sat down at the Cathay Pacific lounge waiting to board our flight. A short while later, we hear the boarding call and we hopped on board! Fast forward 6 hours later, we landed in Hong Kong and checked in to the Premium Plaza Lounge to charge our phones, have a quick shower, snacked on the breakfast buffet at the lounge and then headed out to the city center for a while since we had a few hours to kill before we could board the cruise. 🙂 A few dimsum and a couple of bubble waffles later, we were all set to head to the Kai Terminal to board the Genting Dream.

It was a bright sunny day and the thought of cruising through the Southern China Sea was beginning to get real. We couldn’t contain ourselves, we were inching closer to our first stay onboard a cruise ship, The Genting Dream by Dream Cruises.

Next stop, the Kai Tak Terminal. 😀

The old Hong Kong Airport (Kai Tak Terminal) has been repurposed to now serve as the terminal for ships and was the boarding point for our cruise. We reached the terminal earlier than expected, the ship hadn’t reached port yet, so we had to wait a while before could go through security and immigration.


Then the moment arrived, we could see the Genting Dream sail closer to us. It was surreal. The ship was huge and breathtakingly stunning. Vibrant and oozing with style, it was mammoth! 😀 No one could take their eyes off her. Soon people flooded to the glass walls of the terminal to take pictures and selfies. And by sunset the cruise just transformed into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors and visual effects; thanks to the sophisticated lights that were setup on the balconies on board the ship.

DreamCruises ensured that we were given special attention for smooth embarkation. There were several entrances to board the ship and every gate was perfectly manned by the crew to ensure each passenger clears the guest list and made their way to their respective cabins. We were smiling from ear to ear as we entered the ship with staff welcoming us and guiding us to the right deck.

The entrance to the ship was spectacular and don’t even get us started about the decor. We were simply awestruck by the scale of everything on board. A destination on it’s own, the Genting Dream opened to us a doorway and a whole new perception of grandeur. Specced out better than most five star hotels, the attention to detail was immaculate. Starting from the carpeting, where floral designs guided you to front or the back of the ship to larger than life chandeliers. This ship was huge! 18 decks high, the Genting Dream really impressed us with its decor and we could hardly wait to find what all was in store for us during this trip.

Quick fact: The Genting Dream is 335 meters in length and 40 meters wide. It houses 1674 beautiful staterooms with an unbelievable capacity of 3352 guests and with 2016 crew. (No wonder we were so well taken care of.) WOW!

After checking into our cabin, we headed out for dinner. With 44 restaurants, bars and eateries to choose from; we found ourselves spoilt for choice! Soon we decided to try the buffet at Dream Dining.

Dream Dining (Upper Deck)

Dream Dining (Lower Deck)

Dream Dining is a multi cuisine restaurant that can be accessed from the 7th and the 8th deck. The upper level served a set menu for lunch and dinner while the lower level served buffet style. We decided to try Dream Dining (lower). The dining area is huge and it accommodates over a 1000 people. The spread looked amazing! It had meats, seafood, noodles, soups, rice and also had a western section that served pizzas, burgers, hot dogs, a variety of bread, salad, fruits and dessert. It also had a bar that was located in the middle of the dining area.

Here’s what we had.

Noodle Soup, Tofu, Prawns, Rice and Veggies

Virtually everything we tried was delicious. We were pretty skeptical on how food on a cruise would taste like but we were not disappointed. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal. We were pleasantly surprised to see Indian servers who specially made Indian food for some of the guests on board. We tasted some of the Indian fare and it was really good! So all those who think they’ll crave Indian food on board can be rest assured, you’ll be well taken care of. 🙂

We know a lot of our Indian friends who are strict vegetarians and are apprehensive of venturing to a Eastern Asia or South East Asian country because of the food. But on Genting Dream even the breakfast buffet had an elaborate Indian (veg) spread that even the Chinese patrons seemed to enjoy! So one need not worry about the food onboard. They will spoil you silly!

The next day started off with an elaborate breakfast at Lido, one of Genting Dream’s big all-day-dining restaurants. We saw guests enjoy some healthy and delicious breakfast delights with a massive spread of Western, Chinese and Indian breakfast options. They also serve lunch, dinner and a late night supper for the guests on the ship.

Eggs, Bacon, Sausages, Waffles, Pancakes, Ham, Mantao Buns, Dumplings, Scallion Pancakes, Baos, Soy Milk, Noodles and Juice

The pictures will show you the wide variety of food served and we really enjoyed trying the Chinese breakfast. We absolutely loved the Scallion Pancakes, Youtiaos aka Chinese crullers and Mantao Buns with soy milk, the plump Pork and Chicken dumplings and baos.

We knew our day would be fun and that it would be spent well exploring the gigantic ship and made the most of the time we had on board. Our onboard tour guide gave us a tour of the main areas of the ship. She was courteous, well trained and happened to be from Mumbai too. It was virtually impossible for us to complete touring the whole ship on foot in a span of 3 hours; however she managed to give us a glimpse of all the important, interesting and must visit areas of the ship. Some were even given exclusive access meant for VVIPs. It was amazing how a ship could house so many recreational areas. There was literally something for everyone.

As food bloggers, we wanted to ensure that we had enough time to showcase the best restaurants and the absolute must haves. So for lunch we chose renowned Australian Chef Mark Best’s restaurant to dine at.

Mark’s Bistro is a haven for diners who sophistication, elegance and truly great food. Our dining experience at Chef Mark Best’ s first restaurant at sea was nothing short of extraordinary. The concise and to the point menu boasts of the culinary artistry of the internationally acclaimed Chef Mark Best and promises to give you his contemporary rendition of western favourites.

We were really thrilled to have our meal there. The highlight of dining at this restaurant is that they serve Miyako Beef – the finest and one of the best tasting wagyu beef from Miyakojima, Japan. It is also called the Phantom Wagyu Beef, known for it’s melt-in-your-mouth texture and succulently distinguished flavour. A definite must have!

We started off by breaking bread. Quite literally as they served one of our favourite flavour combinations on bread – Parmesan and Paprika! It was crusty, chewy and so flavourful. This simple Parmesan and Paprika bread was an indicator of the level at which this restaurant operates. Brilliant! The amuse bouche that was served to us was Parma Ham wrapped in thinly sliced Melon. Classic, light and very delicious.

Our entree was a warm bowl of Cauliflower Soup with Spring Onion Oil. It was mild, the spring onion oil added freshness and definitely amped the flavour of the cauliflower. It was a brilliant Asian touch to the soup. We also had the Alaskan King Crab Salad, which was served on baby Lettuce leaves that acted as wrappers. The salad was simple, with generous portions of chunky crab meat. The lettuce leaves were fresh and added that perfect crunch. It was everything you want a simple salad to taste like. Fresh, and full of natural flavours.

For main course we had the Grilled Iberico Pork Chop and and Australian Flank Steak. Both were served on a bed of sautéed mushrooms with a side of a potato gratin slice. The meats were cooked perfectly. 😀 The mushrooms were a really good addition, the Jus was rich and flavourful.

Our dessert was a bowl of the most perfect Panna Cotta we’ve ever had. It was served with a blueberry Coulis. Simply superb! This restaurant is a must visit when you cruise through the Southern China Sea on the majestic Genting Dream.

For dinner we opted for a more theatrical experience with Umi Uma, Genting Dream’s Teppanyaki restaurant that serves amazing Japanese food! The whole experience of Chefs juggling food, making music with knives, interacting with the guests while cooking delicious food is an absolute sensory treat! We had the Teppanyaki Combo ‘Dream Ocean Shinto’ (Sea Scallops & Jumbo Shrimp). Starting with a miso soup and crunchy cucumber salad, we were really excited for our live teppanyaki experience. The chef began by introducing himself and how he would use simple ingredients like salt, pepper, garlic, soy sauce and butter as seasoning for our meal.

His comic timing and choreography on the grill maintained the smiles on our faces and had us clapping and cheering throughout the meal. He started off by grilling Prawns and Scallops followed by vegetables and then made fried rice that was shaped like a heart. 🙂 The eggs were rolled into a “snake shape” before it was added to the rice. The whole experience was delightful and the food was so delicious that it still makes us want to go back for more. This meal was perfect. 🙂

The dessert was exceptional! We had the coconut Pancake with Icecream and a Matcha Cake.

Post dinner we left to witness the mystical love story of an Astronaut and a Mermaid with the spectacular show – The Voyage of a Lover’s Dream at the Zodiac Theatre. It was simply magical! The production quality and the larger than life performance left us in awe. The sound and light, it was nothing like we’ve ever experienced before. Even though the show was primarily in Cantonese, we could understand every scene. The artist performed with such flair. A must see for everyone onboard. It was out of this world. 🙂

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay onboard the Genting Dream. Being our first experience on a cruise ship, it surpassed all our expectations with regard to hospitality, service, food and entertainment. The Genting Dream is a beautiful cruise ship and feels nothing short of a luxurious 5 star hotel at sea. Its decor oozes sophistication, style and luxury, giving guests an experience they will cherish for a lifetime. We enjoyed every single meal we had on board. With cuisines like Chinese, Thai, Malay, Japanese, Western and Indian, we were spoilt for choice with amazing selection of restaurants to choose from. So Indians who are apprehensive about travelling without the comfort of Indian food can be rest assured to be well taken care of. The variety of Indian food options at breakfast alone will put a smile on your face at the start of your day!

Genting Dream, is another world on its own where the sun never set and the fun seems to fade. We saw people of all age groups enjoying themselves with recreational activities, games, music, casinos, shopping and the list goes on and on. We had an amazing time and would encourage everyone to try it, as it’s worth every buck spent. You’re not only transported away into the calmness and serenity of the ocean but also into an experience that you will cherish forever. 🙂

August Moon Festival, China Inc – Taj Santacruz Mumbai

 

Having celebrated Joash’s birthday a week ago, dining at China Inc at Taj Santacruz was a perfect way to end what was already an awesome week. We were so happy to be back, this time, to kickstart the mid-autumn festivities. Interestingly, the August Moon Festival is the second most celebrated festival in China after the Chinese New Year. Taj Santacruz Mumbai have once again come up with a promotion that celebrates just that.

The menu for this festival is specially designed to showcase the seasonal ingredients with a few favourites that everyone absolutely loves at China Inc.

We started off with an amuse bouche, which gave us a preview of how the rest of our meal was going to pan out. Here’s what we had and we highly recommend you to try these too.

Vegetable and Cheese Dumpling

Spinach and Crab Crystal Dumpling

Crispy Pumpkin Roll

Who doesn’t love a box of steaming hot dimsum? This menu has a clever mix of dim sum, with steamed dumplings, deep fried rolls and pan fried options. It would be difficult to pick out a favourite as they were all equally outstanding. At China Inc, we definitely saw more refinement in the way dumplings were made than before and boy they were sumptuous! The Crispy Pumpkin Roll and the Spinach and Crab Crystal dumplings are an absolute must have!

Crispy Supreme with Lemon Sauce

Lotus Root stuffed with Glutinous Rice

Silken Tofu with Tangy Peanut Sesame Dressing

Mountain Chilli Chicken

Mushroom in Black Pepper Sauce

Turnip Cakes

Winter Melon and Morel Broth

Peking Chicken Soup

Crispy Prawns with Oats and Curry Leaves

For appetizers, the Crispy Crumb Supreme served with Lemon Sauce had us weak at the knees; and the Lotus Root stuffed with Glutinous Rice left us wanting more. Both these dishes definitely stood out from all of the appetizers we tried. If you fancy soups, the light Winter Melon and Morel Broth is a clear winner. We just couldn’t stop ourselves from smiling when our favourite Prawns with Oats and Curry Leaves was served, some temptations are just hard to resist! If you haven’t tried this dish at China Inc, then we just gave you another reason to visit this beautiful restaurant.

Sautéed Crab with Snow White Bean Threads

Stir Fried Udon Noodles in Burnt Chilli, Black Bean and Vegetables

Wok Tossed Sticky Rice, Marbled Egg served in Lotus Leaf

Seasonal Vegetables in Lemon Chilli Sauce

The mains were simple yet so brilliantly put together. What we love about China Inc is how they treat each ingredient and showcase it’s honest flavours without being heavy on spices or sauces. The Wok-tossed Sticky Rice with marbled Eggs served in Lotus leaf is perfumed with a hint of truffle and simply elevates eating each spoonful a pure delight. The Sticky Rice went really well with the Chilli Hoisin Chicken and the seasonal vegetables in Lemon Chilli Sauce. Another favourite of ours for the evening was the Sautéed Crab Meat with Snow White Mung Bean Threads. Sublime!

We paired our meal with a bottle of ‘Nik Weis St Urbana-Hof’ Riesling.

King Longans

Mooncake

Sago Pudding

What’s an August Moon Festival without Mooncakes?! We enjoyed Moon Cake, which was a part of the dessert trio. It was simply scrumptious; crumbly on the outside, and dense with red bean goodness on the inside. (We’ve got a soft spot for moon cakes 😀 ) The red bean filling makes it perfect for those who enjoy their dessert with just a hint of sweetness. The King Longans were nice and the delicate flavours of the Coconut Sago Pudding was just the perfect way to end our meal.

This special menu is a perfect blend of the flavours of authentic Chinese cuisine during the harvest season. Chef Vikram Milhoutra’s team have yet again done an amazing job in executing these dishes. Every dish not only looked picture perfect but tasted absolutely delicious; Rarely do we have a meal where we’ve been impressed with every single dish that we’ve eaten. QWe highly recommend you to try the August Moon Festival at China Inc, Taj Santacruz. It lasts till the 9th of October, 2017.

Golden Dragon, Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai and Ming Yang, Taj Lands End Mumbai are also celebrating this festival with a special menu.

By The Mekong, St. Regis Mumbai

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Firstly, we’d like to start with congratulating Chef Shi Xilin and his team at By The Mekong for winning the Times Food & Wine award for the Best Thai Fine Dine Restaurant.

In the first week of February, we were at By The Mekong to try the special menu that was curated by Chef Shi Xilin– Chef de cuisine; showcasing the choicest recipes from his family that celebrated Chicken in the best way possible. It was fun chatting with Chef Xilin about his experience with The Taj hotels and how his cuisine combines traditional and regional flavours served to suit the Indian palate. He’s had an amazing culinary journey over twenty years yet has the most humble demeanour. He also absolutely enjoys talking about his passion for food.
We also tried a bunch of dishes from the main menu and a few personal favourites that Chef Xilin recommended. Here are a few snippets of our meal.

We were the first to try out the new menu at By The Mekong. Simply put, it is outstanding and our taste buds were left tantalized. What a transformation!

The new menu has been revamped and the new format is a welcome change. Earlier the menu was divided into three parts – Chinese | Thai | Vietnamese, but now it’s all combined and it reflects the best of the three cuisines. It is designed to keep things simple, yet give guests a unique culinary experience of authentic flavours presented in a fresh, modern and contemporary way. We were pleasantly surprised and had no idea how much we’d end up enjoying our meal. 🙂

Chef Himanshu Taneja, the newly appointed Culinary Director was there to ensure we had a great time. Spearheaded by Chef Xilin, the team really surprised us with the food that was served. There was a stark contrast in the look; the appeal and the combination of flavours, and we were really impressed.

We started off with dumplings. We had the Chilean Sea Bass dumpling with Polenta, Prawn with Ossetra Caviar and Spic Sichuan Chicken with Green Onion Oil. The Chilean Seabass dumpling was delicious. We expected it to be a lil fatty and wondered how it would taste in the dumping as the fat could be a little overwhelming. But it was perfectly made and was not at all fatty.  The dumpling wrapper was topped with Polenta, which gave it a nice textural mouthfeel.

We also really enjoyed the Prawn dumpling topped with Ossetra Caviar and the Spicy Sichuan Chicken dumpling, also topped with Ossetra Caviar. The Ossetra Caviar, made it extra special. One thing is for certain, caviar paired with a dumpling, absolutely works. 🙂 We loved the bright red color of the chicken dumplings. What would really visually elevate the experience of eating these two dumplings is if the server garnished the dumpling with the caviar using a mother of pearl spoon at the table instead them arriving at the table already topped with caviar.

The next dish was one of our favourites. Roasted Prawn with Thai Chilli Paste. A dish with amazing textures and was a perfect combination of spicy, sour and sweet. The prawns were cooked to the T. Usually Tiger prawns can end up rubbery and tough if overcooked but this was oh so tender and juicy, and we loved the crunch of the raw onion slices. Chef Himanshu shared with us the long list of ingredients that went in to making this dish. While some may be put off by the lemongrass and red chilli slices and may want to take it off the prawn; TRUST US you really want to savour every single ingredient in the prawn shell. This dish was executed really well. Kudos to the Chef!

The Barbecued Black Pepper and Kaffir Lamb Chops were brilliant. Served with roasted Asparagus, Shimeji Mushroom and Snow Peas, the lamb had a beautiful char and glaze. It was the first time we had it flavoured with kaffir lime leaves. Loved how both the dishes were served on a mini grill. I love my red meats medium rare, and these were well done, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. 🙂

Next, we tried the Banana Leaf wrapped Himalayan Trout, Chef’s Special Sauce. Perfectly cooked with an amazing smoky flavour, we loved how fresh and spicy it was and it absolutely got our taste buds tingling. Glad to see that it was deboned as dishes that are served with bones; makes it messy to enjoy. We had it with Udon Noodles with Vegetables and it went really well.

By The Mekong has really upped their game with their dessert! Chef Yogendra served us two desserts, Chocolate Textures and Ms. Berry. Not revealing what the dessert would look like or how it’d taste; we were in for quite a surprise. Both desserts looked stunning.

The Chocolate Texture, as the name suggests, had a mélange of textures that celebrated Chocolate on a plate. This dessert had a perfect quenelle of chocolate ice-cream, a cold molten chocolate surprise, chocolate cigars, pieces of chocolate cake, chocolate and Feulletine kissed with more chocolate. It was any chocolate lover’s dream come true.

Ms. Berry was one of the prettiest desserts we’ve ever seen. Vibrant colors and berries made it look picture perfect. It had blue berries, black berries, red currants and meringue kisses strategically placed on both sides of the blueberry mousse. It was refreshing and the tart berries helped cut through the sweetness of the dessert. Both desserts were plated excellently. Kudos to Chef Yogendra.

We’re fans of the new menu. Not just from a cuisine point of view, but we also like how there’s a certain freshness about the dishes being featured. Without pulling away from authentic flavours, Chef Xilin and his team have managed to make it modern and contemporary. It’s a welcome change and we’re sure By The Mekong will attract foodies looking for a change from the classic Asian fare of gravies and stir fries which can get boring at times. The plating is fabulous and we love everything about it. We wish Chef Xilin and his team all the very best with this new menu!

Yuuka, The St Regis Mumbai

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Dining at Yuuka with a meal prepared by none other than Chef Ting Yen was a dream come true. We had heard so about him and his son Kevin’s feat at St. Regis Mumbai’s Japanese restaurant and were delighted to be invited to review their new menu.

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We started our meal with one of Yuuka’s signature dishes – Salmon on Fire! Strips of raw salmon are placed on a lemongrass stalk that is suspended on a bed of coffee beans. The salmon is encrusted with bits of deep fried onion pieces and petals of edible flowers. Once brought to the table, the server sets fire to the coffee beans, lightly scorching the meat rendering a smoky char that adds immense flavour. It was served with a dipping sauce, but the salmon itself was so delicious; you don’t really need the sauce to enjoy the dish. Our meal was off to a great start.

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For drinks we had the Yuuka’s signature cocktails – Ginger Manhattan (Jim Beam, Martini Rosso, Ginger Falemum and Sour Mix) which was a very asian version of the classic cocktail and Ting’s Sushi Companion (Cucumber infused Sake, Mint, Cucumber Lime), a refreshing cocktail that really added to the dining experience. Later we also tried the Samurai – Yamazaki (12YO) Whisky Orange Juice and Togarashi powder. The whisky is Suntory’s (Japan’s first commercial distillery) flagship single malt whisky, multi-layered with fruit and Mizunara aromas, combined with Orange and Togarashi it gave a lovely fruity punch with some heat. All three are a must try!

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The next appetizer was the Avocado Tartare; a dish with a million textures (or at least that’s what it felt like). It is served cold in a frozen martini glass. The avocado tartare is placed on Perilla leaves or Shiso and served on ice. A layer of ice separates that from the Corn Dashi. The server breaks the ice to mix both leaving us with a chilled glass of creamy deliciousness. We loved the way the dish looked and the having it cold made it really enjoyable.

Chef Ting Yen is known for his restaurant Oishii in Boston. Being born in Japan, and raised in Korea and Taiwan, Chef Yen uses the experience and passion he has for Japanese food to craft a truly impressive menu at Yuuka. Using influences from his childhood and elements from family recipes, he carefully crafts each dish with refinement and a myriad of flavours and presents it in a modern way. His son Kevin who is equally passionate, adds to the symphony.

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The next dish was presented to us by the duo. Chef Yen brought to our table a hot infusion siphon. The first time we’d seen one brought out onto a restaurant floor. It’s an amazing tool to make hot broths or cocktails, even tea and coffee at the table. Chef Yen called it the ‘5 min Mushroom Dashi’. Made with Kombu, dried Bonito flakes and a variety of mushrooms, the dashi is most certainly a flavour bomb of umami. We were served chunks of prawns, oyster and shiitake mushroom with scallions, and medallions of semolina cakes that were seared for a light caramelized exterior. The semolina cakes were sweet and give a contrast to the rich umami flavour in the dish. Elegant and delicious.

We also tried the Chilean Sea Bass that was packed with deep soy flavour which was followed by a train of Maki Rolls.

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Our favourites of the evening, The Truffle Maki and the Lamb Over Fire Maki. It’s hard to resist truffles when paired with creamy avocado, cucumber and a generous shaving of black truffle; each morsel becomes a moment to cherish. If you love the truffles, this maki roll is a dish you can’t afford to miss.

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The Lamb Maki Over Fire. Each bite is nothing short of a mouthwatering amalgamation of flavours. The flames from the coffee beans and lemongrass lightly scorch the edges of the roll, rendering it smoky, with hints of the fragrant burnt lemongrass and coffee. A Ponzu reduction is drizzled over it while it’s still roasting, to add in a new dimension of flavour. Each roll is topped with a tiny slice of chilli and finely sliced scallions. The thinly sliced lamb that wraps around the Maki just seems to melt away as soon as it’s in your mouth. Stuffed with lamb and soy, this roll is a definite must-try from the list of dishes that have been added to the menu at Yuuka.

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We also tried a few of Chef’s specials like the Chef Ting’s Fried Rice and Stir Fried Udon Noodles with Dutch Porkbelly with Red Miso. We really enjoyed the fried rice as it had a spicy kick to it. Chef informed us that the noodles were not on the menu and were from the hidden menu at Oishii. Only a few patrons at Oishii knew it exists, as he doesn’t like to make it for everyone. It’s made just like how his father used to make it and the Chef took immense pride in sharing the special memory with us. You could tell that the noodles were handmade. They had a really chewy texture to them, I loved the light sauce and vegetables that it was tossed in. The pork belly was tender and was cooked to perfection.

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For dessert we had the Wine Poached Pear with Berries. It turned out to be a perfect way to end our meal. Sublime, not-too-sweet and quite literally a nice ‘fade to black’ as far as our evening went.

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Yuuka as a restaurant that celebrates modern Japanese food and Chef Ting Yen combines it with Nikkei cuisine with a few Peruvian ingredients. Chef Ting and his son, Kevin, only visit the restaurant at St. Regis, Mumbai twice a year. Kudos to the team of chefs trained by Chef Ting, who keep the torch burning strong and fierce when he is not around. We had the opportunity to meet the father-son duo in November and we had an amazing time dining there.

Zivame – The Ultimate Lingerie Destination!

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I have always been skeptical about buying clothes online. Not that I haven’t shopped online, but when it comes to clothes, I always like to try before I buy. A bunch of my friends and even family members have been raving about Zivame – the online store for undergarments; touted as a one stop for beautifully crafted bras, panties, nightwear & accessories.

So when Zivame offered me to pick a product from their website that I could try out first hand, I was not really sure if it was a great idea. Those who know me know I am a lil too cautious about the fabric that I wear, even of the bed sheets that I sleep on. So I was apprehensive about owning something that I had never felt or tried before.

It was my first time checking out their website. I found it simple to use and products were available in tabs and I could all relevant info with just in few clicks. I liked how the website let me sort the search result according to Preferences, Styles or Occasions. There are also Filter and Style tabs so that you can narrow down to the exactly what you’re looking for. The collection is huge! I spent a long time browsing through the website and all the products were unique and very pretty. Once you choose your pick, you can easily check if that product is available in your size.

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I picked the Zivame Satin Brides Padded Moderate Pushup Low Back Bra (Pearl White) from their Bridal Collection. They also have a 15 day return policy which is great as most stores don’t even offer exchange or returns on undergarments. The information about the bra mentioned on the website gives you a clear understanding of what to expect. Like the Bust Coverage, Hook Closure, Padding Level, Wired or not, the Fabric, the Neckline and Exclusive Features if they have any. It also has a tab where you can track the product delivery and there’s an option that allows you to choose if you wanted it packed discreetly.

Now about the bra! I got the product really well packaged. It was in a beautiful peach box that looked pretty neat. The bra was sealed in a plastic bag and placed in the box. First look, I was in awe. It looked stunning. It will make any girl’s day extra special. The plush bridal level-2 push up bra, was pearl white in color. The satin fabric will make you feel really comfortable, the bra definitely adds a cup size, so that one looks fuller under their bridal outfits. The rich satin fabric and the smooth padding would make you really comfortable and the lurex threads add a hint of subtle shimmer. I love how the seamless underwire and the partial lace overlay really complement the mesh wings. Plus, the low-back design stays hidden under your deep back necklines. It’s specially made to go under bridal outfits.

I truly loved the design, and it was really comfortable to wear. I would really recommend this product to all every bride-to-be. It’s definitely a great product to gift to someone you know who is getting married or for your daughter, fiancé and even your wife. It says bridal wear but can certainly be worn any day and definitely for any occasion. I have now found an easier way to shop for undergarments. I don’t think I’ll ever waste time trying out stuff at stores again. Zivame, you have a new fan! 🙂

You can also check out their collection by clicking on this link – http://goo.gl/KklLxB

Luna Gusta, The St. Regis Mumbai

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We were invited to have dinner at the newly launched Luna Nudo Gusta, The St Regis Mumbai’s modern European restaurant and bar. Luna means the moon in Italian and Spanish; we were informed that the name reflected the charismatic energy of the moon and how it influenced the tides. Romantic as it may seem, it was apparent how well Luna Gusto – the restaurant and Luna Nudo – the bar got their guests captivated with great music, amazing food and enticing cocktails.

We were already in awe of The St Regis as a hotel. Mumbai’s quintessential sanctum of luxury, it’s bespoke services and rituals would make anyone feel like royalty. Their Butler service being the first in the country, and with award winning restaurants and bars; we knew we were in for a great time.

Located on the 37th floor of the St. Regus hotel, Luna Nudo Gusta has two levels. Luna Nudo – the bar, is on the lower level with a stairway that leads up to Luna Gusta – the restaurant.

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Luna Nudo looks really chic with vertical neon tube lights that give everything in the room a blue and pink hue. The place was bustling with people while the band that played some really good live music.

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On the other hand the décor at Luna Gusta is luxurious and glamorous, while the lighting sets a very intimate tone. Wooden frames suspended from the ceiling create an optical illusion as if they are floating, and among them are golden shade chandeliers add a very opulent feel to the overall ambience to the restaurant. With a mosaic-tiled wall, marble tabletops and gold-blue-green plush upholstery, the décor was absolutely stunning. One couldn’t miss the Moet & Chandon champagne rack that had the classic and the pretty white Ice Imperial series of our favorite bubbly. Sticking to the moon theme, the charger plates were black and were teamed with black serviette and matte black cutlery. We couldn’t wait for our meal to begin.

The menu starts off with a “Graze & Share” section comprising of salads and appetizers, followed by soups, then mains and sides. Don’t be confused if you don’t find the dessert section on the menu. Your server will promptly hand you the dessert menu after you’re done with your meal.

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We started off with a red wine sangria and the amuse bouche of the day. We were served a tray of freshly baked in house bread with herbed and black garlic butter, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We also ordered the “Unusual Classics”, Crescent Fashioned and Luna Mary. The Crescent Fashioned came with a lot of theatre. It was Luna’s take on the classic Old Fashioned and their twist was to use an in-house infusion; Bourbon infused with Kashmiri Kahwa with bitters and orange marmalade. The drink was brought to our table in a smoked glass cloche. Thanks to Ferran Adria who started the trend of adding smoke to food, it just took the drink to a whole new level. It was delicious.

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We really liked how the drink was presented, but what the bartender did with the next drink was pure genius. The Luna Mary was made with Bacon infused vodka and had in-house chili bitters. With a strip of smoked bacon and olives on a stick, this drink just made my day. It was spicy and was flavoured with smokey bacon.

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Our first dish at Luna Gusta was the Artisanal Burrata & Florentine Fennel. Served on a bed of shaved fennel with orange and grapefruit wedges, basil, romaine hearts; it was drizzled with pomegranate molasses and sprinkled with volcanic black salt. It was refreshing and well balanced. The burrata was fresh and creamy and who doesn’t love citrus in their salad. We were off to a good start.

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Then came the crowning glory of the menu, one of Luna Gusta’s signature dishes – Highland Venison Carpaccio! I’ve had Beef Carpaccio but this was at a whole other level. I love the process of how beautifully the thinly slices of meat are arranged. The meat is lightly seared to seal in the juices and then frozen so that it can be cut thinly; once it’s arranged on the plate it is allowed to defrost and is then served. It’s a cold dish, but the contrast of flavours and textures is what makes this dish an epicurean’s delight. The meat was lean and was served with shaved Pecorino cheese, baby greens and extra virgin olive oil. It disintegrated as soon as it hit my palate. A definite must-try.

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Next we had the Crumbed Diver Scallops, another house favourite and highly recommended dish. This dish looked really pretty as it was served in scallop shells with corn puree and apple. That Scallops and apples are a match made in heaven is a known fact, and these were perfectly crumb fried and the julienned apples added just the right amount of crunch and freshness to this dish. The creamy corn puree brought the whole dish together. We absolutely loved it. The Gremolata Jumbo Tiger Prawns with Chili Aioli that we tried was good too; but the Scallops stole the show. 🙂

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Our next drinks were not from the “Unusual Classics”. Joel, the bartender wanted us to try something that he had been working on with his in-house infusions. We had the “Harvest of the Moon” – Bourbon infused with honey and cinnamon, and smoked with Apple wood. It came in a pretty wooden box. We also tried a Gin cocktail that was infused with rosemary and lemon. Superb stuff.

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Moving on to the next dish, Bouillabaisse. I remember watching Masterchef Australia: Season 2 Episode 28, where contestants had a taste test to identify all the 23 ingredients of a Bouillabaisse. But this was Luna’s version of the Provençal dish. It had shrimp, red snapper and squid. The tomato broth was full of seafood flavour and richness of saffron. The toasted Focaccia that was mentioned in the description was missing but we enjoyed every bit of the hearty soup.

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For mains we had Spiny Lobster Risotto and Peppered Lamb Rack. The risotto was perfectly made with chunks of lobster and baby spinach leaves. The flavour of the lobster with Parmesan cheese complemented each other. It was delicious. The plump rack of lamb from New Zealand was perfectly seared and cut in perfect cutlets; served with roasted veggies and green peppercorn jus. It was a classic dish and I wouldn’t want to change anything about it. It was really good and is most certainly fit to be listed among Luna Gusta’s best dishes.

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Dessert time. Our server got us the dessert menu and as always we ordered two from the menu. The White Chocolate Parfait and Gusta’s Cake for Two. Little did we know that we had bitten off more than we could chew, but it was all worth it. The White Chocolate Parfait was served with Beetroot sponge, Beetroot Coulis, Beetroot that was brunoised, and was topped with Goat’s Cheese Ice-cream that completely blew our mind. This dessert wasn’t overtly sweet and we loved how it balanced the flavours of each component. The parfait was light, and the three textures of beetroot added a subtle earthiness. We were happy with the dessert and were waiting for the second one. We had no clue what was in store for us. 😀

We then see two chefs walking towards us, and two servers walking with them, with a table and a bunch of ingredients. Lo and behold! The orchestrated concept that was birthed by Grant Achatz, of Alinea fame was about to unfold before our eyes. The Gusta’s Cake for Two was Luna’s way of creating a theatrical experience that would leave one wide eyed and smiling ear to ear. Chef Garima spread out a sheet of paper that had the logo of Luna Gusta over the table. She placed a 7-layer cake that was finished with a rich Chocolate Ganache and topped with gold leaf. She then began swirling around chocolate sauce and raspberry coulis, crushing meringue kisses, and dropping mango puree. She also added some chocolate chips, blueberries and red currants. The chef assisting her then piped in some chocolate mousse, which she froze with a canister of liquid nitrogen! Finally she cut the cake into four quarters revealing the layers of the perfectly made cake. What a grand finale! It’s an experience that we recommend to everyone who visits Luna Gusta.

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The Bittersweet Chocolate Cake was rich with complex textures and the raspberry jelly in the cake added a bit of sourness to offset the overall bittersweet taste of the cake. We could scoop up just the right amount of chocolate sauce or mango puree depending on our individual preference. The crunchy bits of meringue and chocolate chip added even more texture, and so did the berries that were scattered randomly around the cake. It was sinfully indulgent. 🙂

What we love about Luna Gusta is apart from the amazing food, the vibe and the eagerness of the staff to ensure that each guest has a good time. Kudos to service team, they were very attentive and the service was par excellence. The food is fabulous and drinks are unique. Their in-house infusions and concoctions are highly recommended. We had an amazing time and we can’t wait to be back for more, even if it’s just for Gusta’s Cake for Two! 🙂

Thai Food Festival, JW Marriott Sahar

It was way back in 2006 that I remember falling in love with Thai cuisine. It was relatively new to the city, at a time when Thai food meant having Thai Green or Red Curry Rice, Pad Thai Noodles, Som Tam or Thai Pot Rice (which wasn’t really authentic but boy it tasted good). I’ve always enjoyed watching Ian Wright, Bobby Chinn and Janet Hsieh have a blast travelling around the world, and I have learnt so much through their food expeditions. Merrilees Parker hosted an episode of Planet Food that piqued my interest of Thai food. I still remember her walking through the streets of Bangkok, tasting various street food, hopping on to a boat at the Floating Market on the Chao Phya river to try piping hot flat rice noodles. I promised myself that day that I would definitely travel to Thailand to try all those dishes, particularly a crispy pancake like dessert that had a coconut filling. Little did I know that I’d get closer to the amazing food experience that I had hoped and wished for when we went to the Thai Food Festival hosted by JW Marriott Sahar Mumbai.

We’ve been to JW Café a bunch of times, but being fans of Thai food, this time was extra special. 🙂 Chef Rungtiwa Sorlae, with Executive Chef Vishal Atreya, and a few food enthusiasts were just back from a short trip to Thailand. It was to showcase food that was close to Chef Rungtiwa’s heart. They sampled various dishes and even had an elaborate meal at her home.

Once they got back, Chef Rungtiwa had to bring back true flavours of Thailand with her, to showcase the hidden gems of the Thai Cuisine. In collaboration with the Royal Thai Consulate General – Mumbai, birthed a flavourpacked extravaganza that started on the 14th of October, and went on till the 29th of November.

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The invite that was sent to us was really special. It had Khanom Dok Jok, a traditional Thai dessert shaped like a Lotus, and an invite for the event with a booklet that gave us an insight to Chef Rungtiwa’s life and passion for Thailand and Thai cuisine. It also had snapshots of the trip and had two recipes that are close to chef’s heart; Kang Phed Sab-Pa-Rod Goong (Pineapple Curry Prawns) and Phad Thaw Ngxk Tao Hu (Home-Style Stir Fried Bean Sprouts with Tofu.)

We knew that this was going to be memorable experience.

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When we walked into JW Café, our eyes went straight to the Thai Snake Boat that was filled with flowers. There were around 5-6 counters that high various types of Thai food.

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The first one was a live counter by the Royal Thai Consulate General – Mumbai. We had the pleasure of meeting Consul – General Mr. Ekapol Poolpipat who was there with his team and chefs showcasing two dishes – Sticky Rice with Egg Custard and Steamed Rice with Toasted Coconut in Banana Leaves. The counter looked so colorful. We had no idea that Thailand had such a vast variety of rice. In this counter there was a plate with three variations of sticky rice. One was cooked with only coconut milk, the second one was made with Pandanus leaves that rendered a hint of green color to the rice and the third one caught everyone’s eye as it was blue. 🙂 The chefs and Mr. Poolpipat explained that a flower called Butterfly Pea is used to add the bright blue color. It doesn’t flavour, just adds vibrancy to any dish that it’s used in. We tried both the dishes and also saw how it’s made. The Egg Custard isn’t the usual custard that you’d expect, but it has a light green tinge and it’s thin in shape. It was served on top of the sticky rice with toasted Coconut that was also made in-house. We loved the savoury version too. There was one that had sticky rice served with Egg Floss and another that was mixed with a dried shrimp mixture that tasted delicious. The texture that the Egg floss gave to the dish was something made it all the more enjoyable. 🙂

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The next counter was one of our favourites – Som Tam Salad. There was a chef who would make you a fresh portion of the now world famous Thai Raw Papaya Salad at your request. The counter looked really pretty with herbs and vegetables and a huge wooden mortar and pestle. There were sauces and bird eye chilies laid out so that the spice levels and the taste could be adjusted to the guests liking.

Both these counters were used when Chef Rungtiwa held a workshop to show how the dishes were made. She pointed out that Thai cuisine is a complex interplay of 4 to 5 fundamental taste senses; sweet, salty, sour, bitter and spicy. Creating a balance of all these tastes is very important in making Thai food. While making Som Tam she added chilies for the spiciness, tamarind for sourness, salt for saltiness (fish sauce can also be used) and a lil bit of palm sugar for sweetness in the dish. She then mixed and pounded all the ingredients in the wooden mortar and pestle. It was fun to learn about a dish that I like so much, and see how it’s originally made.

The Royal Thai Consulate General – Mumbai had standees showcasing the different kinds of rice that are available in Thailand. Thai cuisine is not just about Jasmine rice and Sticky rice. Chef Rungtiwa mentioned that some of these varieties of rice are only available in certain shops in the city, one just has to look for it, and know what to buy. Following is some info on a few rice varieties that were featured by The Royal Thai Consulate General that evening.

Khao Wong Rice of Kalasin – It is registered as a geographical indication or Gi Rice. This glutinous rice is planted only during the wet season in the paddy fields with silicon and calcium rich soil in Kalasin province in Northeast Thailand. The husk is brown; the grain is sticky and soft. It is fragrant when cooked, remains soft for a long time and does not stick to the finders.

Cooking method – Rice : Water = 1:1.5 – 2 (with the electric rice cooker)

Pa-yah Leum Gaeng Rice – This glutinous rice is planted in Nam Nao district, Phetchabun province, Northern region as well as in some other provinces in the Northeastern region of Thailand such as Loei and Chaiyaphum. Special characteristics include soft texture and strong aroma when cooked. It also contains high protein content (8.16g)

Cooking method – Rice : Water = 1:1.5 – 2 (with the electric rice cooker)

Hom Mali Rice (Thai Jasmine Rice) – This aromatic rice grows mostly in the Northeastern region of Thailand and is reputed around the globe for it’s premium quality rice grains, health benefits and it’s distinctive jasmine aroma that is released during the cooking process. When cooked it is soft and fluffy with a taste that enhances traditional spices of orient cuisine. It is also a good source of protein, carbohydrates, niacin, thiamine, iron, selenium, vitamin B1 and D. It is also our favourite kind of rice. 🙂

Cooking method – Rice : Water = 1:1 – 1.5 (with the electric rice cooker)

Khao Leumpua – This dark purple glutinous upland rice belongs to the Mong hilltribe. The origin prior to the time of seed purification was the mountainous area 450 meter above sea level. The variety is normally grown in the wet season under upland condition. The variety is normally grown in the wet season under upland condition. Khao Leumpua contains high concentration of antioxidants substances such as anthocyanin and gamma oryzanol. Moreover, it contains high amount of nutrients and unsaturated fatty acids sucha as Omega 3, Omega 6, Omega 9, Vitamin B, Vitamin B2, iron, calcium and manganese.

Cooking method – Rice : Water = 1:1 (with the electric rice cooker)

Sangyod Rice – This variety of rice is originally grown only in Phatthalung province, in the Southern region of Thailand. Sangyod rice has beautiful natural dark red and violet colors. The grains are soft and aromatic when cooked. Sangyod Rice provides more nutrition benefits than other types of rice. It contains more fibre, Vitamin E, protein, iron and phosphorous. It also contains antioxidants such as oryzanol and gamma aminbutyric acid.

Cooking method – Rice : Water = 1:1.5 – 2 (with the electric rice cooker)

We would really love to travel to Thailand just to see how these rice are cultivated and also try the dishes that are made/paired with them.

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The next station had Satay. Though originally from Indonesia, Satay is very popular in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and other neighbouring countries. This station had a variety of satays that were grilled as per each guests preference. They had Chicken, Fish, Prawns, Tofu and Pineapple. The raw ingredients were already marinated on skewers and were ready to be grilled. They came with a bunch of dipping sauces. Our favourite remains the sweet and spicy Thai Chilli sauce. The satays were perfectly cooked and the Pineapple one was refreshing. We loved it. 🙂

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If you followed Mark Wiens from Migrationology or EatingThaiFood.com you’ll know that there are way more dishes eaten as main course in Thailand than the usual Green, Red or Yellow Thai curry. Chef Rungtiwa accomplished just that by introducing a variety of main dishes during this festival.

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Phad Phak Rume or Ruam, a vegetarian stir fried Thai dish had kale, mushrooms, cauliflower, baby corn and carrots. Mixed with spicy red chillies, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves, this dish was flavourful and went really well with steamed jasmine rice. They even had a duck version of this dish that was really popular during the festival.

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We also really liked the Tofu Phad Prik Thai Dum that had cubes of Tofu that had been deep fried and tossed with garlic, shallots and green onions. What we loved about the Tofu was that it acted like a sponge and soaked up all the flavours of a sauce and ended up becoming these juicy pillows of Thai goodness. Delicious!

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There was a southern Thai chicken dish that had loads of spices and had bunches of Phrik Thai or Thai Green Peppercorn. These render a lovely mild peppery hint and can be eaten whole without having to worry about setting your mouth on fire. Being from the South of India (Kerala), I have enjoyed green pepper pickle and have had tasted it in curries that my grandmother used to make from the peppercorn that were plucked from our spice garden in Kerala. Brought back a lot of fond memories and we truly relished it with rice.

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Thai people know how to cook seafood and what Chef Rungtiwa and her team did with the next dish was absolutely brilliant. This stir-fried dish had prawns and mussels cooked with garlic, Thai red chillies and Kaffir Lime leaves, another dish that left us going for seconds. 🙂 Even though stir-fried, none of the dishes are oily. They are cooked and stir fried in their own juices making it super delicious and healthy. It’s safe to say that this was one of the favourites of almost everyone at the restaurant as we saw a lot people lining up for this dish! Prawns. Mussels, that yummy curry, what’s not to like!?! 🙂

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They also had pots of Green and Red Thai curry along with bowls of ingredients that could be added according individual preference. It was a live station where the chef would cook you the curry of your choice with your favourite ingredients.

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And now, the dessert counter! My eyes lit up seeing the Royal Thai style crispy pancake dessert Khanom Bueang. It was same dessert that Merriliees Parker had during her trip to Thailand. It was like a dream come true moment for me. 😀 Loved how beautifully and carefully the chef at the dessert station made each pancake. At first, a dollop of meringue is rhythmically spread on the pancake that is being cooked to a perfectly crispy texture. Then a filling is added, followed by toasted sesame seeds. There were three fillings – golden egg thread, salted coconut and sweet coconut.  It is then folded into the signature shape that looked like a dimpled taco. Loved it! Even the Roti Tord that we tried was interesting. It was roti that looked very much like the Indian Laccha Paratha or the Malabari Parotta that was deep-fried till it was golden brown in color. It was served with Pandanus cream and condensed milk. We also loved the coconut ice cream that was served in a young coconut shell with ribbons of tender coconut flesh, with rice vermicelli, jackfruit and water chestnut.

This meal brought us closer to Thailand with an experience that was so close to Chef Rungtiwa’s heart. Her passion for Thai cuisine is reflected in every dish that was meticulously served at JW Café. Even the chef at the Khanom Bueang counter was made to slow down her pace while making the pancakes and Chef Rungtiwa insisted she followed a specific rhythm to make sure they tasted exactly like the ones made back home. She brought with her, family recipes and made every guest at the restaurant experience the true flavours of Thailand. The I really think the Royal Thai Consulate General team did a brilliant job showcasing their culture and ingredients, and that is sure to entice everyone who dined at the Thai Food Festival to put Thailand high up on their list of places to visit. 🙂 JW Café and Chef Rungtiwa lured us with a droplet from the ocean of flavours that Thailand has to offer, and we can’t wait to head there for more.

D’lecta Foods Pvt Ltd, Mumbai

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It was a pleasant surprise when D’Lecta Foods invited us for a dessert workshop held to showcase their products. I am already a fan of their Cream Cheese, so trusting the brand was easy. I had completely stopped buying cheese slices that were manufactured in India; but when I tried D’lecta I was hooked on to it.

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Chef Priya Dikshit, who is the Pastry Chef with D’Lecta, conducted the session. It was held at their headquarters, and it was interesting to find out that they had a fully functional test kitchen, where in addition to testing recipes, they also run cooking/baking classes for homemakers and small business owners.

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During the workshop, we made a really delicious Eggless Baked Cheesecake, using D’lecta Cream Cheese, Dairy Crème and an egg replacer concentrate. We also made Baked Yoghurt, Black Forest Chocolate Cheesecake and Espresso Chocolate Mousse. Everyone at the workshop got aprons to wear that had the ‘Hum Bhi Chef’ logo. (Hum Bhi Chef is a platform under D’lecta where these cooking classes are held.) They’ve also got a Facebook page where users can share recipes and feedback about the brand. It was a fun experience whipping up all these yummy desserts. After the workshop ended, we were given a few of their products to take back home to try out. Some of the products that were given to us were Dairy Crème, Cream Cheese, Cheese Slices, Melto and a Nacho Cheese Dip. We hadn’t used D’lecta Melto and D’lecta Nacho Cheese Dip before.

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Being fans of D’Lecta cheese slices, we had high expectations for D’lecta Melto. It has a really deep orange color like aged sharp Cheddar, but has a unique flavour that is new in the market. We made Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and it was unbelievable. We loved how quickly it melts and but still retains it’s gooey consistency. The cheese slices are pre-cut and packed in a tray sans the plastic sleeve so they tend to stick to each other. So don’t wait too long or bring the slices to room temp before you separate them.

You can also cut them into chunks, and add it to the pasta sauce to make it gooey and extra cheesy or enjoy it in Lasagna. I have already made plans to serve it with pineapple and cherry or olives the next time I have friends over. Melto will definitely go well in a nice juicy burger as well. Double cheese anyone? 🙂

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The timing to use the next product was perfect as a family member was back from Israel and had got us Avocados. I love Avocados on toast, but since we had D’lecta’s Nacho Cheese Dip, I decided to quickly whip up make some Guacamole. This cheese dip is a great quick fix for party snack or a movie night. It’s bright orange in color and has this luscious gooey cheesy consistency. It has a hint of Jalapeno that went well with nacho chips. I would really love to pour it over a plate of Nachos, sprinkle some Chili Con Carne with onions, tomato, extra cheese and bake it till it’s melted and enjoy it as an evening snack.

I haven’t used the two packs of D’lecta cream cheese that they gave us yet, but I have a really good recipe in mind, so stay tuned for more. I use D’lecta Dairy Crème atleast a half dozen times a month for gravies and soups. It’s also great for making Chocolate Ganache.

D’lecta has definitely become a choice that every household should seriously consider, and we are eagerly waiting for their Natural Cheddar Cheese to hit stores.

It was interesting to know the variety of products they manufacture. From Milk Powders and Cheese Cake Topping to Premixes and Whipping Cream, D’Lecta even has India’s first automatic tea brewing machine called D’lecta Café. Thanks for having us over and giving us insight to your sub brands and products.