The Bao Haus Co.

We have seen a lot of restaurants that have sprung up in the last couple of years that have made eating out a whole new experience. And now, “eating in” seems to be the new fad that has hit the city; with home delivery becoming a convenient option for many foodies. We’re not talking about the run-of-the-mill food that many takeaway joints are offering nowadays. The Bao Haus Co. just got added to our list of some of our favourite eat-in food that this city has to offer.

So here’s a little background information about the place, and how this came into being. We had an interesting discussion with Chef Siddharth Somaiya to understand where it all started. Interestingly, before he got into The Culinary Institute of America, he signed up for a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration due to his parents insisting that he should. As destiny would have it, he couldn’t give up his passion for food, and he chose to pursue what he knew was his true calling. After interning at three-starred Michelin restaurants in Manhattan, (He recalls this as the time he learned some of his most important life lessons, and working at these restaurants taught him a lot about disciple, ingredients and organizational skills.) he came back Mumbai and the inception of the The Bao Haus Co. began.

The Bao Haus Co. as the name suggests, was partly inspired by the BaoHaus at 14th St. New York. Chef Siddharth knew that he wanted to showcase baos in ways that are completely new and that appeal to the growing appetite of foodies in Mumbai. It was natural for him to be innovative, and with his culinary experience, bring in internationally inspired, hand crafted Vietnamese steamed buns with a twist. The focus is to be versatile, fresh and deliver baos that play with your taste buds every time you bite into one. With ingredients that are unique, mostly made in-house and some imported, to be certain that the quality he wants is achieved.

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We started off with Hickory Smoked Wings with Garlic Yoghurt; man it was uber crispy and crunchy. There have been many restaurants in the city trying to get the good ol “Buffalo Wings” right, and have failed miserably. These are, by far, the best we’ve ever had. There’s a fraction of a second after you bite into a wing the first time, that makes your eyes pop and go wide, and then it’s easy to decide. It’s science. An instant connection. Your brain automatically decides, and you’re already going in for the next bite . Chef Siddharth realized that the ones he had served us were a bit too salty, but Garlic Yoghurt compensated for it. We had no complaints. This is a must have for every party. You’ll have people showing up for your parties just for these Hickory Smoked Wings. Haha! Moving on…

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We then had the Belgian Pork Belly Burger with Caramelised Onions and Sriracha Cheddar. It may look small, and you will not find the usual slices of tomato, lettuce and onion, and it won’t be smothered with mayo or have a dilapidated slice of cheese. This is a simple pork belly burger, made in a way burgers are supposed to be made. The imported Belgian pork belly, is carefully ground just right to retain its optimum flavour, seasoned lightly, and we guess it’s broiled with cheddar that’s mixed with sriracha to form a lovely gooey blanket that envelopes the burger, which is then sandwiched in a Brioche Bun that’s made in-house. You really have to taste it to believe it. It’s the bomb! Their in-house Sriracha sauce is to die for. We saw the jar in which the next batch of chillies were being fermented. For a die-hard Sriracha fan like me, that was heavenly.

And now, it was Bao time! 🙂

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We tried the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Baos first. This soft and supple bao has thin slices of chicken that are deep fried and tossed in Honey Sriracha Glaze and it is topped with a sesame slaw. The sesame slaw was so fresh, we could tell the finely julienned veggies were hand mixed just before they were topped on the crispy chicken pieces in the steamed bao. The combination of textures, temperatures and flavours is what makes The Bao Haus Co. unique. We really loved the magic that was happening in our mouths with every single bite.

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The next Bao had its own melange of flavours that made us weak in our knees. We love Asian food, and Thai food is our favourite. The Coconut Shrimp Bao just hit the sweet spot! It was Thailand in a bao. The coconutty deep fried shrimp that had a lovely tamarind glaze oozed of Thai flavours. We could taste the shrimp paste in the tamarind glaze. It was sprinkled with a magic dust, Kaffir Lime Salt. We wonder how much time was taken to perfect this bao coz Thai flavours are strong and to see how these ingredients were added in perfect proportions to create that balance, just blew our mind. We even had the Kaffir Lime and Ginger Soda, it was different, not very sweet, just right.

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It was time to have the Bao that we couldn’t hear enough of. The Chocolate Bao. To paraphrase our Friend, Joey Tribbiani, “Brûléed Bananas, GOOD, Marshmallows, GOOOD, Walnut Crumble, GOOOOD!” This bao was just what we needed to end our meal. We were happy to know that the marshmallows were made in-house, would’ve loved it even more if they were torched.

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Here’s another thing! With Halloween being round the corner, Chef Siddharth Somaiya has created a special dish which can be relished by vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Inspired by fall vegetables, and the colors synonymous with Halloween, Chef Siddharth Somaiya presents the “Carrot Bao with Quinoa Patty, Arugula & Goat Cheese Salad with Beet Chips” It’s an ode to eating healthy, with a Halloween spin! The carrot gives the bao, the bright orange color; we can only imagine the lovely flavour combo of quinoa, arugula and Goat’s cheese with beet! Something worth trying!

We like the fact that the bread, sauces and accompaniments are made in-house. It just reflects how much the Chef respects the final product. Ingredients are available frozen now-a-days, and it may seem easy to start a delivery joint, but after trying The Bao Haus Co., we can tell the benchmark it wants to set. We saw his commitment with how he ran his kitchen while we were there. Attention to minute details and monitoring everything with precision, spoke volumes of where he wants his brand to be. Everyone who loves food to the point of obsession, and those who put textures and flavours at utmost importance in their dining experience, has got to try this! We wish Chef Siddharth all the best with this venture and we would definitely be back to try more.

P.S They’re limited to deliveries in South Mumbai for now.

Rocktober Fest, Hard Rock Cafe, Worli

With Oktoberfests creating a buzz in the city, Hard Rock Cafe is rocking it out with their own version called Rocktober Fest! Hard Rock Cafe needs no introduction. Known as a rock-n-roller’s sanctum sanctorum, it is known to be the the place for any music lover. With insane acoustics and valuable pieces of musical history, this place ensures that every guest has a great time. From enthusiastic servers to bottle juggling bartenders, from crazy Birthday/Anniversary rituals to huge portions of food! Hard Rock Cafe has it all.

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We were invited to try the RocktoberFest menu there last Saturday! We were shown to our table by our waiter for the day. We glanced through the RocktoberFest menu and placed our order.

We started off with the Jamaican Hotty Submarine (Rs 365), a Mexi Cali Burger (Rs 385) and Carnival Fiesta Fries (Rs 385).

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The Jamaican Hotty Submarine was Char Grilled Smoked Chicken Frank stuffed SubRoll, topped with Jamaican spiced stir fried veggies and tangy Cajun BBQ Mayo, served with Chilli Fries! It looked fabulous. We were salivating the moment it reached our table. At Hard Rock Cafe, you know you’d be happy and overwhelmed with portion sizes. It was huuuuge! (Donald Trump voice)

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We made the mistake of ordering the Carnival Fiesta Fries. It was fries enough for four people. It was Cajun spice dusted, crispy tangy chilli garlic crusted fries, topped with BBQ spice rubbed hand pulled chicken and chopped smoked chicken franks served with a tangy salsa and cheddar cheese sauce! Phew! Yup! That! We were served fries with the submarine and the next burger we ordered later. It was just a whole lotta fries. 🙂 But we enjoyed it.

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We also tried the Mexi Cali Burger, which was an absolutely juicy tangy smoked chicken patty, charred to perfection with a honey citrusy mayo topped with a smoky relish served with spicy chilli fries. We loved how tasty this burger was. Well, Hard Rock Cafe is known for their epic burgers, so this was just another feather in their cap. It’s a must try.

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We couldn’t stop ourselves from ordering a side of onion rings. Believe us a “side” of onion rings at Hard Rock Cafe doesn’t look like your normal side of onion rings. It’s like a normal portion served at any restaurant and our server Leingam said the normal portion is almost triple of what was served to us! We also tried Mac n Cheese Poppers which is our favourite snack at Hard Rock Cafe. The best part about the cheesy mac n cheese bites are that they are served with a warm cheese sauce.

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We then tried the Mediterranean Pasta with Grilled Prawns, it was a complete pasta dish as it’s packed with veggies like french beans, artichoke hearts, roasted mushrooms, capers and garnished with smoked red peppers, black olives and romano parsley. The fettuccine is tossed with these veggies in a light garlic sauce, topped with grilled prawns and served with toasted garlic bread.

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While we were having this dish we saw all the staff at HRC get on the divisional walls of the booths for their famous groove! We have seen it a hundred times and everytime feels like the first time. It is so much fun to see every single employee at HRC dance to YMCA! They have so much fun themselves, and often the guests join in too. But this time they didn’t stop at just that. As it was Saturday they got together near the bar area and asked all the guests to join in and they broke into a fun routine! It was a blast. Everyone was on their feet trying to keep up with them. Hats off to the staff at HRC, even on a busy day they just don’t seem too busy to have a good time.

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As it was time for dessert, Leingam recommended the Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownie. Yup the goodness of three desserts packed into one. The portion was a nice big slice, no doubt about it, but it was one of the best Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownie that we’ve ever had! It was soft and absolutely decadent and drenched with raspberry sauce, the brownie part was gooey and we just couldn’t stop ourselves after the first bite. It is a part of the RocktoberFest menu and if you love the cheesecake-brownie combo then you really shouldn’t miss this.

There are crazy cocktails and mocktails that have been created for the RocktoberFest so if you want have a great time and relish great food with great music and excellent service, Hard Rock Cafe is the place to be, where the party never ends!