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.

China INC, Taj Santacruz

Our first visit to Taj, Santacruz left us awestruck with its modern yet palatial decor with splashes of vibrant colors. Each restaurant here is uniquely designed keeping in mind the overall architecture of the hotel. Interestingly, the whole hotel celebrates light with chandeliers that are found in various shapes, sizes and colors throughout the building. We were thoroughly impressed with the double ceiling and the massive hand blown glass chandeliers at the lobby; it’s the first thing you notice the moment you walk into the hotel, and it made us go “whoa!”

We immediately reached for our phones to snap a few pictures. 🙂

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When you enter China INC, you are sure to be mesmerized with the Dragon that is suspended from the ceiling. Made out of hand blown glass bulbs, this piece is already finding it’s way to every selfie that is clicked at China INC. The restaurant surely has great lighting and the warm tones of yellow sets a nice mood. We were seated in the private dining area that had round tables. We were warmly welcomed by Executive Chef, Vikas Milhoutra and Executive Sous, Chef Nitin Minocha. We also met the General Manager Mr Pankaj Sampat. After a brief introduction we were shown to our table.

The theme our dinner at China INC. was to celebrate the flavours of Sichuan, known to be one of the four great traditions of Chinese cuisine. The prominent traits of Sichuan cuisine are best described as Spicy, Hot, Fresh and Fragrant. And our dinner reflected just that.

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We started off with a tall glass of IL Grigio Spumante that paired superbly with the dimsum and appetizers that were served. China INC has some signature cocktails that really complement the flavours of Sichuan cuisine. We tried a Rum based cocktail that had whole Sichuan pepper corns it; the hint of pepper made it irresistibly delicious. Even the wines that were served were paired keeping in mind the Indian palate and how it reacted with the cuisine. We had the Bibi Graetz Casamatta Rosso (red wine), Tenuta San Guido – Scaia (white wine) that the Sommelier recommended for our meal. It was impressive seeing an Asian restaurant pair wines so brilliantly to enhance an eating experience; even their signature in-house cocktails are flavoured with Asian spices and ingredients and complement the cuisine well.

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We were then served some delectable and lipsmacking dimsum and appetizers that created a riot of flavours and textures in our mouths. We absolutely loved how the food served had authentic Sichuan flavours yet were contemporary and modern. The menu at China INC sings of Cantonese & Sichuan flavours with dishes primarily from the Xiao Bao region of Shanghai. We loved the Chilli Butter Garlic Prawns and almost all of the of dimsum that we tried. We were impressed!

Two dishes that were definite stand-outs were the Edamame and Truffle dumpling and the Chilean Sea Bass dumpling. We also had Spiced Chicken dumplings and fluffy Spicy Coriander and Vegetable Baos. Good stuff. We then had a Chef’s special preparation called Crispy Fried Prawns with Oats and Curry Leaves; created to add in a new dimension of flavour, we felt it kinda missed the mark as an item on the ‘China INC.’ menu simply because the inclusion of curry leaves in an Asian dish felt quite out of place. But we absolutely loved it as a dish; the prawns were cooked perfectly and the oats made it super crunchy.

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Another crunchy appetizer to die for was the Calamari that was served with Roasted Garlic. Absolutely yum. The beautifully cooked Shimeji Mushrooms with Green Beans and dried Red Chillies would melt any mushroom lover’s heart instantly. We love subtle flavours that hero the main ingredients in a dish and this did just that. Even Chef Nitin Minocha mentioned how the food industry is progressing towards enhancing flavours in such a way that the vegetable or the protein used is showcased to its truest form. Every dish reflected that. The stories of his culinary journey and his insight about the ingredients, techniques and the cuisine spoke volumes of his rich experience at Taj.

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The next dish was Spicy Lemon & Coriander Soup; delicious, light and flavourful. The fragrance of lemon and coriander was refreshing and the balance of flavours was to the t. The oh so subtle hint of spice was comforting, and we really enjoyed the bold textures of the black and white fungus, pearls of edamame beans and goji berries with each spoonful. Perfect for a rainy day. We did notice that the Mantou Bun that was supposed to come with the soup was missing though.

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The mains arrived with a bang! Make some noise for the Chilean Sea Bass. It was perfect. The fish, served on a bed of fragrant red sauce, was steamed to perfection. Another favourite was the Stir Fried Sliced Lamb made in Yunnan style with Red Chillies and Chinese Celery. What a brilliant dish! The lamb just melts in your mouth, and your palate is coated with heat from the Chillies and you then taste the chinese celery which has very distinct flavour. Even the vegetarian dishes shone brilliantly, be it Seasonal Vegetable with Black Pepper Sauce or the Stewed Bean Curd “Ma Po” style with vegetable in Chili Bean Sauce. Packed with flavours and textures, these surely are definite must haves. You cannot leave China INC without tasting the Kai Lan, a chinese vegetable similar to Broccoli, also know as Broccolini. It has thin long stalks. The dish that was served to us was Kai Lan stired fried with chillies and garlic. It was treated so beautifully and carefully retaining all it’s natural flavour so that one enjoys the vegetable without it’s flavours being dominated with heavy sauces or spices. It was simple yet absolutely delicious. We were served Clay pot cooked rice with Assorted Mushrooms and Five Spice. So happy to taste our favourite Morels with a hint of Chinese 5 spice with the smokey rice. The Udon Noodles made in-house was strictly OK.

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For dessert we had Batter Fried Milk Cake with Chilled Rambutan and Condensed Milk. The milk cake was deep fried to a lovely golden brown color, was super hot and did manage to shock our tongues with the heat, but as soon as you tuck into the juicy and fleshy Rambutan that is chilled, you understand what the chef is trying to achieve. It has contrast of textures and temperatures; combine all three and you would taste a beautiful balance and intensity of sweetness. It was a clean neat dessert.

China INC truly celebrates the Land of the Dragon. Being fans of Asian food, this tasting was surely a treat to our senses. The courses definitely had a rhythm to it, balancing flavours and textures that hit the perfect note with every dish that was served. There were a few misses but can be completely ignored as the other dishes were simply mind blowing. The importance of treating each ingredient with respect and executing it in a way that showcases their true flavour is something that the chefs have achieved at China INC. We had a wonderful time and will definitely be back for more.

Daawat-e-Saffron, JW Marriott Mumbai

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By popular demand Saffron, the Indian specialty restaurant at J W Marriott, which is operational only for dinner; has now opened its doors for patrons so that they can enjoy a lavish Thali experience.

Master Chef Shahnawaz Qureshi, the Sous Chef at Saffron, has curated an impressive Avadhi menu that will be served in the format of a Thali every Saturday. Being the fourth generation of the famous Qureshi family, his knowledge about spices and preparations is extensive. He brings in his experience and a lot of secret recipes from his family. Some of his recipes have been handed over by his ancestors for over 200 years.

We had the opportunity to savour the taste of the royal kitchens of the Awadhi Nawabs through his cooking. The Thali includes traditional dishes like the Galouti Kebab, Malai Jheenga, Nihari Gosht, Murg Baradari, Hare Mutter ki Tikki, Sarson ka Saag, Guchhi Mutter and Shahi Tukda, paired along with Indian cocktails. They’ve also got live Tabla and Sitar players playing Indian classical music.

The Thali. We have had authentic South Indian food at Saffron before but this was our first Thali experience here. We were excited and looking forward to it. Priced at Rs 1800++ for Non-Veg and Rs 1500++ for Veg, these thalis come with Appetizers, Main-Course, Assorted Indian Bread Basket and Dessert.

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For starters we had the Galouti Kebab, Lehsuni Jheenga, Seekh Kebab and a Chicken Kebab. Each one, better than the other. We found ourselves tucking in second helpings of the Galouti Kebabs as they were absolutely delicious. Melt-in-your-mouth and perfectly cooked just as it should be. It was served on a piece of buttered roti. The kebabs were moist, well marinated and perfectly charred. The meat was tender and cooked well. Every creation sort of projected the finesse of a seasoned chef. We also tried the Mutter Tikkas and a veg Galouti Kebab that was made of mushrooms. Nice. 🙂 We also loved sipping on Satvik, a refreshing drink made of freshly squeezed lime juice, simple syrup and Rooh-afza and Mint Sour made of fresh mint, lime juice and club soda.

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Then the Thali was served. Loved the silver thaal with bowls that made the whole experience more feel more royal. We were served the Gosht Ki Nihari, Murg Baradari, Dal-e-Khaas, Paneer Methi Makhan and Gosht Biryani. A bowl of Dahi bhalla was also added to our Thalis. What we love about Awadhi cuisine is how earnestly a recipe is followed. Known for its slow cooking process and the variety of spices, Awadhi cuisine has a place in every true food lover’s heart. We loved every bite of every dish we tasted. The Gosht Ki Nihari was creamy with the meat falling off the bone. The Dal-e-Khaas was thick and rich, just the way we like it. It was superb. The biryani was flavourful and each grain of rice was fluffy and aromatic. We were in food heaven. In a tete-a-tete with Chef Qureshi we came to know the history behind each dish and how each recipe has evolved. He took pride in letting us that all the spices and important ingredients are transported from Lucknow to ensure the authenticity in the taste of every dish. He said that every dish has its own set of spices that are ground together. The ratios/proportions are a family kept secret that is passed down to every generation. Can you believe, the garam masala he uses has a total of 46 spices? Wow! We were just amazed with how much he knew about spices. It was great to understand his way of cooking and where he comes from. His expertise and extensive knowledge of each ingredient showcased the passion with which his family is known for.

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It was time for dessert. We were awestruck with what was plated for us. A rich decadent piece of Shahi Tukda and pillowy soft Rasmalai laced with Rabdi, garnished with pistachios and strands of saffron. It was pure indulgence. You have to taste it to believe it. It was the best versions of these two desserts that we had ever tasted. We loved the spun sugar that added sophistication to the platter.

We enjoyed the Thali at Saffron and absolutely loved learning about Awadhi cuisine from Chef Shahnawaz Qureshi. It’d be a sin not to relish these delicacies, we will definitely be back for more.

Zayna – Uber Dining, Airoli

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We were invited to Zayna, for an uber dining experience early this month. It’s located opposite the Airoli Railway station and in the heart of the Reliable Cyber City, in Liberty Towers.

Now, you don’t usually think about food when you talk about Airoli. Apart from being a commercial hub and one of the busiest places after Vashi, it is evolving and now beginning to embrace the fact that people love good food. 🙂

We’ve been to Navratna, Sagar and Coral Lounge in Vashi; All legendary restaurants in their own way. Navratna and Sagar being pioneers, are synonymous with good food and prompt service. Keeping in mind that Navratna, Sagar and Coral Lounge are all run by the same owner, we were really looking forward to dining at Zayna. And it did not disappoint.

Now it’s not just Zayna the restaurant to look out for in AIroli, but they have also opened a fine dine version of Navratna and; a watering hole, and a place that could be your next go-to hangout place after work called the Bar Works Eatery & Bar. Three new ventures; all lined up in a row. So when in the area, you’re spoilt for choice.

To talk about our wonderful evening and Zayna, let’s start with the décor. As you step in, you feel like a million bucks as this place exudes sophistication and style. We loved how spacious the restaurant looked. The choice of cutlery and crockery were good. Loved how they tilted and rested the stemless wineglass looking water tumblers on the table. They looked great.

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The tasting menu looked impressive. We had a selection of drinks to choose from, we ordered the Cranberry & Basil Punch and Virgin Melon Sour, both good and refreshing.

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The soups were served next. We tried the Murgh Badami Shorba, a lovely chicken broth made from almond paste flavoured with green spices. Finished with a swirl of cream. This shorba was not just a usual bland shorba that you find at most restaurants these days. This was flavourful, the green chillies and pepper rendered an amazing kick to it, making it irresistible to stop sipping on. The right combination of heat and spice was just what we enjoyed.

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Then came the Nibblers. We were served Buddha’s Delight, cute lil steamed parcels stuffed with chicken, served in a hot garlic sauce and Bok Choy. It was delicious and cooked well. We loved it. We were also served the Chicken and Coriander dimsum, which were also good. But the Tandoori appetizers completely stole the show. All the dishes from the clay oven – Tandoor -e- Khasiyat were scrumptious.

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We started off with the Paneer Peshawari Tikka, which got us spellbound with it’s mild saffron based marinade; it was stuffed with a lovely cashew chili stuffing, and grilled to perfection. It was soft and well marinated, the flavours of the saffron sort of permeated through the plump paneer pieces. The paneer was followed by another superb creation called “Kabab e Khaas”, succulent chicken pieces stuffed with minced meat and cheese, marinated in a special tangy marinade and grilled in charcoal. Each portion of this speciality was served in handis with hot charcoal still smoking the delicious kabab on skewers. We were really amazed with how beautifully this kebab was cooked. It’s usually difficult to get the minced chicken stuffing fully cooked while ensuring the outer layer is moist and charred at the right places at the same time. This completely stole our hearts. It was truly khaas. The Tandoori Jhinga Basil Masala was OK, it was fresh but in comparison to the kabab e khaas this failed to impress us.

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We were served the mains soon after. Paneer Khurchan; Cottage Cheese Fingers cooked with three peppers in a rich tomato gravy. We preffered it to the Bhatti Ka Murgh Masala which was shredded barbequed chicken in the same kinda gravy. It was very similar in taste, but we found the Paneer dish to have better balance of flavours. We had these dishes with an assortment of tandoori rotis, naans and parathas, We also enjoyed some Missi Rotis.

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In the Asian menu we loved the Thai Herb Rice which reminded us of the Thai Rice that’s served at Wok Hei. It was served with shredded lamb in a gravy with red and green peppers. The Thai Chin Noodles, glass noodles stir fried with vegetables, were fresh and something we’ve not had in a long time. It was tasty and the flavours of the vegetables were not lost. The glass noodles were cooked perfectly.

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We were happy with the portions and how the food was served. The waiters were not as attentive as expected but we will choose to ignore it as it was their launch night and the good food made up for it. For dessert we had the Crispy Honey Noodles with Vanilla Icecream, one of the best we’ve had. Drizzled with chocolate sauce and topped with cherry, it looked spectacular. The Kulfi Falooda Rabri was kind of a let down as it was a bit too messy. It was rich and had all the oomph expected in a decent Kulfi Falooda Rabri combo but we would prefer all the components to stand out and together make a symphony of fragrance, flavours and textures in the mouth.

No doubt would definitely like to go back to try other dishes, their menu looked very interesting. We also heard that they have lunch buffets and set menus which are ideal for team lunches and get togethers. Quality of the food and the presentation style makes them stand out compared to other restaurants and kind of dishes served casts its own spell that would make people come back for more.

 

 

 

Mustard, Penha de Franca, Goa

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Our meal at Mustard not only made us fall in love with Bengali food but also gave us insight to the concept that is unique and very much needed in a melting pot such as Goa. Mustard specializes in Bengali and French cuisine. Although Goa has it’s fair share of French restaurants, combining it with a regional cuisine is a brilliant idea. Mustard introduces some really authentic flavours and the rich culture that is not fully explored in Goa.

It was a pleasure meeting Poonam Singh, the co-owner of Mustard, during our meal. She shared with us her vision and how the restaurant came into being. Mustard has always been associated with Bengali as well as French cuisine and that common factor binds both worlds. And this has been beautifully translated in their menu. With two separate kitchens functioning seamlessly, the variety of flavours and dishes that are churned out speak volumes of the contribution made by the chefs who handle each kitchen.

We also had the opportunity to meet Chef Pritha Sen, who is a renowned chef, and the mastermind behind the elaborate Bengali menu. Her experience as a food historian is vast and she’s got a deep rooted knowledge of Bengali cuisine. She sort of took us back in time narrating the history of Bengali cuisine and how different eras and circumstances have influenced it. And the food revealed her passion to serve this interesting cuisine in an innovative and creative way touching the hems of pure fine dine experience effortlessly.

Chef Gregory Bazire runs the French kitchen. He brings his expertise channeling innovation and simplicity to let you experience fresh and classic European cuisine at it’s best. We tried a few French dishes that were truly exceptional. It be unfair to pick our favourite between both the menus.

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We loved the décor; it is perfect for a romantic date. They share their space with Freedom Tree (The home décor store), hence a lot of installations and pieces are from them. It adds to the warmth and cozyness. The colors are light aquamarine and white with hints of pink. They have an outdoor garden space that looks like a picture taken out of a fairytale. Very dreamy! They also have a community table which is ideal for those who are not shy of making new friends. Interestingly, the micro-greens that are used as garnish, are grown in the same garden. They’ve also got live music every Wednesday; we love their choice of artists. Vamsee Krishna played the day we dined there and he did an amazing job with his primarily acoustic set.

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The Food. We started off with Tentul Joler Sherbet, an in-house mock-tail shot made out of tamarind, flavoured with honey and mint. It’s best for a hot sunny day and helps digestion. Do not miss trying the Mustard Specials, their in-house concoctions.
Pritha ensured we had the best of both the menus so we started off with Smoked Fish. We loved how every dish has a story behind it, she explained how it came into being, and how it is made. The fish is marinated in mustard powder and mustard oil, and smoked in a traditional way with puffed rice, jaggery and husk. We were in awe of how simple ingredients used in a certain way could do so much to a dish. Served on banana leaf, the fish looked absolutely stunning. It was cooked to perfection. Smokey, tender and delicious! Loved how the presentation is minimal yet striking. This was just a start to an amazing evening at Mustard.

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We were then served the Prawn Cutlet. A crumb fried, butterflied and lightly marinated prawn, served with Kashundi or fermented mustard sauce. It is mentioned in the menu that this dish was made in the Bengali households during the British Raj and the fermented mustard sauce was used as a substitute for Tartare Sauce. We loved how the prawn cutlet was crunchy and fresh. The mustard sauce added the perfect zing; it was perfect.

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Then we had the Dimer Chop; a new entrant in the Jalkhabhar section of the menu. This famous Bengali street food, also called Dimer Devil, is made with hard boiled egg halves covered with potato mixture and crumb fried; again, served with mustard sauce. We liked the fact that the eggs were not over cooked; the yolk didn’t have a grey lining, so thumbs up for that. It tasted yum. Next, we had the Shammi Kebab. Made with ground mutton and flavoured with fragrant spices, this kebab just melted in our mouths. Served with mint chutney and onion rings, it was beautifully made and tasted really great. It was interesting to learn how Bengali cuisine has evolved with its influences from the British Raj, the Europeans and the Nawabs.

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After the appetizers from the Bengali menu, we sampled a few from the French menu. We started off with some warm crusty multigrain bread served with butter and two delicious mustards that were made in-house. It was brilliant and well made; the pungent characteristic in the mustard was well balanced and it didn’t have an unpleasant hit. The grainy mustard was sweet and we enjoyed it with a couple of slices of bread and a little butter.

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We tried BBQ Prawns on Fritters; grilled prawns beautifully flavoured with Thyme and Rosemary, served on a sweet corn fritters finished with a spicy, sweet and sour pineapple chutney garnished with toasted sesame seeds. The flavours were well balanced, loved how light the corn fritters were, and they added body to the whole dish, giving you a feel of a proper BBQ night with every bite. Next was Chicken Scaloppini, thin slices of chicken marinated in Dijon mustard pan-fried and served with long zucchini strips, finished with a mustard pesto dressing. It was nice. 🙂

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Our main course was an authentic Bengali Thaal served with a modern twist. The square white plate with just a strip of banana leaf and all the dishes served one after the other did more than just add vibrance to the table. The platter looked beautiful and every dish was made with such unquestionable finesse that only a true perfectionist could get what the chef accomplished that night. We were awestruck. Pritha passionately described the courses and how and in which order an item on the platter is meant to be eaten. The order of how the food is served is very important in Bengali cuisine and each dish is to be eaten separately with a little rice. The first item is the rice, which traditionally is served with ghee and salt. Then comes Shukto, which is a semi dry preparation. We were served Red Shards with peanuts. Then comes the lentil preparation, we were served a thick Cholar Dal garnished with desiccated coconut, it was so fragrant and soulful. Followed by Doi Begun and Aloo Jhinga Poshto, the most loved and relished part of every Bengali meal before the meats. We were served light fluffy Lucchis and Karaisutir Kochuri or Peas Puris that went extremely well with all the dishes that were served. Bengalis relish proteins like fish, chicken and lamb after this. We were served Chingri Maachher Malaikari, a golden yellow curry with King Prawns simmered in coconut milk and fragrant spices. We also had Kosha Mangsho, Bengal’s best known mutton curry and the star of any Bengali feast. Kosha Mangsho means “cooked in its own juices”, and it was cooked in mustard oil with onions, cardamom, cinnamon and clove. It was magical. We had an awesome time savouring these delectable flavours of Bengal.

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Dessert was Bhapa Doi and Crème Brûlée. It was the first time that we tried Bhapa Doi, we love Mishti Doi, but this steamed version stole our hearts with it’s luscious texture. The Crème Brûlée was good too, we were left stuffed and smiling as it had been a wonderful experience all along. We truly enjoyed our time at Mustard and recommend this place to all those who want great food, lovely ambience and excellent service. Would like to mention that the staff are trained immaculately to ensure that every guest is attended to, loved how they were positioned perfectly to ensure that every guest is at their line of sight to ensure prompt service. Mustard have great music on Wednesdays, so don’t miss it. We loved this place and recommend every food lover to visit Mustard when they are in Goa.

Grand Hyatt Mumbai

2015 was a fun year!

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We were awarded the IFBA award for Best Restaurant Review Blog, we got married (woohoo), and finally kicked off something we’ve been waiting for for a long time… We added in a ‘Travel’ section to our blog. 🙂

We started off with Goa in January, and we’ve got Calcutta, Chennai, Pune and Kerala on our calendar this year.

We got married on the 26th of December 2015 in a very private ceremony with just 12 people on the guest-list. So we were really happy that Grand Hyatt, Mumbai decided to host us for three days just a day after our wedding. We’ve had some of our most memorable dining experiences at their restaurants, so this just made it extra special.

We were won over with all the attention and warm greetings we got from the Hyatt associates upon our arrival. From day one we were made to feel like we were the only occupants in the entire hotel. But it was not just us, the staff there made sure that all the guests were treated warmly in a genuine way.

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Let us take you through the property! First, the ascending stairway to the lobby gives you a glimpse of how ‘grand’ it is going to get. Modern architecture fused with contemporary art makes for some really cool décor; all while fulfilling that expected 5-star flair. I have always wished to be around the team that handles the interiors; would love to watch them list, buy and place the beautiful pieces that adorn a 5 star hotel. Grand Hyatt, Mumbai has an impressive collection that of over 100 pieces of art. The hotel’s public area, sections of the lobbies and restaurants sort of transform into unique art galleries with specially commissioned installations curated by various artists.

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Our room. We were put up at a Grand Executive Suite. As you enter, you find yourself in a very cozy living room with a work desk and a window that gives you a good view of the city. The bath area looked really neat with the bathtub and shower, robes, toiletries, and everything required to ensure that you feel pampered at any given time of the day. Ah the Himalayan Bath Salts just works wonders if you just want to soak in and relax.

To our surprise, Grand Hyatt had a lovely bottle of Champagne placed in a bucket of ice, with two slender flutes and a platter of yummy chocolate cupcakes at our arrival. There was also a box of assorted chocolates that made us smile. We had three lovely days ahead of us and we couldn’t wait for it to begin.

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First stop! Lunch at Fifty Five East. Fifty Five East (FFE) remains one of our favourite restaurants in the city for brunches and buffets. With Indian, Thai, Lebanese and Japanese cuisine, you are spoilt for choice when you’re dining at FFE. The Big Brunch Sundays are the best thing to happen to any food lover. With a 50% discount on the rates, one can really enjoy their Sunday with a large group of friends or colleagues. They’ve also got a 20% off on online reservations all through the week. This time we had a light lunch though, had some amazing Sushi and Japanese food. Their Miso soup is to die for.

After lunch and a quick nap, we headed out for a tour of the hotel. We were mesmerized by the expanse of the property and how simple, yet artistic and modern the architecture was. The pieces of art in this hotel will have art lovers thoroughly engrossed; it is so beautifully showcased without disturbing the theme of the hotel. We were impressed to find out that the Grand Hyatt Plaza shopping center is spread over 100,000sq.ft. Be it haute couture, fine watches, exquisite jewellery and accessories, international fashion brands and lifestyle products, the Grand Hyatt Plaza opens doors to a whole new world of shopping. And hey, there’s an ATM too!

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We passed by the Gourmet Store and reminded each other to stop by later for their Signature Cold Coffee. We were told that it was something we had to try during our stay. We came back. Wow! We really recommend the Signature Cold Coffee. Their salads and sandwiches are hearty, healthy and delicious. The deli is stocked with an amazing selection of cheeses and cold meats; and even buy flowers. The choices seem endless. I reminisced of the time I used to rush to the Gourmet Store after work to pick up chocolate truffles for Joash. It made us smile. 🙂

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The next day started off with breakfast at Fifty Five East. Our first big breakfast as a newly married couple. It was GRAND! They really know how to bring their A game when it comes to serving kick ass breakfast. I think almost everyone who knows us knows how picky we are about breakfast, and we do take it pretty seriously; but one look at the beautiful roasted Ham and we know we are going to be defeated by that alone. J Here’s a picture of what went down that day, there were eggs, sausages, mushrooms, hash browns, cheese, ham, bacon, fresh fruits, juices, freshly baked croissants; the works. We were so full that we skipped lunch and ate dinner at around 11pm. #FoodComa

Our day was spent exploring the hotel. Climbing the 127 stairs that lead to the executive accommodation was one of the feats we accomplished. Here are a few pictures of the beautiful suites that you can check in to  and the lovely view of the Grand Hyatt Hotel–

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It was time for dinner, and Grand Hyatt’s Celini was on our mind. Celini opens for dinner at 7:30pm. Funny story, we had been trying to get our hands on the Paan Ice Cream that’s available at Grand’s Hyatt’s Indian restaurant, Soma, for a really long time. We inquired at Soma, but their kitchen would close at 11:55pm. So, we wouldn’t have been done with dinner at Celini by then, so we told them, maybe another time.

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We ordered our meal and completely lost track of the time; it was about 12:30am by the time we had finished dinner. As we were leaving Celini, our waiter asked us… “I heard you wanted to have the Paan Ice-cream at Soma. Their kitchen’s closed for the day now, but would you like us to send you the Paan Ice-cream to your room?” We were impressed. The restaurant manager at Soma had probably spoken to the manager at Celini about the Ice-cream. That’s excellent customer service. So we made our way back to our room, only to find a big bowl of Paan Ice Cream garnished with gooey Gulkhand at our door soon after we got back. We loved it. It was perfect for our late night movie marathon.

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At Celini we were left completely in awe of the décor. With paintings of moon dominating the interior, the cozy yet contemporary look makes for an ideal place for a romantic candlelit dinner. Known for it’s traditional Italian food with a modern twist, Celini tops as one of the best Italian restaurants in the city for us. The restaurant after operational hours transforms into an all night café. Here’s a gist of the meal we had.

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Besides Celini and Soma, the China House restaurant and lounge has won over many hearts with their spectacular food, great ambience and music. Chef Hermann Grossbichler does an excellent job overseeing all the kitchens at Grand Hyatt and ensures that the quality and the variety of dishes available are better every season.

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We also had a really good meal at the Lobby Lounge. They have premium selection of Eau de Vie and Indian single estate teas. We tried the Herbal Infusion Egyptian Camomile Tea with Herbs and it was unbelievably relaxing. We also had the Spanish Garlic Prawns and the Baked Cannelloni stuffed with Spinach and Ricotta cheese; and it tasted nothing like we’ve ever had before. Very impressive.

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A staycation is not complete without spending quality time at the spa. The Club Oasis Fitness centre & spa ensures that one is pampered and rejuvenated with their extensive range of relaxing treatments. The fitness centre is functional 24/7 and has the best equipment in the industry. The spa area includes beautiful spa suites, private showers, changing areas, steam and sauna rooms and whirlpool baths. They have various packages and some are exclusively for couples. We enjoyed 60 mins of pure bliss followed by some soothing ginger tea. We were transported to a place of complete tranquility.

Looking back at the time we spent at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai; I can only think of the lovely memories we made during our stay there. It’s a beautiful combination of excellent service, great food and warm people that would always bring us back. What truly touches your heart are the lil things, the attention to details, in everything they do that sets them a class apart. We love the spirit at Grand Hyatt and are happy to have experienced that first hand. Here’s to many more Grand memories at Grand Hyatt.

Koi Asian Dining & Bar

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In the last few years the food scene in Goa has changed exponentially. We are so happy about it. Though there are ones who love the suzegaad culture and are happy with authentic Goan food, people now don’t hesitate to experiment with the plethora of cuisines that are readily available in every nook and corner.

We love Goan food, but to expect great South-East Asian and Japanese cuisine in a fine dine set up was exciting. Tucked away in a secluded spot off the Aguada-Siolim road is Koi, a stunning fine dining restaurant that gave us a glimpse of the kind of exclusive dining experiences that are taking Goa by storm. A menu that opens a spectrum of flavours rooted along the ancient silk route, Koi is definitely a restaurant to dine at when you want to be transported to a zen place away from buzzing Goa.

The decor is beautifully designed to match the vibrant food and the theme of the restaurant, as the name suggests is Koi, the chinese fish. As per Chinese tradition, it’s supposed to bring prosperity and good luck.

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The menu at Koi is well curated; it had dishes that are carefully selected to give guests an exclusive variety of flavours along the asian silk route. Shefali Gandhi, the co-owner of the restaurant, had a lovely evening planned for us. The dishes they handpicked were not only impressive, but were different from one another in both flavor and texture. They had me with the Sushi; the variety in flavours blew our minds. What got us interested was the manner in which the menu was designed so that it’s convenient for the guests to order instead of the usual Soup, Appetiser, Main Course and Dessert. At Koi, they had Soups & Bowls, Small Plates; so that one can order a variety of food, Wok & Stir Fry, Large Plates and Curry Bar; for ones who love a side of rice, the Seafood Market; perfect for all seafood lovers, and Rice & Noodles.

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We started off with Tuna Sashimi, Rainbow Sushi and Mushroom Trio Dumplings. The Tuna was fresh and was served on a bed of julienned vegetables with wasabi, pickled ginger and light soy. The dumplings were pretty nice, the wrap was not as refined as expected, but what won our hearts was the Rainbow Sushi. The combo of Tuna, Red Snapper, Salmon, Shrimp and Avocado served with spicy mayo and wasabi was simply irresistible. The platter was wiped clean in no time!

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The next dish was pretty unusual. When Aziz Lalani, the co-owner, strongly recommended the Smoked Chilli Chicken, we had already painted a picture of what the dish would look like. Our jaws dropped when this speciality was served to us. Crispy crunchy chunks of chicken served on smokey roasted red chillies were truly a treat to our eyes and boy it got us salivating. We expected the chicken chunks to be super spicy but it had a lovely aroma of the smoked chillies as though it had absorbed all the smokey goodness of the roasted chillies while being tossed in it. We absolutely loved this creation. Two thumbs up.

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We also loved the assortment of condiments that were placed at every table, each unique in flavour and color, vibrant, and adding to the dining experience. We were then served Koi Khowsuey, their interpretation of the Burmese Khowsuey. They brought huge a tray with bowls of the flavourful coconut broth with condiments. It had rice noodles, fried garlic and onion slices, peanuts, crunchy noodles, coriander, chillies, spring onions and chilli flakes among other crisps. It was wholesome, rich and delicious.

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The Crispy Duck Rolls are something you’d wanna gorge on when you’re craving Peking Duck. It reminded us of the deep fried Duck Rolls we’ve had at Hakkasan; infact, we like this better. We also had some spicy and juicy Pork Ribs that were cooked to perfection.

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The dishes on our tasting menu seemed never ending. Next up was something that was off the menu; only the regulars at Koi know that this dish is served at the restaurant. Asian Style Seared Duck Foie Gras. What a delight! Shefali knew our palates were craving for a fusion like this and she saved the best for last before the mains arrived. It’s a must have if you enjoy a good quality Duck Foie Gras.

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For mains, we chose a mix of Malaysian and Thai flavours. Our favourite Prawn Thai Green Curry with Steamed Rice and the spicy Redang Daging (yay for the beef). It was perfect. We were very impressed with our meal at Koi. We absolutely had no complaints.

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We were expecting our dessert when suddenly Shefali came to our table with a live crepe station! It was time for something sweet. To our surprise we were informed that she would be making it for us, right in front of our eyes. She said she was serving us Boozy Crepe Suzette with in-house coconut ice-cream. It was a lovely personal touch added to the evening. So apt for a romantic dinner where the couple is served dessert made exclusively for them; and the whole theatre that a flambé adds to the equation is something that most certainly impresses. We couldn’t wait to dig in and when we did, we enjoyed every bit of it.

Spending time with the owners of Koi gave us a clear idea on how they want to transform the culinary experience in Goa in their own unique way. The seating area outside looks beautiful in the evening. They’ve also got a theatre style Teppanyaki station that looked absolutely stunning. We could only imagine a full table with the Chef tossing food around. The ambience and decor are vibrant and comfy. The bar looked inviting, ready for people who want to have a great time. We highly recommend Koi to all those who take food very seriously and to those who are looking for some amazing food near in the Calangute area.

The Spare Kitchen, Juhu

Things change when you’re eating at a restaurant that’s run by someone you know personally. Being brutally honest sometimes back fires but when you know that the foundation of your relationship is based on true passion of good food, you know that a tasting session would just be nothing short of a fun affair.

It’s a thrill to come back to where it all started! My first review was about The Spare Kitchen. It was then when I had got super excited to have food served on a black slate (one of the first restaurants to start quirky serving techniques.) I guess it was Chef RakeshTalwar’s food that got me writing, coz I had to express the joy of dining here somehow. Well, years later I had to come back with Joash to add TSK to our blog.

It was a Friday night and when we got there, it was packed with guests. We thought a private party was on but that wasn’t the case. You know a restaurant is good when it’s hard to get a table. We had no complains and soon got seated. We knew that Chef RakeshTalwar would have something up his sleeve for this tasting session. It was kinda a surprise to know that Chef Talwar was taking a back seat and would allow his protégé to take care of us. We were introduced to Chef Rajesh D’silva, who had been trained by Chef Talwar to take on the reins in his absence and we gotta tell you, he’s pretty good at what he does.

We started with our first course – Soup.

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With TSK, you can always expect your food to be served with a twist. We were served soup in big mugs on a tray that had a fork attached to it. Chef said that he got it custom-made specifically for the restaurant. Each fork had an element that added texture that went really well with the soup. We had the Dhingri Cappuccino with Masala Pav, Smoked PepperRasam with Coconut Icecream and Dosa Crisps and Coconut Chili Lime with Chili Cheese Toast. It is rightly said that you eat with your eyes first. So when we had these yummy soups in front of us and we could hardly wait to get started. Our favourite was the Coconut Chili Lime Soup. It was nothing short of an ode to Thailand. We loved the subtle flavours that played with our palate, and the crunchy cheese toast just made it scrumptious. We have decided that we shall only have Mushrooms in Cappuccino form; the Dhingri Cappuccino at TSK was awesome. It was creamy and had thick foam on top; absolutely delicious. The Smoked Pepper Rasam lacked the levels of smokiness we expected but it sure had a peppery punch. The savoury coconut icecream and the dosa crisps completed the platter and added that south Indian touch in a progressive manner.

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TSK is about serving great Indian cuisine in a progressive and artistic way and the next dish just proves how creatively a dish can be served. We had the Tempura Fish “65” Margarita. It was chunks of fish deep fried in light crispy and crunchy tempura batter, tossed in the robust classic “65” sauce with curry leaves and the works; served in a tall Margarita glass. This is a great starter for a fun evening and would go great with drinks. We were in love with the Malta Twisted Orange Mojito and that kept repeating. Interestingly I just happened to mention that I was off sugar and didn’t want to have a sweet drink; they got me one made sugar-free! I was happy.

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With a couple more starters, we saw the classic black slate being used for plating and it looked stunning. We had the Tandoori Stuffed Mushrooms and Kolhapuri Thecha Chicken Tikka. We were taken aback with how yummy the Kolhapuri Thecha Chicken Tikka was. It was spicy and had that Kolhapuri heat in every bite. Loved how Thecha can be used in making Chicken taste awesome! I’m definitely gonna try this at home. The Tandoori Mushrooms were good too, they were stuffed with cheese and were cooked well but the Thecha won between the two. We also tried the Sea Food Platter – Kalonji Jhinga, Prawn Sambal Oelek and Tandoori Machhi. Every bit of it was awesome. Chef Talwar’s love for South East Asian cuisine can be seen in the Prawn Sambal Oelek. We loved it.

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Soon it was time for the mains. The server got us a board with tiny buckets of condiments, papad cones and whole onions with a knife and spoons. 😀 It was cute. We loved the bright colors that promptly reflected Chef Talwar’s personality and so did the condiments. We loved the mustard pickle from the lot, and I was obviously inquisitive about it as we had never tasted anything like that before. There were tiny pieces of vegetables like cauliflower and celery coated in pungent yet insanely tasty mustard paste. Chef Talwar informed us that the mustard paste is sourced all the way from Kolkata; from a family that specializes in mustard pastes. It was an insight to the lengths Chef Talwar would go to create something really delicious with normal ingredients handpicked to create a perfect condiment.

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I remember being the only one to guess this dish when Chef Talwar posted a pic of it on Facebook a couple of years ago. We had Fish Cooked en Papillote. En Papillote is French for “in parchment”. This dish sits proud in the “Global Pre Plated” section of the menu. The marinated fish is cooked in parchment paper with very lil or no oil and served with a salad and a silky olive caper sauce. We loved it. The fish was fresh and so was the salad, loved how this dish looked, the sauce was served in a small jar. We also had the traditional Rajasthani delicacy, Laal Maas made with red chili paste. It was delicious. We were served a basket of assorted breads but we opted for Jowar and Bajrabhakris. It’s not mentioned on the menu but if Chef Talwar has his personal stash of fresh dough made of these grains, he would gladly serve it to you. You gotta ask for it in advance and wait a while for it to get to your table. We also had Coorgi Chicken, which was chicken served in a green-ish sauce. Love the variety on the menu as you have the option to try dishes from all across India and the world. They have a mouthwatering Dal Ghosh which cannot be missed and The Mumbai “Better” Butter Chicken has fans all over the world who order tubs through people who are travelling.

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The desserts at TSK are nothing short of one of a kind plated wonders. Each has its own unique flavour and style that captures hearts instantly. We were in for a treat as the chef got us three desserts to try. The first one was the Thandai Panna Cotta with Benarasi Paan Macarons garnished with Fennel Glass, a combination that only Chef Talwar could come up with. It was the wobbliest Panna Cotta I have ever seen in Mumbai, the Rose Jelly on top with the fennel crusted glass was a perfect blend of flavours and textures. We thought that was the best at TSK till we tasted the Sea Salt & Caramel Kulfi with Spicy Rosogulla. The kulfi was smooth and the classic flavour combo made it even better. What we loved about this dessert is the spicy rosogulla. Spiced with green chilies, these rosogullas cut through the sweetness of the dessert. It was perfect. The best part about the third dessert was that it’s freshly baked as per the order. The Gooey Chocolate Brownie that is served with Vanilla Icecream and Chocolate Sauce clears every parameter of the conventional dessert for having  the perfect gooeyness, temperature and the glistening chocolate over the almost melted vanilla icecream. To add to it, there’s a shot glass filled with rich hot chocolate. Ah heaven,and every chocolate lover’s dream! It was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal.

We really liked how we didn’t really miss Chef Talwar’s cooking as Chef D’silva worked exactly like him. It only goes to show how well he has shadowed Chef Talwar and how effectively Chef Talwar has trained him. TSK has an impressive menu and a variety that’s not available everywhere and most importantly one can customize their order according to their preference. What reflects in the service is Chef Talwar’s passion to serve good food to people, and as the TSK tagline goes, “You’ll not eat at home again”. A lil birdie told us that we can soon expect the second outlet of The Spare Kitchen in the Southern part of Bombay soon. We thank Chef Rakesh Talwar and his team for great food and awesome service. We actually feel super pampered when we are around Chef Talwar. Our best wishes will always be with him.