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

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.

Hyatt Culinary Challenge, Hyatt Regency

Master Chef as a competition, has changed the world for home cooks. Almost every home now has someone who is passionate about cooking and ready to compete to show off their skills. It’s also made cooking at home more exciting, and not just a mundane chore anymore. People actually take interest in being informed about techniques and are confident to put together a continental dish without breaking a sweat. The many cook-offs that are happening around us only show us how home cooks are slowing making the way on top.

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Food has always brought people together, and Hyatt Hotels have been doing a great job in bringing people together whether it’s with food or their hospitality. To emphasize Hyatt’s focus on its rich culinary heritage, Hyatt Hotels in India introduced the “Hyatt Culinary Challenge – People Cooking For People” in 2014. The first season, was a memorable one as it was a great experience for their guests and their associates who were engaged in the event. We were invited for the preliminary round of the second season of the Hyatt India Culinary challenge that was held on 31st October, 2015 at Hyatt Regency. It was simultaneously held across ten Hyatt India destinations. There was also an exciting digital version of the Culinary Challenge in each of the ten cities where one participant was selected to participate in the preliminary round.

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We were really excited to be there. We were going to witness a unique event that brought together individuals from the corporate world, showcasing their culinary skills to compete against each other for the Grand Finale which will be held at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai on November 15, 2015.

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The event was graced by three judges, one of them was our dear friend Ms. Rushina M. Ghildiyal. Each participant was paired with a child from the SMILE foundation, Hyatt’s partner NGO in India. They then had to recreate a recipe of their choice for the judges. All the children were excited to don a chef’s hat and an apron. The event was hosted by Kavea Chavali, who did a great job at keeping the energy levels high and made sure everyone had a great time.

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Soon it was time for the challenge to begin. All the participants took their places and we were seated with their families and friends who were cheering on. It was fun. The wine was flowing and the sounds of the sizzling pans meant that the cooking had begun. There was an interesting contest for all the social media buffs to live tweet about the challenge and there were two prizes up for grabs; the best tweet and the one with the maximum tweets. We had to tweet with the hashtag #CookWithHyatt. You can check the hashtag to check the pics online. 🙂

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The whole place smelled wonderful with the aroma of spices. It was fun to see the kids from the SMILE Foundation take interest in cooking. Each participant made sure that the kid they were cooking with was involved in every step of making each dish. It was quite interactive as well, anyone could go up to the participants and talk to them about their dish. The judges were there to motivate the participants as they cooked effortlessly. We were really impressed with the kind of food everyone was cooking. It was a perfect evening.

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The countdown began and soon everyone hustled to get their dishes out and plated perfectly. All of us in the audience joined in with the emcee and cheered for the contestants for the last 10 secs of the challenge. After meticulously judging every dish, the judges came up with their favourites who emerged as winners for the Hyatt Culinary Challenge, Mumbai edition. Mr. Surjit Singh Mahajan – Director, Staubli India Pvt Ltd and runner up was Mr. Tushar Suba – Legal Head, Frank International.  Mr Singh made a really good Prawn Curry and Rice and that got him an entry to the Grand Finale.

The kids and the participants posed for the shutterbugs and then the winners of the contest were announced. Dinner was served and the dance floor was ready for everyone to show off their moves. It was really nice to see all the Hyatt employees let loose and dance to their favourite tunes. The food was great and the evening had a great vibe. Everyone had a really great time.

The Grand Finale will now be held on the 15th of November, 2015. Where all the winners of the preliminary round of the Hyatt Culinary Challenge would come under one roof to compete for the Grand Title. We can’t wait to be there. Follow us to know more about the event and tune in for the latest updates on #CookWithHyatt on our timeline.

Soma, Grand Hyatt

It’s really good to know that restaurants in the city are embracing the fact that diners have become more aware of what they eat. Gone are the days when people would just dine to have a 5 star experience. Nowadays they expect healthy food and have dietary preferences.

We were invited to Soma at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai few weeks ago and what we had wasn’t just great food but a look at how restaurants are going back to their roots, and serving wholesome, delicious, rich yet healthy Indian cuisine. Soma is known for its authentic specialties from North India and the North-West. The tandoor show-kitchen is the restaurant’s central feature giving diners a glimpse of how each delectable tandoori dish is prepared.

We were welcomed by Chef Vinod Rana and his team. At Grand Hyatt, you can be rest assured about the variety and the quality of food. Chef Rana promised to serve authentic Indian cuisine and signature specialties that were backed with thoughtful consideration and research. Soma boasts of serving traditional Indian food with flavours and recipes that are lost and forgotten. With their new menu, they’re looking at including more regions and cuisines from all over India. It is incredible how India has a vast variety of cuisines that are not only unique, but also different in its own way. Soma serves delightful set menus, customized thalis and has an exquisite a la carte menu – each offering personifying the legacy of Indian food, and the passion and expertise of Chef Rana.

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The new menu that was served to us was carefully selected to ensure that we experience traditional Indian cooking at its best. With Chef Rana’s experience and recipes that have been perfected over the years we were in for truly an extraordinary feast.

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Soma set the mood with their first dish, Achari Tandoori Jhinga – pickle marinated tiger prawns, cooked in tandoor. One could tell with the charred bits that the tandoor had done a wonderful job of cooking the prawns beautifully. It was spicy, tangy and got us salivating for more.

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The next dish came with theatre, something that always enhances the dining experience and often adds oomph to the dish served. The Raan e Sikandari, a tandoor roasted leg of lamb marinated with traditional home-made spices. It was carved live at the table after being flambéed with rum. It was just too much to process at one time. Do we cheer with excitement at the look of the roasted leg of lamb that smelled heavenly or should we stay awestruck as it gets engulfed with a flame and is fragrantwith rum. It had everything a true meat lover could ask for. The chef didn’t even have to carve the meat as it just fell off the bone. The boozy meat that had hints of Indian spices became one of our favourites of the evening.

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We then had the Rava Fried Fish, Murgh Hariyali Seekh, Tandoori Khumb and Mutter Hari Mirch Ki Tikki. The fried fish had a generous coating of semolina that covered the fish well, it was crisp but wasn’t seasoned well. The seekh was moist, flavourful and delicious and so was the tandoori mushroom but the Mutter Hari Mirch Ki Tikki stole the show; it was just perfect. Chef Rana shared that the secret of that dish was use of fresh peas; he said one would not get the same texture and scrumptiousness with frozen peas.

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For mains Chef took us on a coastal trail with Malwani Chicken and Prawn Curries, the quintessential Fish Ambotik, and a very robust Sukha Mutton. The dark brown coconut mixture coated on succulent pieces of mutton just won our hearts. To compliment the dish, there were these amazingly flaky parathas that were kissed with poppy seeds, looked like peony clusters. With all the food that we had that evening, the vegetarian dishes that shone and left us with a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts were, Dum Aloo Bhojpuri, Baingan Bharta, Ghar Ki Bhindi and Dal Varan. The non vegetarian mains were really great but the simplicity of these vegetarian dishes truly won our hearts. With these dishes, chef Rana wanted to showcase how Indian cooking in its simplest form, works so well; even when it’s served at a fine dining restaurant. It’s not about just using high-end ingredients, but about using few to create something that’s healthy, comforting and wholesome.

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The chicken biryani was fairly decent but the vegetarian Sabz Pulav was really good. We were eagerly waiting for the desserts to arrive. We were served dessert platters. It was a medley of indian desserts, picked to ensure that our evening ended on a sweet note. We were served a lovely Paan Kulfi with Gulkhand topping. It was yum. The in-house Malai Kulfi with sevai and sabja was creamy, the warm Gulab Jamun made our heads go weee with sugar rush, and the not so sweet but fragrant Kesari Ras Malai ensured that things didn’t go out of control. It was a perfect balance of hot and cold with difference levels of sweetness and variety of flavours. Our pick was the Paan ice-cream with Gulkhand which is definitely a must have. It was a perfect end to an awesome evening.

We enjoyed ourselves to the fullest when we are at Grand Hyatt, and now we can proudly say that we have had one of the best Indian meals of 2015, here at Soma. You can be rest assured to have an superb experience. The food here will not only touch your heart but also make you come back for more.

Cake Mixing Ceremony, Grand Hyatt, Mumbai

Isn’t it weird how 2015 passed by so quickly? It’s less than two months for Christmas. Wow! With the holiday season coming soon, we were invited by Grand Hyatt for their annual Cake Mixing ceremony.

For those who don’t know, traditional cake mixing ceremoniesdate back to the 17th century. In those days, fruits and nuts were harvested and mixed,and then saved for the next season with a hope of an abundant year ahead. This ceremony has now become such an important event for families to come together with friends to have fun soaking dry fruits in Rum or Brandy. It’s a ritual that marks the first step of making the traditional Christmas plum cake.

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Christmas without rich Christmas cake is incomplete, and we were so glad to be part of this ceremony with Grand Hyatt. The venue looked vibrant with kids swarming large trays of dry fruit, tutti frutti and nuts. A classic Christmas Plum cake sure needs it’s kick, so for that the table was well stocked with Rum, Whiskey and Beer. Each guest was given an apron and a chef’s hat and soon everyone got to the mixing table.

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I truly felt like a kid at a candy store and couldn’t stop grinning. There were kids around me who were equally excited to start mixing. The tray had apricots, tutti frutti, almonds, cashewnuts, prunes, dates, raisins and cherries. We had chefs around to help the kids. Soon we were instructed to mix the dry fruits. On went the gloves, and everyone dug in, mixing with all their might. Then came the booze! It was time for the bottles to be popped open and emptied it into the mixture.  I added a bottle of Whiskey and Rum to my tray. With everyone mixing their fruit mix, the whole place smelled heavenly.

Soon the canapés arrived and stands of yummy goodies filled the tables. After posing for the in-house photographer everyone made their way to the table.

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We had the Teriyaki Salmon Bites, Chicken Herb Seekh Kebab, Mini Blinis with Herb Goat’s Cheese Walnut and Caramelized Fig and Roasted Red Pepper Truffle flavoured Ricotta Bruschetta. A cake mixing ceremony isn’t complete without dessert, so there was Mix Fruit Cake Pops, Passion Fruit Pate de Fruit, Raspberry and Vanilla Macarons and cute Mini Cupcakes with Santa on them.

It seems Grand Hyatt is just gearing up for a great holiday season. We can’t wait to eat the fruits of our labour come December. 🙂 Here’s to an awesome and joyous Christmas.

Moroccan Food Festival, Fifty Five East, Grand Hyatt

We were at Fifty Five East for the Moroccan Food Festival with Chef Kenza Fatahir from Grand Hyatt, Qatar. She has been with Hyatt since 2006. She is here at Fifty Five East, Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, showcasing the delectable flavours of Morocco. We spoke about different kinds of Tagines, how they are made, and the spices that are used that make it unique and delicious. We feel that it was the simplicity of flavours and the use of right amount of spices that made it an evening to remember. With its unique flavours, there’s nowhere else in this city that you’d be able to sample Moroccan fare that’s anywhere nearly as good.

Here are a few excerpts of our tête-à-tête –

CPL: How different is Moroccan food from other Mediterranean food?

Chef Kenza: “Moroccan food is a balance of salt and sugar, usually non-veg. We don’t have many vegetarian dishes in Morocco. Vegetables are cooked along with meat and they are made to taste very delicious. Moroccan cuisine has a lot of spices, there is a spice blend made of 19 spices called Marosia. A lot saffron, pure ghee and olive oil are used in Moroccan cuisine. Apart from that, there’s ginger, garlic, coriander, parsley, cinnamon and almond that are among other must-haves in every Moroccan kitchen. Tagine is used for most of the dishes prepared and I am glad people in Mumbai are enjoying it.”

CPL: Please tell us more about Tagines.

Chef Kenza: “Traditionally Tagines are used for slow cooked food. Traditionally, I would have to start cooking it at 9am to have a meal at 12pm-1pm, but we won’t be able to do that at a hotel set up, so we use Tagines only to serve. Tagines can be made with Chicken, Lamb, Pigeon and Seafood. Use of the right spices and technique bring out true flavours of the dish.”

CPL: Could you tell us what kinds of Tagines have you made especially for this food festival?

Chef Kenza: “We have made Cous Cous Seffa, Kabab Maghdour, Lamb Tagine and Prawns Tagine. I created vegetarian Tagines especially for our vegetarian guests. We have Capsicum Tagine, Green Peas Tagine, Eggplant Tagine with Cheese. Adding cheese to the dish makes it a little Italian but the guests love it and we want everyone to enjoy their meal.”

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We missed the Cous Cous as Chef Kenza said she had made Cous Cous Seffa the previous day and wanted variety in the dishes on the buffet, so that there was a new set of dishes for each day. Interestingly, she said that cous cous is eaten with your fingers. If there was one Tagine dish that stood out from the rest; it was the Lamb Tagine. Succulent lamb shanks cooked in a saffrony onion gravy topped with French fries. Chef Kenza told us that saffron was one of the main ingredients used in the dish. She said she brought her personal stash of saffron for that dish as one wouldn’t get that kind of quality here. Also, the ghee that is used in Morocco is very different from the ghee that is available in India. Its bright yellow in color and tastes like blue cheese. The lamb shanks were slow cooked and fell right off the bone and we loved dunking the fries in the luscious gravy. It was really good.

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Chef Kenza spoke about how fish Tagines were made. She said, “Sardines stuffed with garlic, coriander and parsley makes are very delicious Tagine. It is only in a fish Tagine that Paprika is used; otherwise Paprika is never used in Moroccan cuisine.”

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The vegetarian Tagine dishes were served with Orzo pasta. We wished there were meat balls to go with the pasta but the chicken and lamb skewers made up for it. The lamb skewer was brilliant. It was subtle with flavours and grilled to perfection. We could actually savour the flavour of the meat. Chef Kenza mentioned that in Morocco lamb or chicken kebabs are served in a Tagine with gravy and topped with eggs. We had the Kabab Maghdour, a definite must have as it was kabab on steroids. It was rich and absolutely delicious.

CPL: Please tell us any other Moroccan dishes that you have added to the buffet menu

Chef Kenza: “I have added Moroccan salads, olives and spring rolls.”

CPL: And We really like the ‘Spring Rolls’… even though Moroccan Cuisine doesn’t have ‘Spring Rolls’

Chef Kenza: “Actually it’s called Briouat in Morocco but since spring rolls is familiar as a dish, I have called them that so that it’s easier for people to understand what to expect. Briouat are triangular or cylinder-shaped savory or sweet pastry covered with warqa (paper thin Morocco dough)”

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We loved the Briouats on the buffet menu. There were two – one shaped like a samosa and the other like a money bag. The triangle Briouat was filled with minced lamb. Delicate, yet flavourful. The money bag shaped Briouat had a cream cheese filling. Very creamy and rich. We loved it.

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CPL: Are salads an integral part of Moroccan cuisine?

Chef Kenza: “In Morocco, salads are eaten with meals, either cold or warm. I have made Chakchuka, an onion+capsicum+tomato+sugar preparation; but I had to add chillies too as guests like it a bit spicy. You will see pickled vegetables on display which are eaten with our meals, especially lemons. They are pickled in salt, garlic, bayleaf and kept for 1 year and then eaten. The Salad platter that I have added in the buffet is a classic example of what is served in every household. Everyone eats in one big plate and uses their hands for eating. The Salad Platter has cooked potatoes, beetroot and carrots tossed in spices; it also has cucumber, corn and a side of rice. It has olives also that are used as a garnish.”

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CPL: We haven’t seen any dish that has rice in it besides the salad, isn’t rice a part of Moroccan cuisine like our cuisine.

Chef Kenza: “No, rice is only used as a side dish. It’s not used as a main dish like how Indians eat rice. If you noticed, the rice served with the salad has cream cheese and parsley. In Morocco, people add orange or lemon juice, tuna or boiled eggs, coriander and parsley to rice and serve it as a side dish. It’s very delicious. If you saw the olives at the salad counter, they are tossed in spices. It’s called Zitun Mu Shermal and there are about 50 kinds of olive preparations like that.”

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We also had the hearty Harira Soup, which tasted very similar to a Minestrone Soup. It’s made with tomatoes and beans, it had chickpeas and vermicelli. Tasted really yummy. We had it with the Moroccan flat bread called Khobz.

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There is one Moroccan delicacy that is prepared on special occasions and it was one of the best dishes that evening. It was an unusual combo of sweet and savoury. Pastilla is a kind of stuffed pastry. Warqa- the thin Moroccan pastry sheet is stuffed with minced meat and almonds and garnished with powdered sugar and toasted almond. It was flaky and crispy on the outside and juicy and flavourful on the inside. Just loved it.

CPL: What other dishes can guests expect during this food festival?

Chef Kenza: “We will have lamb or chicken carvings in a few days. The Chicken M’Hammar, which is whole chicken cooked and served with some gravy, calamata olives, walnuts, prune and vermicelli. We are also looking at cooking a whole rack of lamb.”

We can only imagine how uniquely flavoured these dishes would be.

We missed Moroccan dessert. Chef Kenza said it was difficult to replicate the taste with Indian products hence she didn’t want to take a chance. She did explain how important dessert is, in Moroccan cuisine. In Morocco, guests are welcomed with a glass of milk that has rose water and dates which are stuffed with walnuts and almond. Dessert, which is also called Halwa, is often served with mint tea and served before the meal. Traditionally there are small cake like cookies that are stuffed with walnut, almond and pine-nut. These cookies are very rich and can be quite expensive to make. Kaab el Ghazal and Fekkas are few of her favourite cookies.

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We had an amazing time chatting with Chef Kenza and tasting some truly wonderful Moroccan dishes. It is really worth trying. We ended our meal with waffles that were drizzled with maple syrup and topped with whipped cream. We even tried a few French desserts form the Fifty Five East dessert counter. Chocolate Mousse, a delicious Red Velvet pastry, a yummy Fig Tart and a piece of cake drizzled with dark chocolate. Good Stuff.

The Moroccan Food Festival held at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai is on till the 23rd of September, 2015. It is a part of the multi cuisine buffet at Fifty Five East, priced at Rs. 1900/- plus taxes on weekdays for lunch and Rs 2150/- plus taxes for dinner.

If you like Mediterranean food, make it a point to go to this Moroccan Food Festival. With its unique flavours, there’s nowhere else in this city that you’d be able to sample Moroccan fare that’s anywhere nearly as good.

Fifty Five East, Grand Hyatt

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Right off the bat, we’d like to say, the Sunday Brunch at Fifty Five East is one of the best brunches in the city. Everything at Fifty Five East exudes brilliance and promises complete satisfaction.

We were there for the Longest Brunch on the 15th of August. Fifty Five East celebrated Independence day by hosting the longest brunch Mumbai has ever witnessed. They usually have just a Sunday brunch, called the Big Brunch which is priced at Rs 2855 (plus taxes) but as it was Independence Day on Saturday, they made it extra special. Starting as early as 11am, it went on till 11pm.

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The entrance to the restaurant was decorated with balloons and it was fun to see the staff dressed in traditional Indian attire, the theme ofcourse being tricolor. They had something fun and interesting for everyone who came to the restaurant. Huge red color dice ready to be pushed down the stairs. The fun part was, whatever number shows up, (multiplied by 10) magically became the discount you were entitled to on your total bill. There were table flags with percentages mentioned, you had to pick your number up and head to your table. As we walked down the stairs, we saw welcome drinks, swirl lollipops, bowls of gummy bears, jelly beans and mints, all sort of giving everyone a glimpse of the fun time that was in store for them.

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We were escorted to our table and every table was adorned with the Indian national flag. It was a beautiful sight with the tables well set; and then you look around and see the wide variety of food available to kick start your weekend. There were more than 150 items on the buffet (the ones that had a name card on), not counting the live chaat, the waffle/crepe station.

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If we had to talk about the cuisine, the buffet had everything from Indian to Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Mediterranean and South East Asian. It had a lovely collection of cold cuts with cheese and an amazing selection of salads and veg/non-veg appetizers. It would be hard to miss the bar that stirred up every soul in the restaurant with their crazy concoctions. It looked spectacular with bottles of Jacob’s Creek wines and huge martini glasses with fun colored drinks, while the Chandon chilled on a section covered with ice. What was also interesting was there was their selection of beer, there was a huge Kingfisher barrel and three beers from Gateway Brewing Co that were available on tap – White Zen, SummerSault and Doppelganger.

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Now let’s talk about the food. While Joash enjoyed the stir fries and prawn crackers, I couldn’t keep myself away from the cheese and fresh cold cuts. We enjoyed the appetizers, our favourite was the lightly seared Salmon crusted with sesame seeds in soy sauce. We also loved the Parma Ham with grilled Peach and Arugula.

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I always love having Sushi at Fifty Five East; it is always fresh and delicious. We even tried the Prawn Sioyaki and the Miso soup with Garlic Fried Rice and we just couldn’t stop ourselves from having more.

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The Kheema Pav was a must have, kheema that almost melted in your mouth, with hot buttered pav, served on a banana leaf platter just won us over. It was rich and flavourful, lightly spiced and delicious. The kebabs looked beautifully cooked and the most of the curries were yum!

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We also tried the freshly made pizza. Our pick was the Parma Ham and Arugula and it was sooo good. Loved how the chef topped made sure there was a generous amount of Parma Ham. It was truly a treat.

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There were handmade pastas too; it was a lovely sight to see them hung on a wooden rack. The Fontina Cheese Ravioli which looked more like a tortellini was cooked perfectly with gooey cheesy lemon rosemary sauce enveloping it. They also had layered mixed vegetable lasagna. The Baked Fish with Tomato Salsa stood proud welcoming each guest with its lovely aroma. The guests could enjoy fresh pasta with sauces of their choice with a side of Boulanger Potatoes or Grilled Zucchini, Eggplant with Parsley Garlic Confit.

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There are so many dishes we haven’t mentioned in this post purely because there is no way we could have covered and review each item on the menu in one visit. We were stuffed beyond measure, and we hadn’t even been to the dessert counter yet.

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The mouth watering French pastries, cakes and tarts sort of made it simply irresistible. The tall chocolate fountain had virtually every kid at the restaurant gather around it with marshmallows and brownie pieces, waiting to dunk it in. Even we had a go! Once! Twice! Thrice! It was just so yummy. I never thought we’d say this but the waffles at Fifty Five East are now our favourite in Mumbai. I didn’t want to dress it up much, so went simple and got em with butter, maple syrup and whipped cream. Every bite was heavenly. The whipped cream was light and fluffy, not too sweet, letting the maple do its thing with the soft and warm waffles. They were a bit crispy on the edges, just the way we like it. We promised ourselves to start our brunch with this, the next time around and we could only imagine how the crepes tasted based purely on how perfect they looked. There were also quite a few traditional Indian sweets for those who wanted an extra dose of sweetmeat laden with dry fruit and ghee.

A few other desserts we tried were the cheesecake, the bailey’s chocolate tart with crunch, the brownie and the fresh melon tart, which was particularly very beautiful. Sigh! The options seemed endless.

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The ambience has always been great with really good hospitality; the staff were attentive and entertaining. Yes you read it right, they were entertaining too. In the middle of the brunch, when everyone was busy serving themselves, the entire staff broke into a dance where they all gather together and danced to Gangnam Style! It was fun to see even the chefs join in. They did this a couple of times and we saw even the guests enjoying and dancing with them. It was indeed a celebration, a celebration of freedom and some great food. We see Fifty Five East as one of the finest restaurants in Mumbai with food quality that is top notch and great service. Even the kids had their own play area with balloons and toys with staff who were specially assigned to baby sit them while the parents enjoy their meal.  We loved the buffet, and it’s an experience that you would most certainly enjoy. We really enjoyed our time at the longest brunch, though food defeated us, and we left at about 7pm, we saw everyone having fun right up until the time we left.