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.

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.

Oktoberfest at JW Cafe, JW Sahar

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It’s Oktoberfest season, and every restaurant and hotel have geared up to do their best at celebrating it in a grand way. We’ve been to a few of them in the city, but were thoroughly impressed by the spread put together by JW Café at JW Marriott,Sahar. Their Oktoberfest is on till the 4th of October, and if you want to satiate your taste buds with some great German food, JW Café is the place to be. With 12 kinds of sausages, Sauerkraut, soft Pretzels, Spätzle and an impressive selection of international beer, you are sure to have an amazing time.

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We have been to JW Café and have tried their breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets and were really happy to try the German fare which is now a part of their dinner buffet till the 4th. JW Café is known to have one of the biggest buffet spreads in the city; they are also the first restaurant in Mumbai to serve Alaskan Crabs at a buffet. The selection of cheese at their cheese counter has been very popular among food lovers, and so has their sushi and waffles.

Saeid Heidari, the GM of JW Marriott, Sahar is a German, and he had a big role to play in the execution and selection of the kind of dishes that were featured at JW Café’s Oktoberfest. Everything looked festive and truly reflected a spirit of celebration. The décor looked great, with blue and white checkered table cloth covering each table. There were pretzel stands at each table that had big pretzels on it. We couldn’t wait to begin.

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We made our way to the Oktoberfest section of the buffet and boy, it was amazing to see buckets of sausages laid on ice with an cook at a live charcoal grill. All we had to do was pick what we wanted, and they’d send us our selection of sausages to our table. Some of the pork sausages were Bockwurst, Weiss Wester, Noremberg, Krauker, Bratwurst, Curlywurst, Cocktail and Cheese sausages. And in chicken they had the Noremberg, Skinless Chilly, Cheese & Bacon and plain skinless chicken sausages. We quickly selected our favourites and they were put to grill while we glanced through the rest of the section.

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We have had Spätzle and German Pretzelsbefore, but trying out other German dishes were a great experience. There were Potato Pancakes called Kartoffelpfannkuchen, Käsespätzle – a variety of Spätzle mixed with grated cheese, onion and cherry tomatoes, Sauerkraut and Blaukraut (red cabbage), Mushroom Ragout, Chicken Frikadel, Lamb Goulasch and a whole lotta condiments. It was fantastic.They also had a selection of breads and soft pretzel rolls that were kissed with salt crystals.

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We loved every single one of the sausages we tried. They were juicy and grilled to perfection. Loved the charred bits. We had the Käsespätzle with the Lamb Goulasch and Mushroom Ragout and it was a delightful. The Spätzle was light and fluffy, very lightly seasoned and the Lamb Goulasch went really great with it. The meat was cooked really well and we loved the stewey nature of the dish. The Mushroom Ragout aka Pilze in Sahnesauce was absolutely sensational. The umami blended with cream with a slight kick from the pepper made it lipsmacking. We wished there were Knödels – bread dumplings to have it with. 🙂 We enjoyed dunking the soft Pretzel Rolls in it though.

The Blaukraut also known as Rotkohl, is very similar to Sauerkraut and it’s made with red cabbage. We loved having it with the sausages. Kortoffelp or Kortoffelpuffer which are potato pancakes made for a really good snack to go with our drinks.  We truly enjoyed gorging on German food and couldn’t believe that we completely ignored the other food sections at the buffet. It was that good.

The Thai counter looked great with authentic Thai delicacies made by Chef Rungtiwa and so did the Indian section. We love the Grill section that serves grilled meat with fresh rotis that are made in hot tandoors. The Sushi counter, the Salads and the Cheese counter are not to be missed. They also have a Mediterranean cuisine counter that serves pita pockets with lamb kebobs and a variety of dips like hummus, babaganoush and a few others. There is an Indian chaat counter and live pasta station.

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One of the crowning glories of JW Café’s buffet is their seafood and cold cut station that spoils every guest for choice, it has Alaskan Crablegs, Shrimps, Clams and Mussels served on ice. Sadly the crab legs were not served that night. They also have fine Prosciutto and ham carved at the same station along with smoked salmon that are served with capers and pickled onions. It is a must try.

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The dessert counter has a lot of desserts both French and Indian. Ice creams are served separately with Jelly Beans, Gummy Bears, Marshmallows and fresh fruits. We didn’t know what to have for dessert but the Black Forest looked exceptional with shards of chocolate dusted with gold. We tried the Black Forest Cake and the chocolate mousse, and we went nuts with Jelly Beans and Marshmallows. 🙂 We had a great time. We really like the service here as well; the staff are polite and prompt ensuring excellent customer service.

If want to celebrate Oktoberfest in its truest form this year, then check out JW Café and feast on a superb spread of German delicacies to your heart’s content. It doesn’t get any better than this.

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.

Wok This Way

It gives me great pleasure to write about one of my favourite chefs, Chef Rakesh Talwar and his new venture Wok This Way! Chef Talwar’s personality translates into everything he lays his hands on. Be it The Spare Kitchen or The Curry Leaf… his creativity, passion for food and the eye for perfection and taste screams out of everything he does. I’d also like to congratulate him and his team for winning The Times Food – Best Modern Indian Award for The Spare Kitchen in the Noteworthy Newcomer category. Kudos Chef! Joash and I were very glad to be the first few invited to Wok This Way. Located in Versova, this eatery opened its doors in the month of January. As a concept, it is not exactly new and we do have a couple of eateries around the city that serve “southeast asian” fare but most of them are more or less a mixed bag of the usual run-of-the-mill sauces. So when we stepped into Wok This Way we were really relieved to see the variety of dishes that were served there. Their menu being diverse and authentic is creatively fresh, fun and interesting. In addition to soups, salads, starters, mains and desserts… they’ve got yummy curries, combos and an option to Make Your Own Wok. The décor is simple yet modern. What welcomes you is the bright and colorful display of the menu and a neat looking counter.Chef took us to the kitchen to show how he had combined modern techniques and equipment to make the lives of the “real men at work” easier. Chef Talwar has taken so much care to make his kitchen a very happy place for people working there and also to the neighbors around. Imagine ACs in the kitchen and a high-tech filtration system that ensuredthe cooking fumes were “cleaned” before it left the kitchen. Impressive! It was time for us to taste his creations! With Chef Talwar, there’s always something new to look forward to. He always makes me go “Whoa! How did he do that?!”.  Knowing him, we just let him choose the best he had to offer, so here’s what we enjoyed –

Gyoza

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photo 1 (3) I had a big smile on my face when the dish arrived, it was in a vibrant blue Chinese takeaway box with chopsticks. I will talk about the packing in a bit. These perfect Japanese dumplings filled with chicken also known as pot stickers were absolutely gorgeous. Pan Fried. Lightly crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, just melted our hearts. It came with two dipping sauces, totally amazing. We enjoyed every bit of it.

Noodles with Wok Roasted Lamb in Chef’s All In One Sauce

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I opened the box of noodles and the aroma just took me back to being in Malaysia. The noodles looked great, it was garnished with Thai Basil leaves. It was cooked so well, the Wok roasted lamb was succulent and flavorful and boy the sauce was just mind-blowing. I am still trying to make my rendition of this dish! Chef, someday I shall get it right 😀 I was very happy with the portion and every bite was just yummy.

Burnt Garlic Ginger Rice with Pan Tossed Chicken

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Garnished with freshly cut spring onions… the rice was beautifully cooked. The portion of meat was good and the Burnt Garlic Ginger sauce in the rice was robust and delicious. I totally recommend this to all those who love rice. The best part is when you choose the option to make your own Wok, the veggies and the garnish are unlimited so you can have fun with an array of flavors and can add textures to your dish. One of the items from the “Finishing Touches” menu-step caught our eye and it was the first thing I asked Chef about. It was Chef’s Spicy Dusting! I say this and I am not kidding, this was the best thing that I have ever sprinkled over our food and I recommend this to all who dine at this place. This magic dust will knock your socks off. It just took the rice and noodles to a whole new level. It not only enhanced the taste of the dish but made it lip-smackingly good. We left with packs of this special spicy dusting and have been using it at restaurants and in our meals at home all the time. It’s found two diehard fans who swear by it’s epicness. The great news is that it can be bought off the counter and I urge all of you to try a pack. We truly enjoyed our meal at Wok This Way and absolutely loved Chef Talwar’s company. One can never be disappointed with the service at this place as it has Chef’s warmth and care that comes out through his polite staff. The packaging is vibrant and fun, perfect for a fun party. The flap on the box turns into a coupon and when you collect 7 coupons, you get your next box absolutely free!

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If you want to try some authentic Penang curry, Mee/Nasi Goreng  and Chaufan Fried Rice with Dumpling – you have got to try Wok This Way. We totally recommend the Oyster Fried Rice with Breaded Chicken Escalope, it also has the mighty Sriracha Three Pepper Cottage Cheese for all who like to turn up the heat a notch or two.And, if you dare, Make Your Own Wok! Try the Mango with Sticky Rice Dessert. It’s out of the world. We would like to wish Chef and Wok This Way all the very best. P.S We also heard that Bandra will have it’s own Wok This Way soon!