The Bao Haus Co.

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

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

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

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

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

And now, it was Bao time! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!