29 October 2014

Spanish Street Food Festival at Long and Short - The Gastrobar

Beunos Dias. A visit to Spain remains on my bucket list, purely because I want to sit back on the beaches of Ibiza, glass of sangria in hand and a plate of tapas in another. Having never been to the country my knowledge of Spanish cuisine is limited to a couple of dishes I've tried and enjoyed in restaurants across the country. I recently dined at Long and Short which is the gastrobar situated inside Intercontinental Hotel, Nariman Point, and was looking forward to trying out their Spanish Street Food Festival menu they had on offer and expanding my Spanish cuisine knowledge base. 

Situated on the first floor of the hotel, Long and Short is like the younger, more sober sister of 'The Dome', everyone's favorite roof-top party place in the city. The restaurant cum bar tries to entice both the diner and the drinker with an exhaustive food and innovative, well-priced drink menu. This was evident in the crowd that night, which ranged from drunken adolescents on a night out, to sober families out for birthday dinners. The decor is made up of huge sofas that you'll never get out of, dim lampshades to assorted  souvenirs and knick-knacks on the walls. I loved the outside balcony seating which would make for the most romantic setting on a winter date night. 

Vintage Dabbas, Kettles, and Memories
Cycle Rickshaws with a View of the Bar
I would like to thank the Spaniards for one of their greatest contributions to mankind- The Sangria. One would think, wine is perfect. There's nothing that can make it better. And then they added fruit. Voila! It's no surprise that the festival menu had sangria as one of the cocktail options. I decided to go the unconventional route and try spirits I've never had. The first one of the night was the 'Queimada', made with grappa, lime, orange and topped with Spanish coffee was an enjoyable coffee based cocktail with a perfect booze-to-coffee ratio. The 'Bull by the Horn', made with tequila, rum, cranberry, lime and Red Bull fell pale in comparison because of a synthetic, cough-syrup tasting cranberry juice. 

Bull by the Horn
The Aqua de Valencia (Water of Valencia) had gin, orange, sparkling wine, vodka and was strong on the alcohol and taste. I love sparkling wine cocktails and this one was fizzy and fun! We also sampled a Beer Michelada  - beer, tobasco, Worcestershire, lime - a spicy, Mexican preparation. This isn't for the faint hearted, and it's a spicy twist to a regular lager, something that can be easily tried at home. Overall, the cocktail spread priced at Rs. 650/- plus taxes each, was an innovative twist to regular cocktails. I'm glad I skipped the conventional sangrias and tried something new off the menu. Salud!

Aqua de Valencia
 We paired all this booze with the one word Spanish food is most commonly associated with - Tapas! Tapas literally means 'to cover' in Spanish, and comprises snacks or appetizers typically had over drinks. The list of tapas are endless in Spanish cuisine, but some of the favorites were on the menu. The entire menu was created by Executive Chef of Long and Short Gastrobar - Chef Kayzad Sadri. First up we had the 'Gambas al Ajilio' which translates into prawns with garlic oil. Succulent prawns were flavored in simple garlic oil with chili and made for a lovely bar snack. 

Gambas al Ajilio
Spanish cuisine is known for its cured meats and one such popular dish is the spicy, pork sausage - The Chorizo. This meat is now being featured on most menus, in rice, on pizzas, in pasta. But it owes its origin to Spanish cuisine. The 'Chorizo al vino' has thick, chewy pieces of the meat sitting atop a baguette. The meat was a bit overcooked, but I loved the spicy wine sauce it was enveloped in. The 'Albonigas con Tomate' were soft lamb dumplings in a tomato sauce akin to meatballs and Bolognese. 

Chorizo al Vino
Albonigas con Tomate
The 'Spanish Cheese and Tomato Pie' looked nothing like a pie, and more like a thin crust pizza. It was a thin crust topped with tomatoes and cheese, and was pretty lackluster. While doing a background check on Spanish food before writing this I came upon an interesting article that spoke about the Top 10 Spanish foods. And surprisingly, croquettes were on there. I had no idea this dish I so frequently gobbled up as a child, has a Spanish origin. They were then brought to India by the Spanish and Portugese invaders, and given an Anglo Indian twist. We tried the 'Corn and Cheese Croquettes' here. I loved the fact that the corn was made into a paste and added into the covering of the croquettes. You could taste the corn without actually biting into it.

Spanish Cheese and Tomato Pie
Corn and Cheese Croquettes
My favorite dish of the night was an unlikely suspect - Pan con Tomate - basically herbed tomato paste and garlic on crusty bread. Think of a tomato based garlic bread. Such a simple, heart dish this was! While listing tapas, 'Patatas Bravas' makes the fore front. This popular dish of baby potatoes in a sauce of paprika, tomato and cheese ended the round up of tapas for the night. The recurrent theme in everything we ate was tomato and cheese with a carbohydrate of your choice. 

Pan con Tomate
Patatas Bravas
With barely enough stomach space left for the mains, we decided to take a break and opt for a salad. The 'Ensalada Mixta' was a basic mixed greens salad with cherry tomatoes and olives in a wine vinaigrette. Pretty average fare. The 'Pollito de corral' were two pieces of succulent roast chicken breast, in a pan jus. This came accompanied with the most fragrant pine-nut rice. The rice was so delicious, and we gobbled it up just as it was. This was a stellar dish, my only grouse was that it needed a bit more of the jus since the chicken tended to get a tad bit dry.

Ensalada Mixta
Pollito de Corral
Rounding up this extensive meal were some delicious desserts. The 'Pina Brava' was a smooth coconut and pineapple mousse accompanied with a spicy berry sauce. This is an ideal dessert for those who like to keep it light and want to go the non-chocolate route. Tropical flavours which reminded me of a dessert version of the Pina Colada. The 'Souffle de Chocolate' made with dark chocolate had a nice, gooey center and went well paired with the vanilla ice cream and biscuit crumble.

Pina Brava
Souffle de Chocolate
The Spanish Food Festival definitely had a lot of hits and very few misses. There were a couple of dishes I ate on the menu that I'd definitely go back for. I was surprised by the absence of Paella, Gazpacho, and Churros which are my Spanish food favorites, but I guess they wanted to go the unconventional route. Long and Short - The Gastrobar, has immense potential to leave a mark as a retrobar in the city with moderately expensive food and drinks, lovely ambiance and good service to match. AdiĆ³s!

Contact: Long and Short - The Gastrobar, Intercontinental, Marine Drive, Churchgate, Mumbai.

(The author was invited to review and experience the Spanish Street Food Festival which was on from the 17th-26th of October)

24 October 2014

From Melbourne to MasterChef to Mumbai - Sarah Todd

Masterchef  Australia has played a major role in opening up the common man's eyes to gourmet food and fine-dining. Now into its sixth season, it has given so many home cooks a chance to become professional chefs, and we have all seen many such individuals metamorphose into professionals. One such contestant I keenly remember and watched out for in the sixth season was model turned chef, Sarah Todd.

Apart from being the prettiest and most soft spoken contestant, I looked out for her because of her Indian connect. This is because Sarah's long time partner is of Indian Punjabi origin. Sarah was on a recent visit to India; touring Delhi, Goa and Mumbai, exploring the food scene in each city. I was recently invited along with other bloggers to not only meet her but also get to try out some of her signature appetizers paired with cocktails at the happening China House Lounge, Grand Hyatt, Mumbai.

Sarah demonstrated three appetizers, and chatted with us throughout the cooking session. It is her first trip to the country, but she has been oriented to Indian food by her partner's family. She also spoke about her visit to Delhi and how she had meals at the iconic Kareem's and the posh Indian Accent, both on the same day, both very different, but equally good. Sarah was shocked at the popularity of MasterChef in India, and how she's been asked to click selfies by fans of the show everywhere she goes, even at the airport.
The Many Moods of Sarah Todd
Sarah showed her love for Indian cooking by starting off with a Zucchini and Pea Pakora with a corn relish and pickled radish - a twist on the conventional pakoras, a dish she first cooked with her mother-in-law. My favourite was the Salmon ceviche, crispy poppadum and mint chutney. The dish was easy to make and is a desi twist to a classic ceviche. The Slow Roast lamb shoulder, beetroot chutney on crisp bread was well flavoured and delicious - everything good lamb should be.

(Clockwise): Salmon Ceviche, Zucchini and Pea Pakora,
Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder
The cocktail specials paired with the appetizers include a gin-apple-pomegranate based 'Pink Lady' which I enjoyed. The 'Bellamy Scotch Sour' was an unusual scotch based cocktail comprising of scotch, honey, orange and ginger. The vodka-rosemary-lime-mango based 'Martini Cooler' was another innovative drink, but a tad bit too strong on the alcohol for me.

(From left to right): Rosemary Cooler, Pink Lady,
Bellamy Scotch Sour
Sarah is currently working on a cookbook that will showcase signature Australian and French cooking, that she's known for. She would also love to open up her own restaurant in the long run. But her immediate future plans definitely include a trip back to India, this time with her family. We cannot wait to welcome her back - this rare combination of charm, good looks, and an all-round awesome chef!

(The Sarah Todd for China House Lounge menu will be served from from 15th October -31st October,2014.)

My Fan Girl Moment!

23 October 2014

Biryani Takes a 360 Degree Turn

I've eaten a lot of Biryani. And I can safely say that no two Biryanis that you'll eat from different homes or different restaurants will be the same. Each Biryani comes with its own set of ingredients and spices, that have been mastered over a course of time, after careful trial and error in the kitchen. In fact, my granny does a Parsi Biryani too, even though so many people say there's nothing like a Parsi Biryani, my granny and I will beg to differ. I really like the India Map below which depicts the Biryani trail, and is the perfect example of how this dish got hybridized everywhere it traveled. 

(Image Courtesy: Sterling Holidays)
And then there came Biryani360- unlike any other Biryani I'd eaten before. I was introduced to Biryani360 and the concept by the PetPujaris group, as a part of their month-end 'Kadka'. (More about the group on their Facebook page here.) We were all huddled up at Biryani360's CEO, owner and passionate Biryani lover Shayan Italia's home on one sunny Sunday afternoon to hear about his labour of love. I wasn't aware of Biryani360 at that time, and I refrained from reading up any online reviews, so I went there with a blank slate and an hungry stomach. 

Shayan and his team spent a long, long time developing the recipe and trying out different Biryanis around the country, to narrow down what their dream Biryani would be like. Collaborating with food guru, Nikhil Merchant aka Nonchalant Gourmand, helped the brand and they worked out their trademark Biryani recipe. Biryani360's recipe and ingredients are one of a kind and safely guarded. Be nice, and they may share a secret or two!

Biryani360 does two types of Biryanis - a Veg and a chicken, Un-Veg one. For me, Veg Biryani equals Pulao. I was of the strong opinion that nothing like Veg Biryani exists. And a non-vegetarian Biryani equals Mutton. That's just how my brain's food center has been wired. Biryani360 had a tough task ahead; to prove me wrong on both beliefs.

Shayan spoke about his concept of having a completely online ordering system - either through their website or smartphone app. All payments are also to be made online, eliminating the need for cash on delivery and the hassles that come with it, in the process. By now the smell of the biryani wafting through the kitchen was playing havoc with my mind, and I couldn't wait to dig in!

First up was the Un-Veg Biryani. Even before you take a bite, the aroma of saffron hits you. Biryani360 claims to use three different types of saffron to alleviate the taste and aroma. I took a huge spoonful, and the spice got me! This is a spicy Biryani, not for the faint hearted. I found my first bite to be too spicy, but then your palate gets used to the spice later. It's a good spice - nice and lingering, without making steam come out of your ears. There are just the right amount of vegetables interspersed in the rice, and the chicken pieces (boneless, #FTW) are of the right size and cooked well. I also enjoyed the use of raisins in the Biryani, which provides a nice diversion from the heat.

Un-Veg Biryani360

The winner is definitely the raita- spiced yogurt with mint, and no chopped up vegetables. It helps balance out the intensity of the heat in the Biryani, which I wouldn't have been able to eat had the raita not been there. I enjoyed my Un-Veg Biryani, even more after we were made to try out Biryanis from other popular outlets who have been famous for this dish (no, I will not take names). Biryani360 differed on two accounts: oil and consistency. The Biryani is comparatively a lot less greasier and is healthier than most Mughlai Biryanis you eat in the market. Also, every spoonful of Biryani360 was consistent in terms of flavour, spice and vegetables; something I did not find in the others.

I know Biryani360 only does a chicken variant which I enjoyed so much, I wouldn't mind trying out a mutton Biryani360. They don't make one (yet), 'because of the inconsistencies of cooking mutton on a large scale'. The Biryani is definitely on a spicier side, so people who simply cannot tolerate spice- stay away! This is not for the faint hearted. If you cannot tolerate heat, this may not be for you. Otherwise, douse your Biryani in copious amounts of raita, like I did, and you'll be just fine. 

The Veg Biryani arrived next, and I was really looking forward to eliminating the 'Veg Biryani is Pulao' myth from my head. Sadly the Veg Biryani that afternoon, was lacking in the most important element- salt. I guess they were still in their experimental stages with the Biryani, and hence did not gauge how much salt was needed when they had opened up a new salt packet. Nevertheless, not getting the salt right is a big no-no, and because of that I wrote the Veg Biryani360 off completely.

Veg Biryani360: The Sequel: Four weeks down the road, I received a mail from Shayan asking me to come over for yet another tasting. He promised the Veg Biryani would live up to my expectations, and I'd get to taste the authentic Veg Biryani360 - with the salt and everything!

With a very strong deja-vu feeling, I trek up the steps to Biryani360 HQs another Sunday afternoon. The same fragrant aroma and the same inviting platter of Biryani awaited me. I dug into the Veg one, and I was pleased! Heaps better than what I had eaten previously. This one was exactly like the Un-Veg Biryani360, without the chicken, and with more ginger. The first Biryani I ate where I did not crave meat alongside. The Un-Veg one definitely gets my vote, only because of the chicken, but the Veg comes pretty close to a 'Biryani'.

Veg Biryani360

Budget Bites: Biryani360 comes in the cutest, colorful, individually packaged boxes containing 300 grams of the choice of your Biryani and raita, for Rs. 360. I still maintain that it's slightly on the pricier side. A lot of people The target audience for such a Biryani may not be those looking for a greasy, cheap and cheerful, post-alcohol binge. Many of us are not open to the concept of paying so much for a Biryani at our door-step. A salad or a pasta, we will readily pay for. Especially a veg Biryani, where our mind set is such that, it should be cheaper than a non-vegetarian one. The target audience here are those who will appreciate the health benefits, and high-end ingredients -a well informed diner with a discernible palate. I am not too sure how well this concept will work with the masses, for whom Biryani is associated with large 'handis' of the dish with an oil layer on top, not an individually packaged, healthy Biryani. 

(For more information check out www.biryani360.com)

19 October 2014

Malwani Magic and Konkani Swaad

Maharashtra is blessed with the Konkan belt- a sea strip that provides us with just the most picturesque locations and a large variety of sea food. Malwani food is the cuisine that emerges from this Konkan belt in Maharashtra and Goa, which is predominantly non-vegetarian and fish-centric, with a liberal use of coconut, kokum, tamarind, and spices. Malwani food is not for the faint-hearted, it can be quite spicy!

I was recently invited to Pondicherry Cafe, Sofitel, BKC to sample their on-going Malwani food festival. Pondicherry Cafe is the hotel's 24-hour buffet restaurant, and I love that they jazz up their regular buffets by having occasional food festivals. I previously attended their Vietnamese food fest (read about it here), among other food festivals that I've seen happening there frequently. I spent a wonderful evening dining there, and enjoying the Konkan fare on offer. Here are my top 5 reasons to dine at the Malwan food festival:

1. Ghar Ka Khana: The first thing that struck me, when I walked around the buffet spread was now simple and homely the food looked. It was exactly like something you'd eat at a Maharashtrian friend or neighbour's home. There was Phodniche Varan-Bhaat which is a traditional Maharashtrian dal-rice combination, a staple food at most homes. Then came Bajri Chi Bhakri- a small roti made with Bajra and topped with desi ghee. At one point my plate was filled with rice, dal, bhakri, achar, mutton, and it resembled something that would've been eaten in a rural home in a village in Maharashtra. There was Besan ke laddoo for dessert, though I would've liked to have something a bit more complex. Nevertheless, homely food made with the heart!

Bhakri Counter
Konkan on my Plate
2. Ghar Ke Cooks: The most exciting part of my entire experience was getting to meet housewives Mrs. Prathishta Armarkar and Mrs. Praja Patil – the Malwani cuisine specialists. They're both home chefs, and ocassionally cater Malwan cuisine from their homes. The entire week long festivities have menus designed by them and food cooked by them along with the restaurant's chef Vividh Patil. That explains why the entire feel and taste of the food was so homely- because, housewives and mothers were the chefs here! I applaud Sofitel for giving them an opportunity to showcase their talent and give them the experience of working in a high end kitchen.

(Left to Right) Mrs Patil, Chef Vividh Patil, Mrs Armarkar
3. Malwan Mood: The entire restaurant had a Konkan feel to it, with the staff dressed in traditional saris and kurtas to the serving containers for the buffet. I loved the earthen pots the food was served in. I also loved the traditional 'bannis' in which the pickles were served. There was a large variety of pickles on offer, most of which were home-made. I enjoyed the tart, and spicy chicken pickle the most.

What a Pickle!

4. Meat Lover's Haven: Malwani food is known for its fish and meat based dishes. The food fest had some spicy and well made Mutton Sukka that fell right off the bone. The Modakachi Kadi- Indian silver sardines simmered in a coconut gravy- was a traditional fish curry with a strong, spicy taste. The Chicken Sagoti which demonstrated the Goan-Malwan influence was a well seasoned, thick gravy that went well with bhakris. I then ate some delicious Surmai Fry that came hot off the pan onto my table. The only damp squib was the Jinga Biryani- bland and lacklustre.

Modaka Chi Kadi
Chicken Sagoti
Surmai Fry
5. The Veg Attempt: I was extremely curious to see what the vegetarian food on offer would be, if there was any vegetarian food to offer. My friend accompanying me was a vegetarian, and she really did enjoy all that she ate. Right from the Varan- Bhaat to the vegetable dishes such as Gobhi Vatana and Vala Chi Bhaji which all had coconut and typical Malwan masala in them. She did not care for the Lal Math (Red Spinach) and Tondli Chana Sabzi (Tendli and Chana Dal), and neither would I if I was given tendli to eat in a buffet.

Vala Chi Bhaji
Tondli Chana Chi Bhaji
Lal Math
Gobi Vatana
The only vegetarian dish of the night that I tried and enjoyed, was the Neer Fansache Kaap or jackfruit fritters. (Can you blame me with all the meat options out there?) I usually steer clear of jackfruit because of its pungent smell, and haven't really eaten much of the fruit. This dish I enjoyed- thin slices of the fruit, coated, seasoned, deep fried, and topped with spices. An absolute winner of a dish!

Neer Fansache Kaap
Budget Bites: The buffet is priced at Rs. 2100 + tax and also includes some Oriental and Mughlai spread along with the Malwan food. I found it a bit on the pricier side since the food is extremely homely and simple, and there may be many other places in the city where you'd get a meal such for a lesser price. Especially true if you're a vegetarian. It's a good idea for those who want to enjoy such food in a five-star ambiance and also want other fall-back options in the buffet. I noticed a couple of expats there that night, adventurously trying the Malwan food out, and I felt proud. Jai Maharashtra! Jai Hind!

Contact: Sofitel Hotel, C 57, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai.
Malwani Food Festival is on from the 11th to the 20th of October.

Barbeque Nation 'Grills the World'

I remember saving up my pocket money in school to dine at the newly opened Barbeque Nation in Bandra, just minutes away from my home. The concept of a live grill on your table and an all-you-can-eat buffet enthralled me back then. Subsequently, many family dinners and birthdays were celebrated at the same venue. Sadly, the Bandra outlet of one of the city’s most successful buffet options recently shut shop. I hadn’t visited the restaurant in years, due to an influx of many other restaurants around that area, and I was sad that I couldn’t eat my last meal there before they closed. Around the very same time Harsh aka MumbaiFoodLover invited me to go try the Barbeque Nation outlet in Atria Mall, Worli with him one night, and I jumped!

The occasion was the arrival of UK’s Curry King- Pat Chapman to the city and the introduction of 14 new barbeque marinades for the grills. The marinades incorporate distinct flavours around the world, and are supposed to take you on a world tour through your plate. I googled Pat Chapman while doing research for this article and I was pleasantly surprised. He is a chef of English origin who is known world over as the ‘Curry King’ because of his profound knowledge and expertise in Indian food. 

Atria Mall bore a deserted look that night, but Barbeque Nation tucked away in a little corner of the mall was buzzing. The entire restaurant was done up in flags of different countries giving it a festive feel.  I was thrilled to see them open up the grill on my table, and it brought back a flood of memories.  We started off with Worcestershire Mushrooms, flavoured with the traditional English sauce. Next up were some cauliflower florets marinated in Arabian Lebanese sauce. The corn on the cob was flavoured with a New Orleans Incendiary Marinade and the Paneer had a typical Chinese Sichuan Sauce. The small baby potatoes were marinated in a hot American Texican sauce whereas a mix vegetable skewers has a Pablano Mexican sauce. We also ate some Persian Veg Patties that had nothing Persian about them. But what I enjoyed the most were the Creamy Potatoes that have been a BBQ Nation trademark and are oh so yum!

(Clockwise) Worcestershire Mushrooms, Creamy Potatoes,
Arabian Lebanese Florets, Sichuan Paneer

The meat options I tried was a firey drumstick in a traditional Jamaican Jerk sauce, char grilled jumbo prawns in a Spanish Valencia sauce and a typically Mai Thai sauce encasing juicy Basa pieces.

Overall, out of all the marinades we tried, we enjoyed most of them. I liked the unusual paring of certain sauces with certain veggies and meats. A decent spread of dishes and worth a visit if you like grills.

If you’ve dined at Barbeque Nation previously, you’re pretty much aware of what the mains and dessert options are like. Besides, no one really has stomach space for the mains since you’ve pigged out on the starters by now. The mains covered Indian gravies like- Nilgiri Kofta curry, Gosht Dalcha, Paneer Rogini and a few International dishes such as Jamaican Jerk Vegetables, Fish in Mexican Style and Singaporean Noodles that honestly did not look all that appetizing. Of course, there’s the mandatory live pasta counter that is a must at all buffets.

Biryani on my plate
Gravies, Curries and More
Live Pasta Counter
The dessert options range from pastries, assorted mousses in tiny glasses to Indian sweets such as gulab jamun and phirnee which were definitely my pick of the lot. By now I was so stuffed, I could hardly eat any dessert.

Dessert Selection
I want to jump in this!
What works in the favour of Barbeque Nation, and what has caused it to sustain all these years remain its fair pricing. Lunch prices from Monday to Saturday are only Rs. 600/- and Rs. 660/- all inclusive, for a vegetarian and non-vegetarian buffet respectively. Dinner from Wednesday to Sunday is Rs. 860/- and Rs. 980/- all inclusive, for a vegetarian and non-vegetarian buffet respectively. Prices vary on the day of the week and the time you visit (early and late bird discount).

The Grills of the World festival which is on till 31st of this month is an innovative twist to the tikkas and kebabs that we associate with grilled food. Here you get the opportunity to try out different marinades on a live grill, all specially curated by a renowned international chef. Overall, we had a pleasant meal. And the pricing is quite pleasant too!

Contact: Barbeque Nation, 4th Floor, Atria Mall, Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai. Other outlets in Lokhandwala, Andheri east, Thane, and Nerul.
Check out www.barbeque-nation.com for more deets!
The Grills of the World Festival by Pat Chapman on at all Barbeque Nation outlets till the 31st of October, 2014.

11 October 2014

Food Flashback

Gosh, I'm eating around at so many different places, it gets difficult to do an individual blog post about each one of them. But then again, I want to share my foodie experiences with you'll. Hence, the idea for this post. Read on for the (food) week that was!

I. Five Fat Monks, Bandra
This place has been on my radar ever since I heard positive reviews about their Ghatkopar branch. They've made the move to Bandra recently, so yours truly decided to go check it out. This is a quick-service Asian restaurant serving up soups, appetizers, rice, noodles and what I was most excited about: DIY stir-fry woks. The entire space is done in a contrasting white and orange palette, and has a geometric influence.

I love the concept of creating your own stir-fry. You get to be the chef without actually cooking. I remember All Stir Fry, Colaba pioneering this concept in the city, which was then carried on forward by Noodle Bar. Five Fat Monks has the same funda as its predecessors: pick your base of rice/noodle, pick your protein, choose veggies, choose a sauce as your base, and pick three garnishes to go on top. All of this comes on an interactive worksheet, which you can pick your choices off and hand over to the server.

My Burnt Garlic chicken rice combination with pok choy, baby corn and mushrooms came topped with roasted peanuts, fried onions and spring onions. The portion size was impressive for Rs. 295/- and two of us managed to split it comfortably. The stir-fry came steaming hot and I loved the flavour of the burnt garlic. We ticked the box option, but ended up getting the rice in a bowl. (I really wanted to eat in those cute, red boxes they keep advertising.) Barring that glitch, the dish was decent. If you're a fan of stir-frys, give this one a shot.

The Prawns Har Gow (Rs. 200/- for six pieces) had a lovely prawn filling but the dim sum coating was a bit too lumpy and thick. Completely avoidable.

Prawns Har Gow
Overall, Five Fat Monks is trying to fill the gap between thela Indian-Chinese, and fine dine Asian cuisine. It's doing a decent job at that, barring a few glitches which need to be ironed out. (P.S.: Do ask for unlimited servings of green tea while you're waiting for your food.)

Contact: Shop 2, Ground Floor, The New Kamal Society, Near National College, Waterfield Road, Linking Road, Bandra West, Mumbai.
Phone: 022 66711423, 022 66711424
They also deliver!

II. Mac Craig, Bandra
I'm a little possessive about this place. So possessive that I didn't want to write about them, and share it with everyone. I remember going to Mac Craig as a little kid, and my mother would buy me their Lemon Jam Swiss Rolls. I went back to eat the roll years later, and it tasted just the same.

Mac Craig is housed in the same lane at a host of famous Bandra restaurants such as Suzette, Papa Pancho and BusaGo. Yet this tiny, little, take-away joint remains unknown to many. With barely two tables and four chairs this joint is frequented by those who want a quick bite on the go. The menu looks freakishly similar to Candies just down the road, and you'll get some trademark Candies dishes here too. You can call Mac Craig a cheaper, smaller version of Candies.

Expect rolls, burgers, mini meals, sandwiches, colourful drinks, and desserts here. And if you're lucky you may get to try some of their specials. On offer that night was Roast Stuffed Chicken and Pork Sorpotel. The Pork Sorpotel was deliciously tangy, spicy and had well cooked chunks of meat. Instantly transported me to Goa. Paired with their soft dinner rolls, this made for a finger-lickingly good meal.

Pork Sorpotel
Mac Craig's Goa Sausage Bun (Rs.60/-). This fluffy bun comes filled with sausages in an onion-tomato mixture and makes for a yummy snack. This time however, there were lesser sausages in the bun than I remembered it to be.

Goa Sausage Bun
The Lemon Jam Swiss Rolls (Rs. 30/-) were these soft, spongy cakes filled with lemon jam in the center and dusted off with sugar powder. This was like a little trip back in time.

Lemon Jam Swiss Rolls
P.S.: Also at Mac Craig you'll find Whiskers and FlowerPot. (We named them that.) Two of the cutest, attention seeking cats. Beware, they'll make cute, kittie faces and you'll end up buying chicken lollipops for them like I did.

(Left to Right): Whiskers and FlowerPot
Contact: Mac Craig, 18, Gasper Enclave, St John's Road, Pali Hill, Bandra West, Mumbai.
Phone: 022 26411985.

III. Theobroma's Cooknie
I'm not a fan of hybrid food. I've steered clear of the pizookies, cronuts, broffles, birizzas of the world. And then I had this- Theobroma's Cooknie- a cookie brownie hybrid. Just the softest, moist signature Theobroma brownie on the inside and the yummiest chocolate chip cookie dough on the outside. This was a delicious treat and absolutely worth the 85 bucks I spent on it. Just pop it into the microwave even a couple of days later, and it's as good as new!

The Cooknie
Available at all Theobroma outlets across the city.

(All reviews conducted anonymously. The author paid for her own meals.)