30 May 2015

The Food Week That Was - The Great Bowl of China

Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Food Week That Was. (Sorry, I have always wanted to say that.) This weeks eating out schedule featured a whole lot of Chinese food. One pan-Asian delivery joint operating out of Lower Parel, and another Bandra based QSR focussing on make your own woks. I was craving some dirty Chinese after my Lanka trip (read about Part One here) and both these places satiated my cravings. Read on to know more:

Tao 9 Delivery, Lower Parel
Tao 9, a take away and delivery joint, serving Chinese, Thai and a spattering of a few dishes from a few other Asian cuisines, launched a month ago. Purely operating from the Lower Parel - Mahalakshmi belt, I was lucky that they made an exception to get my meal sent all the way to Bandra. My meal got delivered on the promised time, and arrived warm even though it arrived all the way from their Lower Parel kitchen, in sturdy packaging. I did not even need to re-heat the boxes. Major plus points there!

Silken prawn green Thai curry with steamed rice (Rs. 259/-) started the meal off with a bang. Flavourful, with a lingering aroma of lemongrass and basil, and chunks of prawn floating in between - this makes for a hearty meal by itself. Must try! Both the Basil Wine Prawns (Rs. 219/-) and Black Pepper Fish (Rs. 189/-) were a delight, with robust desi Chinese flavours - garlic, pepper, bell peppers, Thai chilli - to name a few. I'm ignoring the fact that they used basa here, and two thumbs up to the portion sizes. 

Prawn Thai Green Curry
Prawns Basil Wine

24 May 2015

Lanka Diaries: Must Eat

Ohh, I just returned from a wonderful vacation, from the island country down south - Sri Lanka. If you've been following me on social media, you've been witness to all the wonderful sights, sounds, and food Sri Lanka has to offer. 

My holiday was beautiful in so many ways. Beaches that are pristine, with clear water and blue skies. Mountains that provide peace, tranquil and helped me re-connect with myself. Locals that are warm, smiling, and ever helpful. Sri Lanka is raw, natural, and untapped - and I sincerely hope it remains that way. 

And don't even get me started on the food. I emptied half of the Lanka seas with the amount of seafood that I ate. Sri Lanka is a paradise for the pescetarian and the meat lover. Vegetarians may have a difficult time finding local food. I made it a point to eat authentic Lankan food on the trip, may it be from a restaurant, street side stall or a beach shack. This post is a tribute to the many meals I had while on vacation in Sri Lanka. And in no way does it encompass everything. There's only so many meals you can have in a day.

1. Hoppers
Also known to us as appams, if you're acquainted with South Indian cuisine, you've definitely eaten this rice flour and coconut milk preparation shaped like a bowl. You may not have eaten it the way the Sri Lankans do - as a breakfast dish with eggs, or even meat. We ate loads of hoppers on our trip, my personal favorite being the runny egg version topped with green chillies. Or else paired with a spicy fish curry, to help mop up the gravy. Hoppers are available at every restaurant, but the best hoppers we ate came from the tiny street side stalls.

Egg Hoppers at Raja Bojun, Colombo
Chicken and Egg Savoury Hoppers at Raja 
Bojun, Colombo

Egg hoppers at Amaya Hills, Kandy

11 May 2015

Summer Lovin' - Pizza Express's Summer Menu

This week has been exceptionally hard for me. I am literally counting minutes to my impending vacation where I shall be sipping cocktails on the beach, leaving behind work and all such worldly woes. But time just refuses to pass! And the heat is adding to my misery. It feels like we are sitting inside Satan's Inferno, and the flames are going to eat us alive. Amidst all of this, came one positive that added sparkle to my dull week. A visit to Pizza Express happened!

My name is Zenia Irani, and I am a Pizza Express-o-holic. I love the pizzas there, the Calabrese and Padana being my favourite. And let me not get started on their Baked Vanilla Cheesecake. *wipes drool off her screen* So when invitation bells arrived, to review their Summer Menu I jumped for joy. 

Pizza Express's new summer special menu has both extremes, one will make your summer more bearable, and the other will raise temperatures. The menu comprises drinks and a few mains that are light, refreshing, cooling and perfect for the summer. And then some of their pizzas are fiery, scorching and leave you sweating for more. Depends on how you want to celebrate this festival of heat. 

Having made my way through their limited albeit interesting looking summer menu serving mocktails, pizzas, pastas, and an interesting looking Intro Platter. Vegetarians, you guys may fall short of options here, and it may be a good idea not to proceed reading anymore. Teehee! Making life easier for you readers, I shortlist my three favorite dishes from the Summer menu, and pair them with a refreshing mocktail to beat the heat. So the next time you go, you know exactly what to order. Bon appetit!

5 May 2015

Out With The Old, In With The New. Review: Crave, Prabhadevi

Mumbai's restaurant scene is ever evolving, and ever changing. On one side we have older restaurants shutting shop, and we mourn the loss of heritage eateries. Let's blame this on the city's soaring real estate prices, and the 'fast food' culture that has led to the replacement of older, stand alone restaurants. And on the other side there are newer, evolved restaurants emerging, not only highlighting different world cuisine, but also experimenting with Indian fare.

Di Napoli, a stand alone pizzeria in Nariman Point shut shop recently. They were known for their delicious, authentic Naples style pizza and a lot of fans, including me were heart broken to hear about their farewell. But what goes around, comes around. Di Napoli's closing led to Crave - an all day cafe cum pizzeria in Prabhadevi by the same owners. 

Jai Thakur, owner and pizza aficionado invites me to Crave one evening, to chat about his new venture, and of course sample the delicious pizzas. Amidst conversation over soaring real estate prices in the city, and restaurant trends, I check Crave out. Situated in Prabhadevi, in an area where there is a severe dearth of cafes, and Quick Service Restaurants (QSR), a place like Crave serving up and delivering pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, and desserts has immense potential.

The place is small albeit adorable. Wooden high tables and stools flank the bright yellow and white walls. Inspite of being tiny, it is well lit and feels spacious. Inspite of being a take away and delivery joint, I'd strongly recommend dining in instead, with a view of the open kitchen. My 'objet d'affection' were the beautiful, black and white, vintage tiled flooring.

My dear friend Shivani Tolia of Yellow Butterfly fame, joins me on this meal, and we can't help but start the meal off with some fries paired with their signature dips. The Mango Jalapeno is their most popular, but I found it a tad bit too pulpy and wished it had larger chunks of jalapeno to cut out the sweetness. The Chilli Garlic was right up our alley, with the heat from the chilli balancing the salt from the fries. Cannot wait to go next time and try the 'cheese + chives' dip from their menu. The presence of dips and fries on a menu, pleases me, and is a refreshing change from plain ol' ketchup.

1 May 2015

Dining at Hakkasan: A Dry Day, Dimsum Date

(The author apologizes for the cheesy title. She can't help but love alliterations).

I have this list of restaurants/ cafes/ food stalls on my phone. I call it 'To-Eat List'. It includes places that I've never eaten at, but intend to in the near future. The list undergoes modifications constantly, older entries get deleted, newer entries get added, and some restaurants endure the test of time. (New Blogpost Idea: Share 'The List' with you readers). Hakkasan in Bandra belongs to the latter category. 

Now Hakkasan is not a place to just randomly pop in for lunch or dinner on a random day. The ambiance, the buzz, and most importantly the price bracket it falls in makes it a place you would only visit on a special occasion. For me, it had been many many years and that occasion never came. 

Bee being the food lover that he is, decides that a mid week holiday is an occasion by itself and we decide to go lunch at Hakkasan on Maharashtra Day. This impulse decision was thanks to the random surfing he did on the Wow Tables (née Gourmet It Up) website and we found a deal that was a dream! The next day we trot up to the restaurant hungrily, to devour a four course meal with a glass of wine at Rs 1100/- plus tax. I told you, it was a dream! I am listing below three reasons why you must consider the Hakkasan Wow Tables experience. 

Khana Khazana: The food at Hakkasan is delicious Pan- Asian food with emphasis on Chinese and Cantonese cooking. The flavours are comfortable, classic, and robust. It is the sort of Asian cuisine that we Indians have been exposed to and are well acquainted with. Black pepper, sichuan, black bean, stir fry: these are all ingredients and techniques that need no description. Everything we tried was perfectly executed, spiced to suit the Indian palate, and leaves you with a satiated feeling. 
Below are some pictures from the five course meal. We reached the restaurant to realize that they added another course to the meal, which was not advertised on the website. But who was complaining? The sad part was that they were unable to serve us wine, as it was a dry day. Well, you win some, you lose some.

Hot and Sour Chicken Soup
Pan Fried Chicken Buns
Virgin Mojitos #DryDayDilemma
Chicken Shu Mai Dumplings
Corn and Prawn Dumplings