Sunday, September 30, 2012

Koh - Second time around.. a chance worth taking

Rest : Koh by Ian Kittachai
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Intercontinental at Marine Drive

My last visit to Koh (here) had left me convinced that Koh was a bad idea, it only furthered my belief that not only is Thai Pavilion the best Thai restaurant in the city but pretty much one of the best restaurants in the country.

I was pretty sure that everytime i go out for a Thai meal there really would be no contest until recently i caught fellow food blogger, bon vivant, BILLIONIARE  Nikhil Merchant raving about the food. I decided to set aside my prejudice and give them a shot. So here we go. 

Koh is fancy, the tables are laid out lengthwise with loads of tables. Like most restaurants in Bombay it channels North American glitz. Since the menu is actually non traditional, the decor, the music & the ambiance has its own twist too. While i could do with a little more privacy, it works nice, you would not be surprised to find a place like this in Singapore or Hong Kong.

We were greeted with Lemon glass coolers, usually i am wary  but this one was really good, Mrs Jain rarely ever raves about drinks, really enjoyed it. Good Stuff. 

they have a separate bar area which precedes the dining room. I started with a Bloody Mary which had a distinctly Asian flavour but was tremendously spicy. Although it was immensely enjoyable, it was not such a good idea before dinner.

The Sirocco, which is supposed to be a dry desert wind, was quite the opposite, could return just for this alone.

The White Tom Kha, was interesting, with bits of corn, it seemed different from the traditional tom kha, good stuff. . 

The corn cakes, i had this before as well, during my previous visit, wasn't impressed then, am not impressed now. 

The amuse-bouce was interesting, very asian yet, at its heart it tasted like a bhel. possibly an Indian twist?

The mushroom puff was another twisted little dish, both the appetizers were quite hot, a cold appetizer would have been a better idea.

A medley of mushrooms (shitake, straw, hon-shemeji) with bak choy. Not bad, did not in all honesty feel very Thai but it was good so no complaints.

The Green Curry, was on the money, i was going to go for the Red so i could compare it with Thai Pavilion but the Green was recommended and no complaints. Even the way its served in the white paper, kinda cool.

The Pad Thai was very good, the garlic rice was actually prepared at the table, so there was a little bit of a show, however, it was strictly okay. I ordered it erroneously anyway, forgetting i was getting curry, so i had to order a small portion of white rice too.

The Guava crumble was weird, it felt like a apple crumble only weirder.

The de-constructed cheesecake, a fun little way of ending the meal. No problems at all with this one.

Overall, I certainly do think that the new menu does make as difference, the restaurant is a far cry from the last time I dined. They prepare/finish of a few dishes/desserts on the table which means its a little about form but also that they go through a little more work. Interesting, does not happen a lot in Bombay yet.

They a much stronger offering now, Its not traditional Thai cooking but a  modern/eclectic Asian twist to a lot of dishes, bear that in mind and you will be okay. The appetizers are the weakest link, a little more tweaking here, some more flavours would really elevate the experience. The main's are on the money, no trouble there.

The cocktails were fantastic, good thing i went with the recommendations. Would love to come back and try them again except the fucking pricing is out of this world (1200+ taxes a cocktail) so they will need to come up with a Happy hour ! 

The service was prompt & friendly and spot on with recommendations.

i stand corrected, Koh is worth a go now but not for the faint walleted. 

Food : 7/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 3000 pp w Cocktails.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hotel Delux

Rest : Hotel Deluxe
Meal : Lunch
Loc : Near Citibank, Fort.

I have heard about Hotel Deluxe from a few people on my twitter time line as well as through some of my independent research. As some of you may know i have quite a taste for South Indian thalis and am always in pursuit of more.

Deluxe is located in Fort and can be hard to find. In fact even our GPS got it wrong, (iphone 4s, google maps) the phone was off by about 300 metres.  Anyway Deluxe is an old hat, serving some serious Malyali food for the working folk in and around the very busy Fort area.

the meal started with pickles and chutney. All of it delicious.

Then came the veggies, there was Avial which is a traditional dish and one of the better known ones. There was a pineapple stew which was just fantastic, whoever thought a sweet entree could be this delicious. There was a tomatoish curry which was pretty good too. The last one i did not like so much.

Pictured here is the rasam which was also delicious, loved it. they were quite stingy with it, serving it in little cups which was quite annoying as it was quite good. The other one is the Payasam, which was also pretty freaking delicious.

They did not serve any puris or roti or breads of any kind. You could choose between their red rice (which isn't actually red) or regular white rice which is then served with dollops of Sambar. Boy this was some heady stuff. Must have had two mountains of rice with the sambar and gobbled it down.

I am quite happy to have made it to Deluxe, its closer than heading to Matunga every time i am jonesing for Southie food. Deluxe though is not free from problems. The place is basic, functional, though they do have a limited air conditioned section as well.

The service on a bank holiday was pretty laid back, they took their time getting us started, rasam was brought after repeated reminders. The thali comes with no butter milk or yoghurt, so we ordered separates. They did not have yoghurt but someone went and bought us little cup. The Buttermilk was fantastic nice, tangy taste but not ice to cool it down.

Overall, the food is just brilliant but there are way too many things missing, i would have liked a chapati to start with.

However, all things considered, it was certainly not bad and considering the price, i should just keep my mouth shut.

Food : 8/10
Service : 7/10
Damage for 2 : 240

Monday, September 24, 2012


Rest: Le Pain Quotidien
Loc : Dhanraj Mahal, Colaba
Meal : Sunday Snackish

A Sunday evening dinner with friends, we decided to give LPQ a shot again, my previous visits were not terribly impressive (here) Ill keep this short and sweet.

The minestrone was not bad, not great either however. Passable.

The cold red hummus tartine, is something i have had everytime and its always been the better dish of the lot. It has a unique taste, enjoyable.

The Ravioli was bland with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Total waste.

The Lasagna was green, spring summery and quite light for a lasagna.

Overall, LPQ continues to underwhelm, the place was barely full for a Sunday evening and the service was okay. They did take forever in getting the food out to the table. Not great but certainly better than previous visits (which should not be difficult)

Food : 7/1o
Service : 7/10
Damage : 2000

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rajdhani - THe Rajwar Food Festival

Rest : Rajdhani
Meal : Lunch
Loc : Phoenix Market City

I am a big fan of Thali's Gujarati or South Indian, i enjoy them immensely and quite fortunately for me i had one of each this past week.

Rajdhani is a name synonymous with Gujarati Thali's and they have been expanding rapidly over the last few years. I usually head to the one at Phoenix Mills when the fancy strikes. They were holding a bloggers meet at their Market City location. I had declined the invitation but it turned out that i was not required at work and i decided to crash the party anyway.

They were running a Rajasthani food festival and funnily enough its the second one i have been to this month, with the blogger gang.

We were welcomed with 2 great summer drinks, the rose flavored and the lemonade with a hint of ginger. Colder would have been much better but good nonetheless.

The Thali itself was massive, the food just kept coming, they were really killing with kindness, which i guess was in keeping with the royal kitchen theme of the festival. I am not going to do a total run down here but suffice to say the food was varied as well as good. The sweet dal, the dal batti, the paneer were all stellar.

The single thing that Rajdhani does that is absent just about everywhere is that they serve makkhan with the breads (churned butter) this simple thing elevates the entire experience to something totally else.

They were serving a load of desserts, i only had the Phirni which is like a kheer (traditional Indian rice pudding) but drier and with the sugar dialed down.

Signed off with a Paan Shot, which is basically like drinking a paan, very gimmicky but i like it.

Overall, the food was great, the service was good too. Rajasthani/Gujju cuisine is best experienced as a thali brought to the table (rather than as a buffet like the Rajasthani Food Fest at the ITC, as good as their food was)

The normal thali is priced at 325 and the special festival thali at 375. While its pricey there is loads of choice and yo do not ever feel like its not value for money. While the Rajdhani outlet is nice and spacious, its located in a mall which is terribly located and looks to be struggling.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Rajasthan Food Festival at Hornby's Pavilion

Rest : Hornby's Pavilion
Meal : Lunch
Loc : ITC Grand Central, Parel

Hornby's Pavilion is a coffee shop i have spent a fair bit of time at. They do a lot of festivals Hyderabadi, Coastal and this time it was the Rajasthani Food Festival. I spent a week in a heritage hotel outside of Jodhpur called Fort Chanwa. The chef at the hotel was a local villager and we had the most fabulous week of some very tasty dishes.

So it was with some excitement that i accepted the invitation and it turned into a little bloggers meet, which was an added bonus.

While the festival was on they were also serving their regular menu which included a selection of well as Lasagna which too was pretty good. I guess i cheated a little by trying out the non festival items.

The mini samosas were yummy

The perfect accompaniment for a dinner like this is a glass of thick buttermilk, it wasn't cold but it was still pretty good, i am a fan of butter milk and this was as good as any ive had.

The piece de resistance of any Rajasthani meal has to be the Daal Baati, served here as a churma (crushed) with a spot of daal and some jaggery. While i don't enjoy jaggery in particular i didn't mind it as much here, the daal baati worked pretty well, no complaints. The generous dose of ghee meant it was quite a heavy dish, did not go back for seconds.

Poppadums are a must, the green one was i think made with spinach as well as believe it or not, foam from the Sambhar lake in Calcutta.

To start with there was some of the most amazing Paneer tikkis, little fried pieces of cottage cheese, brilliant these were. There was also the stuffed bhavnagri chilli which looks quite furious but was not very spicy.

The patra was delicious, dressed up like bhel, The Greek salad is pretty far from Rajasthani cuisine but it was allright. They also served some other traditional dishes, one of them similar to gatte ki sabzi along with bajra ki roti.

Some of the sweets on offer, Indian as well as the usual selection of desserts.

The Laksi was a traditional dessert from the chef's village which was very simple yet interesting.

Overall, the food was pretty decent, the coffee shop festival (anywhere) suffers from having to cater to the hotel's other guests which means a large cosmopolitan spread. The festival dishes are ample but a part of the larger spread, which means the diner is usually distracted.

It would work better if this were a separate option, served on a platter as Rajasthani cuisine is meant to be. Anyway, the food was good and the service was spot on.

The evening turned into a mini bloggers meet with @Foodchants, @CaramelWings, @ScrollsNInk & @Desh and yours truly joining us. Also pictured is Chef Kailash Maharaj the mid mannered, soft spoken chef who has worked in many a royal kitchen including that of the Late Maharani Gayatri Devi and is now at ITC Shonar in Calcutta. Also with us was the lovely Arundhati Ghosh from the ITC who was the architect of the evening.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dakshin - Disaster

Rest : Dakshin
Meal : Dinner
Loc : ITC Grand Maratha, Near the Airport.

I am a big fan of South Indian food, dine out regularly for thalis at Ramanayak, Mani's amongst others. Am also a fan of the ITC hotel chain because they are unique amongst 5 stars in trying to promote Indian cuisine with their restaurants.

My Venezuelan born, American educated and Germany employed friend Edgard, who is a bit of a world traveller was in town for a day and i thought i would take him for a taste of something he is least likely to get anywhere else outside of India. We settled on Dakshin as North Indian cooking is easier to find compared to South Indian. Unfortunately my experience at ITC though was less than stellar.

Dakshin is one of the big ITC brands with multiple outlets across India. As the name suggests they do a cross section of dishes from across the South, recently they added the Coastal moniker to the brand. My previous visit is here although I have eaten there this was the first time i opted for a Thali.

Things meal began typically with chutneys, the tomato being the best one, the garlic second best, the coconut and green were okay.

The poppadums were nice, the traditional white ones were best, the rest were way too oily.

The Rasam was okay. More like a vegetable soup than a tomato rasam, certainly not in the league of a Ramanayak, Mani or even a Cafe Madras. Disappointing.

they serve molgapoddi, gun powder and other mixtures to which one can add ghee and have it with plain old rice as well as with the other dishes.

There is something they call the Iyer trolley, where they serve mini versions of Uttapams which was okay, one of them was a sweet banana based which i completely avoided.

The two starters were Vadai which were again, fairly basic and dry. The second was a some fried veggies which actually reminded me of something i would get a Chinese joint in a small town.

The other items in the thali were an eggplant curry which i did not like much, roast potatoes which were nice. The appams were okay.

The tomato pappu was a tomato gravy with lentils etc, it was decent, there was the tendli vegetable which i did not enjoy much, the stew was pretty good.

The curd rice was quite a disappointment, they did not have any lemon pickle but the garlic pickle they served sort went with.

The Payasam was actually the better dessert and was liked by all on the table.

Overall, the ambiance of the place is okay, the service is top notch, informed, prompt and eager to serve, although i will dock points for the hard sell on wine.

Now, the food was just average, compared to a Ramanayak or a Mani, the food is not even in the same sport, let alone league. You get a great deal of starters, which is a definite contrast to RN & Mani's. However the starters aren't that great and ruin your appetite for the mains (which in turn are also pretty weak, a total loss-loss)

Of course the setting is opulent and the service completely unhurried but when it comes to the food its just not up to the mark. They even scrimped out on yoghurt and buttermilk, which you would get as standard with any south indian meal. When you consider the price 3000+ taxes on the veg thali and 3500 on the non veg, it was not only downright stingy it was bad form.

Dakshin needs a fundamental re-think of their offering. Get a Ramanayak cook to come in once and show you how its done.

I know we don't go into 5 stars to have cheap meals but even by 5 star standards the ITC pricing is outrageous, Konkan cafe, at the Taj President, serve a Konkani thali which is a ball park offering for Rs.1200.

Now i have no problem paying up, hell i pay the prices at Kebabs n Kurries, provided I get good food. At 3000 + taxes even a good meal wont do, I want a GREAT meal.

Shame on me though, i could have a fantastic thali for 120 bucks, i chose, this. Can't blame anyone else.

Food : 3/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 9500+ tax for 3 without booze.

PS. There was also an unfortunate incident with a paan, the paan they served was pretty bad, all three of us were in various state of discomfort almost immediately.. Mrs. Jain had a messed up throat and could not taste or eat anything the whole of the next day, besides she also had some ulcers in her mouth. I had some ulceration and couldn't taste a thing pretty much the whole of the next day.

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