Wednesday, November 28, 2012

China Garden

Rest : China Garden
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Om Chambers, Kemps Corner

With the wives out of action, my kid brother and i got together for dinner and since we were too tired to go too far, we took the 5 min drive and dove straight into what is arguably the best ChIndian restaurant anywhere.

They have been around forever and are quite good at what they do. i have grown up around a few Chinese joints and China Garden was always the special one you went to for celebrations. 
Even on a Thursday night at 8.30 they were reasonably full which is good to see.

One of our standard starters are the onion pancakes, served with a dipping sauce, which we conveniently ignored.  Deadly crisp, these were just so good !

Fried wontons, again, very good but in hindsight we should have gone for a dim sum or a steamed wonton.. fried is just way too much like the onion pancake.

The Kung Pao Paneer was just brilliant, loved it. it does not get more Indo-Chinese than this.

Since it was just the two of us, they recommended a half portion of Noodles instead of a full which was a good idea, as we just about the right size.

Overall, the restaurant continues to kick ass, the food was sterling, no complaints what so ever. Perhaps i would like to try some new things next time, the service is warm and friendly, especially if you are a regular.

Food : 9/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 1200 for two.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


So Starbucks finally made it to India after threatening to do so for years. The hype has been immense, with people queuing up to get in a city where the very same people would not queue to vote.

I happened to visit Starbucks after a disastrous lunch at The Pantry and since the car was parked nearby we swung in and found a short queue. The place is massive and has been laid out with a distinctly Indian/Bombay vibe, well done to them on that. That is surely the Tata hand playing in.

Unfortunately they have chosen an insanely high traffic area like Horniman Circle where one would bricks of gold before they would find a parking spot. There is apparently another outlet at the Taj Palace as well as in some mall in Goregaon West.

I had a tomato mozzarella panini which was pretty good although i was not impressed with the choice of bread.

I had the middle sized Mocha Frappucino and it was outstanding. The latte was ordinary and the caramel frapuccino which was not bad but not as good as mine. Id go there again if it were easy to get coffee. Hopefully they will open a few more outlets closer to home.

Damage : 730 for 3 coffees, a sandwich and a muffin.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Pantry

Rest The Pantry
Meal Lunch
Loc Kala Ghoda

The Pantry is one of the slew of new restaurants that have mushroomed up in last few months. A bunch of other restaurants Paratha Mantra, Kala Ghoda Cafe, Trishna, Oye Kakke  are located in the immediate vicinity, beware there is absolutely no parking.

The Menu is relatively small, they serve breakfast until 1pm, beyond that there are some quiches, salads and pasta. I am all for limited menus that rely on local produce and supplies, ergo a set that changes daily even... is fine by me.

We started with possibly the smallest glass of lemonade ever served in a restaurant. Not sure what the skinting was about but since it was pretty ordinary it was perhaps a good thing it was not a tall glass.

The Gorgonzola with fresh apple was disgusting, left uneaten. A horrid combination if there ever was one.
Seasonal vegetable lasagna too was extremely weak, not much to go on here. I like the dry style but there was just no flavour.

The Marguerite salad was decent, a little too tangy but the sour, sweet tartiness worked well.

The Potato cream pie too was not going anywhere.. nothing going on here. The serving of salsa on the side was used in copious quantities to liven up the dishes as much as possible.

Overall, the place is pleasantly designed, kinda like smoke house deli but thats where the similarity ends. The menu is limited and i am all for limited menus using fresh available produce but that is not borne out by the flavours. The dishes dont work either individually or together and really need a total re-imagining.

Service was quick and friendly.

Food : 3/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 1300

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rasovar by Radjhani

Rest: Rasovara by Rajdhani
Meal: Lunch
Loc: Phoenix Mills

A few weeks ago i attended a bloggers luncheon at Rajdhani and did the same a few days ago as well. The bloggers are a merry bunch and its good to catch up with them every once in  while. Rasovara is an interesting attempt to alter what is a tried and tested format in the Indian dining scene.. the Thali.

Rajdhani was already one of my fav joints for a thali in the upper end (my all time fav is Friends Union which is much more basic) especially because they make attempts to differentiate themselves with their offering. Their use of makkhan (churned white butter) adds tremendous value to the food and is a throwback to what Indian food tasted like back in the day.

While Rajdhani has multiple outlets country wide and the thali is their mainstay, its brave of them to try and change what works. They have tweaked the concept of a regular thali to make it a more royal experience, from the decor which is upmarket to the plate setting to the number of dishes.

The handmade plates with all the bowls and silverware weigh in at 2.5-2.6 kgs (6lbs) and have a golden sheen to reflect the royal moniker.  Another unique introduction is a set captain to co-ordinate your dinner, he will call for anything the people on the table desire.

We were welcomed with a pretty delicious, albeit heavy glass of thandai (almond based cooler)

There is now a set appetizer course which is served at the opening of the meal and once you are through the dish is taken away. The Dahi Vada was okay but the dhokla was just incredibly good.

The Dal-Batti-Churma which used to be offered as a once in a while special is now a staple. Not bad.

Overall, there were 2 types of kadhis, 2 dals, 4 veggies, 4 types of bread, two type of rice etc. The food was good, no real complaints.

The price for the thali is usually 350 which i have always found on the higher side, (A friends union does a basic version with a few less entrees and appetizers for 150) but the Rasovar experience comes to you at between 549 and 649 depending (weekday lunch & dinner. 649 on weekends throughout the day)

What i liked about the experience was that there was an attempt to try something different, bringing on a custom captain to co-ordinate the meal is a good idea and when you have a high number of dishes it actually works out for the better. I also like the relaxed pace and even though there were 50+ people dining then it felt like we had our own personal space.We were also told that the higher price of the thali allows them to use even better and more expensive ingredients and offer dishes they could not before. Which explains the ghee laden badam ka khalwa (almond halwa)

What i did not like.. First off, the thali experience is about having all the things together at once. I did not like having my appetizers up front and then not having them later.. i think the courses concept leads to a less than fulfilled meal and must revert to its earlier state.

I also think that there are simply too many things on offer, sweets could easily be reduced, the dal bati could be removed as well. They could add a few more kinds of bread (light ones a stuffed paratha is a bad idea) some more veggies because we end up with ones we dont like far too often.The offering needs a little tweaking but thats just my opinion.

The service was a tad off, with waits for things i wanted but i think they will be get that sorted out.

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Rest : DiNapoli
Meal : Lunch
Loc : Dalamal Towers, Nariman Point

Ever get the feeling you've been robbed?(apologies to the Sex Pistols) but that's just how i feel. Of late the culinary scene in Bombay has been heaving,  new restaurants seem to be opening every week.

In the last few three months i can quickly count Serafina, The Pantry, Umame, Arola, Kofuku, Otto Infinito as some. Set top open shortly are a Trader Vic's, A new Sundance Cafe and hell we even got a bunch of Starbucks outlets.

Naples was the birthplace of the Margherita and the Neapolitan style pizzas that Di Napoli does should be made of San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella cheese besides other specifications.

Located in a busy Nariman Point building, there is no chance of finding parking here and if you wish to swing by park at Inox or just cab it.

The space is mid sized, the walls are bare concrete/cement which I particularly love. The rest of the space is pleasantly tiled in red and white, as is their giant wood fired oven.

Started with their tomato soup which was strictly okay, although the pesto drizzle made it work somewhat.

The Bruschetta had too much going on, simpler would be better, not that it was bad or anything.

Their speciality is pizza and there are about half a dozen to choose from in Veg & Non-Veg as well as Indian style Paneer & Butter Chicken.

Should have gone for the Margherita but somehow ended up with the mushroom. The construction of the pizza was lovely but it tasted absolutely bland. I dont mess around with my pizza by adding paprika or oregano, a good pizza should be able to stand for itself. This one was a complete waste. It tasted like paper (happening more and more this, ITC hotels Makhana Korma was just the same) 

The service and management too needs help. The waiters kept trying to take my plate away though i was till eating, there was still a slice left on the serving tray, in which case why would you try and grab my plate? Also, when you ask if you can clear the plate, wait for an answer, dont reach out for it all the same.

We were asked how the meal was and when Mrs.Jain mentioned that the pizza was bland, the person who asked the question (who i shall not name) very quickly and clumsily side stepped the comment saying a new menu was coming from this Monday which would be more Indian.

When mrs.Jain said that the ethnicity of the menu was not the problem, we were further told that since Indian's like to get more toppings as value for money (what the fuck?) they were addressing that issue.

Mrs.Jain, persistent girl that she is again mentioned that the pizza was bland, the sauce was not properly spread and these issues have nothing to do with the answers being given was further told that the ingredients are being imported from Italy (which is true, i did see a CAN of tomatoes somewhere) and that the other pizzerias use local ingredients etc.

Anyway, i could go on but all in all the food was strictly okay, the pizza itself looks promising but they have to really get their act together with taste. If they want to appeal to the Indian palate all they need do is offer some heavier flavours, the value for money topping idea is ridiculous. 

Food : 6/10
Service : 6/10
Damage : 900

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