Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blue Frog

rest : Blue Frog
Meal : lunch
Loc : Todi Mills, Lower Parel

blue frog is primarily a live music destination, although I have done their Sunday brunch once or twice I have never considered them a food purveyor. Recently fellow blogger, pilot, baker Ashrita (@caramelwings) did a review of their new menu and it looked amazing. 

So on my way to a Bandra meeting I swung by for an early lunch. The new menu is comfort food for the most part. Soup,Salad, Pasta, Sandiwches and a bunch of bar bites. 

A glass of tonic goes well with lunch even sans the gin. The fresh squeezed orange juice was awesome. Malta oranges perhaps.

Feta stuffee mushroom with wasabi mayo. Sounds just like it tasted. Pretty good. O

My fav thing on the menu. Baked Brie with pineapple compote. Diabolical. 

You don't see mas very often, these were not too bad soaked in olive oil but served with the most awesome hummus. They ought to put that hummus on the menu by itself. 

The tomato risotto was pretty awesome,served with a chili and caramelized onions which I've never seen before. Hearty and def one of the strongest looking mains. 

The Lasagna was interesting, everyone has their own little formula, some people like verdure, some rosso. a little light on the flavor with a lot of tomato seeping in, not bad per se but I like my Lasagna red so works for me. 

Overall, the food was pretty good, works as a lunch location and most of it would do well at a live gig as well. Apparently they don't separate lunch and dinner menus anymore, it's all one single menu now which I think works best. 

Service was quick and friendly. 

Food : 8/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 1300 for two without drinks but awesomely enough it's half off at lunch ! Believe that. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Smoke House Deli

I like smoke house deli at Phoenix, the space looks like a giant sketch book and the food itself is always consistent, the menu is fairly safe but it makes a good place for a working lunch. 

Excellent mushroom soup, no bits of mushroom unfortunately nor is it hearty but the taste comes through. 

There is nothing quite like fresh baked bread, their basket was spot on. I also had some stunning bread at The Table this past weekend.

Bread served with their two butters both fairly tasty.

The iced tea was strictly okay. 

SMD do the best aglio olio in the city, I've had it picked up for lunch a few times and mrs J swears by it. However this time it was a little off. Not bad per se but actually bland which was disappointing.

SMD has their offering down pat, consistent fresh food and a solid alternative to Indigo deli. 

Food : 8/10
Service : 7/10
Damage 2100 for 2 without drinks 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dakshin Coastal - The Franco Pondi Food Fest.

Every once in a while good things do happen to me, a few weeks ago my friend & fellow gastronome Nikhil Merchant (@nikhilmerchant) invited me to the Franco-Pondi food festival at Dakshin Coastal the ITC Grand Maratha. Dakshin is a bit of a drive from where i am but the Franco Pondi thing sounded fairly intriguing.

While pondicherry was a French colony and the influences persist, little is known about how the two cuisines came together. I was curious to see how they would bring the two together.

Dakshin is of course known for being a melting pot of South India cuisine, a one stop shop to get all your Southern rocks off. 

The chutneys were pretty insane, you could make a meal of these and i usually do.

 its difficult not to eat the poppadums with these seasonal creations. the red tomato and the tamarind were just out of this world. 

you also get your selection of molga pudi, gun powder and other spices to which you add ghee

the rasam was brilliant, a little spicy and flavoured with coconut milk and tamarind extract which is apparently a pondi speciality (and we welcome it to Bombay)

corn nibblets, these were pretty good and went well with the chutneys, weirdly one can find something similar in Bengali cuisine. I was also told that there is an old French colony in West Bengal and i wonder if that is the reason. 

fried potato, again an interesting choice, didn't expect this at Dakshin, everyday you learn something new.

turnips cooked in red chilli went well with the appams.

the appams were near perfect, soft, thin, could eat a dozen and not miss a beat.

i am not a fan of okra but this too went well with the appams.

topped off with spot on filter coffee !

it certainly is interesting that Dakshin is adding a new cuisine, there certainly is a lot of interest in the Franco-Pondi space, the non-veg items were quite a hit and the veggie too is interesting. I am not a fan of things like okra and aubergine but the curries themselves work pretty well.

Some rice preparations would be interesting to see as well as curries. Expect lots of coconut in the food.
All in all, an evening well spent, with good food and a motley crue of people. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Formaggio - New to the neighbourhood

Name : Formaggio
Loc : Cumballa Hill, Opp 36, Oak & Barley
Meal : Dinner

While walking up to Moshe's @ Crossword from my parents i saw to my surprise that the Falafal Hummus House is no more and has been replaced by the two day old Formaggio. A little dismayed as I have had many a meal delivered from Falafel in my time of need.

So we decided to skip Cafe Moshe and dived in. The place is small and split levelled, pre-dominantly white (even the exposed brick wall is white washed) Its not a full fledged restaurant as much as it is a hole in the wall.

With a name like Formaggio i was expecting lots of Italian and a cheese platter (ha!) but the menu is fairly expansive and covers a lot of ground. They serve something for everyone with soups, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, north Indian and Mezze.

The cream of mushroom was a little runny and did not have any mushroom in it (which is super annoying to me personally) it tasted okay, but a little truffle oil perhaps or some chopped mushroom and a little less water would go a long way. 

Mrs J got the taco, which was a lot of lettuce and some beans, passable. 

The falafal wrap was pretty good, not soggy, contained most of the staples, no complaints here. 

Another Mrs J order, the potato wedges were microwaved hot and all i could taste was seasoning. 

The place is just two days old and yet to get its bearings, majority of the diners that evening seemed to be friends of the owners. Most things on the menu were not available yet (sandwiches, mezze) so they have not gone the whole nine yards in the kitchen yet.

Overall, its a neighbourhood restaurant that tries to do a lot of things, while i did not try that much i believe its going to be a Gujju interpretation of most dishes (which is not a slur in anyway, the Gujju versions certainly have their place in the sun and i love the stuff once in a while )

The Jains in the area will surely rejoice. I probably will not go there again but will certainly call up to order stuff, especially their mezze which they seem to have a decent handle on.

Food : 6/10
Service : 6/10
Damage: 550

Thursday, August 08, 2013

New York Fries - Hong Kong - Diabolical

Stanley and the drive over there via Repulse Bay is one of the loveliest things about Hong Kong. Driving through you would not believe this is on the same concrete, glass and people fused island as the rest of HKG.

Its like driving through Florida to get to Lake Tahoe. Anyway we were there as a troop and while the women scoured the market the men were out looking for beers and a chair by the water. One of the boys started mumbling that he was sure there was a NYF around and began tweaking like a crystal meth addict. I was in no mood to have fries but i tagged along and boy was i glad i did. 

New York Fries, despite the name is actually a Canadian chain that serves large, LARGE portions with the skin on and topped with unimaginable delights. These are not your dad's fries.One can choose from Braised Beef, Pulled Pork, Butter Chicken or The Works. Poutine the classic Canadian version with curds and gravy too is available.

This is the veggie works, cheese sauce, sour cream tomato, spring onions and we picked up some malt vinegar to boot.Was it good, no.. it was great. The skin was on the fries which i love and you reall can't go wrong with cheese sauce and sour cream now can you.

It was positively the most diabolical thing i have ever seen in my 33 years. You MUST go to Stanley and when there you MUST get something at New York Fries. If you don't like it, ill refund your money. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Soup Spoon - Singapore

I love the Soup Spoon and make it a point to swing by whenever i can. A native Singapore brand, they have grown over the years and with good reason. Started by college mates it only makes sense they things at a fairly reasonable price. Their 12.50 lunch special is a steal (soup+ sandwich+drink)

The hearty minestrone is meatless and freaking delicious. Rather than go bland or stay on the neutral/bland side, their version is a little stronger to taste and the added kidney beans really make this rock. Much love for this bowl. One day i am going to try their large bowl.. 

their half sandwich is served with a rather boring salad but the sandwich itself is perfect. the wet lettuce is a distinctly Asian touch but it works nonetheless. 

the ice tea is less sugar and more tea.

Overall, they are a good comfy place to have a healthy lunch which is value for money. service is almost immediate and you can be in and out in 20 mins. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Din Tai Fung - Singapore

I love Din Tai Fung, its no surprise that their their Hong Kong outlets have earned Michelin Stars because they are a first rate Dim Sum House. Originally from Taiwan and now in several countries, I first discovered them with my friend Sam, who took me to their outlet at Wisma on Orchard. I have been back a few times since but this time i visited the outlet at the Paragon.  

at 12.30 there was already a wait and it took us about 20 mins to get a table. 

they started us off with some tea and some pickled ginger, the ginger really hurt my teeth. 

this is one of the secrets to having a kickass experience at DTF. The vinegar, leave the soya sauce alone and just go for the vinegar. you will thank me later. 

the dumplings were amazing, minced veggies, not so melt in your mouth but still fairly delicate. the vinegar just took this places you would want to go. 

Stir fried Kailan, a little bland but again, a worthy respite between courses. enjoyable long as you get at it while its piping hot. 

The noodle with spicy sauce was pretty good and they weren't kidding when they said spicy, though it hits you much later. The impossibly thin noodles with the hint of heat were almost Aglio Olio esque except for the distinctly oriental after taste. Don't forget to mix it up thoroughly before diving in. 

Overall Din Tai Fung continues to be excellent and going there now is a little tradition. Like most busy Asian restaurants food shows up as and when its ready so don't expect to go by courses. The trick i learned is that all Dim Sum is made to order and there is little prep other than the fillings etc. No frozen stuff here. 

Although this branch of the DTF is not starred, the DNA is clear and freshness is part of the plan.Their kitchen is as busy as the restaurant with nearly 20 odd people on different stations.

A meal for four without booze was about SG$80. By comparison a three course  lunch meal at the Michelin starred Iggy's is $85 +. Money ain't got nothing to do with good food.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Tim Ho Wan - Hong Kong

My first attempt at snagging a table at THW a few years ago was quite a disaster. The worlds cheapest Michelin star restaurant in a nondescript store in Mong Kok  was near impossible to find and when i got there, it was 2.30 pm and the queue was 90 mins. Since I had a flight at 7 I grudgingly retreated promising like MacArthur that I shall return.

CUT TO last week.

After my misadventure in Mong Kok I was determined to get to THW and i found a way to hack the queue. I found out that 
there is a new and much more modern outlet of Tim Ho Wan in the IFC section of the HongKong station.It just so happened that the station was on my way back from a meeting to the hotel and I was looking for a late lunch in any case.

The floor has about eight restaurants and at 3.30 the post lunch rush had gone quiet except at our fine establishment however.  The place was full and about 8 people were waiting and the queue only got longer.

Got my ticket and quickly filled it up, gleefully waiting for my turn. 

this is pretty much all you need to make a go. the glass is filled up with hot water and like my Chinese brethren i too cleaned the utensils while waiting for the food to come. 

The Glutinous Rice Dumpling (26$) is quite a popular dish and comes steaming hot, unwrap and dig in quick with generous doses of soya and chilli sauce. Its quite a largish portion for a single diner.

The poached seasonal vegetables (20$)were a good way to cleanse the palate and wait for the next dish, not much here, could have gone for the rice or turnip cakes. 

i wish they had some good solid malt vinegar or something, that can really do unbelievable things for Dim Sum. 

The piece de resistance, the steamed dumplings (24$) were just awesome. piping hot, meant to be devoured immediately, so delicate that any wavering would have them fall apart. into the little bowl, pour the soya and go for it. Excellent stuff. 

The food is good but the dumplings are sublime, Dim Sum is a dark art and THW are the masters. They have a bunch of things for vegetarians too, so its certainly worth a go. The IFC centre is super accessible, comfortable and if you get their post lunch and before dinner the wait is 15-20 mins at most.

A sub HK$100 Michelin star meal is hard to find, so get your while you can. There is also an outlet in Singapore somewhere on Orchard and it too is highly rated.

Edit : the  Mong Kok outlet has closed due to high rents ive been told. they have another one at Sham Sui Po 

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