Monday, September 30, 2013

Koh - Sriracha Festival

I first came across Sriracha back in college, when a Thai floor mate brought bottles from home, we used to use it as a dipping sauce for most things and called it chonburri sauce. Once i returned to India, the flavours were kind of forgotten.
So when i heard that Koh at the Intercontinental was doing a whole menu around this fairly spicy concoction, i was quite intrigued and happy to accept the invite. Koh is an anomaly when it comes to Thai cuisine in India. They do seem stuff which is traditional and some which is just totally out there. I don't end up there nearly as often as id like much to my regret. 

just for the record i would like to offer this little bowl of pure lava, the hottest thing i have ever tasted. Not Sriracha but their regular hot sauce and boy is it hot.

their regular little amuse bouche is delightfully trick to consume. 

the Sriracha Mary was awesome. id have had another one but it was a smart move not to as it was about to get very very spicy.

a shot of soup, hot, fiery and the corn was much appreciated. a bowlful of this would be much fun. Not the most Thai of things but then again, this isnt your traditional menu. 

steamed dumplings in sriracha sauce. very well done. they fell apart but they were delicious. any light flavorued dumpling can only get taste awesome when bathed in a hot sauce like this. 

the cream cheese wantons were possibly the best thing on the menu. absolutely loved em, wish i gotten some more. 

The tofu was alright, a lot of people dont like tofu but i dont mind it. works well with the sauce. 

the rice went well with the saucy tofu. very well done and fortunately not too dry. 

There was asparagus, mushrooms in sriracha which was excellent. The best main on the menu by far. 

the guava crumble i have had a few times at Koh and i believe its their signature dessert. Although personally i am a little bored with it now. 

the little honey pops were a complete misfire. didnt enjoy them at all. 

Overall, the food was excellent, the restaurant has come a long, long way from my first meal which was a disappointment. The Srircha festival too is a great idea and is well imagined. A lot of the dishes are built around the spice and at times it just serves as the dipping sauce.

The drawback being of building a menu across a super hot sauce is that its not for the meek at heart. The desserts were weak and i was surprised they didnt try and incorporate sriracha in the desserts, that would have been interesting. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Tale of Two Onam's - Part 2 - Dakshin Coastal

The very fine folk who run ITC Grand Maratha & Dakshin Coastal have rightly guessed that i have a bit of a South Indian fixation and i was very happy to be invited to partake in the Onam Dinner. Traffic enroute was terrific and i tried to turn back once but it was physically not possible (fortunately) 

Dakshin of course is one of the only five star restaurants serving cuisine from across South India. So its appropriate that they celebrate an important festival like Onam. 

Took all my self control not to gorge on the poppadums. 

the chutneys were great, however the red chutney continues to be terrific 

The rasam was their standard Rasam, terrific as usual. 

The sheer number of dishes was immense, besides the accompaniments. They served red rice, which is traditional, a little odd for Northerners but actually goes well with a lot of the curries, sambhars and rasam. Speaking of sambhar, the traditional Keralite Sambar was possibly the best i have ever had anywhere. Chef Padamja said it was fairly basic home style which she has regularly. Totally stunning, and a sheer pity that its not on the menu and served regularly. 

The pineapple pacchadi stood out, simple, uncomplicated,  but just awesome, especially considering how hot the other dishes can be it was one of the cooling elements. Another stand out was the Thayir which was spiced curd, again brilliant. I am a sucker for curd. 

The Olam was a very flavourful dish as well, it would have gone so well with an Appam, which i could have asked for but that would have been cheating and i resisted the urge. 

The chaas was amazing, slightly fermented just as i like it. 

Didn't enjoy either dessert. 

Overall, the meal was great, it was worth the drive and very glad that i made it. Also of special note is the Onam Sadhya which is more expansive than their regular thali's is actually priced at around 2000 which is almost half the price of their regular thali's. 

While i enjoyed the food, i do hope they can change to the banana leaf for plating or atleast offer it as an option. Eating a Sadhya meal on a thali seems somehow incomplete. It certainly is a little challenging but i am sure they can find a solution, especially as they have been able to communicate joy of dining at Peshwari & even captured the opulence required at Dum Pukth. 

They would also do well to get rid of the entire course system, Rasam coming up in a glass is a tad too western in profile. I think diners are mature enough to handle the traditional way of being served a meal like this. 

And they totally need to have fermented curd and chaas with their regular thalis, not having both the things is a cardinal sin and i have been saying that for years. go for a mallu meal an andhra meal or a tam-bram meal  you will find curd and buttermilk as an integral part of the experience.
I know i am being picky but the food was awesome as was the service so not to gush too much but with just a philosophical tweak the experience would be elevated significantly. Certainly wouldn't hurt to try, atleast for thalis.  

Until next year, i suppose.

A Tale of Two Onam's - Mani's

'It was the best of times and it was the worst of times'
So begins a book with one of the most famous opening lines ever. 

Onam is my fav festival of the year, after Rakhi (only because i get gifts on Rakhi instead of giving em) I look forward to the Sadhya every year. This year I was very excited about Onam and in my enthusiasm and with my talent for making things hard for myself, i decided on doing two full fledged Onam meals on the day.

After what was possibly one of the worst mornings i have had in a long, long time, i headed to Matunga for the first one.

Mani's is an old Mallu institution in the once Southie strong hold of Matunga. The original Mani's outlet shuts down on this day and they take over a large dining hall where tables are laid. Since i was in the area already, i was able to make it in by 11.30 and was one of the first ones in, duly photographed and videotaped while eating.. (i pity whoever has to edit that footage) 

My banana leaf was not quite the right color i thought, the ones on either side of me were the right shade. 

the tamarind chutney and the pickle were a little disappointing. 

now, i dont recall all the dishes that were on play but there was banana chips and a sweet banana 

the red gravy was the best. 

the sambar and white rice was pretty good.

overall, the meal was alright. I was a little disappointed as they were not quite ready for the first few diners. The rasam took a while to come and we got only a spoonful of what was very delicious dahi. There was no chaas on offer either. The pyasam was terrific. 

At 250 bucks, the meal is also a touch expensive, compared to whats served by them regularly at half the cost. (chaas, dahi, sambar, rasam) So although not bad it was disappointing in the way it played out. Previous year i was late, this year i was early, perhaps i must try to make it there by 1 pm next year.

Also, for the first time i didnt go bull in a china shop and overdo the meal keeping in mind that i was to do another one later in the day.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Rest : Peshawri
Meal : Dinner
Loc : ITC Grand Maratha

After a long day in Andheri, i had a meeting in the dreaded Andheri East area, to shorten the drive i set up the meeting at the ITC, they usually are stellar with their food and add to that my Culinary + membership which gets me good solid discounts, i figured it was the sensible course. 

Peshawri of course is essentially a replica of Delhi's famed Bukhara, from the menu to the decor, to the patently uncomfortable seating. We asked to be re-seated but were told they were sold out, which as it turns out was true. There was no seat empty by 930, not sure where this promised slow down is happening. 

we skipped the starters and went into the food, the Paneer Lababdar was suggested as a dry dish to contrast with the dal bukhara. The paneer was delicious, soft, succulent and it went down pretty well. 

the garlic naan was on the money as well. 

the dal bukhara for some reason has never worked correctly for me whilst here, Kebabs n Kurries at The other ITC property the Grand Central does an impeccable version. 

Peshawri is really a non-veg diners paradise however there is plenty for all players. The service is fairly quick and they are pretty friendly and ready to make suggestions. A large group should try the massive naan bukhara. 

To conclude my story on choosing the ITC, it turns out i forgot my culinary plus card and paid full price.

Food : 8/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : FUBAR 

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