Tag Archives: lifestyle

Zen (Connaught Place) 7/10

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Zen

One of the old stalwarts on the Inner Circle, Zen provides wholesome Chinese food. Given my innate bias against Chinese food, I’d say the place is acceptable. The décor is a little dated, but I guess the old-world charm works.

It’s a pity we were seated next to an obnoxious group- most likely a family celebrating some sort of birthday or the like. Really loud and slightly drunk. The fact that there were a couple of toddlers on that table didn’t help either.

We started with the soup. Warning! Stay away from the Hot and Sour. It’s really heavy, mostly hot, not sour enough and the chicken pieces are rather insipid. On the other hand, the Wanton (try the Zen special) Soup is light and perfectly balanced. An old favourite with the missus, we also ordered the Honey Chilli Potatoes. According to her, north campus still has the best HCP.

Moving on to the main course, we ordered the penang curry, shrimp flat noodles, the grilled saki maki, a tofu in black bean sauce and a vegetarian shallow fried noodles. The penang curry was good- albeit the overpowering flavor of peanuts. The shrimp flat noodles- which I’m guessing is Zen’s attempt at a Char Poy Tao- a wonderfully wholesome dish local to Malaysia- wasn’t bad either. I wasn’t exactly transported back to a hot and sticky marketplace in Kuala Lumpur, but a good attempt, nonetheless. If you’re looking to have something apart from the regular Chinese fare, I’d say this is the dish to try out. The tofu and the shallow fried noodles were par for the course- although the noodles could do with less frying.

The grilled saki maki on the other hand- is awesome. It looks small on the plate but boy, is it filling. The hand rolls are perfectly made and the fish is well seasoned. Will have to go back to try out more of their sushi.

Don’t even think of trying the Italian fare. Zen has been and presently is a predominantly Chinese restaurant. Let them stick to what they know best.

Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 6
Ease of access 9
Service 7
Quality of food 5
Value for money 8
Would I go back there? Atleast one more time to try the sushi
Meal for two Rs 1600
Serves alcohol Yes
Credit cards Accepted

 

 

Top Tips:

  • Careful while ordering. Their portions are huge!
  • Take a stroll down to Keventers for a butterscotch milkshake after meal
  • Parking is an issue. Try taking the metro. Its right on the inner circle- block B

 


 

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Chatime

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Author’s note: abject apologies, dear reader, for the long absence. Work pressures and getting married does take a while. But I’m back and hungry again. SO here goes!!!

I discovered that Chatime is now in Gurgaon. Chatime is a Taiwanese chain- famous for bubble tea. They have been in India for the last 9 months or so, but imagine my surprise and delight when I found an outlet right next door in Galleria!

For those of you who dont know what bubble tea is- its regular tea, you get to choose between green and black, and has tapioca (sabu dana) in it. The tapioca is boiled and forms rather large globules which are immensely chewable.

Beware though! There’s an inherent risk of the overzealous drinker to have a globule stuck in the throat. Exercising caution is advised. Those with an overactive gag reflex might have issues too! 😛 Also, you’re faced with a number of choices in terms of flavour, toppings, type of tea, size, etc. For me, I like to keep it simple. Original, with pearl milk- and you’re sorted.

In Gurgaon, the Chatime outlet is on the first floor of the Galleria market. Its a bit of a hunt, but I assure you- its worth it

 


 

 

Oh! Calcutta (Nehru Place) 9.5/10

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Note: this is a review by good friend and fellow foodie Paroma Ray who like me, is also a bong. I have added certain highlights of my experiences there to this post. Please note, we bongs are fond of our food. You should be too!

If you are a Bengali and swear by Bengali food, then please close your eyes and walk in. If you are not a Bengali but like Bengali food, then please feel free to waltz in. If you have never tried Bengali food, then immediately please drop everything and get there. If you are a vegetarian, then this place will redefine vegetarianism for you. And if you’re non-vegetarian, welcome to heaven.

We went to Oh! Calcutta for a hearty dinner. In the course of the same, I think we made a trip to food heaven and back.

For starters, we ordered the Mochar chop (a cutlet made of unripe banana flowers), the Chingri machher cutlet (prawn cutlet), the Murshidabadi chicken fry, the Kankra Chingri Bhapa (mustard flavoured crab and prawn steamed cakes) and the  Dhakai Fish Tikka. The chicken lived upto its expectations. The spices were subtle and chicken perfectly shallow fried without batter. The prawn cutlet was to kill for. The flavors burst in our mouths and left us craving for much more. The mochar chop was par excellence too, with just the right amount of sweetness and the lack of oiliness inspite of it being deep fried. The bhapa was piquant and offered just the right amount of resistance before melting in your mouth.

For the main course, we ordered the daab chingri which is a unique dish where the prawns are cooked and served inside a tender green coconut. The curry of this dish is made of coconut milk and mustard. It has a subtle taste and goes best with steamed white rice. We would have to say, this pretty much is their signature dish and is a must-try. Along with the daab chingri came the mutton rezala (a fragrant mutton stew). This curry was light and flavorsome and the meat cooked just right. We also had the luchi (refined flour deep fried pancakes- the Bengali version of puris and much lighter), aloo fulkopir torakri (a sabzi made out of potatoes, cauliflower and green peas),bhaja mooger daal (dry roasted and cooked moong daal) and jhuri aloo bhaja (finely chopped crispy fried potato). We went on to order the kosha mangsho (mutton in a dry gravy) which can only be had with luchis. All of them exceeded expectations.

Dessert was nolen gurer ice cream (jaggery flavored ice cream) which I thought was a little too sweet. And no Bengali meal can be complete without the mishiti doi (yoghurt with caramelised sugar) and bhapa shondesh (steamed cottage cheese cakes).  But we also had the superbly made gurer payesh  (rice pudding with jaggery) courtesy Chef Bhaskar Dasgupta (a most wonderful man) who sent it to us with his compliments.

Now the portion sizes. There were six of us. Yes. And two starters and two mains with an order of steamed rice is just right for four people. And we ordered a bit much. Because we are food loving Bongs. We overate. Our tummies begged for mercy. But really. No regrets. Not one.

So yes. This place is a hidden jewel. Apart from the traditional Bengali cuisine, they are trying out terrific innovations as well. For example, they are making Hilsa sheekh kebabs, five orders of which, takes about seven to eight hours to prepare and it comes as a work of art. They are also giving their own spin to the concept of sushi by using spinach leaves and gourd leaves to roll cooked fish in spices. Their version of canopies include bite size luchis topped with aloo posto (potato cooked in poppy seeds). Their Hilsa festival begins from June and lasts three months! But why wait till June really? Go tomorrow if you can!

 

Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 9
Ease of access 9
Service 9
Quality of food 10 (just because I cannot score any higher)
Value for money 10
Would I go back there? Without a doubt- everytime
Meal for two Rs 1500 – 2000 (without alcohol)
Serves alcohol Yes
Credit cards Accepted

 

Top Tips:

  • If you fancy a tipple, try the kaal boishakhi. This is vodka based drink with aam pora shorbot (burnt green mango sherbet).
  • Valet parking available
  • Reservations are usually not required on weekdays

http://maps.google.co.in/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Oh!+Calcutta,+Nehru+Place,+New+Delhi,+Delhi&aq=2&oq=Oh+&sll=21.125498,81.914063&sspn=46.177157,86.572266&ie=UTF8&hq=Oh!+Calcutta,&hnear=Nehru+Place,+New+Delhi,+Delhi&t=m&ll=28.550506,77.25013&spn=0.007224,0.006295&output=embed
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Sushi (Defence Colony) 4.7/10

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Note: this is a guest post by good friend and fellow foodie Paroma Ray who tried out Sushi by Moet’s at Defence Colony

I decided to give one last chance to Moets. I tried their Chinese (available in their restaurant called Sushi) in Defence colony, New Delhi.

I am not going back there. This is why:

1) The crispy fried vegetables were so salty (yes, salt sprinkled on top!) that I did not eat it

2) The chicken hakka noodle had raw chicken smelly chicken which on inspection proved to be raw. When I complained to the staff they just could not understand what was wrong with the whole dish. They took it to the kitchen and their “chef” sent it back saying nothing was wrong with the dish. Needless to say I could not eat that either

3) The chilli chicken was way too steeped in oil and ajina moto. We took our first helpings and finished them but could not bring ourselves to take second helpings. Food wasted.

We skipped dessert. The only thing that we could have without complaining was the fresh lime water and the clear vegetable soup.

Word of advice. Skip this place. If you want to have inexpensive Indian Chinese and a few drinks for a working lunch, hop across to 4S. Much, much better.

Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 7
Ease of access 8
Service 7
Quality of food 1
Value for money 1
Would I go back there? No.
Meal for two Rs 1200 –1500 (without alcohol)
Serves alcohol Yes
Credit cards Accepted

Moets Sizzlers (Gurgaon) 3/10

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Before the advent of Kobe’s, this was THE place to go for sizzlers. Many still swear by their original outlet in Defence Colony. However, their new outlet in Gurgaon is a distant, far removed cousin.

We decided to try out Moet’s in Gurgaon Phase IV (located, incidentally right above Cafe Delhi Heights) and were initially impressed by the decor and ambience. Unfortunately, that impression didnt last much beyond the mocktails.

For starters, we ordered the bruschetta, which thankfully did have salt (as opposed to Xes Cafe), but could have been made a little more interesting as opposed to merely sauteed veggies on toast. However, it was all downhill from there. We ordered the main course only from the sizzler section- pork chops, lamb and a chicken stroganoff. The pork chops were edible, to be honest, in spite of the spiced up “Robert Sauce”. I have a feeling that they were referring to Sauce Robert, but we didnt get any taste of mustard, nor the warmth of the white wine reduction, both of which are essential ingredients.

Even worse- to the point of being inedible was the lamb. While I was expecting large cuts of lamb, what eventually ended up on my plate were bite sized morsels on a bed of sauteed veggies and fries. Add to that was the ridiculously salty and spicy ‘Brown Sauce” which  in essence, reminded me of a roganjosh. The sauce was so bad, that the following happened

  1. For the first time in my life, I preferred eating the veggies (and I’m a hard-core meat eater) and the fries to the meat
  2. The larger pieces were better- less of the sauce to spoil more of the meat.
  3. I was finishing a meal because I had paid for it (or was about to), not because I wanted to

Given the standard of cooking at Moet’s Gurgaon, clearly the high point of the meal was the chicken stroganoff, which curiously enough had been forgotten either by our waiter, or by the chef. As a result, even after halfway through the pork and lamb sizzlers, it still hadnt arrived. When reminded, we were told that it would take 5 minutes. 15 minutes later, we were again informed that it would take 2 minutes- at which point of time we gave up, paid the bill and left.

 

Top Tips:

  • Just one- avoid this place. Delhi Heights on the floor below is light years ahead

 

Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 6
Ease of access 5
Service 2
Quality of food 1
Value for money 3
Would I go back there? Wild horses couldnt drag me there
Meal for two Rs 1500 (without alcohol)
Serves alcohol Yes
Credit cards Accepted

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Gunpowder (Hauz Khas village) 6.2/10

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One flight of stairs is fine. But four stories? You’ve got to be kidding me! The food better be worth it. These are are thoughts that would undoubtedly cross your mind on your way to Gunpowder. But more on the stairs later. Getting to the entrance itself is a bit of a problem. Hauz Khas village is a maze of tiny alleys and lanes that twist and turn all over the place and will, more often than not, lead you on a wild goose chase that’ll get you back to where you started. But here’s (hopefully) a helpful way to get to Gunpowder.

Start with the main entrance- leading to Naivedyam. Go past Naivedyam on your left and continue down the alley. You should pass a newish-looking Mediterranean place on your left and the lane curves to the left. Take the first right again and follow the curves of the lane. This should lead you down very close to the boundary wall between the village and the Hauz Khas lake. Follow the boundary wall until you see a sign for Gunpowder- its a fairly nondescript door, so keep a look out.  Then come the stairs. All eight flights, four stories of them- a tough climb for many. But purgatory is worth it. The balcony gives you a panoramic view of the Hauz Khas lake and the surrounding woods, which on a winter afternoon is a most pleasurable sight.

Onto the food then! Gunpowder has firmly established itself as a fantastic place to get Malabar/ Konkani/ Hyderabadi food and more. And the best part is- its not just vegetarian. For from it in fact. For starters we ordered the Buff Fry (buffalo), the Mutton Fry, the Aila Fry (mackerel) and the Koothu Parantha with chicken. The Buff Fry was an instant hit- except for the fact that it might come across as a little too spicy. The Koothu Parantha was bland in comparison, but just as awesome. What blew us away though, was the mackerel and the mutton fry. The mackerel was firm, smoky and came off the bone like butter. The mutton on the other hand was soft, succulent and easier on the spicy scale.

Between the five of us, four starters were enough to put a massive dent in our appetites- the portions are that huge. So it was onto a very small order of the mains- Chicken Gassala and the Iddukki Pork. The Gassala is refreshingly light, tangy and zesty- we just couldnt get enough of it. However, the flavours didnt seep into the chicken much- rendering it slightly insipid. On the other hand, the pork was unacceptable. Not marinated enough, overcooked, dry and fibrous. To top it off, the four out of the five that had the pork all have upset tummys today. Not recommended.

However, you can usually count on the backwater prawn or a malabar curry. Plus, given the portions and the overall quality of food, I’d say Gunpowder, minus the odd hiccup like the pork, is still a first choice at Hauz Khas Village.

Top Tips:

  • Get reservations. Seriously.
  • The climb up does work on your appetite.
  • Lunch on the balcony on a winter afternoon- few others beat that
  • If you get lost, dont check your gmaps. Ask.

Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 5
Ease of access 5
Service 6
Quality of food 8
Value for money 8
Would I go back there? Without a doubt- everytime
Meal for two Rs 1000 (without alcohol)
Serves alcohol Yes (just beer though)
Credit cards Accepted

http://maps.google.co.in/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Gunpowder,+Hauz+Khas,+New+Delhi&aq=&sll=21.125498,81.914063&sspn=46.177157,86.572266&ie=UTF8&hq=Gunpowder,&hnear=Hauz+Khas,+New+Delhi,+Delhi&t=m&ll=28.554899,77.194166&spn=0.006295,0.006295&output=embed
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Blanco (Khan Market) 6.1/10

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Approximately half of all eateries in Khan Market involve a climb up a long, narrow flight of stairs to get to the restaurant to begin with. Blanco is no different. At one point of time, this was my favourite place in Khan Market- but one bad experience with a steak last May changed all that. After almost a year, I thought it was time to give it another shot to see if things had gotten better.

I was not disappointed. While the decor remains the same, the staff service seems to have improved and the steak is infinitely better than last time. However, the lack of steak knives is surprising and counts as a bit of a let down. The mushroom and pepper sauce was perfect and the flavours did penetrate right into the meat. However, I can safely say that the steak, much like most other restaurants in Delhi, is buffalo meat and not beef. This wasnt the case with them originally, where they would use beef say- a couple of years back.

Fellow foodie Rukmini ordered her favourite- the fish and chips, which wasnt undercooked like in Xes Cafe, nor was it breaded like the ones you get at Route 04 (which she prefers, I don’t). The tartar sauce was excellent to the point that we actually had to order a second bowl. The new menu also seems to be interesting.

But all said and done, a Saturday lunch on the terrace, while the sounds of Khan Market below filter up is a most enjoyable meal. Add to that the present offer of Rs 109 for a mug of draught beer and you’re pretty much sorted.

 

 

Top Tips

  • Like with all other places in Khan Market, parking is a pain, especially on weekends
  • Not for the arthritic or those suffering from rheumatism or obese enough not to be able to climb stairs
  • New menu!
  • Forget the desserts, Big Chill and that crepes place reign supreme

 

 

Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 8
Ease of access 7
Service 6
Quality of food 7
Value for money 4
Would I go back there? Sure, just not every month
Meal for two Rs 1500 (without alcohol)
Serves alcohol Yes
Credit cards Accepted

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Sidewok (Khan Market) 6/10

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Khan Market? Sure! But where do we go? With so many options, most of them either continental, or oriental- it gets a little difficult to decide exactly what would tickle your fancy on that day.

With a dim, distant memory of Sidewok for a New Years Eve dinner some years back, I headed there again, this time solely to sample the sushi. Unfortunately, having had the excellent chinese and thai food there before, I was quite disappointed with the sushi. The prawns were soggy and curiously sour. The tuna was inedible. The saving grace on the seafood platter was the salmon, really.

However, having said that, the Bejing Chicken is brilliant- as is most of their non-Japanese fare. Having had the chicken aniseed and the shredded lamb in garlic sauce earlier, I can vouch that if you’re looking for a decent Chinese meal- you shouldnt go wrong with Sidewok.

The ambience isn’t anything to write home about really- semi dim lighting with ostensibly oriental looking wall-hangings and decoration pieces carefully arranged around the place. However, we were suitably impressed with their service. Polite, prompt and mostly silent- just the way it should be.

Top Tips:

  • Getting in and out of, and parking at Khan Market is a pain at times- especially during the brunch hours on a weekend
  • Just dont try the sushi- everything else is pretty much standard
  • They dont serve alcohol (atleast not anymore)
  • Get ready to climb- like with most other restaurants in Khan Market
Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 5
Ease of access 8
Service 7
Quality of food 6
Value for money 4
Would I go back there? After I’ve tried almost everything else in Khan
Meal for two Rs 1500 (without alcohol)
Serves alcohol No
Credit cards Accepted

Magique (Garden of Five Senses) 7/10

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Tucked away in the middle of the Garden of Five Senses, is this gem of a restaurant. Magique ranks up there with Lodi Restaurant and Thai High in terms of ambience. Additionally, where it scores over many of the other high-end establishments in Delhi is the quality of food. One cant really categorise the cuisine into any particular type. The chefs have been creative (and adventurous) enough to do a kind of mix and match between cuisines. So be prepared for a continental style pasta with a lemon grass flavour!

However, be prepared to shell out quite a bit. Magique is not what you’d call a reasonable restaurant. For example- a full meal, which included two starters, two mains, a glass of wine and a cup of tea set us back by 4K plus! So, make sure you have full pockets before you get there.

We started with the Bali inspired sushi- involving search chicken and crab maki rolls and a platter of grilled skewers which had a selection of chicken, lamb and fish. While the sushi was up to par, we found that the fish (salmon) was simply out of this world. Next time, I intend to tell them to hold the chicken and the lamb- and just get us the fish.

For the mains, we chose the grilled halibut and the tenderloin in green peppercorn sauce. The tenderloin was up to par- medium rare, as requested and the green peppercorn sauce was spicy enough to offset the tannin provided by the Chilean merlot I had on the side. The grilled halibut however, was a bit of a let down- it could have possibly been seasoned a little more- the seafood pungency had remained in the fish.

The portions are just right. At the end of one starter and one main each, both fellow foodie Rukmini and me were stuffed to the gills. Hence it didnt make sense for dessert. As an aside, I have been to Magique before- do try the grilled sausages (but ask before you order them- they usually dont have all three varieties at the same time) and the stir fried chicken. Diners of the vegetarian variety should try the Stir fried shitake, oyster and cloud ear  mushrooms. But like I said- its expensive.

Top Tips:

  • You wont need a reservation
  • Try going when the weather is nice- possibly during the cooler months for a sit-out lunch
  • They do have valet parking
  • The wine list is impressive!
Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 9
Ease of access 5
Service 8
Quality of food 8
Value for money 4
Would I go back there? As many times as my credit card allows
Meal for two Rs 3500 (without alcohol)
Serves alcohol Yes
Credit cards Accepted

56 Ristorante Italiano (Gurgaon) 7/10

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A chilly wintry afternoon in Gurgaon, a quick meeting with a client and Italian food in a well-lit, airy restaurant- what else does one want? Upon returning from a meeting somewhere on Golf Course Road, fellow foodie Raghav spotted this little gem of a place tucked away in the midst of the offices.

The entire restaurant is built into this atrium, offering plenty of light and space. As we walked in, the place was deserted. One can only assume one of three reasons why a restaurant would be deserted at lunchtime- one, its newly opened; two, the food is terrible; or three, the food is overpriced. Surprisingly, this was none of the three.

The place serves alcohol, as will be evidenced by the huge bar at the far end of the restaurant. Of course, being in the middle of a workday, its best to stay away from alcohol. As we settled in, we were informed of a set menu for Rs 499 in which we could choose a starter, a main course and a beverage. Not being that hungry, we decided upon main courses only.

Raghav’s prawn risotto was wonderfully light and garnished with a largish prawn sitting right on top. None of that nasty seafood pungency, yet the flavours of the prawn came through strongly. However, I thought it could do with some more salt. Mine was slightly heavier- having ordered the tenderloin pasta. The beef was well cooked and blended nicely with the tomato- mushroom sauce. But really, the high point was the toasted garlic bread. Perhaps we were really hungry, but we seriously could NOT get enough of that bread. Freshly toasted, warm, with just the right amount of garlic and topped off with their olive paste- we would have had that all day long.

Top Tips

  • The chef looks Italian- always a good sign
  • The service is fairly quick, even taking into account that fact that the restaurant was practically empty
  • Portions are HUGE!
Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 8
Ease of access 4
Service 7
Quality of food 8
Value for money 7
Would I go back there? Totally! I need to go meet that client more often!
Meal for two Rs 1000 (without alcohol)
Serves alcohol Yes
Credit cards Accepted