Tag Archives: local

Zen (Connaught Place) 7/10

Standard

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

 


 

Advertisements

Sushi (Defence Colony) 4.7/10

Standard

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

Standard

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

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Blanco (Khan Market) 6.1/10

Standard

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

Standard

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

Al Kauser (Outer Ring Road) 6/10

Standard

The hunt for the kakori kebab led us from Khan Market (where Aap ki Khatir has apparently closed down) to New Friends Colony (where the nice man told us that Al Bake doesnt serve kakori kebabs) finally to this completely outdoor place on the Outer Ring Road (on the border of R.K. Puram) called Al-Kauser. Most motorists will remember this place for the cars that are usually lined up next to it- late into the night. Indeed, this is one of those places where you get to order-in from your car and get served there as well- just watch out for little Sunny on the backseat with the pudina chutney!

Al Kauser is more of a take-away joint, but now has tables on a raised platform between the shop and the road. Therefore, unless if you happen to enjoy diesel fumes and honking idiots as the cars, trucks and buses zip past, dont go there looking for a fantastic ambience. Do however, go there to look for some awesome Mughlai food.

Having dined there on a number of occasions in the past, we knew what to expect. The ubiquitous ‘chhotu’ bears down upon you- flinging a menu or two in the general direction of your table while at the same time serving the next one a full tray of biriyani. Do try the kakori here. And the Galauti. While the eatery does serve the regular assortment of kebabs- malai, tikka, tandoori and afghani- you’d probably be better off trying those elsewhere- like Al Jwahar perhaps. The kakori’s skin is slightly dry and firm to the touch while the inside is just how a kakori should be- smooth and homogeneous. The galauti is supposed to be softer than the kakori- however, perhaps an overenthusiastic chef had decided to keep them on the pan for a little too long.

Do try the biriyani there. They’ve recently started the ‘handi’ type- one where the biriyani is placed in an earthen pot, sealed with dough and then baked. Also, the korma is recommended.

Top Tips:

  • If you dont get parking in the service lane, park on the road itself. Dont worry about cops- they’ve probably been paid off.
  • These guys dont accept cards. Thankfully, there are a couple of ATMs next to the diner
  • These guys usually have a full house. And the waiters do sometimes forget your order. Patience!
  • If you need a cola or something- just go get it yourself.
Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 2
Ease of access 8
Service 6
Quality of food 8
Value for money 7
Would I go back there? Midnight fancy for meat? sure!
Meal for two Rs 500 (without alcohol)
Serves alcohol No
Credit cards No

Magique (Garden of Five Senses) 7/10

Standard

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

Standard

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

Swagath (Noida) 2.8/10

Standard

What does one do for good south-Indian seafood in Delhi? Well, there is Gunpowder- but who wants to climb 8 flights of stairs on an empty stomach and then down again on a full one? Enter Swagath- a well established chain, supposedly renowned for their seafood. Having dined at the Swagath at the Park Hotel, we had certain expectations from the Noida branch. Sadly, the Noida branch fell far short of these expectations.

Bang in the middle of the Sector 18 market in Noida, under Centrestage Mall, getting in and out, and what is infinitely worse- parking, is a nightmare. Perhaps a valet system should be in the offing for the premium rates that the Swagath menu commands.

There’s also the issue of the ambience and decor. Nothing that stands out really- pretty much a bland, run-of the-mill stuff that most other restaurants you would go to. Unless of course you’re in their basement (which I suppose has been pressed into service primarily because the main restaurant is too small). There’s hardly any daylight entering the basement and the staff make it a point to keep the lights low- adding to an already depressing and dingy atmosphere.

We started with the Fish Amritsari, which I will admit, is more than acceptable. The kebab would not be out of place in a top class buffet. The portion was enough for two people and it did match up to our expectations. Unfortunately, we were greatly let down by the Chettinad Pepper Chicken. The tamarind didnt come through, the pepper was overpowering and where the hell is the boiled egg? The chicken itself was dry and stringy, having been overcooked. By the end of it, we were more congenial to the Malabar Paranthas that we’d ordered to accompany the chettinad.

Top Tips:

  • Park in the Centrestage Mall and walk there, if you must go at all
  • Ridiculously expensive for the quality of food and service
  • Speaking of service, expect nothing
Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 3
Ease of access 4
Service 2
Quality of food 3
Value for money 2
Would I go back there? Burn it down. Now.
Meal for two Rs 3000 (with alcohol)
Serves alcohol Yes
Credit cards Accepted

Lodi- The Garden Restaurant (Lodhi Road) 8/10

Standard

Note: this review has been sponsored by DhoomBox.

Just beyond the entrance to Lodhi Garden is this blink-and-miss entrance to what is possibly one of the most beautiful restaurants in Delhi. As you walk through the path, you notice tables out in the open amidst the bushes and the trees, with heaters and soft lighting. Since December can get fairly cold in Delhi, I opted to sit inside instead.

The manager, Vijendra was kind enough to sit with me and explain the concept of Lodhi restaurant. They serve European cuisine, primarily- just my kinda place! Some of their vegetables are sourced from their organic farms- one in Gurgaon, and one in Delhi. The clientele is mostly expat- given the close proximity to Nizamuddin, Jorbagh, Golf Links and the Lodhi Institutional Area. Which means that its not going to be easy on the pocket. Be prepared to shell out premium moolah for a premium setting.

As part of the set menu, I chose a coriander lamb skewer, a tomato and celery broth, garlic chicken morsels with risotto and their house special- a chocoloate mousse.

Things started off badly. I’m fairly sensitive to mutton and lamb in terms of their odours. The skewers came from a lamb or goat that had either been spayed/neutered or was fairly old. You’ll notice a pungent smell in certain kinds of meat, particularly in low spice mutton/ lamb/ beef curries- I got the same smell in the skewers. Not that I’m complaining- a lot of people actually relish the smell. I don’t. the skewers also needed a little more in it- just flavoured with coriander gives it a bland, one-dimensional taste.

But the soup turned it around for me. Warm, filling, yet light it actually reminded me of the soups my grandmother would make for me when I was sick. Couldn’t have asked for better. But what truly blew me away was the chicken. If you’ve cooked chicken, you’ll know that there’s a fine line between partly cooked and overdone. If it’s not cooked enough, it’ll taste awful (and will be unhygienic too). Overdone and it’ll be dry and fibrous. This one held the line throughout. Every bite was sheer joy- juicy, succulent and bursting with flavour. The tomato risotto accompanying the chicken played the brilliant sidekick to what was the perfectly cooked chicken.

But then again, the chocolate mousse had issues. Slightly grainy as opposed to the smoothness one would expect from a mousse- I thought I could taste the flour and butter (or atleast some kind of fat). Wasn’t really a put off- but after that chicken, it couldn’t match up to that standard.

Top Tips

  • Extensive wine cellar- ask the manager for his recommendations
  • Few other places in Delhi (such as Thai High and Magique) match up to their ambience
  • Don’t park on the main road. Instead, there’s parking a few metres ahead of the road. Or you could park at the Lodhi garden parking spot
  • Perfect for a late lunch after a walk in Lodhi garden
Ratings/ Quick Facts Scale (on 10)/ Remarks
Ambience 9
Ease of access 7
Service 8
Quality of food 8
Value for money 4
Would I go back there? As often as it suits my wallet!
Meal for two Rs 2000 (without alcohol)
Serves alcohol Yes
Credit cards Accepted