badge

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Hilton 100th Anniversary Celebrations | Imperial China Hilton International Airport Mumbai | Food Review | Restaurant Review

Hilton was celebrating its 100 years last week and I was invited to its beautiful Imperial China, to share their happiness. A specially curated menu by the very humble and talented Chef Thomas Kai Lai (Chinese by birth and Indian by heart) was simply lip-smacking. His preparations included the perfect balance of herbs and spices in all vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies, with full-bodied flavors, which won my heart. 





The ambiance is one of 19th century Singapore meets Old-England palace – really peaceful, elegant, classy and royal. The chandelier, the furniture, the wall carvings, the candles and the traditional ceiling-bamboo fans! Really mesmerizing - made me wonder if Sherlock Holmes would feel right at home if he was solving a murder mystery in the vicinity!





Coming to the food now, these are what I had: 

STARTERS:

1. Tom Kha Soup – Perfect blend of sweet and spicy, with exotic veggies

2. Spinach and Cabbage Dim Sums – flavourful and melt-in-mouth

3. Vegetable Spring Rolls – One of the best, crunchy and fresh in every bite

4. Cottage Cheese Tshng Hai – slightly on the spicier side to pleasure Indian taste buds. Pretty good.




MAIN COURSE:

1. Wok Tossed Baby Aubergines – STAR OF THE NIGHT for my sister!! She loooooves aubergines and this was just oh-so-good. They were perfectly chopped, crispy yet soft and flavour was on the sweetish-spicy side. Just the way she likes it!

2. Tofu Claypot – Velvety gravy with tofu, broccoli, mushrooms and other exotic veggies. Smooth and tangy-ish in taste and less on the spicy side, LOVED. 

3. Pan-Fried Noodles – Clear gravy and pan-fried noodles with loads and loads of veggies. Another favourite of mine from the menu.


DESSERT:

Honey-fried sesame noodles with vanilla ice-cream – Delicious – this was out of the menu but they offered this to us, but I would have liked to try the item on menu too, not sure why that didn’t come to us.

BEVERAGES:

1. Jasmine Tea with Honey – I had a sore throat on the day and this tea felt very soothing before all the food.

2. Lounge Special cocktail, vodka based – this is something my sister had and said it was very smooth, not too alcohol-ly, which is how she prefers it.

Coming to Service. Everything was great. The staff was courteous and items didn’t take too long to come to our table either. UNTIL they forgot to serve our dessert for over 40 minutes. Yup, after our main course, we placed order for our dessert immediately because they sounded so yummy on the menu and we couldn’t wait to try them, but when it didn’t arrive for 40 minutes, we asked them about it and turned out that they forgot about it! We get it that it was a Friday night and the place was actually 90% full by 9 pm, but forgetting dessert – sorry, not a good feeling for the one waiting for it. 

And then afterwards, they offered honey-sesame noodles instead of ones on the menu – not sure if it was because they ran out of menu-desserts or if they were trying to make up for the fact that our dessert reached us 50 minutes after we finished out main course. This was really a point of irritation for my sister especially who is very, very British when it comes to punctuality. 

In summary, a GREAT experience in terms of food and ambiance.

But the wait for dessert, oh well….

BUT, definitely go for the food. Chef Thomas’ food will leave you licking your spoons, forks and plates clean. Bon Appetit. 

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Bindaas Begum Rockin' Raja | Indian Royal Recipes Beckon | Food Review | Restaurant Review

The land of Maharajas! That’s one aspect of India’s historical legacy. This is the land of Rajahs and Maharajahs and Ranis and Nawabs and Begums. We all grow up listening to stories of the pomp and splendour of their kingdoms. And obviously, the royal chefs and the delicacies they cooked up are all a part of this very fantastic legacy. So a passionate foodie couple got a food historian to take them on a culinary trail of a royal sort, one where they asked royal families to part with some of their cherished recipes. And then they chose the best of the lot of be part of the incredible menu at Bindaas Begum Rockin Raja.





The gorgeous ambiance, the polite staff, the HUGE menu (at very reasonable prices) at this lovely foodie destination in Mulund are all a part of a royal ambiance, but all with a dash of contemporary chilled out vibe. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a place only for ‘oldies’ or lovers of ‘historical or vintage’ era or that it serves royal thaali. This is a young place where everybody will find something awesome. While they have many novelties on the menu, they have tried and tested Indian gems too (like Subz Miloni, Tandoori Rotis, Paneer Tikkas and so on). Oh they have a fantastic bar too!

For this review session, we tried something from every section and came back with our minds blown :D

For drinks, we started with GINGER ALE, packaged drink so even though it was horrible, cannot blame anyone but my own choice :D

My sister had a COFFEE + CHOCOLATE based drink and loved it.


-- SOUPS

BADAM PALAK SHORBA – Spinach + Almonds, nutritious + delicious, a lot of green and just a hint of sweet, very wholesome, little crunchy and a MUST-HAVE,

CRÈME DE VOLAILLE PRINCESSE – French delicacy from Bikaner royalty, fresh aromatic Asparagus soup, nothing artificial about it, really good and healthy,






--APPETIZERS

GOVIND GHATTA- Regal specialty from Awadh, Besan (Ghatta) dumplings filled with paneer, khoya,some dry fruits. While the name makes it sound like a very rich and sweet dish, it is in reality a delicious dish, not very sweet (just a hint) and served as little bites to make it an amazing MUST-HAVE appetizer,

KEWA DAATSHE – Sikkim’s royal family provides this surprising mix of loads of cheddar cheese with char-grilled chillies, my sister loved the combination (not very spicy as I expected),

BHUTTE KI KARENJI – Royal family of Dhar in Madhya Pradesh gifts my FAVORITE of the evening, Karenji with loads of bhutta, I loved how the steamy juiciness of corn came through the crispy karenji exterior. I had only loved sweet karenjis, this is such a surprise and I am coming back for more soon,

TSHOEM- Another royal dish from Sikkim, loads of stir-fried exotic veggies, especially water chestnuts and mushrooms, make this one a healthy option for everyone,



--MAIN COURSE

PANEER MAKHANE KA KORMA- My choice in main course from royalty of Bhopal, a rich saffron-y gravy with dry fruits, paneer, makhana, mildly sweet (but I have a sweet jaw y’all), I loved the velvety texture. Also, the main course is full of so many delicacies, it is virtually impossible to choose one! This went really well with soft Butter Naan (stop counting calories :P)

GIRNAARI KHICHDI- Enjoy this healthiest dish with loads of vegetables and peanuts from the royal family of Sayla from Gujarat, I know Khichdi is probably the last dish one would look at as gourmet, but try this one before any such judgement,


--DESSERTS

LAHSUNI KHEER- Dessert section started with a bang with this unheard dish, it is actually a 200 YEARS OLD RECIPE! Thick delicious Kheer with a hint of garlic, nothing much discernible, yet the taste profile is simply MAGNIFICENT. I would travel for hours just to try this one :)

NIMISH TUMKI- Nizaams of Delhi bragged about this and if you like delicate sublime desserts, you will love it too. Milk froth, dry fruits, rose essence (real, not artificial), it literally feels like clouds are having a party here!

SHAHI TUKDA- Famous Hyderabadi dessert with thickest of rabdi and more…I cannot describe the beauty even if I tried, so my suggestion-try it yourself.

Frankly, I have never been enamored by the lifestyle of the royals but when it comes to food, well I am swooning over our meal and cannot wait to go back, so that says volumes about how awesome Bindaas Begum Rockin Raja is. Bon Appetit!

Friday, 15 February 2019

Drifters Tap Station BKC Mumbai | More Than Just Handcrafted Beer On Tap | Food Review

Even though I do not drink alcohol, I had an unexpectedly amazing time at Drifters with my sister, saying goodbye to the 1st month of this new year and that I think simplifies the question - 'who should visit here', with the resounding answer of 'Anyone and Everyone wanting to have some fun' :)



This is one special place for beer lovers with 24 handcrafted beers on tap. Spacious, situated in the ever-blooming BKC area, with industrial-kinda decor and high chairs, the vibe is completely chilled out. Peppy music, a comprehensive menu with Indian, Thai, Continental selection and top-notch service by delightfully polite and helpful staff. Prices seem reasonable for the location, quantity and quality. 

>>> We started by trying different kinds of beers in little shot glasses just to get a feel of the place. Now, I do not drink, so cannot explain the nuances of the beer we tasted. What I can say with supreme confidence is that if you are a beer lover you should surely check this place out. We tried-

KIKI PUNCH (Kokum Cider), this is the one I liked the most because of strong kokum flavor,
COCO-CALM (Coconut Saison Ale), just a hint of coconut, 
CITRONOVA (Lemongrass White IPA), on the bitter side,
PINNOCCHIO (Pina Colada Ale), fizzy, a little tropical hint

>>> SWEET CORN SOUP- We specially asked for this since my sister's throat was sore, this was warming to the heart with loads of veggies and minimal spices. 





>>> APPETIZERS

STUFFED KULCHA BALLS- BEST of the evening, we asked for seconds! Little heavenly kulcha doughs filled with cheese, paneer, onions, mushrooms and baked in tandoor, try it, you would not want to share a single bit with anyone :D 

CRUMBED COTTAGE CHEESE- Cottage cheese sticks coated in batter and deep fried, so crunchy and soft at the same time, 

TANDOORI STUFFED MUSHROOMS- Button mushrooms stuffed with cottage cheese and nicely marinated in spicy + creamy sauce, 

ACHARI SOYA CHAAP- Good for those who like mock meat kind of substitute. The texture here is reminiscent of mutton chaap I assume. I like Soya's texture (it is extremely meaty) so I was fine with it but my sister is not fond of soya so she didn't like it. Choose this one judiciously!




>>> MAINS 

TURKISH CASSEROLE- Think of it as Turkish version of Lasagna :D Nice. Mix of layers of tomatoes, broccoli, olives and such veggies with soya mince (meaty texture), spaghetti all in tomato based tangy-mildly spicy sauce and a thick layer of cheese, baked in oven. Sounds delicious? It IS!

PANEER LABABDAR with JODHPURI LACCHA PARATHA- Delicious mildly tangy-spicy tomato onion gravy, soft paneer pieces and Jodhpuri wholesome paratha with sesame seeds atop, licked the plate clean with this one!



>>> DESSERTS 

CREAM CARAMEL - Delicious, soft wobbly custard with caramel, what is not to love! 

CREAM COCONUT WITH KIWI PINEAPPLE - Simple yet a MUST-HAVE. Layers of Kiwi, Pineapple and fresh Coconut Cream come together to make a light, sublime yet utterly satisfying end to a great meal. 

As I said earlier, I was wondering going in for this review session that what would a non-drinker like me get here? Turns out there is ample on the food front here to keep me happy for multiple visits. This hungry hippo happily recommends Drifters to drift in with friends and have a great time :)