Friday, 3 January 2020

Poolside VITS Hotel | Pre-Christmas Dinner Buffet | Best Dessert Spread In Mumbai | Food Review | Restaurant Review

Spent a lovely evening with mom a couple of days before Christmas. The poolside atmosphere is charming and they had spruced it up with some christmas special decorations too. Good lighting and extremely courteous staff ensured we had a gala time. Of course, the food at their dinner buffet spread was perfect in every way and made us vow that we would be back soon, especially since the Chef and every staff member personally make sure to take feedback from every visitor.

Started off with FRUIT PUNCH that was not overly sweet or tangy, but deliciously fragrant and fruity. Thereafter the starters made their way and we loved everything as the flavors were balanced and distinct.


While the starters were served on the table, we made our way to the scrumptious buffet spread for the rest of the delicacies. The SALAD table beckoned and we had our fill of GREEN SALAD, HUNG CURD AND BEETROOT SALAD, MEXICAN BEANS SALAD, RAITA, SEV PURI. Healthy eaters won't be disappointed here.

Even in main course that seems to be the weak point at many buffet places, we found each dish carefully conceptualized and created with distinct flavors that did not make it seem like a mishmash of this-and-that. We absolutely loved-

CHOWGRA (similar to mix vegetables,a bit on spicier side)
CHEESY PASTA (it looked simple and bland but turned out to be every child's favorite!)
And of course, a bevy of rotis, parathas, naans, that the staff is more than happy to get as per the visitor's preference.

It was difficult to stop ourselves from overeating thus far because we also wanted to try out the fantastic desserts that included not just the usual pastries and ice creams but a plethora of Indian desserts such as RASMALAI, MALPUA, ORANGE RASGULLA, SHAHI BARFI, and everything is authentic to the T. Even the biggest buffet places in most big cities cannot replicate the authenticity of Bengali or north Indian sweets the way these folks have done. I have forgotten the number of RASMALAIs I had here but it was surely more than a dozen :D And the next time I am here, I will double that number :P

Try their buffet out today, and come away impressed just like this hungry hippo did :) 

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Episode One Powai Mumbai | Breaking The Clutter One Episode At A Time | Food Review | Restaurant Review

There is a garden. There is a mirror that shows my dress code. And there is a painting with an elite British captain from 19th century sporting a bubblegum and a balloon.

Episode One breaks the clutter of lounges and pubs that focus on hoity-toity 'upper class' dress codes, footwear, accents and menu. The ambiance is cool, funky and elegant, has an amazing amount of greenery in different sections, there is even a dance space for those happy friday nights, the dress code is whatever you wish, the staff has a perennial smile on their faces and spunk in their stride, the menu has limited but enough Indian, Asian, Italian dishes to make everyone happy and the prices are reasonable for quality and quantity. 

Since we were here for a review invite, we had tasting portions of multiple dishes, be assured that the original portions would be more than enough to make your belly happy. Loved everything from the drinks to the desserts. Oh by the way, check out their cocktails on tap section in the spacious bar, lovingly known as Taptails!


BERRIES & ROSE = Mixed Red Berry Tea Mix with Cranberry Shrub, beautifully tangy and refreshing, with edible rose petals, 

LYCHEE LEMONGRASS CARBON LEMONADE = Lychee Nectar with lemongrass lemonade and activated charcoal, very strong, has a kick in every sip, 

BLUE TEA & GONDHORAJ = Elder Flower + Butterfly Pea Blue Tea gives it the color of Harry Potter's cloak, deep violet :D Add to that Apple Nectar, Kaffir Lime, Gondhoraj which is a part of the lime family. D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.


AVOCADO GALOUTI - With Coin Paratha & Beetroot Ketchup, melt-in-mouth bite sized heavens, could have had dozens on these :D MUST-HAVE!

SHROOM SLIDER- With Mushroom Patty, Brioche Bun, Fries & Cheesy Dip, am not a big mushroom fan but these were good, meaty Portobello mushroom patties and soft buns and those super-duper crunchy fries, yummmmmmmmm.

TRUFFLE MUSHROOM BUN - With Cantonese Chili Oil & House Soy, these were so good they took me by surprise, Soft and steamed to perfection buns with loads of Portobello mushrooms inside and truffle oil layering outside made it unbelievably delicious. MUST-HAVE!


SPICY MARGHERITA- With Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, Basil, it is extremely difficult to get this basic pizza right as the proportion of sauce to cheese and spices has to be just right. Extremely glad to note that every element of this pizza was PERFECT. If you like Margherita, definitely try this.


PAN FRIED NOODLES - With loads of Exotic Vegetables tossed in non-spicy Cantonese Sauce, hearty dish for those who do not like overly spicy Indo-Chinese fare,

BRAISED TOFU CHILLI BEAN LEEKS & BLUE RICE - Had been seeing this blue rice on instagram and wondered if it tasted any good too. Well, it sure does :D The blue color comes from the use of butterfly-pea flower and also imparts a distinct fragrance, the rice here is tossed with veggies so even on its own it is a delicious dish. Add to it the softest tofu ever in a spicy gravy and it was the perfect representation of Yin and Yang.


SANDESH PUFF - I love me some Sandesh, this was a contemporary take with a flaky puff pastry hiding the softness of Sandesh, and delicious Vanilla Ice Cream by the side, and some delicious jell-o drops too. Overall good.

CARAMEL TART - Dessert worthy of crossing seven seas for :D Gooey, Sinful, Layers of Caramel and Dark Chocolate Ganache and that touch of sea-salt on the top. If this is not heaven, nothing is. MUST-HAVE TO THE POWER INFINITY.

A very big thumbs up from this hungry hippo. Would be sauntering in some time soon, this time probably in my shorts and crocs :D 

Friday, 13 December 2019

House Of Mandarin Powai | A Royal Chinese Feast | Food Review | Restaurant Review

am not a big fan of Chinese food, not the way it is consumed in India. There, I said it. I know it is sort of a sacrilege for a foodie, but somehow I have not warmed up to the excessive use of spices and oil in the Indo-Chinese cuisine..yet, once in a while, I do come across some establishments that try to provide an authentic Chinese experience with appropriate focus on using quality ingredients instead of over-using of artificial sauces and spices and oil, and I fall in love with them. House of Mandarin falls squarely in that category :)

Situated the latest hip-and-happening area of Hiranandani area in Powai, the House of Mandarin is a spacious and tastefully decorated dining destination with a plethora of veg as well as non-veg options in soups, appetizers, noodles, rice, dimsums, sushi, desserts, drinks...basically, a cool place to be with family for celebration or friends for chilling out or office colleagues for a gossip section over drinks! Staff is super-polite, helpful and takes feedback seriously, service is very fast, prices are reasonable looking at the quality and quantity of food as well as the superb plush location.

Tried, loved and recommend-

CRANBERRY KISS- A nice peppy mocktail with the right balance of sweet and sour,

TURNIP CAKE- This is like corn-curd, soft and mushy inside while crisp on the outside, a great balance with Burnt Garlic and Scallions for an added punch,

CRISPY HONEY LOTUS STEM- On the sweeter side, wholesome lotus stems coated lovingly in a blanket of honey glaze, 

VEG CRYSTAL DUMPLING and CORN & WATER CHESTNUT DUMPLING- I am not exaggerating when I say These. Are. Among. THE BEST. Dimsums. In. Mumbai. The delicate covering, the expert fillings, the textures, the flavors, MUST-HAVE,

ASPARAGUS TEMPURA ROLL- I am not a Sushi expert but these were among the best too, try them and make your own opinion, I loved them,

SPICY MAPO TOFU and SOFT NOODLES WITH VEGETABLES- Semi-gravy noodles with loads of wholesome veggies such as Carrots, Water Chestnuts, Bok Choy, a bit bland on its own but went seamlessly with soft Tofu in a spicy gravy, surprisingly it was not a heavy combination in stark contrast with other chinese places where I am stuffed uncomfortably by now!

Special shoutout to desserts that finished this meal perfectly- LEMONGRASS CREME BRULEE, simple and sublime with mild lemongrass flavor through a soothing creamy dessert, perfect for those who do not like too sweet dishes,

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING- Absolute SMASHER and MUST-HAVE here, the spongy pudding with HEAVENLY CARAMEL on the base and Vanilla Ice Cream and a strong kiss of Candied Ginger, what is not to love!!!

If you love Chinese cuisine, be here. If you love Indo-chinese cuisine, be here. If you do not love either of the two, still be here, this happy hippo is sure you will find something worth loving :)