Thursday 30 November 2017

Mandarin Oak Bandra Kurla Complex | Indian Chinese Affordable Feast | Food Review

A good option for Indo-Chinese lovers (like my sister), quite affordable considering quality as well as quality, we tried a couple of dishes from here at our office and it was delivered on time in amazing packaging. When we think of Indian Chinese food, we think of oil, spices, gravies, classics like manchurian and I would say this place serves pretty good version of what we all expect :)

We started with Steamed Veg Dumplings that were decent, they would be better if the outer covering was thinner and the stuffing was a bit crunchier or had exotic ingredients like water chestnuts. It was okay and the red dip given alongside was really good, but my sister is a dimsum fanatic and she wasn't a big fan of these,

Wok tossed Vegetable Dumplings in Kung Pao Sauce & Burnt Garlic Rice, now these were awesome :D The dumplings in mildly spicy sauce went really well with rice that felt like perfect fried rice with a little garlicky bite. Alongside was mildly sweet-ish Kimchi, really liked it too. A box of these is enough as lunch for 2 light eaters. 

Overall, quite good and with a little tweak here and there, it should be perfect :) 

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Hyderabad Xpress Oshiwara | Authentic Hyderabadi Biryani & More | Food Review

Some awesome Biryani places coming up for us foodies right now and Hyderabad Xpress is another name that stands out in this food genre for us calories lovers :D Gone are the days when restaurants would serve Veg Pulao with an overdose of Kevda essence and Elaichi to call it Biryani! Time for some authentic Biryani to take centrestage, even in Veg versions. Me and 3 of my office colleagues tries these items from here for review-

Apolo Paneer starter- Soft paneer slices,coated and fried, felt like having a sort of mild paneer manchurian, very Indo-chinese feeling, really liked it, lip-smacking,

Veg Biryani - Long fragrant Basmati, spiced up, veggies layered nicely, all spices easily discernible, very close to homely authentic Biryani I expect. Raita and Salan alongside made it even better, cannot complain on any front :)

Paneer 65 Biryani - Unanimous recommendation from everyone. Even non-veggies LOVED this one to the hilt. An Indo-chinese fusion to traditional Biryani, here the layer of rice was followed by a layer of delicious paneer cubes in spicy 65 coating-so yeah,you know those delicious chicken/paneer 65 starters you have? Imagine that adding to the deliciousness of an already pretty cool authentic Biryani. Will definitely reorder :)

Double ka Meetha - Another must-have. A decadent take on Shahi Tukda, this one was actually closer to Mawa Kalakand...honestly one of the dishes where I am lost for words on how to describe it, just order it and do not worry about 5000 calories inside :D *Salivating uncontrollably thinking about it *

Quantity was fantastic, 3 really hungry Hippo level eaters were stuffed in 1 starter and 2 Biryanis, so order accordingly! Flavors shone through in every dish, packaging was spill proof, delivery done on time, value for money in all respects and worth reordering from :) 

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Biryani Feast & More | Rivaayat Biryani Powai Mumbai | Food Review

New Biryani place alert and it is really good too! Couple of dishes delivered dot on time at my office for reviewing, 3 of us completely filled up on these, 100% value for money and full of flavors as expected. Packaging was spill proof, quantity is fantastic and good options for veggies too. We had-

Paneer Finger starter -Soft,succulent paneer fried, it tasted good but was very salty. I am used to having less salt in everything so I found it too salty, my colleagues found it ok, I think it is a one-off thing though because the quality of paneer was really good. I have better expectations for next time.

Hyderabadi Veg Biryani -This was pretty close to authentic biryani I have had at my friend's place on Eid and it did not have either Elaichi or Kevda essence that most restaurants put in their biryani so hallelujah! Delicious long rice basmati and layers of vegetables, mildly spicy, near perfect. Awesome.

Double ka Meetha - For dessert, this is a delicious take on Shahi Tukda :D Fried bread soaked in sugar syrup and then immersed in dense phirni garnished with nuts and saffron strands, yummmm is all I can say :)

Overall, on the list of places my office will definitely reorder from. Kudos, keep up the good work :) 

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Pizza-Waffle Festival Tea Trails | Healthy Deliciousness | Food Review | Food Photography

Having never been a big tea fan (I know,I know,what a thing to say for an Indian :P) I had no idea about the huge,complex world of tea, with so many varieties, so many different ways of preparation, so many health boosting properties..Tea is so much more than Chai that we usually love, there is white tea, black tea, green tea..and real tea, the one brewed from tea leaves is so much different from the packaged one, and no, green tea is not supposed to taste like poison! It is facts like these that boggles one's mind when one goes to a place like Tea Trails. I have already been to their Fort outlet for a blogger's table about 2 years ago and been to this outlet too once before, and was very glad to have had the opportunity to be enlightened about the world of teas and how these guys have tried to bring it to life via different kinds of offerings in their outlets. So now that they have come up with a pizza and waffle festival this month, my sister and I landed up here again for a review invite happily :)

It is very near the railway station and on the main station road itself, just walk straight keeping the railway station on your right. The cafe has a nice vibe with cheerful ambiance, elegant pictures on the wall, comfortable spacious seating (indoors as well as outdoors) and ofcourse a nice menu with tea as beverages, mocktails and even incorporated in food. Oh, there is free wi-fi too :D 

We started with DETOX TISANE which has a healing touch with Turmeric Root, Ginger Root and other such spices and herbs-really good for liver and kidneys. 

Followed this with MATCHA GREEN TEA which is a specialty Japanese tea with more antioxidants and nutrients than normal Green Tea, it tastes like a herbal concoction, very slightly on bitter side, perfect for health conscious folks.

My sister had COLD COFFEE as she is a coffee fanatic and said that this was just decent, it was colder than she wanted and there were too many ice pieces, if they make it creamier it would be better.

Mom had KULHAD CHAI which had the nice rustic flavor she wanted, thumbs up for this. Well, this is Tea Trails and they have got tea making art perfected in every way :)

Another recommendation is BETTER WIFE mocktail, this one my sister loved, it had nice, subdued fruity flavors, not too much added sugar or flavors :) 

Coming to the main event-Pizzas and Waffles, we went blindly with the staff's suggestion and are so glad because both pizzas were FABULOUS-5 STARS EACH for the pizzas :) PANEER TIKKA PIZZA had juicy paneer pieces, jalapenos, capsicum and tomatoes, a smattering of pudina chutney on top along with balanced cheese and smokey tomato sauce on thin crispy base. Overall, fantastic. 

MEXICAN PIZZA again had the same thin crispy base with generous cheese, bell peppers, jalapenos, olives and herbs, extremely flavorful. We could not finish both pizzas and got them packed, dad had them at home after 2 hours, so obviously they had gone stone cold BUT he could not stop raving about them even then and wants to come here for having these pizzas piping hot. That should explain how good these are :)

Coming to waffles, we had BROWNIE WAFFLE and MEGA FRUITY WAFFLE. Both were decent, liked Brownie one a bit more because it had lip-smacking amount of chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, flavor of brownies, garnish nuts and with ice cream alongside, really realllllly good. Fruity waffle had delicious assortment of fruits i.e. bananas, apples, strawberries sliced on top but by the time we reached the waffle underneath, it was really reallllllly hard. Needs to be much softer. Flavor wise both were good but I prefer chocolate any day :)

Final roll-call was provided by lip-smacking Dutch Truffle pastry with real Belgian Chocolate indulgence, so gooey, so sinful, definitely coming back for this (along with the pizzas and teas) :D

Staff was polite and efficient, service was a little slow in the beginning but then picked up pace so no complaints eventually, prices are reasonable for the experience and quality and it is definitely a place to relax for a long time with loved ones, having some healthy + delicious grub :) 

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Pizza Box Mumbai | Pizza Garlic Bread Pasta & More Cheese Overload | Food Review | Food Photography

Honestly,one of the best pizza places I have been to in recent times. Situated on main road, quite easy to spot, it is a colourful small place with indoor + outdoor seating for around 15-18 people, very quick and soft-spoken staff, and a menu choc-a-bloc with pizzas, sides, pasta, beverages-basically loads of stuff that comes under the heading of 'guilty pleasures' and 'forget the diet,take a chill pill'. Be it quantity or quality, this place is completely value for money. 

We started off with beverages and recommend the very refreshing Green Apple Mocktail (mom’s favourite) as well as Lemon Iced Tea which had the balanced citrusy flavour I wanted.

Among starters, we heartily recommend-

PANEER STROMBOLI – Mildly spicy, achari tikka flavoured Paneer and Cheese combo baked in bread like a wrap, how heavenly does this sound! Tastes even better.
PULL APART GARLIC BREAD- Share this among 3 people easily, loads of cheese and garlic, little smattering of herbs, easily the best I have ever had.
JAIN CROSTINI- Scrumptious combo of sweetish cream-cheese, American corn and kick of green chilli, every bite has a sharp sweet-spicy surprise = a MUST-HAVE. If you get hiccups by little pieces of chillies (my mom does), you should keep a sweet beverage by your side while having this one (mom did) :D

When we think of pizzas, we think of generous toppings, ample cheese, hearty flavours, right? On all these counts, Pizza Box delivers yummy perfection. Nope, it is not ‘imported from Italy, drizzled with organic truffle oil’ level of perfection, it is ‘Oh those paneer pieces were damn good and the smoky mushroom flavour refuses to leave my palate and I can have 2 more slices easily even though my stomach is about to burst’ perfection :D

We tried Half & Half 9” i.e. 6 slices of fiery HOT HEAD PIZZA + wholesome BBQ PANEER-MUSHROOM PIZZA. While hot head had a crunchy combo of colourful Bell Peppers, Chillies, Jalapenos and Onions, the barbecued flavour of paneer + rustic mushrooms was brilliant too. We LOVED both versions as the toppings, the flavour of all the veggies, the consistency of sauce, the fluffy crust and hot bubbling cheese, everything was just right. It had a homely feel too and next time, we would be trying their cheese burst crust (because who can ever have enough cheese :P)

We were completely full by now but were offered to try their new innovation of FRIED PIZZA which frankly looked too appetizing to pass up. Basically remember those fried bread pakodas we all love? Just apply the same logic to pizza. Fried pizza slices with stuffed veggies inside and a generous layer of creamy cheese on top, this is one heavy dish that needs to be shared among 4-5 people atleast. It is very different from usual pizza, I think it can be a hit if the stuffing inside is also customized with paneer, bell peppers, onions etc. Quite a good idea, and has about a million calories too!

I did not come here expecting anything gourmet and got something thousand times better than the ’30 minutes or free’ and similar pizza chains, so it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. I would definitely be back whenever I am in the area, 100% recommended :)

Sunday 19 November 2017

Food Journey From Kashmir To Kanyakumari | Tiara Meluha The Fern Powai Mumbai | Indian Food Festival Review

Take a trip to the bylanes and nooks and corners of India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari at Tiara at Meluha The Fern,Powai. This festival of top-notch pan-Indian delicacies from 16th-26th November for dinner buffet is a fantastic reason to head here with family :)

Eco-friendly and environmentally sensitive property this, Tiara is located on the ground floor, classy and classic architecture + earthy colors (with splashes of bright artworks) create THE perfect environment for any occasion be it corporate dining, family meal or even celebrating an engagement party. Right now, it is completely drenched in fabulous multi-coloured traditional Indian fabrics, artworks and motifs for the ongoing food festival.

Absolutely loved the different sections for large groups that also ensure plenty of privacy (and free space for kids to run around, why should adults have all the fun :D) Beautiful bar area and of course a huge buffet spread. Service is exemplary with every guest being looked after with impeccable warmth and genuine smiles, 5 stars for every staff member here, including the Executive Chef himself who loves taking feedback from guests on every aspect of food.

All the starters are must-try, right from the delicious multi-flavoured Blue Lassi from the Ghats of Benaras,
>> To buttery mouth-watering Parathas from Delhi’s Chandi Chowk (in three types – Aloo, Pyaaz & Lachcha),
>> To spicy Kachoris by famous Lal Balti in Lucknow and other lip smacking starters from Chef’s kitchen, like Mushrooms (south Indian style), Mumbai’s bhajiyas (softest and not at all dripping of oil, yet crunchy and tasty), Paneer wrap (with pudina and tomato chutneys) and softest Paneer Tikkas.
>> Also must try is the Tamil and Sri Lankan special Mulligattawny soup, which is made of lentils - thick, non spicy and flavourful – much like liquid Daal Puri

Coming to main course, we tried the following and found them all to be very much homely, hence memorable:

>>Dahi wada, Curd Rice, Chana Chaat and Kachumbar – all simple and healthy
>>Andhra Rice – Tamarind Rice with peanuts and curry leaves – very ‘made by nani maa’ feel
>>Daal (thick, the way we like it), Kashmiri Rajma (perfection), Chilli Masala (stuffed mirchi,ooh la la), Nadir Palak (crispy lotus stems with palak, exotic, must-have), Snake Gourd (something different), Papad ki sabji (yes, papad! It was scrumptious)

After tasting all of the above, there was barely any space left for anything more in our stomachs, but how can one avoid the dessert section!

>>Starting with their MUST-HAVE jelly ice creams in cones,
>>To Kesar boondi,
>>To Jumbo gulab jamuns with coconut shreds on top,
>>To Shrikhand tarts (another heavenly MUST try!)
>>To Thandai pastry (Thandai flavoured with baby gulab jamun on top,could have some more thandai flavour but this one was lip smacking too),
>>FINALLY we ended the night with Malpua and Ada Payasam (we were literally incapable of eating anything more otherwise we would have had another round of these two, they were fantastic)

Also, a special word of appreciation for bartender extraordinaire, Ripu, who took care of our alcoholic and non-alcoholic cravings with his special versions of Cranberry Margarita and White Sangria (with Brandy), both of which you will not find elsewhere!

A perfect journey through special Indian gastronomic delights, that is what Tiara offers us in Food Journey From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, and it is completely value for money for the huge spread + impeccable service + serene ambiance. Will keep Tiara securely in my list of places to revisit with family :)