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 :) 

Thursday 12 December 2019

Dessertino Ghatkopar Mumbai | Dessert Heaven | Best Waffles And Thickshakes | Food Review | Favorite Recommendation

Everyone who knows me knows I have not just a sweet tooth but a sweet jaw, and am ready to have delicious desserts any time. So when a review invite for Dessertino came in my inbox, I couldn't wait to land here, and boy am I glad I spent my afternoon here.

Cute and small outlet with desserts of all sorts, milkshakes, thickshakes, waffles, greek yogurt for dessert fanatics. The USP here is that they make everything in-house and do not purchase ingredients from third party, so there is top-most quality control and premium flavors in each dish. The staff is extremely helpful and if you cannot decide what to have from the menu, listen to their suggestions. Prices match the quality, though ofcourse everything in Mumbai is expensive when compared to any other city :P

PISTACHIO WAFFLE- This is what I will travel from one end of the city to another, MUST-HAVE, freshly baked waffles with pistachio cream that is neither bland nor too sweet, just right, in fact I hardly ever like waffles anywhere but I am going to keep coming here for noshing on these waffles,

BELGIAN DARK CHOCOLATE THICKSHAKE- I love bitter chocolate and the staff made sure I knew that before I ordered this. They do not use any ice cream in making thick shakes, there is a special machine they use and this shows in the quality of the shake..and if you like bitter chocolate, this is a must-have for you. Basically, whatever flavor you like, pick accordingly from the menu, they have something for everyone..including berrylicious, kesar pista, ferrero rocher and so on, each one of them authentic,

ROSE PETALS ICE CREAM- This is where a dessert parlor really shines. Some places have too sweet flavors while some others have icy bland flavors but this one was just PERFECT. Rose Petals is a sublime flavors made better with some nuts and felt like a cool breeze needed on a sultry summer afternoon. TRY THIS for sure. I will be going back to try their other flavors that looked equally appetizing such as Caramello, Rajwadi Kulfi and so on.

After making waves throughout Gujarat, Dessertino is now here in Mumbai to make waves and from this review experience, this hippo is happy enough to give a big thumbs-up to everyone for going here and trying out everything from their menu.

Sunday 1 December 2019

Baesic and Baesic Lite Mumbai Delivery | Delicious Light Yummy | Food That Is Bae | Food Review

BAE is the new buzzword, so why should food be left behind! Food that is Bae, now being served by Baesic and Baesic Lite. Got to try some delicacies from them for a review session and I am ready to go all bae-listic over how yummy everything is :)

Baesic is a delivery only brand for the new-age foodies who do not want to restrict themselves to just one cuisine, this is delicious food that is prepared with love and fresh ingredients and adheres to the only philosophy of it being flavorsome and delicious. 

Baesic Lite is the snackier cousin of Baesic that provides different dips and chips schemes all made-in-house without any artificial flavors or preservatives, so that when the foodies want something to munch on, they can simply reach over and have something that is light while being delicious.

So basically, both the brands aim at the urban youth who want delicious food that is not too heavy but also flavorsome and easy on the pocket. All points checked, here is what I tried and loved from Baesic-

PANANG TOFU CURRY NOODLE BOWL - Creamy curry with just the right amount of sweet, salty, savory, tangy touches, alongside big chunks of Tofu and Flat Noodles with corn and peanuts bringing the crunch factor, my absolute favorite,

CHILLI BBQ PANEER IN PAV - Soft buttery Pav with Barbecued Paneer chunks and spicy gravy with loads of peanuts, another winner, filling and delicious but not heavy, in fact 2 of these and even a hungry hippo like me is happy :)

MINI SEA SALT DARK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE - Decadent Mousse with crumbles on top, enough said :D

From Baesic Lite, this is all the awesomeness that I got for review and loved to the core-

ROASTED BELL PEPPER JAM - Tried something like this for the first time in my life, can't wait to try more again, had a tangy base with little sweetness too, went well with chips and later, with bread :D

ROASTED GARLIC HUMMUS - Smooth and not overpoweringly garlicky, just the way we love, fresh and tasty,

MISO ONION DIP- If you are a hardcore onion flavor fan, this is your thing. I have never tried this kind of strong onion flavored anything, it is naturally sweet and goes well with any dip or sandwich,

CLASSIC COLD BREW- Strongest brew I have ever tasted, I am not a big coffee fan, but my sister is and she LOVED it,

LAVASH- The ultimate accompaniment for the hummus and jam, not unnecessarily salty, just right, felt light,

ALMOND COOKIES- Light and delicious, not unnecessarily sweet and not bland either, perfectly crispy and just right for evening snacking time!

Needless to say, everything I have tried from Baesic as well as Baesic Lite is worth reordering and this hungry hippo gives a big thumbs up to both :)

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Cheese Tease Fest at 1441 Pizzeria Lower Parel Mumbai | Authentic Italian Pizzas And More | Food Review | Restaurant Review

have been to 1441 Pizzeria's other outlets earlier and it remains one of the best, my personal most favorite pizza destinations in the city. The reason being, the passion with which they bring genuine ingredients, authentic recipes and craft each pizza in the special wood-fired oven, makes pizzas taste so much better than many places that rely on overdose of cheese and thick crusts alone. Was here with mom for their special Cheese Tease Fest that has many items on the menu no available otherwise, and I hope they make this a permanent thing because everyone deserves all the deliciousness of this fest on a regular basis. 

The outlet is small but cute, with green and red colors dominating the decor, and a timeless feel, making the first impression stand out with its warmth. Add to it the unmatched happiness of the staff in welcoming every person with a cheery greeting and the patience with which they explain that this is a different place where the foodie gets to make their own pizzas, choose their own toppings, kind of cheese that they want, and see it get created in wood-fired ovens in front of their eyes. Prices a bit on the higher side but worth it for the quality and quantity.

Had, loved, and recommend-

ARANCHINI- Cheesy but not overly so, little balls of delightfulness mixed with adequate spices and happiness

TOMATO AND CHEESE SANDWICHES- Heavily portioned, enough to share with 2-3 people, big pieces of sandwiches with loads of cheese, tomatoes, salad leaves, delicious

STRACCIATELLA- Beautiful crust with bakes Stracciatella Cheese, Tomatoes, Rocket Leaves, Shaved Parmesan Cheese and Italian Sauce, a good blending of flavors that are simple and rustic without any one overpowering the others,

BOCCONCINI- My FAV! Olives, Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Sauce, Bocconcini cheese balls melted, together this is one melange of flavors that I loved despite having such simple sparse ingredients, that is what happens when the recipe is authentic and passionately followed,

Alongside for desserts we had STRAWBERRY and NUTELLA CHEESECAKES and they were delicious, with perfect balance of sweet and salty, creamy and fluffy textures :)

Overall, one more time for me to get floored by the Italian deliciousness at display here, will be back for sure! 

Saturday 23 November 2019

HeadQuarters Colaba Mumbai | Fantastic Feast | Food Review | Restaurant Review

An iconic destination of SoBo, Headquarters in Colaba, is back after a 3 year hiatus and it is better than ever! Was here on a lazy afternoon for a review session and it was so much better than expected. Chilled-out ambiance with funky Charlie Chaplin and such digital motifs on the wall, monkeys with light-sabers hanging from the ceilings, a full all-day bar and a menu choc-a-bloc with something for everyone, from pizzas and pastas to Tacos and Wraps. 

There are normal chair-table setups as well as high chairs setups, the staff is extraordinarily polite and helpful, the background music is full of latest global chart-busters with volume enough to carry on conversations with friends without any disturbance. Portions are generous with 1 main course being more than enough for 2 people to share, so prices are very reasonable when compared on the parameters of quality and quantity.

Tried, loved and recommend:-

PANEER CHEESY KEBAB- Long soft paneer and cheese kebabs, MUST-HAVE, so so sooooooo well made,

COTTAGE CHEESE AND CILANTRO MELTS- Melt in mouth cottage cheese in mildly spicy hot & sweet red chilli sauce with coriander garnish, for those who want little pockets of delights on their palate :)

MEXICAN TACOS- Bite-sized crispy corn tortilla pockets with baked beans, peppers, cheese, all baked, good for sharing with friends, fresh and crunchy,

COTTAGE CHEESE IRONY- Big cottage cheese stripes stacked like double-decker sandwiches in creamy gravy with spicy fried rice on the side and sauteed mushrooms, This is the Protein Doube-Decker MUST HAVE, SO. MUCH. COTTAGE. CHEESE.

MOLTEN CHOCOLATE LAVA - Finished off the feast with a molten hot lava chocolate served with vanilla ice cream. DECADENT.

Can't wait to be back :)

Sunday 10 November 2019

Karwari Food Festival | Solitaire Restaurant Hotel Kohinoor Continental | Best Food Festival Destination | Food Review

Anybody making a list of best buffet dining destinations or food festival destinations in Mumbai, make Solitaire Restaurant at Kohinoor Continental your top pick right away. Delicious food, very value for money price point, elegant calm ambiance, excellent staff and superb service-pick your reason to visit Solitaire and just do it :)

I have been here for multiple food festivals over the years and not once have they disappointed me or my family. Have loved the Thai Food Festival, the Maharashtrian Food Festival, and now the Karwari Food Festival that is going on right now till 17th of November 2019. There aren't 500 items in the buffet, but more than enough for anybody to feast like royalty.

They have brought the perfect home-cooked feel, everything tastes like prepared by a loving grandma, so this is the right place to say goodbye to oil-laden food that is the usual trademark of typical 'restaurant food'. And the walk till Solitaire is also adorned with ambiance-enhancing decorations, nice touch :) For me, the main draw was that Karwari food, from the coastal Karnataka region, that is mainly seafood based, also had many options for a hardcore vegetarian like me. Ingredients like coconut, hand-pounded spices, tamarind, potatoes have been used generously and I cannot emphasize this enough-nothing has been doused in ghee or oil to make it tasty, rather the real taste of real ingredients shines through in every preparation. This is the best differentiating factor here that even my mother loved a lot.

Started off with PANAK, the most refreshing drink hands down, with Jaggery, Lemon, Ginger, Black Pepper together, how can this not be magical :) Alongside there was also SOL KADI and BUTTERMILK but I ended up having 3 rounds of Panak and would have had more if a delicious spread of food did not beckon me :D

The starters and salads section was hands down my favorite with plethora of bites in crunchy and healthy avatars, including-

BEETROOT KISMOR- Tangy-Spicy medley of Beetroots, Peanuts, Onions and just a dash of homemade masala,
TOUSHE MULYAR- Cooling preparation with Cucumber, Dahi, Coconut,
ASSORTED PAPAD- Do not miss the Shankh shaped papads!
ASSORTED KAAP- Basically fritters but baked, not fried, thin slices of Potatoes, Bananas, Brinjals and Yams. Sound humble but wait till you taste them, the delicious crumby coating will force you to go back for seconds.
DAL VADE- THE BOMB! I lost count of how many of these I had. Looked like the simple tikki we have but I haven't had a more balanced mix of spices, onions, daal in a tikki version EVER. I kid you not, I am salivating just thinking about it even now.
KHOTTE- Idli steamed in Jackfruit leaves, try it for the earthy other-worldly flavor not found in any food nowadays :)

For main course, we noshed on another set of down-to-earth dishes found in Karwari households. Think veggies with coconut, curries with mix of tamarind and chillies with capsicum and raw mangoes, bhakris made of healthy ingredients such as jowar way before quinoa and kale became fashionable! We had and loved-

KAIRI UDIT METHI- Raw Mango + Karela in red curry, a bite of bitter with a lot of tanginess,
BATATA TALASINI- Simple Potato Bhaaji with Mustard, 
CHANA SURANA GASSI- Bengal Gram and Yam in a hearty thick curry with coconut and hint of tamarind,
PUGHE MIRSANG ROSE- Capsicum and Potatoes in wholesome coconut curry,
BHINDI SUKKE- Ladies fingers frolicking in a paste of coconut with loving masalas,
DAL made just like mom makes at home, no butter, no ghee, no flashy tadka, just plain happiness,
JOWAR and RICE BHAKRI, AMBE-MOHAR RICE that went as well with all the curries as the jodi of Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet,

The Home-made pickles were a great hit with mom in this section too.

And then we had to save some space for dessert too, a limited but nonetheless delicious selection of authentic Karwari delicacies enticed us. We had-

FRUITS such as pineapple, kiwi, watermelons, papaya,
MOONG DAAL PAYAS,a lightly-sweetened moong daal porridge, can be had even by those who do not like sugar,
SUKRUNDE, looks like pakode but tastes like Puran Poli, with the same stuffing inside the outer gram flour covering, a dollop of ghee will make it even better,
PATOLI, my mom is from Orissa and she tells me there they call this Pittha, rice batter stuffed with coconut and jaggery and then steamed in turmeric leaves, MUST-HAVE, simple but heavenly,

And the most delicious dessert ever-GADBAD ICE CREAM, a rage in Karnataka, mix of Vanilla, Strawberry, Mango ice creams with wafer chips, chocolate straws, chocolate chips, tutti-frutti nuggets, jellies, sprinkles..basically just let yourself be a 5 year old kid again and enjoy a trillion calories in a glass :D

Seriously, what else is the definition of good life? :)