Saturday, May 23, 2009

Marzano, Dubai

Pasta Pizza Grill
Old Town Souk
420 1136

A lovely restaurant with a classy yet relaxed atmosphere in the airconditioned souk attached to Old Town. It has a substantially large menu with various Italian dishes, but on this stopover we needed something quick. We told the Maitre D, that we were in ah urry and when we ordered the risotto, she warned us that it would take some time to be served.

Looking for something quick, we ordered the carpaccio di manzo (52) and the tagliatelle funghetto (46).

The carpaccio was really thin and well sliced, served with rocket leaves, parmigiano cheese and truffle olive oil. My only complaint with this dish was that I wish the rocket leaves had been de-stemmed. It gets a little messy to eat when you drizzle olive oil or balsamic vinegar on it and the leaves bounce as you try to gently raise them to your mouth.

The complimentary hot bread served with a garlic based dip and a sundried tomato dip was excellent.

The pasta was a bit too al dente for me, but the sauce was lovely.

The fresh water melon juice -24- was really fresh and refreshing.

Woudl love to go back here when we have more time for a relaxed meal.

India Palace, Dubai

India Palace
The Walk
437 0279

The India Palace in Delhi is a greta restaurant that serves authentic Mughlai food. Lured by the name, we walked into this restaurant on the walk.

The interiors were beautifully done and very enticing. Sadly the food did not match up to the standards set by the decor.

It may be easy enough for the India palace to purport to be authentic Indian cuisine to the tourists pounding the sidewalk, but no self-respecting Indian would ever go back a second time.

The Thandaii - 13- almond and cardamom flavored milk based drink - was an interesting starting point which lulled us into believing that better things were to come. Unfortunately other than the stuffed aloo kulcha (7) - Indian bread stuffed with potatoes - nothing else even came close.

We ordered the tarah tarah ke kebab (an assortment of kebabs/grilled meats) - 52- hoping to enjoy a selection of tender chunks and morsels of meat. What was served was dehydrated bits of meat that did not seem to have seen the enfolding embrace of a marinade for more than a minute.

The tadka dhal - 14- yellow lentils was absolutely band without even the flavor of tomato or tempering of cumin.

The banjara kabab - 22- extolled as a cottage cheese dumpling, coated with spinach and nuts cooken in saffron flavored rich tomato and cashew gravy tasted as vegetable dumplings tossed into a generic butter chicken/butter paneer gravy.

Normally in large restaurants, different chefs manage the tandoor (where kebabs are grilled) and the main kitchen. Hoping to strike lucky with some rice, we ordered the ghosht biryani-35- lamb biryani. the rice was dry. Large pieces of mint leaves were liberally mixed into the dish and the meat was dry.

If you want to eat good Indian food in Dubai, stick to Karama. Those eateries may be basic, but they sure know how to cook food the way an Indian mom/grandmom would cook it. Lots of effort + fresh ingredients = unbeatable flavor.

Japengo Cafe, Dubai

Japengo Cafe,
Multiple Locations

Outlet visited:
Dubai Festival City
232 6220

The Japengo Cafe decor looked cool and welcoming, so I selected this location over all the other endless eating options at Festival City. The ratio of staff to customers looked 3:1 and I hoped that it meant quick service at 3:30pm, but unfortunately I was in for a long wait.

I was seated quickly enough by a very polite Maitre D, who gave me enough time to peruse the lengthy menu of Appetizers, salads, sandwiches, sushi, sashimi, maki, temaki, Italian, wood fired pizzas, stir fries in crispy baskets, Oriental, Lebanese, Specials, Sides, Desserts, fresh juices, fruit cocktails, coffes, teas and Persian dishes.

I ordered an iced tea - 16dhs - which arrived soon enough. While ordering the iced tea, I had also ordered my main course. Unable to decide between the grilled lamb chops(72) and the Nasi Goreng (51), I asked the Maitre D for her recommendation. Usually if a Maitre D recommends the cheaper option, it means the restaurant is sure of that dish ensuring repeat customers.

I went with her recommendation, but was in for a really long wait. After 25 minutes of trying to prolong my iced tea, I finally found a waiter who hovered close enough to get his attention and asked for my meal. He brought it instantly and what followed leaves me with no doubt that they forgot to serve me my meal even though it was ready much earlier.

The fried rice was colder than room temperature, the side stick of chicken satay was cold and starting to harden around the satay stick. the roast chicken piece was starting to dry out and was also cold. The rice had no balance in flavour, the satay sauce had potential, but served at low temperatures lost its punch. the roast chicken could have been awesome, but was a solid lump of not too tender flesh. (all 3 were a part of the nasi goreng dish)

With so many staff manning seperate counters for each specialty and with very few customers, I expected much better service. Seems they were more involved in their own conversations and preoccupied with eating their own lunch (which I saw some of them do in the restaurant) than serving paying customers.

Didn't bother ordering dessert as I was already running half an hour late with this delay and couldnt afford another half hour.

Would rather grab a sandwich at Cinnabon, the next time I am in the vicinity.

The BBC Good Food Team seem to have had a better experience at the Mall of Emirates Location:
Dare I risk it at another location?

Baanthai, Dubai

Oasis Mall
515 4000

Baanthai is part of the foodcourt at the recently re-opened Oasis Mall. At 1pm - lunch time, all the dishes were ready cafeteria style and you just had to point and choose. Each main dish comes with its own side of steamed rice.

We tried the Massaman Nua-25- Massaman curry with braised beef and potatoes. A coconut milk based curry that isnt too spicy (unlike the red and green curries) and still distinctly Thai. It was understated and simple, the meat was well cooked and the potatoes were just the right consistency.

Also had the Gai Phad Med Na Maung -25- stir fried chicken with cashew nuts. This had a sweet and sour taste to it. Although it is a stir fry, it did have a bit of gravy with it to eat with the rice. This dish is also high on capsicum peppers and onions, so its high in fiber and veggie content too.

The tod man pla -15- deep fried spicy fish cake was not as mincy as it could have been. It was a solid flattenned slightly chewy lump, even though it took 15 minutes more to prepare (presumably fresh)

Other than the fish cakes the food was fresh and good. They do have a choice of soups, starters and salad. The prawn curries had really large sized prawns in them.

The menu lists a Thai tea which wasn't available today, but they do serve the entire fountain range of Pepsico drinks.(5/7 med/large)

They do not have desserts, but that was easily remedied by a stop at Subway in the same food court for cookies :)

Staff is pleasant and quite efficient.

Good for a quick meal.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Warning : Estoril Restaurant, Downtown

We found cockroaches in our drink and in the tomato soup last Thursday night at ESTORIL . I would recommend avoiding this place.
When we complained, the management tried to convince us that they must have flown in when the door was opened and just shrugged their shoulders. The only thing they offered was to replace the drink and soup. But we could not eat another bite after these two simultaneous discoveries and just left the rest of the food (that we did pay for) and walked out.

The Management was completely nonchalant and unapologetic about the episode and that was most galling. Even if the Management did not have the courtesy or the wherewithal to waive our bill, the least we expected was an apology, but there was absolutely no chance of that happening, the way things were going.

This place is best avoided.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Leil Nhar, Beirut

Leil Nhar
Ashrafieh facing Sagesse School
Hekmeh Street
01 325326

Leil Nhar means "Day and Night" and is a wonderful eatery that is open 24 hours. The vibe we got when we walked in was that of a 60's style diner transported into 2009. The place was buzzing at midnight when all the eateries in the nearby mall had closed for the day. It was filled with young people, just chatting and laughing, smoking cigarettes, having fun and just enjoying the company of their friends. The bright decor and the large screens playing cartoon network with the volume muted but English subtitles, just added to the lively atmosphere

The menu is mostly breakfast kind of items with a few pizzas and desserts thrown in for good measure. The menu is divided into traditional Lebanese breakfast items(1000-4500), various cheese platters(6000-7500), salads (6750-8750), baked potatoes with different stuffings(4500-7000), sandwiches(6250-11000), pizzas(9000-11500), Desserts(3500-6000) and drinks(1000-4500)

We ordered the eggs and potato sandwich (6250) which had mint, tomatoes, olives and olive oil thrown in for taste and I ordered the crab sandwich (7250). My sandwich was excellent - light, crispy and fresh with the lettuce and lemon mayo not masking the delicate flavor of the crab meat. Sandwiches are served rolled in Lebanese pita/eish/khubuz which is a very thin bread compared to what is served as Lebanese bread outside of Lebanon. The closest I could compare it to is an Indian Roomali Roti, but this is much softer.

I also ordered an eggs and bacon (9000) which was eggs scrambled with bacon served with freshly baked Lebanese bread, cucumbers, tomatoes and olives.

To drink we had a carrot juice (4250) and a Lemon Iced Tea(3750), both excellent.

Our first experience with Lebanese food was excellent. Everything we ate was light, fresh, clean and just felt so healthy. No wonder Lebanese are known for their wonderful looks and complexions. if I eat this healthy and fresh daily, my complexion should improve too.

The desserts on display looked excellent especially the marshmallow cake (chocolate cake topped with marshmallows and smarties (6000), but we were quite stuffed with our mains and dessert seemed too decadent after all the healthy food. So we turned it down, which in hindsight we could have indulged in, given the steep climb to reach our hotel! (all those calories would have simply melted away)

Leil Nhar does deliver home except the egg items.

Our bill came to 36750 with 2 large bottles of water. The bill came printed with both Lebanese currency value and the dollar value. There is a 10% VAT added onto the prices. The dollar value was about 25USD.

Service was excellent, quiet, quick, unobtrusive but extremely attentive. We'd love to go back if we were staying longer and I didnt have this compulsive need to try out as many different restaurants that I can in each city that I visit.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Manvaar Restaurant, Dubai

Manvaar Restaurant
Opposite Reem Residency
Near Fish Market
336 8332

Manvaar serves some outstanding Rajasthani food and while they do deliver home, I would highly recommend eating on location at least once. The experience starts right at the great wooden door and continues to the waiters dressed in costume and the bandhini printed table napkins. Its a lovely place to take non-Indian friends to impress them with the colors of India and lovely food to boot.

Their paneer starters/kebabs are good(in the 20dhs range) as the paneer is of good quality. I love the glotty kebab (8pcs - 28dhs) although it is as far from a Lucnowi galouti kebab as you can get. The Manvaar version is made from pounded mince, but mixed with solid chopped pieces of onion, green chilli and corriander. The Lucknowi version is sometimes difficult to even pick up with your fingers before it disintegrates. If you would like to try out the variety of starters, you can opt for the mix platter (veg-32dhs and non-veg-42dhs)

They have a long list of Rajasthani special mains. The most famous being the dhal batti churma (22dhs) which is excellent. The Rajasthani Phumbi (mushroom 15dhs) was very tasty, but I have my suspicions that the mushrooms came from a tin. We had ordered this as a delivery, so I can't be absolutely sure. Methi Papad, papad ki sabji, gulab jamun ki sabji (I wonder what this is) are listed as other specials.

The Lal Maans (26 with bone, 30 for boneless) is a traditional Rajasthani meat dish made very well. I remember hearing somewhere that this was an easy to cook dish devised by Rajasthani cooks of yore when out on a hunt with the ruling royalty. They used ingredients that were easy to carry and did not need much preparation to cook the game. Nowadays Lal Maans is normally made from mutton. Rotis are between 2-4dhs each and 5dhs for the masala kulcha. The bread basket (20dhs) is a good way to smaple the different Indian breads.

While the Rajasthani dishes and some of the North Indian dishes on the menu are excellent, I would not recommend their biriyani(18-25dhs), simply because Dubai has much better biriyanis to offer. If you want to order this dish with the rest of your meal from Manvaar then it is ok, but not as your main order.

Desserts are also excellent. I would highly recommend the rabri ghewar(12dhs) which is a large orange jelebi (called an imarti in some parts of India) soaked in rabri (Indian version of clotted and whipped cream)

Do visit them on location to enjoy the whole experience of eating a Rajasthani meal.

Bikanervala Restaurant, Dubai

Bikanervala Restaurant
396 8813

This is a vegetarian restaurant that specialises in Rajasthani sweets and snacks but has now expanded to included South I:ndian dosas, chaat and Indian chinese too.

They offer everything my husband craves from home from Kadhi pakoda and rajma chaaval to parathas and puris. Their chaat is excellent, each in the 5-10dhs range. I love their paani puri, papdi chaat and sev puri. Their badam pista kesar milk (8dhs) is outstanding and worth stocking in the fridge for those hot summer days. They do deliver home, but seem to have some restrictions on timing, days of the week, order value vs distance etc.

Their grilled vegetarian sandwiches are tasty. The dosas aren't exactly like back home (Mangalore/Udupi) but passable. Their thalis include a paneer dish, a seasonal vegetable, some pilaf, dhal, 1 naan, 1 roti, raita, papad, salad, pickle and sweet. This has to be consumed on the premises, it cant be delivered at home.

Il Fiume, Dubai

Il Fiume
Marina Heights Tower
Dubai Marina
04 422 4664

A charming bistro on the Marina in Dubai. It offers a delectable range of pastries, coffees, juices and meals too. We sat down here to grab a coffee (frappucinos - 20dhs), but liked the ambiance so much, that we decided to have an early lunch. They do serve sheesha at this cafe, so the smell can be a bit nauseous or reminiscent, depending on which way you look at it.

Il Fiume is decorated in a very contemporary style with a glass kitchen so you can keep your eyes on the chef while he prepares your food. They serve Italian and Lebanese food. While we waited for our order, we were served a basket of breads with 4 different dips and olives with cornichons.

I ordered a carpaccio di manzo (34dhs) which was beef carpaccio served with a salad of roccola leaves, halved cherry tomatoes and what tasted like pickled mushrooms in a balsamic vinegar dressing and parmesan shavings. It was good, but I have had much better carpaccio where the raw taste isnt as pronounced and the slices are much thinner. The Grand Hyatt in Cairo serves a wonderful version of carpaccio.

Our other order was a fettucini pollo (45dhs) without the chicken but substituted with mushrooms for the husband. This was outstanding. The pasta was cooked just right, but what elevated this dish to a much higher level was the mixed cheese sauce with herbs and sun dried tomatoes. Comfort food at its best.

They also offer risottos and pizzas on their menu.

Portions are just right. Service as seems usual for Dubai was quick and efficient. They were not at all cranky about the requested substitution of mushroom for chicken. After Egypt, this kind of service takes some getting used to (tongue in cheek-laugh) They have outdoor seating too and Il Fiume will have a wonderful view once the surrounding construction comes to a halt and the protective boards around the construction sites are taken down.

Chop Chop, Dubai

Chop Chop
Mall of Emirates
+971 4 341 3618

Chop Chop is a restaurant in the Mall of the Emirates (famed for its ski slope in the desert) that serves South East Asian food. The menu was extensive and had a gamut of Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian and Thai food.

We tried the Asian vegetable Tempura (22dhs) which was crisp and tasty in conjunction with its dipping sauce. We also had the crisp mushrooms which were excellent. For a main course, we tried the Phad Thai (38dhs) which was served with the 4 customary sides in Thai food - sugar, lemon, chilli flakes and ground nuts. Excellent balance of flavours.

I opted for the Massaman lamb curry (39dhs) a yellow coconut based Thai curry. It could have been spicier, but it was still very tasty. Smooth and creamy with tender pieces of lamb and bell peppers served with a bowl of Jasmine rice.

Avoided the desserts again as we were in a hurry to make it in time to another appointment. Note to self: Do not walk into a mall to grab lunch in a hurry. Too many distractions in the mall and its a long walk each way, from and to the parking.

Service was excellent. Quiet, quick and unobtrusive. Decor was a lovely black and red. We loved the food here, can't imagine why we ever ate fast Food on previous visits to this mall. Husbands dietary restrictions are ensuring we stay away from fast food and we are eating much healthier and more flavorsome food when eating out these days.

Calicut Paragon

Calicut Paragon
Opp Lulu Centre
+971 4 3335 8700

Calicut Paragon is a Malabari (Kerala) restaurant with many decades of history in India. This was a restaurant that was highly recommended to me by my Mallu friends in Egypt and given the huge queues outside this restaurant each Friday, I have never been able to eat here on my previous visits to Dubai. For a change, I found myself in this area on a week night and the queue outside wasn't serpentine.

Seating is basic, but comfortable. There was a certificate on display that all the staff had attended some heavy duty hygiene training. All the staff including the serving staff wore hair nets. Hehehe. Men in shower caps with mustaches showing - its quite a sight, I tell you! Fresh fish was on display at the counter, so you could pick your choice.

We settled for a very basic meal, that was reminiscent of home for me. Kerala cooking style is very similar and overlaps with the Manglorean style of cooking, especially in the sea food domain. I had a king fish mango curry (18dhs) and squid varathiyathu (26dhs) with appam (1.5dhs per piece). The fish curry was a red coconut curry made with green mango. The last time I had this dish with prawns, it was made by my grandmother who passed away just over a month ago. Eating this curry, had me close to tears, as I never thought I would be able to taste food the way nana made it, ever again. The squid was a spicy semi dry prepration with roasted coconut and curry leaves. The appams were just right, light and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy in the center. I could make a meal of just the appams.

All the biriyanis were already over, even though it was not yet 9pm. Husband being on a vegetarian diet, had the kerala paratha (thin, flaky and layered 2dhs/piece) a malabari dal curry (10dhs) and ghee rice (10dhs) The rice had nuts and raisins in it and was more of a pilaf than ghee rice, but very tasty. It was served with chutney, a sweet and a spicy pickle, coconut chutney and two pieces of Kerala Pappadums. (very different from North Indian Pappadums)

A large bottle of mineral water costs 3dhs. I saw someone at the neighbouring table being poured a red liquid in their water glass and I promptly requested my own share of hot water. This was a drink I last had, in copious quantities, over 12 years ago when traveling on a students budget across Kerala. Mineral water in those days was very expensive and not something you would buy, when on a budget. Most small Kerala restaurants in those days served hot water boiled with some herbs in copper/brass tumblers. The herbs turned the water red and imparted a faint taste to the water which wasn't unpleasant. This was the first time, I was seeing this water being served, since ages. Would appreciate it, if someone could tell me what the herbs used in this water are and the purpose of these herbs (appetiser, digestive, cooling for the humid heat?)

My friends had highly recommended the chootu (small fish) fry, but I really wanted the green mango curry and some squid. Paragon does serve some North Indian style food, but its the mallu food that is outstanding at this joint. This is a restaurant that I would love to keep going back to.

Here's a link to Time Out's Review

Shakespeare And Co, Dubai

Shakespeare And Co
Multiple Outlets
Across Dubai

Shakespeare and Co has a couple of outlets across Dubai. Their decor is quaint: a mix of a traditional English tea shop, but with a bit of the Mad Hatter's tea party thrown in too. Seating arrangements are different at each table. Stuffed Victorian Style seating and kids play room benches fight for space. Decoupage and pastel colors provide a strange yet pleasing visual collage. Tables were all low at the outlet that we visited (Emirates Hills).

They have a pattiserie on the premises and the pastries, chocolates and meringues were absolutely beautiful to look at and very attractively displayed and it took every ounce of our willpower not to indulge our sweet teeth :) We settled for a natural sugar fix with a fresh watermelon juice (23dhs) and an iced mango lassi (yoghurt drink - 32dhs) Both of them came with no extra sugar.

All attempts of trying to eat healthy went out the window with our food order though. I thought I was ordering a smaller portion when I ordered the Shakespeare special (45dhs), but this turned out to be batter fried calamari, french fries - outstanding, fried lemon slices - my first time trying something like this and halved jalapenos fried - nice and spicy, all served with an excellent tartar sauce. The lasagna al forno (42dhs) was also outstanding. But it is so rich, that it is an ample meal for two or more.

We were served some complementary bread that was fresh out of the oven and completely heavenly while we waited for our order to arrive.

Loved the decor, loved the ambiance. They do not allow photography on their premises (strange for Dubai) else I would have loved to put up plenty of pictures of this place.

Dynasty, Dubai

Ramada Hotel
Bur Dubai
+971 4 351 9999

The Dynasty restaurant at the Ramada is a quiet haven in the middle of the constant bustle of Bur Dubai. The low lighting and quiet but efficient service is very soothing as you walk into the restaurant.

Complementary pickled cabbage was served at the table along with our menus. We tried the crisp mushroom manchurian (35dhs) which had a variety of mushrooms and spare ribs in honey sauce (44dhs) as our appetisers. The ribs were sweet, sticky and syrupy, but we couldn't say that we weren't warned. The wonton soup (28dhs) was a clear broth - Simple, hearty and flavorful.

The American Chopsuey (48dhs) was sweet and tangy with a mix of different meats. The noodles used were not the regular egg noodles but more the style of a rice vermicilli fried snack popular in South India. I could have eaten just the deep fried noodles without any sauce or toppings. The Mixed fried rice (44dhs) was rather plain, but good in combination with a saucy side. Our choice was for the Sinagaporean crab (68dhs) The crab could have done with a bit more spice to be authentic, but the side sauces helped up the spice quotient.

Mineral water was 15dhs for a large bottle.

Dynasty serves a wide variety of vegetarian, seafood and meat dishes including scallops(165 dhs) and lobster(165dhs).

For dessert, choices ranged from ice-cream (15dhs) to almond biscuits (28dhs) and batter fried lychees with ice cream(38). Since we had already indulged in Hagen Daaz ice cream earlier in the day, we decided to skip this section.

Quantities are large and we could have done without ordering the fried rice or American Chopsuey as a meal for two.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sushi Recommendations in Cairo

Sushi is one of the few foods, that I do not like. I've tasted it in different forms and locations, but it is not something I have developed a taste for.

Hence I cannot provide a primer on the best sushi in Cairo. But my friend Mona Daoud, loves sushi and this is her list of recommendations for sushi in Cairo.

"Mori Sushi. There are two in Zamalek; one which is right before the fish gardens and the other is a branch in Sequoia (reservation essential) It tops the other branch because they serve alcohol and have a pretty view. There is also a branch in Mohandessin.
In Maadi, there is Gaya on Road 253 next to seoudi market (stick to their temaky, it's awesome)

Then there is the Makani chain (excellent fresh salmon sashimi) but their other stuff is good too. There is a branch in Maadi next to Maadi grand mall and one in Mohandessin somewhere near Syria street. I heard the one in Heliopolis was horrible. There are other branches but I have no idea where.

There is also Sapporo (Fresh and basic, no fusion, no experimentation, authentic and positively succulent) at the Sheraton in Dokki. The prices are like sushi everywhere.

(Gaya and Makani are the cheapest two in Cairo)

Jo Sushi
on Mohamed Mazhar street in Zamalek has it's on days and off days. Depends on your luck... just make sure to tell them not to use wasabi while preparing sushi for you because they mistakenly think that if they're generous with it, it will taste better.

There's also INakaYa , 6A Midan Aswan in Mohandessin. They have all you can eat nights for 90 LE on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday. I haven't tried them though, so I'm not sure if they're good. I only heard about them.

Asia Bar on Blue Nile (boat in Zamalek) They have amazing sushi though it's more expensive than all other places, but it's worth it.

And there's Hanami in Giza, overlooking the Nile. 70% of the time their sushi was spot on.

There's L'Asiatique in Le Pacha but I don't like their sushi.

Bon Apetit"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Madhuvan's Village - Mangalore

Madhuvan's Village
221 4158

Currently this is the most famous restaurant in Mangalore for quality seafood. They have been rapidly expanding and each time I visit, I see that they have opened a new seating section. The ambiance in the evenings is wonderful and relaxing as it has a semi open air feel.

The rates of seafood are seasonal. But the rates mentioned here will give you an indication.

The food was all excellent and I have yet to find a dish that I do not like at this place.

For starters we had Chicken 65(85rs), chicken tawa fry (13ors) - highly recommended, squid/baandaas butter garlic (80rs), mussels/pacchile masala fry (70rs), fish tawa fry (1 large slice of surmai/king fish - 130rs)

This all went excellently with our drinks.
60ml bacardi 85rs. Signature Whisky 60ml - 80rs, 30ml-45rs. Smirnoff 30ml - 45rs. Fosters pint 55rs.

Mineral water is 25rs. Soft drinks are 20rs a bottle.

The spicy starters go really well with the drinks, exactly the way most South Indians like it :)

For the main course we ordered an assortment of neer dosas, sannas and appams at 3rs each. As accompaniments we ordered matka fish (130rs) which is boneless fish cooked in old style mud pots. Believe me this adds layers of flavor to the dish and its a complete "naani ki khaane ki yaad aagayi" phenomenon in food.

The traditional Manglorean favorite kori rotti (90rs) includes the rotti as well as a pot of chicken curry. Real value for money if that is what you are looking for.

The kundapuri chicken(90rs) was a spicy semi gravy dish that goes very well with dosas.

Quick tip for Manglorean food. Sannas and shevios taste best with gravies/curries. Dosas and appams go well with both gravies and semi gravy items. There is a more complex algorithm for pairing these rice based dishes with accompaniments that I may go into at a later date.

To soothe our taste buds after the fiery onslaught, we ended with some ice cream(40rs) and caramel custard(40rs).

While the dishes mentioned here may all seem very spicy, it is because we consciously choose the spiciest items on the menu, they have other options too which arent as spicy.

The prices for alcohol include tax, the prices for food and soft drinks have a sales tax that is later added on.

Mini Punjab / Nirman Veg, Pune

On a quick trip to Pune, we stopped at Mini Punjab which was on our way (didn't have the time to get into the city and eat at any of our favorites) and hence randomly selected.

We were pleasantly surprised by the food.

Its a very down to earth restaurant. Clean and hygienic but not very fancy.

The food was quite good though, except for my biryani(95rs) being served cold.

The manager informed us that Mini Punjab has many locations across the city. We ate at the B J Road, Parmar chambers branch which was clubbed with Nirman Veg restaurants. They have a Tandoor and kebab grill outside the restaurant and the kitchen is supposed to be pure veg, so I think my biriyani came from a different location and turned cold before it could be served at our table.

The kebab menu is limited, but we truly enjoyed both the Chicken Sholay kebab(110rs) and the chicken malai kebab(10rs).

The alu(35rs) and methi(38rs) parathas were also excellent. They were served with complimentary dhal and raita.

The veg hakka noodles were typical roadside Indian Chinese noodles, but you could taste the flavors were fresher and cleaner than you would get on the road.

Interesting place to eat when you are on a budget. 4 of us had a filling meal for 460rs.

Prices include tax.
Phone number for this particular branch is 6603 8190.

Bakery @ Flamenco Hotel, Cairo

@ Golden Tulip -Flamenco Hotel
2 El Gezira, El Wosta Street, Zamalek

A German friend of mine, Gertrud recommended this bakery very highly for their German breads and desserts. She felt their authenticity could be credited to the fact that the GM, Mr. Groebel and his bakery chef are both Germans.

The items she recommended to me were the Brezen-stick (stangerl) and rolls and apple pie (not so sweet) and Zopf (like brioche) and the real German dark bread.

Since I was looking for Multigrain bread for my husbands strict diet, I decided to stop here and check it out.

The bakery has a warm welcoming feel to it and is very clean. There are a couple of tables in the bakery, if you would like to sit down and enjoy your treats in-store.

The staff at the counter were very polite and spoke English and knew the names of the items on sale and their basic ingredients. (Given my husbands complicated diet, I have to be very careful about ingredients in prepared foods and its quite difficult doing it in my broken Arabic)
The loaf of multigrain bread was expensive at 24LE (as compared to Monginis loaf of multigrain which retails at 5LE) but it is authentic and tasty.

I also picked up 2 large oatmeal-chocolate chip-walnut cookies for myself. At 4LE each, they were tasty and quite filling.

I have an old soft copy of their menu which I have pasted below, but prices this month are higher than the rates mentioned below. Also some items may have changed. Some items need to be ordered in advance.

Baguette long 4.75
Baguette half 2.50
Baguette brown long 10.25
Baguette brown half 5.25
Company Bread 7.50
Corn Bread 20.25
Farmer Bread 20.25
Muesli Bread 20.25
Multigrain Bread 22.00
Toast Bread 7.50
Toast Bread Brown 9.00
Vollkorn Bread 20.25
Zopf 18.00

Bread Rolls
Brioche 1.95
Kaiser Roll 0.60
Laugen Brezel 2.75
Laugen Rolls small 1.25
Laugen Rolls large 2.40
Rolls Multigrain 1.10
Rolls Rye 0.95
Schlumberger Weckerl 0.60
Rolls white 0.60
Stangel 1.10
Petit Pain 0.80

Danish & Croissant
Croissant 3.00
Croissant Cheese 5.00
Croissant Chocolate 4.00
Croissant Almond 5.00
Danish Fruit 4.00
Danish Raisin 4.00
Danish Cheese & Raisin 4.00

Sandwich 1 piece
Tuna 10.00
Chicken 12.00
Gouda Cheese 12.00
Smoked Turkey 14.00
Smoked Salmon 30.00

Cookies 250g 17.50

Whole Cakes
Apple Strudel 24.00
Apple Tarte large 24 cm 45.00
Black Forrest Cake large 24 cm 75.00
Black Forrest Cake large 20 cm 55.00
Charlotte Royal 65.00
Charlotte Strawberry 75.00
Cheese Cake large 24 cm 82.00
Cheese cake baked 82.00
Chocolate Cake large 24 cm 75.00
Chocolate Mousse Cake large 24cm 75.00
Chocolate Mousse Cake small 20cm 55.00
Fruit Cake large 24cm 85.00
Fruit cake small 20cm 65.00
Mille Feuille large 24cm 75.00
Mille Feuille Chocolate large 24cm 82.00
Mille Feuille Strawberry large 24cm 82.00
Sacher Cake large 24cm 85.00
Sacher cake small 20cm 72.00
Strawberry Tarte large 24 cm 75.00
White Forrest cake large 24cm 85.00
Nougat Torte 95.00
Chocolate Cake 40 x 40 cm 160.00
Chocolate Cake 40 x 60 cm 225.00
Fresh Fruit Cake 40 x 40 cm 175.00
Fresh Fruit Cake 40 x 60 cm 245.00

French Pastries
French Pastry 4.50
French Pastry mini 2.50
French Pastry Soirée 2.50

Pound Cakes
English Cake 35.00
English Cake plain 25.00
Marble Cake 25.00
Orange Cake 25.00
Spanish Cake 32.00

Salison 250 g 13.75
Pizza 10 cm 2.50
Quiche large 24 cm 35.00
Quiche Mushroom 24 cm 37.00
Quiche small 10 cm 4.00

General Manager
Golden Tulip Hotel Flamenco
2 El Gezira El Wosta Street / Zamalek
11211 Cairo – Egypt
T:+20-(0)2-273 50 818
F:+20-(0)2-273 50 819
M:+20-(0)10-680 99 38

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hao Ming, Mangalore

Hao Ming Chinese Restaurant
Yenepoya Chambers
221 8693, 426 8087

The Parent restaurant "Hao Hao" has many fond memories for me. It was the place we were taken for the occasional treats by our parents when we did very well in our exams (first 3 ranks) It was the place we went for our 10th std farewell treat.

By the time, I came to college, Hao Ming had a new improved branch - Hao Ming - a short distance away. We did have a lot of college birthday treats at this place.

Now the management of both restaurants is seperate.

My sister being the current resident expert on restaurants in Mangalore, gave us suggestions on what to order.

The food here is Indian Chinese at its best. Reminiscent of Nanking in Hyderabad and Rice Bowl in Bangalore.

I highly recommend the Drums of heaven(70rs) and the Thai Crunchy Chicken- spicy chicken wrapped in a noodle dip & deep fried(75rs) as starters. For more variety you can tag along fried wontons(80rs) or even try the soups. The chicken spicy soup (55) was a strange Indian and chinese combination with curry leaves (which I have never seen used in Chinese food so far) but it tasted good.

Soft drinks are 18rs and mineral water is 20rs a bottle.

For the main course we tried the Chefs special noodles(75rs) which is noodles served with 2 different sauces. The Singapore Mixed Fried Rice (65rs). Mixed American Chopsuey (80rs) and Ginger Fried rice (65rs). To accompany this carb fest, we ordered Hunan Chicken(75rs) which was outstanding and Dragon Chicken(75rs) which was good.

We ended the meal with a large pot of Chinese (Jasmine) tea (40rs) to help digest all that we had overeaten.

Btw, prices are inclusive of taxes. Service can be slow when the restaurant is crowded (which it usually is) but they do their best. If visiting at night, it is best to make a reservation.

I know the food is good, not just because of nostalgia because we were accompanied by 3 non-Manglorean foodies on this outing who truly enjoyed the food too.

Trishna, Andheri, Mumbai

3 A Crystal Plaza
Opp Infiniti Mall
New Link Road
Andheri (W)
3243 1145 / 3243 3631

I had eaten the signature Butter Pepper Garlic Crab at Trishna in Fort a couple of years ago and still remember fondly, the perfect balance of sweet crab flesh mingled with the saltiness of Amul Butter and the bite of freshly crushed peppercorns. But I much preferred the overall taste of food at Gajalee not to mention the proximity.

On my most recent trip to Bombay I saw that Trishna had opened a branch in Andheri too. We were tired and exhausted from our traveling, but decided to stop in here and savour the food.

The solkadi (40rs) was an apt start to the meal, nicely balanced.

The Manglorean King fish curry (200rs) with 2 large slices of fish, was tart & spicy and went very well with the neerdosa (35rs for 2), appams (35 per piece) and steamed rice (80rs). As we were too tired to clean crabs and eat them, we ordered the squid butter pepper garlic (250rs) which was tasty and served in large quantities.

The vegetarians with us tried the North Indian style food. The alu gobhi (170rs) was spicy and cooked to the right tenderness without being over mushy. This went well with the Tandoori Roti (15) and parathas/kulchas (20rs).

Pineapple Raita was 70rs and the Egg Corn Soup was 50rs.

Add to this a VAT of 12.5%. Its not a very reasonable restaurant, but its worth the price. The food is of very good quality and they get the flavors just right.

Aromas, Kanpur

7/135 Swarup Nagar
253 5190

Tuesday Holiday

Aromas is the most famous burger joint in Kanpur. Unfortunately this isn't saying much! If a burger joint sells Bhel Puri, Chinese soups, Pizza and Pav Bhaji too, that's an indication of things to come. The place has nostalgia value for the older residents and older alumni of the IIT in the city, as it was the only place to get "Western Fast Food" in those days.

Tried their chicken burger for 45/- Nowhere near, even the generic chain burgers. Stand alone burger joints have the potential to be really good as they can tweak the recipes to suit local tastes. My chicken burger had more potatoes and flour than chicken in the patty.

Not a place, I would recommend to anyone. Not for the non-vegetarian burgers at least. Heard a vegetarian mention that their mushroom burger (45) was awesome. I don't think I will venture here another time. But feel free to add comments about own experience here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bora Bora, Cairo

Bora Bora

Located on the Nile, it has a beautiful ambiance and is a wonderful place to relax in the evenings if you visit before 10-11pm, when the party people come in and take over. Until then it is a serene quiet place to unwind, while watching the Nile and the occasional fellucca glide by.

They do serve alcohol. A large Bacardi (60ml) is 65Le. Pint of Sakkara beer is 20.25Le. Their main course mainly comprise of pastas. We preferred to stick to the Egyptian mezze, forgoing the main course. Soft Drinks are 10Le/can.

The food was some of the best Egyptian food we have had in Cairo, second only to Abu El Sid. All the vegetarian dips - tahina, baba ghannoug and Labna are 10Le. The Labna was especially wonderful - a flavour of cream cheese and cheddar cheese, with the consistency of cheesespread.

The vine leaves - again some of the best I have eaten in a restaurant in Egypt were 20Le. They need to be eaten when fresh and hot, else the fat in the stuffing begins to weigh heavily on the palate.

The Alexandian Liver at 42Le, the Alexandrian Sausage at 28Le and the fried calamari at 49Le were excellent. The texture of calamari was just right as was the seasoning. One of the few times we did not even feel the need to squeeze lemon over the dish.

They do serve shisha for 7LE and charge another 4Le for the disposable pipe that they use. They offer lemon flavour which I have not yet encountered elsewhere and it was quite smooth.

Note : it is advisable to reserve a table as this is quite a popular hangout at nights.

Trianon Cafe, Dandy Mall

Trianon Cafe
Dandy Mall
Cairo - Alex Desert Road
(Near Smart Village)
CairoThis one is by far the best of the Trianon's that I have eaten at except perhaps for the original on the Corniche in Alexandria. (See my reviews of the Mohandaseen and Green Plaza, Alexandria branches.)

I highly recommend the steak with pepper sauce at this outlet. They really do it to perfection and the meat is served just the way that you request it.

The cakes and pastries are similar to the other outlets, but they somehow taste better here :) The walls are hand painted which contribute a lot to the ambiance.

The Moroccan tea is also something that I would recommend for cold weather. Its perfect for warming you up.


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