Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pizza Hut, Guwahati

Pizza Hut
Ground Floor - Dona Planet
GS Road

It had been a long time since we had set foot in a Pizza Hut - around 8 years or so. Given the excellent delivery system of Dominoes in India and Egypt, we did not really look beyond the Pepperoni & cheese medium wheat thin crust, garlic bread and dip and choco lava cake on the days we wanted to indulge on a carb fest. Cairo also had the excellent Maison Thomas, which is one of the few food outlets I miss from that country.

However, Pizza Hut in Guwahati is very conveniently located at Dona Planet and if you are hungry between regular meal times (when Machaan & Mainland China are closed) and are waiting for your movie to start at Cinemax, then this is the only option.

They are also the only location that serves Diet Pepsi in Guwahati.

A quick glance at their menu, showed that it had dramatically expanded since the last time we visited. They now included a large variety of starters and mocktails. The Chicken skewer 12 piece 185/- had 6 piees marinated in a Jamaican jerk mix and 6 in a Thai mix. The Thai mix version was much tastier. Chicken drumsticks can be ordered in a variety of flavours.

The minestrone soup 49/- was average, but the tomato basil soup is excellent for those chilly nights and the times when you are sick and just want a hot bowl of soup.

The accompanying drink mixes were quite bad though. Both the orange mojito 79/- and the chunky apple ice tea 69/- were extremely synthetic tasting and impossible to finish.

For main course, we ordered the Chicken tortilla 109/- which was like a thin crust pizza and the Tuscani pollo haven personal pizza 310/- which was very good.

For dessert we ordered the 3 piece assorted cheesecake 129/- which had the chocolate, blueberry and caramel flavours. However continuing with the theme of the mocktails, these were very synthetic tasting too. I'm not sure if only Guwahati outlet is using inferior quality fruit squashes and toppings or the quality is the same all over India. What I do know is that while I quite enjoyed their starters, tomato soup and pizzas, I'm never ordering a mocktail or dessert here, ever again.

They do add service charge and VAT to the prices.

While Pizza Hut promises home delivery, a lot of the items on the menu aren't home delivered, these include the tastier options of Tomato soups and the newer range of pizzas. In this case, its easier, cheaper and tastier to order from Dominoes.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mainland China, Guwahati

Mainland China
Dona Planet, 4th Floor
GS Road

0361 2466 222/3

Mainland China is one of the 2 Speciality Restaurant franchises opened in Guwahati and both of them have been our favourites here, since the day we arrived. We kept returning to Mainland China and Machaan time and again because of the wonderful service and excellent quality food.

Mainland China offers weekday lunch buffets which are excellent VFM given the huge range of items on the menu. However, since they do not offer dinner buffets, we mostly ordered a la carte and have been rarely disappointed.

Mainland China does not  serve typical Indian Chinese. The other day I was dining alone and the older gentleman at the next table was complaining loudly to his son " yeh kaisa Chinese restaurant hain?  Manchurian chicken, Chilli Chicken, Chopsuey, Garlic Chicken - koi bhi nahin hain!" (What kind of Chinese retaurant is this? They don't even have Manchurian chicken, Chilli Chicken, Chopsuey, Garlic Chicken on the menu!)

I don't know about that old man, but we have loved their food and have been regulars at the restaurant. Service is muted and attentive without being overbearing.

Complimentary starters of  pickled cucumbers and cabbage khimchi are laid on the table, before you even settle yourself. They also offer complimentary Chinese Jasmine tea and keep refreshing your cup through the meal. They offer a choice between traditional cutlery and chopstics.

Wontons 170/- are served with sweet chilli sauce and dimsum (pan fried / steamed) are served with a choice of 3 different sauces - a spicy red chilli paste, a herby green leaf ginger salsa and honey mustard sauce. We especially love their pan fried chicken & mushroom dumplings 190/-

Some of the other starters that we have enjoyed, include their Diced chicken with assorted pepper & ginger 330/-, crispy corn chilli pepper 280, sliced chicken with chillis 340, drums of heaven in Schezwan sauce, Mongolian skewered lamb 370/- (served on your table on a mini chhula) and fried sichuan chicken with dried chilli & peanuts 360/-

Among their soups, the hot & sour chicken soup 150/- is excellent, but the Shangsi crabmeat soup 120/- is average. I could not taste too much crab in my soup.

Their main courses are very good too. Crabmeat fried rice in XO chilli sauce 250/-, Burnt garlic fish 395/-, Chilli garlic noodles (vegetarian) 230/-, Chicken Shaoxiang with cashewnuts 360/- and the Roast chicken fried rice (subtle bursts of flavour from the chicken) 270/- are some of our favourites. The black Pepper lamb has been heavily recommended and I will try it the next time I visit.

For a Chinese restaurant, they do have a large selection of non-fruit based desserts and that makes me very happy indeed. The darsaan -honey noodles with almond flakes 130/-, hot chocolate rolls with vanilla ice cream 120/- and steamed coconut dumplings in a honey butter sauce 120/- are among the best. You can always add 2 scoops of ice cream 90/- to your dessert for varying temperatures and textures. However, their best dessert s something called fried milk balls which are not on the menu. They are sometimes available during the buffets. This is a dessert that I can skip appetisers and main course too, to ravish.

They do serve alcohol and make some good cocktails. Alcoholic caipirojka 190/- and non-alcoholic Mint storm 105/- are my favourites. A Johnny Walker Black label large costs 520/-

The staff here is almost like family. Extremely helpful, polite and well mannered and are part of the reason why we keep going back.

Rating : 5 / 5

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Machaan, Guwahati

Dona Planet, 4th Floor
GS Road

0361 2466 158

Machaan is one of the 2 Speciality Restaurant franchises opened in Guwahati and both of them have been our favourites here, since the day we arrived. We kept returning to Mainland China and Machaan time and again because of the wonderful service and excellent quality food.

We often settled for their buffets, because such a wide variety of food was available for us to sample.

The weekday afternoon buffet lunch at Machaan is 350/- with taxes it works out to 414/- Weekday dinners at 395/- pre-tax and weekend buffets are 425/- pre tax. Dinners normally include prawns in the kebab section of the buffet.

The interiors are done up like a jungle with large semiautomaton animals, so you normally find a lot of families with kids at this restaurant. The staff handles the kids quite well and try to keep them from intruding on other diners.

The buffet at Machaan has 5 vegetarian or 5 non vegetarian kebabs that are served fresh at your table straight from the tandoor. A chaat side table offers paani puri and papdi chaat during lunch and sometimes at dinner too. The actual buffet table is loaded with 2-3 vegetarian and 2 non-vegetarain salads. 5 vegetarian main courses (including dal) and 3 non-vegetarian main courses (fish, chicken & mutton). You can definitely expect to find one vegetarian and one non-vegetarian rice/pulao/biryani. Choice of Indian breads include rotis, phulkas and naans.

The dessert table offers ice cream and 4 other Indian sweets. The malpuris with rabdi or ice cream are an all time favourite.

The chaas 70/- and ice tea 60/- are lovely drinks to beat the heat.

From the ala carte menu, we love chappali kebab 310/-, the cheese kulcha 90/- and the dal machaan (kaali dal) 125/- However since the buffet menu is so good, we normally end up just choosing that and add a cheese kulcha or 2.

Rating : 4.5 / 5

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yo China, Guwahati

Yo China
GS Road

Ph: 0361 246 7999

When we first arrived here in Guwahati, a friend mentioned that Yo China was even better than Mainland China in this city. I had, had really bad food at a couple of Yo China restaurants in Delhi & Gurgaon and had decided never to set foot in another branch again.

But with the recommendation being recommended by a couple of foodie friends in the city too, I thought they might have better cooks in Guwahati than in NCR.

The complimentary starters that were laid on the table were pickled cucumber strips, cabbage khimchi and spiced peanuts. The nuts were really good, although the other sides were average. But I was quite excited on trying the peanuts and anticipated better things to come.

I ordered Chicken Chopsuey 159Rs, Pork pepper garlic 229Rs and a classic mojito 129Rs. The mojito was average, the chopsuey looked familiarly appetising, but the noodles used were very thick and the sauce overwhelmingly sweet. The pork pepper garlic was full of fat & all I could taste was fat, completely overwhelming the flavours of the pepper and the garlic. While placing the order, I had also ordered a takeaway of  Tom Yum Prawn soup 99Rs for the hubby who only wanted soup for his cold, but he wasn't impressed with his soup either.

Mainland China is still our favourite Chinese restaurant in Guwahati and I never returned to Yo China! in the 9 months that we were based here in the city. However if you want average Indian-Chinese at low prices, then this place may work for you.

Do remember, that there is VAT on Food 5% and VAT on Bev 13.5%

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Loyans Bakery & Confectionery, Guwahati

Loyans Bakery & Confectionery
House No 52
F C Road
Uzan Bazar

Ph: 0361 2130123, 97060 13032

Loyans is one of the more recent entries among the bakeries of Guwahati and they have a wide range of sweet & savoury products.

While a plain cake costs 95Rs, a dry fruit cake costs 120Rs, pineapple cake is priced at 375Rs and the more exotic cakes like Butterscotch, Black Forest, Fresh Fruit, Truffle walnut, chocolate fudge and chocolate mudcakes are in the 450-520Rs range. They sometimes have cheesecakes (I've seen blueberry, strawberry & mango in stock) too and these cost 575Rs.

Loyans also offers wedding cakes and eggless cakes.

Savoury items include vegetarian and chicken patties, rolls, croissants and quiches in the 18-45Rs range. Single serve pastries include eclairs, tarts, tiramisu and cheesecake slices are in the range of 28-65Rs. They also sell French bread, garlic bread, multi grain bread, cheese masala bread, American rye bread and whole wheat bread for 30-45Rs. Their cookies cost between 225-370Rs/kg

As far as I know, Loyans is the only place in Guwahati that offers cheesecakes, tiramisu, pies and quiches.

They have a small sit in area (4 tables) at the back of the store, in case you want to sit down and enjoy your pastry hot. They also serve cappucino(35Rs), cold coffee(40Rs) and soft drinks(25Rs).

I've enjoyed many of their biscuits and pastries. The brown & multi grain breads here are the most authentic in Guwahati (I haven't tried Le Chocolat's  brown bread as it doesn't come pre-sliced). I find their quiche a little too eggy in the filling, but on the other hand, they are the only ones offerring it in Guwahati. The rolls are thick on pastry and taste best when eaten fresh rather than re-heated the next day. The rest of the savoury items are very good.

However, my favourite items at Loyan's are their mini chocolate brownies (18Rs each) and their black forest cake (450Rs). Loyans and Le Chocolat are my 2 favourite bakeries in Guwahati.But, Loyan's mini brownies are the among the best I've eaten across the globe and I'm going to miss them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bhut Jolokia, Guwahati

Bhut Jolokia
Zoo Road

The 3rd restaurant to be opened in the city by Chef Atul Lakhar, after King Chilly & Khorikaa both of which I loved.

Bhut Jolokia just opened earlier this week (9th Feb 2012) above Baskin Robbins on Zoo Road, at the same location that earlier housed Subway.

As long as you can get past the stench emanating from the open sewer in front of the restaurant, you can be assured that the 2 minutes of holding your breath will be worth it.

The interiors are completely cane and bamboo. There are a lovely set of photographs ling both walls and they capture women cooking and eating in rural Assam. They have been beautifully shot and are so appropriate for a restaurant of this kind.

The menu is a long one and has a lot of items similar to that at Khorika's, but a shorter list of Khorika variations. Prices are similar to Khorikaa and much cheaper than King Chilly.

Since we visited very close to the opening date, the kitchen wasn't completely equipped and a lot of items that were on the menu weren't available at the restaurant, like the Khorikaa, roast pork etc

We ordered 2 veg akhaj (thali for 60Rs each)  that came with unlimited rice. Khar, Yellow & black dhals, Aloo pitika (bhartha), 2 fresh vegetables which were a cauliflower carrot mix and cabbage on the day we visited and kheer. Kharoli (mustard paste), bamboo shoot pickle and jalphai (Indian olives) pickle, were on the table and we were also served slices of gondhoraj (the fragrant lemons of this part of the country) and green chillies.

The panitenga (rasam like dish) which I was very eagerly awaiting, since I first tasted it at Khorikaa last week was missing from the thali when it arrived. When I quizzed the waiter, he said that Assamese only have panitenga during lunch and never during dinner.

The thali itself was so good, for the first time, I actually ate up all my vegetables before I even looked at the non-vegetarian sides that I had ordered. The Ari fish fry (80Rs) was soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. For the first time in an Assamese restaurant, I was actually able to eat the skin of Ari fish (I normally find it undercooked and smelly, so I tend to discard it, but here it was nicely crisped without being burnt). The fried chicken (100Rs) was succulent and definitely not dried out like some variietes that I've eaten here. Lightly fried with just onion, green chilli, ginger, garlic and turmeric.

The crowning glory however was the pork and Naga Chilly (Bhut Jolokia) curry. We had steam coming out of our ears, water running down our eyes, tissues stuffed halfway up our noses and we just couldn't stop eating!

The husband is not a great fan of Assamese food as he tends to find it underspiced (and the lack of rotis makes him feel his meal is incomplete), but he's quite happy with Bhut Jolokia and if we weren't moving, we would have been eating here quite frequently given how close it is to our home here in Guwahati.

Yes, I got so busy licking my fingers and feasting on my last few jalphais, I couldn't be bothered to take out even my phone to click a picture of the non-vegetarian sides. Quantities were more than sufficient for both of us and we actually had to get the leftover chicken packed.

The bill? - A princely 420Rs.

I am going to miss North Eastern food when we move and I'll have to keep bugging my friends here for recipes and to courier some local ingredients to me :)

Rating : 4 / 5

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Khorikaa, Guwahati

1st Floor - Kamal C Plaza
+91 9864982948, +91 9864157454

I'd been wanting to try out Khorikaa for a long time. The first time we went here, it was a Sunday. The line was so long there was a 1 hour waiting period. We left to eat elsewhere and for some strange reason I never went back. But now that its time to leave Guwahati and I'm ticking items off my lists, I HAD to eat at Khorikaa.

Chef Atul Lakhar has a wonderful menu of traditional foods, but the specialty of this restaurant is the khorikaa (BBQ'ed dishes)

I ordered the non veg akhaj (150/-) opting for the chicken khorikaa and the pork curry. The akhaj (thali) also came with yellow dhal, black dhal, paani tenga (like a rasam), aloo pitika aka bharta, tomato chutney, kheer, dry veggies - knol khol & peas, khar - an alkaline curry that the Assamese start a meal with.  It was also served with gondhoraj - local lemons, chillies, jalphai pickle (Indian olives) and kharoli - mustard paste.

I also ordered a Pork dry fry (130/-) on the side. Completely unnecessary, but oh so tasty!. The waiter saw me enjoying my meal so much that he very kindly brought me a complimentary dish of small fish khorikaa.

I'd love to try their specialties of Chicken/pork/fish cooked in Bamboo hollows, boiled fish with colocasia leaves, smoked pork/duck with bamboo shoot pickle and the grilled pork ribs with hot chutney. But these dishes need at least 2 hours notice and since they use slightly hard to find ingredients, its better to order thema a couple of days in advance.

They have vegetarian akhaj's (80/-) and paneer khorikaa (4pieces 70/-) too, but for a vegetarian who can't handle the smell of meat, the BBQing in the open kitchen may be too much to handle.

With a soft drink and taxes, my bill came up to 314/- which is very reasonable considering the vast spread of food I had sampled.

I really wish I had tried Khorikaa out earlier. Its replaced Delicacy as my favourite Assamese restaurant in Guwahati. (My all time favourite is Bhaatbaan in Kaziranga.)

Rating : 4.5 / 5

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Le Chocolat, Guwahati

Le Chocolat
M C Road
Opp Navarang Cultural Club

I first tasted a cake from Le Chocolat and a friends kids birthday party. I immediately HAD to find out where it was from, as the cake was so creamy and tasty without being heavy on the tongue.

She told me it was from Le Chocolat and hence I found myself heading there within a week.

The exterior was simple, clean and neat and the interor was colourful and smelt lovely.

Le Chocolat has a single counter split into two. The left holds sweet items and the right has savoury items. Among the savoury items, vegetarian and non-vegetarian (chicken) occupy seperate rows. I tried the herbed chicken sandwich and the lemon chicken sandwich which were both very good, but I'm more partial to the lemon variant. There were chicken puffs and pies. Most savoury items are in the 35-50Rs range. We loved the chicken, mushroom, corn pie.

The sweet items have a range of cakes. I tried the praline cake and the mud pie. the praline cake had crunchy bits on the exterior that contrasted with the creamy cake and icing. The mocha mud pie was a bit of heaven. I'm headed there to pick up more of this as soon as I can. These single serve pastries are also in the 35-50Rs range.

She also makes a range of chocolates from Lindt. Non alcoholic chocolates are 15rs and alcohol centered ones are 25 per piece. I loved the Irish cream center chocolates. Most alcohol chocolates we buy from abroad tend to melt before they reach home in India. It was great to be able to eat these chocolates tempered to suit Indian temperatures.

Le Chocolat has plenty of pound cakes, chocolate cakes, fruit cakes and breads (milk, brown) available. The only daunting part is that the bread isn't sliced.

Le Chocolat is definitely one of my 2 favourite bakeries in Guwahati, the other being Loyans.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Bawarchi Kolkata, Agartala

Bawarchi Kolkata
4 Mantribari Road
Ph: 94361 2322

Bawarchi is a small restaurant that specialises in Calcutta style street food. The entry way was piled with mountains of onions, so I was a little wary about entering the unseen restaurant alone, but the moment I entered, I knew I had no need to worry.

The decor is faded and peeling, but the staff is very courteous and helpful. On discussion with the waiter, I ordered a mutton biryani (140/-)and chicken handi masala (160/-) for lunch. The food arrived hotter than anything I have been served recently.

The biryani was fragrant and tasty, but the mutton was just a piece of meat that had been boiled in a broth. The potato in the biryani was much tastier. Coupled with the boiled egg served atop the rice, the mutton was completely irrelevant to the biryani. It would have been better if it hadn't been inserted into the plate at all. The Biryani was Calcutta style and hence no masala in the actual biryani.

The boneless handi masala chicken had a thick gravy with a melange of spices that complimented the biryani perfectly.

With a bottle of water and a soft drink, the total bill was just 340/-

Bawarchi serves all the Bengali street food staples like kathi rolls and chops and I'd have liked to try some of them, but I was already too stuffed. They have a street food type counter on the outside, which was the long onion and dough filled corridor that I had walked through. It seems that in the evenings, they do brisk business selling rolls & other Calcutta style street food snacks.

This is a place I'd definitely recommend if you are visiting Tripura.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Gouri Hotel, Udaipur, Tripura

Gouri Hotel,
Central Road
 Ph: 03821 222 419

Some of the more interesting sites of Tripura are in the Udaipur region including the Tripura Sundari / Matabari temple which is supposed to be a Shaktipeeth.

Our local driver told us that Gouri Hotel was the best place to eat. After our bad experience at Shankars the previous day, we weren't too sure, but decided to just grab a bite to refuel before eploring the region some more.

The meal for the day was rice, dhal and baigun bhaja (fried brinjal). Food was served piping hot which was a huge point in their favour. We then noticed some other things getting served, so we requested a katori of cabbage each, which was extremely tasty. We also added on a fish fry and a chicken curry, which were home style soul food.

The driver too ate his meal with some fish and we ordered 2 bottles of mineral water. The bill for 3 meals + 3 extra vegetables + 2 fish + 1 chicken + 2 bottles water came upto 340/- Which reinforced our belief that Shankars hotel in Agartala had simply doubled our bill before presenting it to us.

I'd definitely recommed Gouri for a meal, if you are headed to this region.Don't let the unassuming entry and interiors deter you. The food is light, healthy and tasty.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Hotel Shankar, Agartala

Hotel Shankar
Netaji Subhash Road
Ph: 238 5195, 94361 20457

Hotel Shankar is a small 6 table restuarant on Netaji Subhash Road in Agartala. Given that the hotel has been recommended in the Lonely Planet, 2 more restaurants have set up shop next door with similar sounding names. The original is the left most hotel (as of Feb 2012)

We had read and heard good things about Shankars, which was why we headed here. We were served the standard meal which for the day was rice, dhal and aloo laccha. Unfortunately the aloo laccha was stone cold and the dhal and rice weren't very hot either. Hence they weren't very tasty either. (cold rice tastes like glue)

We asked for a side dish of chicken which came in a small bowl, this however was served hot and had some spices in it, which made it more edible.

When it was time for our bill, there was a long discussion at the billing counter and we were finally presented a bill for 230Rs. While this may not seem like a lot, given the rates in Guwahati and Tripura, it was double what we expected. Since they did not have an English menu, we did not argue with them, but just quietly paid up and left.

We were later told that what we shold have eaten there was the Hilsa fish that comes in fresh from Bangladesh daily. But given our bad experience the first time, we just did not feel like returning.


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