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I met the Demon Chef at JW Marriott Michelin pop up

26 Nov

Why would a chef call himself ‘The Demon Chef,’ I wondered as I drove to JW Marriott Juhu for the second edition of the Michelin pop up with three star Michelin chef Alvin Leung. Was he ill-tempered? Maybe he looked…you know… or maybe he’s demonic in the kitchen…all these thoughts crossed my mind as I entered Spices our venue for the chef’s table.

As I took my seat I kept turning towards the open kitchen at the back to catch a glimpse of the Demon Chef but all I saw was a rock star looking guy with a funky hairdo. Could this be the chef? Well he definitely was! I decided to reserve my questions (and my judgement) for later and get down to doing what I do best – eat!

Chef Leung doesn’t look like the average Chinese chef and that’s probably because he isn’t. He’s doing to Asian food what Ferran Adrià is doing to Spanish and European food. Chef Leung has invented what he calls ‘Xtreme Chinese’ where he presents heirloom Chinese dishes with a modern twist. Newer ingredients, innovative cooking techniques, dramatic presentations and novel tastes – that’s Chef Leung’s forte.

The first course of dim sums was refreshing. I loved the shrimp dumpling with truffle on top. It was miraculously light with a translucent skin. The Sichuan lamb dumpling was filled with a soup that shot out when you pierced the casing. Chef Leung deconstructs traditional Chinese food and brings them back in a completely different form. So the dishes taste new but not without a strong sense of déjà vu. It shocks you in the beginning but delights you in the end.

pic5The best dish for me was the delicately poached lobster on a bed of spicy Sichuan hollandaise and chilli sauce. The dish stunning to look at, was a veritable explosion of flavours, colours and textures.  Interestingly this tattooed demon chef is one of the only two self-taught chefs in charge of a professional kitchen that has ever received Michelin stars, with the other being Heston Blumenthal. Impressive.

pic6The next course of organic chicken with Arborio rice, wood ear fungus and sand ginger cream was sublime and beautifully presented. Though the rice had a nice bite and the chicken a crispy skin, the ginger cream lacked a punch. I missed a strong element in the dish.  The concluding course of coconut ice-cream with glazed pineapple and tapioca pearls was delectable.

pic7For the Michellin popup at JW Marriott Juhu Chef Leung has consciously raised the heat bar. “I won’t call it spicy but I did turn on the heat a little for Indian palate. But hot doesn’t necessarily have to be more chillies,” he added. Carving a dish out of the Mumbai stable the Bombay Duck is something the chef is toying with.

Leung’s dishes are not without the drama. So expect fumes, powders, foams, unrecognisable reductions and scientist like cooking methods. But despite all that Leung’s food is what food should be – tasty!

IMG_1350At the end of the meal the demon presented himself and I couldn’t help but notice the calm on the chef’s face. After all, the first night (which is generally the most difficult) was done with and he was now facing a bunch of happy diners.

So why does he call himself the demon chef? “Well not all demons are bad. Moreover nice is boring,” says Hong Kong’s most innovative chef. I agree.

Michelin pop up at JW Marriott

Date: 25th-28th Nov, 2015

Service: Lunch & Dinner

Price: 4500 per person+ taxes(without alcohol)

 

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Work, Play, Chill at FLYP@MTV

25 Nov

low res FLYP @ MTV (2)Viacom18 Consumer Products, the consumer products arm of Viacom18, is all set to extend the iconic youth brand MTV, from broadcast and digital space to an on-ground experience by launching a chain of cafés titled FLYP@MTV. The hospitality partner for this unique association will be Funbars Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. Funbars will be the master licensee that conceptualizes, develops, executes and operates the chain.

The first FLYP@MTV will make its debut at Connaught Place in New Delhi in the month of December. The plan is to open 10 more cafes in the next five years beginning with Mumbai and Bangalore.

lo rews Flyp @ MTVAccording to Saugato Bhowmik, Senior Vice-President, Consumer Products, Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd., apart from specially curated entertainment and a menu by celebrity chef Ranveer Brar, FLYP@MTV will also function as an extended workspace during the day and transform into a place to chill in the evening and a play zone at night. “The café will be fun, irreverent and entertaining,” he adds.

low res Flyp 1

Here’s what you can expect at FLYP@MTV
Explore the world of MTV in the previous years through Oculus and Controllers. Customer can also select and play videos from the MTV Archive.

Book a Bakra: Consumers can book pranks which can be recorded through hidden cameras and mics. You can book your buddy for a hilarious Bakra – MTV Style.

Select and buy MTV merchandise right through the virtual shelf.

FLYP@MTV will be equipped with MTV style recording studio for the audience who are gifted with the capability of singing.  One can record the songs and upload it after reviewing audio and video file of the song. There will be headphones, touch-screens, microphones and cameras available for the same.

The café’s culinary style hinges upon progressive Indian food – local flavours presented in a global style created by celebrity chef Ranveer Brar.

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR 

 

 

Molecular Magic at PaPaYa

25 Nov

Pa Pa Ya, Palladium, Mumbai (01)If you blinked this year, you probably missed a restaurant opening. So many newcomers popped up. But Zorawar Kalra’s Pan Asian restaurant Pa Pa Ya is a celebration of the scene, not an also ran. The best place for soloists is a stool facing the bar; dates and groups should aim for the rear, where 3D molecules light up the scene.

WHAT’S HOT: Admirers of Zorawar will recognize his signature style: first-rate ingredients gently coaxed into memorable performances. This is food that makes you think: Can rice crackers make a delicious pizza base? Can salmon chunks and pickled veggies find happiness inside a rice bun? Yes and yes!

PA PA YA mezze platter, edamame hummus, wasabi chickpea falafel (low rez)

Mezze platter of edamame hummus, wasabi chickpea falafel

We begin the evening with an edible treat of basil compressed watermelon which gets a delicious assist from lemongrass and sweet chilli foam. It’s served on oyster shells plated on a stone bowl. Dramatic and delicious! The sushi matrix (17 pieces of sushi served on a cuboid matrix) will fly you to Japan and back.

Beer battered Avacado Tacos, corn and scallion kimchee_Pa Pa Ya

Beer battered Avacado Tacos, corn and scallion kimchee

The kitchen high-fives vegetarians, although sliders with grilled chickpea and edamame rolled out on a toy truck is likely to find the carnivore’s hand returning to the truck, too. Do try the Sushi Burger which is a rice bun with salmon and pickled veggies in cream cheese and aioli. Among the liquid pleasures include cocktails like Lighthouse, a vodka drink poured into a light bulb and Wise Whiskey which is whiskey with rosemary foam. Both are delectable.   Sushi Burger_Pa Pa YaThe curtains come down with a Liquid Hazelnut Fondant matcha cake which gets competition from the white peppercorn ice cream it’s paired with. Pa Pa Ya dares you to eat differently, and rewards you in the process.

WHAT’S NOT: The changing wall colours can be distracting as also the playlist of EDM and trance. The pork belly skewers glazed with sichmi mirin and soya is distractedly sweet.

HOW TO GET THERE: Palladium Mall, Third floor, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (West). Tel: 022-43475454.

Cost: Rs 3000 for two

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR

Love kababs? Tuck into the kababs from royal kitchens at ITC Hotel Parel

8 Sep
Kababs, Mumbai, ITC Hotel, chef Farooqui, Indian food

Kababs at the ITC Grand Central 

One of my favourite Indian restaurants Kababs & Curries (K&K) completed 10 years of glorious cooking. And to commemorate the occasion they did what they do best – cook up a storm with eight of the legendary ITC master chefs especially flown down to Mumbai for the occasion. I was one of the lucky few to have been invited for the launch of Jashn-e-Kabab, a kabab festival with 40 different kababs from the restaurant’s armoury of
tandoors, charcoal, pathar grills along with rustic angethis and tawas.

Apart from tucking into the best kababs in India I also had the chance to meet some legendary ITC chefs including J. P Singh who runs the kitchen of Bukhara at ITC Maurya (one of the best Indian restaurants in the world), chefs from ITC Grand Chola, ITC Gardenia, ITC Mughal, ITC Windsor, WelcomHotel Jodhpur and Chef Farooqui from K&K at ITC Grand Central. The master chefs brought together some of the best kababs that were served in the noble courts and on the battlefield in yesteryears with long forgotten herbs and exotic flavours.

If you love kababs (like I do) you just can’t miss this one.

Among the highlights of the kabab trail are the Guftaguu kabab by chef Haji Mohd. Farooqui. A non-vegetarian could easily be fooled into believing that it’s the mushiest meat kabab. When in reality it’s minced cabbage with cardamom and saffron! The kababs are a heartfelt homage to the galouti and extremely craveable.

kabab, food, Indian food, mughlai, ITC Hotel, best Indian restaurant

Guftagoo – by Chef Farooqui

The combination of banana flower and potato sounds strange, but it does a jig on the tongue. Chef Sundar’s banana flower kabab is just the sort of excuse you need for returning scraped-clean plates. Be warned it’s tear inducingly spicy.

Prawn fans must try Chef JP Singh’s Jhinga Firdaus Shahi. Large sized prawns engulfed in a feathery light batter and finished with kabab masala is just heavenly.

Did you know that there are some vegetarian chefs who only cook vegetarian? Chef Gunjan Goela is one of them. She elevates the humble eggplant to gourmet status by stuffing them with hung curd and burnt onions. Gorgeous.

kabab, Indian food, best Indian restaurant, Mumbai, chef, Mughlai, sheekh kabab

Jodhpur based chef Akshraj Jodha’s shami kabab using Rajasthan’s staple Khersangri not pushes the culinary envelope but also creates a ‘aha’ moment with its blend of spices.

Another lamb preparation – Pathar Ka Ghosht will leave your tongue dancing from the all the yogurt, chilies and herbs.

kabab, Indian food, best Indian restaurant, Mumbai, ITC Hotel, chef
Lastly it’s was the vegetarian kababs that stole the show. And coming from a hard core non-vegetarian – that’s a huge compliment.

Almost every kabab tastes like one of the best you’ve ever had … until you get the next celestial kabab and the bar is raised anew.
What: Jashn-e-Kabab

Where: K&K, ITC Grand Central, Parel, Mumbai

Date: 5th to 13th September

Dinner Hours: 7:30 pm to 11:45 pm

For reservation call 022-24101010/5109/5110

By Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

Have you tried the Naan pockets from Go Biryan? I did! And they are delicious

27 Aug

naan pocket, chicken, butter chicken, fast food, Go Biryan, food on the go, Andheri, Bandra Butter chicken is one of my favourite dishes in the world. But you can never have this dish on the go. So I was thrilled to find a easy, delicious, ‘on the go’ version of the dish. My latest culinary find is Naan Pockets from Go Biryan the biryani specialists in Andheri and Bandra.

Tasty treat
What’s not to like about the legendary butter chicken cocooned inside a soft naan? The naan pockets are stuffed with cheese before flipping them in the tandoor. They are then loaded with the filling. The naan is not chewy or rubbery as they are made from a mix of wheat and maida. And since I had the pockets an hour after they left the Bandra outlet they were a little soggy but flavoursome nevertheless.

The Vegetable Lahori pocket (Rs 180) was spicy with a touch of garam masala, green chillies and chopped onions for added crunch. The Paneer Makhni (Rs 200) was satisfyingly creamy. Though the non-vegetarian pockets – Butter chicken (Rs 220) and Bhuna Chicken (Rs 220) were bullied by extra salt they felt fresh and had some depth of flavour.

Mousse, Chocolate, dessert, sweet, Andheri, Bandra, Go Biryan

Chocolate Mousse

While there do try their chocolate mousse (Rs 70). Served in a tapri chai glass it’s dense, rich and smooth, but at the same time airy and light.

Coming back to the naan pockets – they feel at once new and yet familiar. They are ideal for that 6 pm hunger pangs when you want to eat something that leaves you with a ‘filled’ but not stuffed feeling. What more could you ask for?

Where: Go Biryan Bandra and Andheri
Price: Rs 180-240
Tel: For Bandra – 02226048844/ 02269948844.
For Andheri – 02226348844/02265348844

6 Singapore dishes you must try

24 Aug

Singapore is a foodie’s delight. I realised that on my recent visit to the island nation. From hawkers to upscale restaurants Singapore tantalises the taste buds with its variety and unique flavours. While chilli crab, Nasi Goreng and Laksa remain my all time favourites I also like some modern interpretations of classic dishes. I love the straight forward, non-fussy nature of this cuisine and also the dipping sauces – dark soy sauce, chili with garlic, and pounded ginger.

I revisited my favourite Singaporean dishes at the JW Marriott Juhu, Mumbai which is hoisting a 10 day Singapore Food Festival. Singapore Marriott’s Sous Chef, Chef Thanabalan Chandrasekaran has been specially flown down for the festival buffet which comprises of classic dishes, street food and modern interpretation of traditional cuisine. The famous Singapore Sling is served complimentary to every guest.

Chef Thanabalan, food, Singapore, JW Marriott

Chef Thanabalan

So here are some of Singapore’s most iconic dishes (my favourites too) which you ought to try

Singapore chili crab

Singapore, chilli crab, crab, food, spicy, street food, asian food

Singapore Chilli Crab

I couldn’t have enough of this wok fried sweet and chilly crab dish. Justifiably Singapore’s national dish it’s available in numerous variations – black pepper, salted egg yolk, cheese-baked, etc but chili crab is by far the bestseller. It’s messy as hell but I love to get mop up every last drop with mantou buns.

Laksa

Laksa, singapore, food, Asian food, soup, prawns

Laksa

I love this soupy dish of rice vermicelli dunked in spicy coconut milk flavoured with dried shrimp and sambal chilli. Some versions also have bean curd and sprouts. Toppings include boiled egg, chicken and prawns. Eat it or slurp it down, either ways it’s irresistible.

Gado gado

salad, Gado Gado, food, Singapore, Asian

Gado Gado

What’s not to like about a mixed salad with tofu, hard boiled eggs and dressed in a spicy and aromatic peanut sauce? Topped with crunchy prawn crackers it’s a complete one dish meal. By the way Gado simply means ‘mix mix’.

Mutton rendang

Mutton Rendang, Singapore, food, Malaysian, Asian, spicy

Mutton Rendang

There are mutton dishes and then there is rendang. This slow cooked spicy mutton made with coconut is a triumph of flavours with lime leaves, nutmeg and cloves. The crucial reduction process allows the absorption of the spices into the meat yet not over-drying it. The end result is a semi dry dish best had with plain hot rice.

Rojak Petis

Singapore, food, salad, fruits, spicy, Malaysian

Rojak Petis

This sweet, spicy and sour fruit and vegetable salad is a popular street food in Singapore. The prawn based brown sauce dressing, crushed peanuts and grated ginger add a wicked kick to this humble dish.

Mee Goreng

Mee Gorang, Singapore food, noodles, Asian food

Mee Goreng

This simple wok fried noodle dish was my comfort food in Singapore. The fiery looking noodles are tossed in chilli paste, tomato sauce and dark sauce and fried just right – not too dry and not too oily. So what sets a Mee Goreng apart from a regular noodle dish? The dish uses yellow egg noodles and the potent sambal sauce along with fried egg, sliced chicken, minced mutton, squid, spring onions and onions.

What: Singapore Food Festival

Where: Restaurant: Lotus Café, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu

Dates: 17th August – 31st August 2015

Time: Dinner- 7:00 – 11:00 pm

Pricing: INR 2400 per head all inclusive

Tel: 022 6693 3277.

8 Parsi dishes to dig into this Pateti

12 Aug
Parsi food, food, dessert, Lagan Nu Custard

Lagan nu Custard

Pateti is just round the corner and it’s the best time to relish some Parsi food. What I particularly love about the cuisine is the hot, sweet and sour flavour of the dishes. While I long to go to a Parsi wedding and stuff my face with all the delicacies, I was recently invited for the Parsi food festival at Sofitel Hotel at BKC, Mumbai.

Unlike a typical food festival this one was a peek into the Parsi culture –glass and clay installations depicting the history and art of the community, to Gara Sarees (traditional embroidered sarees worn on special occasions) curated Parsi literature, stewards in the Parsi attire dugli and of course the quintessential ginger and raspberry soda. The #Bawatips# on each table were hilarious. Sample this – ‘we will never sell the car don’t ask again’, ‘play the birdy song at a party’ – the first to reach the dance floor are the bawas, face it all of us are related. Sweet!

Parsi wall art at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Parsi wall art at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Originally from Persia, (now Iran) Parsis came to India in the 17th century and settled along the west coast of India. This gave their cuisine a distinct Gujarati, Maharashtrian and Iranian flavours. The British influence is evident in the puddings, jellies and the Saas ni Macchi – fish in white sauce.

Parsi drink, parsi, ginger, cola, parsi food festival

Traditional Parsi drinks

So here are the 8 Parsi dishes you must try

Patra Ni Machi
If you are a seafood lover this is a dish worth getting your hands messy. Promfret smeared with green chutney (made with coriander, mint, green chillies, vinegar, coconut) and wrapped in a banana leaf before being baked is the best example of the hot, sweet and sour flavours of this cuisine. Why messy? Well you have to tackle the leaf before you reach the fish with the bones. Got it?

Pulao Dal
This is my favourite dish at the food festival. Spiked with garam masala, sambar powder and dhansak masala it was smooth and spicy. It’s generally had with Parsi pulao but I enjoyed it with plain steamed rice as well.

Tarli bhindi ma Khari Murgi
Some Parsi dishes have unusual meat and vegetable combinations. Bhindi with chicken may sound weird but it resonates with the taste buds. The tangy, tomato and onion based chicken gravy is the perfect vehicles for the bhindi and it tastes yummy.

Sev-Dahi

Parsi dessert, parsi food, sev dahi

Sev

Lagan Nu Custard was my favourite Parsi dessert until I tried sev dahi. Sweetened vermicelli loaded with dry fruits is had with curd.

Titori

Parsi dish, titori, parsi food, parsi beans

Titori

This is a legume dish made with the Val beans which are soaked overnight. Though the beans have a slight bitter taste, the coconut, jiggery and spices really lift it up.     

Lagan nu Custard
No Parsi meal is complete without this dessert. It’s like the crème Brulee minus the crust.

Chicken Farcha
KFC fans will love this Parsi-style fried chicken which is crispy and has the right balance of spices. It makes a great starter.

Saas Ni Machhi
I love the sweet and sour white sauce made with rice flour. The green chillies add a nice kick to the dish. Best had with yellow Parsi kichri.

The kitchen for the Parsi food festival at Sofitel BKC is helmed by the husband wife duo – Tehmtan and Shernaz Dumasia, well known Parsi caterers since 1992.

Sofitel, Bandra, food festival, Parsi food festival, food

Vintage Cars for the Parsi festival at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Wall art to celebrate the Parsi culture

Wall art to celebrate the Parsi culture

Did you know

Dhansak masala, dhana zeeru and sambar masala are integral to Parsi cuisine. If you are looking to stock up on them head to M Motilal Masalawala at Grant Road.

The Dhansak is not a wedding dish. It’s actually had on the 4th after a death in the family.

The best places to have Parsi food in Mumbai are Paradise in Colaba, Jimmy Boy in fort, Britannia in Ballad Pier and By The Way at Gamdevi.

Sugarcane vinegar is used in almost all dishes, even in the kachumbar. Its available only in Navsari.

Where: Pondichéry Café, Sofitel Mumbai BKC

From: August 7th to 18th August, 2015 (lunch and dinner both)

Price: Lunch Rs 2,207 (plus taxes)

Dinner: Rs 2,314 (plus taxes)

Review – Eat Thai Bandra

15 Jul Thai food, Thailand, green curry, Bandra,

I have a soft spot for Thai food. It’s fresh and spicy. The flavours are clean, vibrant and clearly defined. It’s tastes fantastic whether you are eating it at a hi end restaurant or with friends on cheap plastic tables and chairs in Bangkok. I think it’s the chili they use. Did you know that chilies hold certain chemicals which release endorphins when they come in contact with the receptors in the tongue? So it’s not only tasty and spicy but also gives you endorphin’s… what more could you ask for?

Thai, food, Eat Thai, Bandra I recently revisited my love for Thai at Eat Thai the newest Thai restaurant in Bandra. This relatively small place is handsome but predictable with distressed industrial interiors, exposed bricks, Edison bulbs and – you guessed it — Mason jars, the visual cliches of contemporary dining and Pinterest. A New York inspired bulb sign screams L.O.V.E

Eat Thai, Thailand, Thai food, Bandra

Let’s Talk Food: If the interiors are clichéd, the food packs a punch. No two plates appear the same. Thai curries come in cute casseroles with coconut spoons and the drinks sit pretty in glass jars. We kick start the evening with chicken wings marinated in honey sriracha sauce. The bird floats perfectly between sweet and spicy.

Thailand, Thai food, green curry, vegetables, smooth

Thai green curry at Eat Thai

New Zealand lamb shanks get a Thai treatment and they come dressed in matsamman sauce. Chef Sam​ deserves a pat on the back for his light approach to the salads.

Som Tam, salad, fresh, Thai food, restaurant, Bandra, Mumbai, Thailand

Som Tam salad

The dressing in Som Tam is so light, it merely clings to the papaya rather than smother its flavour. The Thai burgers won us over with its sriracha-flavoured mayonnaise.

What I loved

At Eat Thai you could choose your veggies and proteins to be cooked in the sauce of your choice – chilly basil, lemon chilly, steamed ginger and a tangy pineapple sauce.

Low res Geang phed kaiTry the curries. If there’s a tastier, smoother and elegant green curry with chicken and eggplant to be found, it has managed to miss my spoon.

The pannacotta is likely to find you scraping the bottom of the plate.

What I didn’t
The chocolate cake was an unmitigated disaster – steaming yet dry as a bone.

Thai iced teaThe Thai Coffee with condensed milk was insipid.

HOW TO GET THERE:  Gasper Enclave, Pali Hill. Junction Of St John’s & Pali Road. Bandra West. Opposite Gold Gym. Tel: 022 26459775.

COST: Rs 1500-2000 for two

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR

Review of Romano, JW Marriott, Sahar

7 Jul

Your eyes don’t know where to focus at Romano, the Italian restaurant at the newly launched JW Marriott, Sahar. The dining room walls are moody in grey and black; illuminated with jewel-like chandeliers and high ceiling. A wooden staircase leading to the bar upstairs adds warmth to the otherwise rustic setting. Romano feels personal despite its size and ambition.

Private Dining area

If you want to start the evening off with a cocktail ask for a Romajito which is an interesting twist on the Mojito. Whiskeys are smoked and stored in cute little casks. Romano cultivates its own greens.

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Oakroom restaurant review

29 Jun
Alfresco seating at Oakroom

Alfresco seating at Oakroom

It’s always tempting to retreat when it rains. But the notion of a hearty, warm dinner and a rich glass of red with the rain setting the background score is enough to lure me out from under the duvet. Let’s face it: One of the best reasons to live in Mumbai is the rains. So despite the gloomy weather and pounding rain I reach Oakroom.

The restaurant is nestled in a quiet lane in Juhu inside a hotel with serviced apartments. The only thing better than getting a table inside this minimally done up restaurant, is getting one outside. I snag a plum spot just beside the long glass doors which is perfect to take in the rains. The vibe is laid-back and service is invariably warm and sunny, even if the weather isn’t.

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