Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Food Review: Trikaya, 7 Bungalows

The Pan Asian restaurant in Versova that opened shop on 13th of Jan, hosted a media preview on the 11th. Krutika Mody and I attended the event and had a *happy* time exploring their exotic bar menu.
After opening the first branch in the sprawling 20,000 sq. ft. area in Pune, the three partners (Kunal Deshmukh, Sahil Saigal and Shiraz Patel) decided to open Trikaya in Mumbai. Inspired from Buddha the name Trikaya is a concept concerns three levels of Buddha hood.

The restaurant is not hard to locate given to its white sail like shades at the al fresco. This area has 6 big tables and is softly lit. Juhu-Versova Link Road is not a very busy road hence you are saved from the traffic snarls and honking. However, the owners need to add smaller tables for couples if they want to attract diners. The interiors of the air conditioned section too are inspired from Buddhism. A huge tree like pillar stands in the centre and spreads at the top to blend with the ceiling. According to the owners the inspiration comes from the Bodhi Tree.

While most part of the restaurant has neutral colours, the bar area is colourful and we can imagine why. The extensive bar menu designed by Valentine Barboza boasts of serving only premium brands. The cocktails are prepared with fresh fruits instead of syrups and flavours. For the first round I ordered a passionera (vodka blended with passion fruit, cloudy apple and lime juice) while Krutika went for a watermelon and chilli Collins (vodka mixed with diced watermelon, lime juice, soda and infused with chilli). Our picture perfect drinks arrived and for a while we kept contemplating whether to drink them or just watch them. I found my drink a little too sour initially but when stirred well it gave a nice sweet-sour flavour.  The watermelon and chilli Collins was refreshing. Krutika took her own sweet time in drinking it all, but based on her experience, you should finish the drink before the ice melts and dilutes the alcohol.

The perfectly balanced and vast food menu made my vegetarian friend happy since it had as many veg dishes as the non-veg ones. We were served chicken yakitori, basa in 5 willow sauce, red pumpkin green peas’ drops and goat cheese & mushroom spring rolls for starters.  The presentation of each dish was impressive. Being a fan of sea food I focused more on the basa and chicken couldn’t catch my fancy. The cigar like mushroom spring rolls won over Krutika’s heart. They are ideal as finger food and would be a perfect accompaniment to your drinks. The floor manager offered to surprise me for the second round of drinks and he surely did. The bartender conjured up an espresso martini which was literally an eye opener for me after a long day at work.

The main course menu included herbed mushrooms, Cambodian Khmer vegetable curry, green Thai prawns curry and chicken & mushrooms with Korean Kim-chee with burn garlic jasmine rice. Thai curry was a good blend of herbs and coconut and had chunky prawns in it and with garlic jasmine rice for company, it made for a perfect meal.  The Cambodian Khmer vegetable curry was delicious, the herbed mushrooms, not as much.

We also had the privilege of meeting Chef Nilesh Limaye who was happy to talk to us about food and also allowed us to visit his extremely organised kitchen.  Looking at my love for sea food he made a special oyster-tequilla shot for me which was in one word, outstanding.

The dinner ended on a sweet note with red velvet cake and cinnamon kulfi for dessert. Yes, they make their own desserts! We were hoping we could try some classic pan-Asian desserts like trio of Asian sweets but they weren’t in the preview menu that night. The cake though was served with ‘rambutan’ a Malaysian fruit. The fleshy ‘hair’ growing on rambutan’s skin makes it look like a wilder version of its cousin, litchi. Despite the decoration (edible glitter) on the cake, the cake itself couldn’t convince us enough.  Kulfi on the other hand was impressive and was a light dessert after a heavy meal.

As a new entrant in the fine-dine genre Trikaya looks promising and inviting.

On the burp scale: 4/5

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Food Hunt: No breaking the fast here

Is breakfast the best meal of your day? Then you wouldn’t want to ruin it. I am here is here to save you from a bad breakfast. Here's a list of joints that go clumsy when it comes to that perfect first meal.

EATC, Bandra 
Earlier known as JATC, this joint was a favourite amongst the college kids. But somehow the management didn’t like the idea of people just hanging around and not eating much. So they kicked out the ‘just’ and rebranded it as Eat Around The Corner in 2010. The famous salad buffet went out of the window and was replaced by small portions.

Coming to their current breakfast menu it has two options for the non-vegetarians and one option for the pure vegetarians. So, if you don’t eat egg you are stuck with a choice of bread with either cut fruits or a fruit juice. The American/British breakfast comes with a choice of eggs, bread, bacons/sausages, hash browns, baked beans, and baked tomato with tea, coffee or fruit juice. The menu looks good on paper but the goodness doesn’t translate in the taste. The masala scrambled eggs have no masala apart from the onions and few tomatoes thrown in just for the sake of it. The best option is to go with sunny-side ups since it’s hard to go wrong with them. The bacons are served cold and are a challenge to your jaws. Overly sweet baked beans completely lack flavor and tennis ball sized baked tomatoes are unappetizing. Pancakes with maple syrup are just about average. The dessert section is exciting but select carefully or you might just end up with a stone hard cheesecake.

Candies, Pali Hill, Bandra (W)
Candies is one of the most favourite hang-outs for college goers and localites. But if you are thinking of going there for a relaxed breakfast on a Sunday morning we would suggest that you change your mind. The place is a bit unorganized and super chaotic in the mornings. The servers don’t pay attention and the crowd gets unmanageable. Even after shouting at the top of your voice and shuffling between the counters it might take a long time before you manage to place your order. Food is decent; they have salad counter, sandwiches, croissants, quiches, eggs and various types of bread on the menu. But it’s not worth the effort that goes in to get it on your plate. Heading to Mocha Mojo or The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf would be a better option.

McDonald’sThey took a big leap by launching their breakfast menu in India but the decision fell flat on its face. With no egg-bacon McMuffins, bagels, McGriddles and ham the choices are very few. The limited menu has veg and veg supreme McMuffins which has a flavourless aloo patty in it. Hot cakes are decent but the quantity of maple syrup served with them is so measly that it gets over even before the first bite. For non-vegetarians there is chicken sausage (with and without egg) and egg n cheese McMuffin. It seems like they don’t have enough buyers for the totally pointless hashbrowns hence they give it away complimentary with any and every meal. It’s high time that they bring their International menu in India or just get back to serving chicken McGrill and maharaja Mac.

Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Goregaon (E)
Gloria Jean’s came as a big relief in a suburb that is starved of a decent breakfast joint. But since it’s located in Oberoi mall it didn’t open before 11am. Still, it was a decent place for a late breakfast serving great coffee, sandwiches, croissants etc. Indian flavours took over the International ones, the crisp spinach and corn sandwich turned soggy and paneer went rotten. Despite its perfect location and good coffees this place is a big no-no for your morning meal.

Subway, Carter Road,Bandra (W)
This outlet was never famous for their generosity but they went a step further with their breakfast menu. You have 4 bland options to choose from; cheese & egg, western egg, chicken ham & egg and bacon & egg. The meat/egg is placed in the bread with no sauce and no vegetables. For the same price I would rather pick a Sub of the Day than opting for the breakfast one.

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