1. Restaurant Invites - My Rules.

    Restaurant Invites – My Rules.

    1993 when I moved back to Bombay, there were restaurants, good, very good & fantastic. These ranged from a Shiv Sagar, Elco to the Oberoi, Taj, Leela.

    2013-4 fast forward and there were so many restaurants that it would require a couple of lifetimes to visit all of them. Restaurants just keep opening. Everybody wants to create a brand instantly and thanks to Bloggers, Twitter, FaceBook it may be…

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  2. A week ago, late night tweets with Chef Ranveer Kalyan and Adarsh and an impromptu plan suggested by Chef and an invite led the three of us to Novotel for a specially cooked Lucknowi food.

    With a miss on Wednesday, rains playing usual mischief on Thursday, we finally reached Novotel. Whilst waiting for Adarsh, Kalyan, Ranveer and me had quite a chat, covering food, places, PR, blogging and of course why we did not attend blogger meets ;)

    Adarsh soon walked in and we were escorted inside where a nice small privie room had been made ready for us and we began, with a small story by Ranveer accompanied by white wine and a fresh lime for Kalyan.

    And so it began, the photos – not all, in fact the killer raita was missed out as probably one more, because we were enjoying ourselves so much, listening to Ranveer share stories, run to the kitchen, back again.

    In the meantime, I learnt from the two Food Bloggers – Kalyan who normally does not do restaurant reviews, has now promised to teach me quick pasta recipes, plan to check out the Puchhka place in Juhu; whilst Adarsh who opens companies faster than Ambani and still finds time to review, blog, romance, shop (ah! the benefits of age).

    We also spoke and gossiped about a whole host of Press, Restaurants, Bloggers, change in food scene in Bombay etc. But as they say “What happens off Twitter, remains off Twitter”.

    All of us did agree that, smaller evening with 4-6 people is the ideal way to try out or review, but then the brands and PR companies have their KRAs and priorities.

    Kalyan had an answer to my “Fortunately, I don’t get invited as much as you do. And when they do invite me, they either offer Rs. 500/- or with a whole gang of kids” His answer ‘They are scared of inviting you’ :(

    All in all a lovely evening, we parted with plans to repeat this soon, not like a year as it has been this time.

    Lucknow, Food & Folklore A week ago, late night tweets with Chef Ranveer Kalyan and Adarsh and an impromptu plan suggested by Chef and an invite led the three of us to Novotel for a specially cooked Lucknowi food.

  3. A Michelin star restaurant that opened with great fanfare a while back and had been always on my list of visit; however given the fact wife and daughter are vegetarians and not too keen on authentic chinese and a couple of stories about service/communication aspects from friends meant that it was parked somewhere, but not really top of mind.

    I rarely receive invites, but that is a story for another day, but last month received a personal invite from the CEO of a PR company inviting me to try out the new to be launched affordable afternoon buffet. A bit of back and forth, I finally decided to try it out, with couple of friends (met on twitter and now once a month Lunch buddies Gaurav Girish and Charanjeev ) landed up for lunch.

    The entrance is quite simple to locate, however given the fact that the name is written on both sides, and valet standing under a tree chatting, found it difficult. Going in found that it is strategically located, given that the ground floor is ICICI bank and you would need to withdraw cash ;) to eat at Hakkasan.

    The lady pointed us to the right lift and up we went, greeted there by Sameep Ved Guest Relations Manager, who asked us where we would like to sit and whether we would like to take a look around.

    Having heard about the Hakkasan london offerings, I was pretty keen to take a turn around and as they say, learnt quite a lot – They do not have Indian Liquor and have some really rare ones also. The bar itself is worth a visit.

    Taking a round, ended up where the open kitchen was and were lucky enough to find the chef, who was more than happy to confirm my old information (given to me by a chef in HongKong more than a decade earlier) that genuine chinese cooks/chefs use Wok that are heavy and with two handle usage compared to the newer generation of single handle flashiness (Hakkasan has all original imported woks, lovely they were) the next question was about the bamboo baskets – where did they buy them from? why did them smell in many ‘chinese’ restaurants? How did one use them? And bang on, mystery was revealed, now empowered to debate this ;)

    We returned to the Ling Ling area – there is a lovely story behind it, go visit and learn – settled down and decided to leave the ordering to Sameep and his team. They began with a drink, soft mostly, though I did taste a combination.

    This were followed by Dim sum platter – the vegetarian crystal, chive and lotus were excellent as were the non veg ones. Was quite tempted to go for seconds, but decided to wait for the rest of the food.

    This was followed by veg rolls, carrot cake which were excellent and stir fry beans which didn’t work for me but Gaurav was pretty pleased with it.

    The chicken and fish were pretty neat and had just the light flavour which still allowed the taste. Girish tried and then finished the pork and beef, whilst Charanjeev and I stuck to chicken and fish.

    I am not quite a rice eater and having been warned about the good desserts on offer, decided to just have a spoonful.

    The desserts were tantalizing – blueberry sorbet with what looked like a blueberry cheesecake, the mango one and creme brulee was excellent as well. In fact, the desserts were demolished in double quick time so to speak.

    All in all a good afternoon spent with friends, good food and surprisingly, whilst the set buffet has been made quite affordable at Rs. 1200++ the regular menu also is pretty good and not prohibitively expensive.

    Location: Bandra West
    Meal: Lunch – Set Buffet
    Food: 8/10
    Service: 8.5/10

    DISCLAIMER: This was an tasting invite with friends and hence could not be costed. The service was quite nice for a fine dine place, as expected.

    Hakkasan A Michelin star restaurant that opened with great fanfare a while back and had been always on my list of visit; however given the fact wife and daughter are vegetarians and not too keen on authentic chinese and a couple of stories about service/communication aspects from friends meant that it was parked somewhere, but not really top of mind.

  4. Pay it Forward

    A couple of days ago Blahssome tagged me on a post by @karenmcgrane on the same heading, where she shares her experiences.

    I have been lucky enough, most of my life to have earned enough goodwill to survive during the bad times, that seem to be equal to good times.

    Over the years, I have stopped getting surprised by How, where, when, what, why this Goodwill has happened and it comes in useful.…

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  5. Should I compile my selective tweets in a Book?

    Should I compile my selective tweets in a Book?

    After quite a back and forth of emails, I finally met Nirav at Bru World Cafe in Bandra yesterday.

    I reached quite late but he was kind enough not to send me reminders, but patiently wait.

    Our discussions ranged from blogs to blogging platforms to monetization, to influencers, competitive landscape, brands, growth, thought leadership.

    Actually, to be fair discussion meant, me talking and he…

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  6. Writing places and why they are important

    Writing places and why they are important

    I have always loved to write, could only remember lessons, if I wrote them down. Constantly make lists, scribble — sometimes relevant stuff (book, blog), sometimes irrelevant (maybe post its and then Twitter?). This can be work, vellapanti, what have you. 

    Writing has long been my memory tool and I feel at peace just scribbling thoughts, musings, notes, things to do on of course different kinds…

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  7. Who pays on the first Date?

    Who pays on the first Date?

    A question that has raised quite some heckles when I said and maintained a while ago, that, If a man asks, takes a lady out he pays. To me when I use the word lady, it does not matter — friend, a love interest, colleague, what have you. 

    Some well known Twitterati like Girish Mehul and Chinmayalong with some others believe to the contrary and said ‘The Bill has to be split between the girl and…

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  8. Market Correction

    Market Correction. A phrase that is used indiscriminately by all learned people to talk about stocks, shares, property and all…

    Or, more importantly to assuage guilt feelings of ‘having’ and giving gyaan to the ‘not having’ or ‘have nots’ the more popular phrase.

    Personally, I believe in the phrase ‘Self Correction’. At a particular age you have surplus money and you have an option of waiting for…

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  9. Mumbai Metro thoughts

    Finally after a delay of a decade, the Mumbai Metro was launched that is supposed to connect Versova (actually just the beginning of Versova) to Ghatkopar. All details have been well chronociled and this is no attempt to justify anything but a personal attempt to answer @Raheelk @b50 and others who asked ‘How many people would travel from Versova to Ghatkopar?’

    To me that is a complete irrelevant…

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  10. A Sunday, where the only plan was to laze around, before I was dragged on driver duty to Bandra. Having completed the work, decided to have lunch outside, but given my tracks and tee; besides the daughter not being there, was vetoed and we decided to visit Hanuman restaurant in Sion; before enlightenment struck and I suggested TiffinBox.

    Called them up to confirm that they were open, found them with a bit of confusion between center and chamber. They do have valet service, however the gate of the complex is never opened and you have to get down and walk inside – wonder how during the rains they would manage.

    There was just one table occupied which made me very happy but the wife was a little worried, more so after looking at the buffet choices. The greeter and server Harshvardhan immediately offered to get some chaat and other stuff which was normally available after 4 pm which ensured that there was peace.

    I started off with Salad, Starters preferring to give Soup a miss as is my wont. The aloo mutter chaat was nice, just the right amount of crust and had a taste of mutter; Aloo tikki was good as was the Aloo chana chaat and I went in for seconds. There were also Paneer and Chicken Tikka – tried a piece of both, paneer was just ok and the chicken was decent.

    The wife tried Aam Panna which was pretty good though the color green was a little different, never having seen that earlier.

    For the Mains in the veg spread – Paneer Kadhai, Aloo Tendli, Mixed Vegetables and Dal Tadka – did not try any of that; in the non veg spread – two types of chicken – different masala and gravies – one of the rare instances in a buffet, and both were pretty good.

    The breads – naan and roti were hot and brought to the table whilst the rest of the accompaniments – two kinds of pickle, salad, raitas papads were good enough. And there was plain rice and curd rice.

    During this period, the wife got served with Sev Puri – excellent as good as a couple of my favourite places, Pani Puri – served as a spread worthy of a king and was excellent; followed by Dahi Puri which was also pretty nice. I was allowed to just taste a bit, that left me wanting for more.

    Dessert in the buffet was Mini Gulab Jamuns and Rose petal ice cream both outstanding. Loath to leave, asked for the bill and things went downhill. Their Executive Chef/Operations Head recognised me and insisted that I try their other ice cream and refused to accept my money.

    To compound it, Krishna the Corporate Executive Chef introduced the Head Chef Azad and the Restaurant Manager Vaibhav. Chatting with them, I decided to share my feedback of different things in the menu:

    1) One of the rare places, where the accompaniments were pretty solid – two different kinds of achaar, two different kinds of chutneys, two raita, papad – pretty fresh.
    2) The chaat in the buffet was pretty fresh; replenished every 15-20 minutes or so
    3) The Chicken was very good, in fact the gravies and masala tasted different, normally not the case at buffet.

    Then the questions that were pinching me

    1) Why would the Veg offering be mostly aloo?
    2) Who on earth mixes Aloo and Tendli?
    3) Why would the Non Veg offering have just chicken? No fish, yeah even Basa (Not that I would touch that)

    We shared quite a lively discussion and debate, but that is for a less public forum and to be fair, the aloo offering convinced me :) whilst the Tendli discussion, they were convinced.

    I have promised to visit them, specifically for the Gatte ki subzi, other chaat items and their best a la carte dishes. BUT without warning them ;)

    A special mention of Harshvardhan, who had no clue but provided outstanding service, with a smiling face.

    They have a lovely Aam Ras Puri offer for Rs. 150/- and the chaat are priced between 70-100.

    Location: BKC
    Meal: Lunch
    Damages: Not Applicable (But Buffet is approx 400 per person)
    Service: 8/10 (specially only for Harshvardhan)

    TiffinBox etc.. A Sunday, where the only plan was to laze around, before I was dragged on driver duty to Bandra.