Friday, February 12, 2010

Break Fast Point, Prashant Vihar, Rohini

This goes out to all those that either have been to Amritsar and have relished the Amritsari Kulche with chhole and imli chutney or have atleast heard about, from their folks, this great "sunday" special treat, an Amrtisari delicacy !!

Amritsari Kulche, the ones that are sold almost everywhere in Delhi, are not even close to the original version!
What one gets here are essentially butter smeared, super heavy aaloo stuffed naan, omnipresent in the city, at road side shacks or some fine dine restaurants.. People relish the not-so-authentic Amristsari kulche with such a patronizing spirit that they've gotten accustomed to the very wrong version of the original delicacy and are often found suggesting it to others...

WAKE UP ALL THOSE GUYS who do not know what Amritsare Kulchas are all about and visit Breakfast Point at Prashant Vihar....

The guy is an Amritsari sanguinely and genetically and has been offering these absolutely delightful kulchas to the lucky people of Chander Nagar, Trans Yamuna, eastern side of the city for over a decade now... He has opened other outlets at Model Town and Rohini (Prashant Vihar) sometime back and has been doing pretty well, obviously!

The shop at Prashant Vihar, where I have been atleast thrice, is a small 200 sq ft area that has a tandoor outside besides a big crowd waiting to be seated almost everytime I have seen!

Anyway... this sunday we went in a group of 11 people, from all parts of the city... specially to this far flung breakfast joint errr.. Point... and ordered our much awaited kulche after a loathsome wait of around half an hour... as soon as you see the plates arriving, all the anguishes disappear... the drive, the wait, the sun (it's a non ac place), everydamn thing is paid for by the amazing kulche that are served to you!

Like most of the Punjabi food "items", these too arrive with freebies that include chopped onions, imli (tamarind) chutney and finely chopped fresh coriander... The kulchas, though are too heavy, full of butter and made of absolutely carbo filled white flour, melt in your mouth like salt mixes in warm water! and they hit the foodie G-Spot in a matter of seconds! The chhole are all right... not something to die for... but they come with those amazing kulche so they rather enjoy the unnecessary attention given to them!

One has a choice of wrapping the ahh so good sunday treat with lassi... I couldn't think of it, as I lacked the tummy space to accommodate anything else :)

Whatever be the case... The place deserves all the hardwork.... is totally worth a visit... maybe a couple of visits... in a month ;)

Strictly not recommended for people who are either on diet or are planning to resume/start one ;)

For all those who have been to Amritsar and have had the kulche at Chungi, Breakfast Point is way ahead in quality, taste, smell and everything, except for the ambiance and the pathos and ethos of being in Amritsar!!!

Price for two - Rs. 100 (50 per plate)

Flavor - ****
Quality- ****
Hygiene- ***.5
Service- ***


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Indochine, Lado Sarai OLD REVIEW that was published in Outlook Envy ;)

Picturesque expanse of the Qutab Golf Course, envious interiors and a fine choice of dining areas define INDOCHINE FORBIDDEN CITY at Aurobindo Marg, Lado Sarai in the capital.

Indochine is an international chain of restaurants that has its presence in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Germany besides India. It can boast of its unique choice of an exotic cuisine that comes from the land of French Indochine comprising of Southeast Asian nations like Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In India, it is a joint venture of Mr. Michael Ma, CEO of the Indochine group and restaurateurs Mr. Jay Singh and Mr. Sanjay Mahtani.

Forbidden City has three dining options ranging from a bar to a fine dining restaurant.

The premise is primarily divided into three areas spread on two levels.

The ground level has an indoor bar named the bar SaVanh that has a dimly lit ambience to itself. There is a lounge like atmosphere with a DJ console that is the first visible area as one enters the bar. “The bar has a good choice of drinks to offer besides sumptuous finger food” tells the Restaurant manager.

It has a place to accommodate about 400 people easily and weekends see a huge rush of party freak Delhiites pouring in. “Though the place was brimming with a 1250 people last weekend, but we still do not want to promote Indochine as a club, we rather want to promote it as a lifestyle and a culture oriented place” added the manager.

There is another option of casual dining in the open, adjacent to the Qutab Golf course called ‘Café Alfresco’ that gives a spectacular view of lush green surroundings. The menu is a modest one that limits itself to only a fewer number of bites to choose from. The entire area on the ground level can be used to plan private parties and get togethers.

On the first floor is the fine dining restaurant called Madame Butterfly that has an Asiatic theme in its décor besides offering a clearer view of the golf course through the glass present on the left side of the restaurant. It has both smoking and non smoking areas indoor and in the open respectively.

The decor is a combination of dark red, brown and black that gives a very Chinese feel to it. Though there also are bamboo sticks lying on one side of the restaurant that does till an extent add a Vietnamese feel to the place.

The music goes with the theme and according to the manager; similar soundtracks are played in all the Indochine outlets across the world barring aside a few tracks that are favorite to the sporadic clientele. On the whole, the ambience is a combination of shades of reds, light music and comforting view of the green expanse that provides a good option of enjoying one’s lunch or dinner, whatever has been planned!

The chefs are also trained in and brought from Singapore and an effort is made to standardize the flavor across all the outlets of Indochine in the world.

The food as they put it is ‘nutriceutical’ in nature that has both nutritional and pharmaceutical essence attached to it.

The entrees included an exotic Indochinese salad called the Aloe Vera Pomelo salad.

Pomelo is a citrus fruit that is easily available across Southeast Asia. The salad also included green field baby spinach and cashew nuts and was prepared in a special Indochine sauce.

It is nutritious sans doute and has a very tangy flavor to it. Priced at Rs. 275 it’s a healthy choice. Forbidden City chilly prawns (Rs. 800) is one of the see food options available besides delicacies like lobsters and crabs. Prawns are cooked in a Chinese red chilly sauce and are a good option to choose in appetizers.

The main course included steamed rice( Rs.125), stir fried chicken of the bamboo pavilion(Rs. 575) that came in a taro basket and includes cashew nuts,

water chestnut, ginko nut, carrot, and leek prepared in satay sauce.

Tenderloins with XO sauce (Rs. 475) is a delicacy that is offered here. It is served in a clay pot in which the dish is prepared and loins are juicy and soft prepared in a shrimp based XO sauce with a hint of capsicum, onion and garlic.

An assortment of mushrooms called Xao Ba Nam (Rs. 450) is a must try. It includes mushrooms like golden, shiitake and button available in both veg and non-veg sauces.

The food is less spicy than Chinese food and has a larger menu of healthier options.

Dessert included ‘chocolate temptation’ (Rs.375) that had a brownie with melting chocolate sauce atop it along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Though it is a very regular dessert available at almost every restaurant, here the presentation was brilliantly done. A white platter that had a vanilla ice cream scoop garnished with nuts and a chocolate brownie on one corner beautified with strawberry syrup in the middle.

The staff is well informed and offers good advice whilst choosing from the menu.

Indochine indeed offers a unique choice of dining in Delhi and is developing into a lifestyle hang out zone along with providing an exotic cuisine like nobody else.

Meal for two- upwards of Rs. 2000

Address – Forbidden City by Indochine, Behind Qutab Golf Course, Aurobindo Marg, Lado Sarai, New Delhi-110030

Telephone- 011-29523330

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Club India Cafe and Restaurant, Pahar Ganj, New Delhi

There is a euphoria in me attached to Paharganj (PG), probably because it is the travelers' district of New Delhi.

One small area, one alley, one bazaar, two crossings and atleast a ten thousand people from probably a one hundred and fifty nationalities walking together, eating together, boozing together, burping together, sleeping together, oops.. and what not!!

It is fairly known to the world that PG is the hippie haven of New Delhi, but lets not discuss that here!!!!

I happen to visit PG often, maybe because there's this sense of attachment that I have with the place due to its offering an assortment of dining options that do not pinch your/anyone's pocket!

I was at Club India Cafe located at the junction called Tooti Chowk of Main bazaar, PG. The trip was absolutely out of the blue, as I had to meet some one for work and ended up having an hour and a half extra with me... So what better than chewing away to glory, cheap and exotic food with a thousand kind of travelers in your midst...

The ambiance at PG has a different aroma to it, an aroma that reflects the fragrance of a place that belongs to probably no one but a fragrance of the air that carries the breath of so many people, all of us, who belong to each other.. HOW? We're all descendants of the one couple that turned naughty and began life on earth, at least :)

I should shut the F$^@ up and talk about the food I had ;)

There are two seating options at the Club India Cafe (CIC) - the second floor covered area and the third floor open dining area.

I obviously prefer the latter, mainly because the air filled with our fragrance is available in plenty and at no cost!

They have a fairly large menu that includes food from various Asian backgrounds ranging from obviously North Indian to Israeli to Japanese and Tibetan, all attractively priced!

There's not a better drink there than the MASALA TEA... The masala tea or Chai is so decently priced at Rs. 20 that it's actually hard to believe your eyes! I obviously called for it, passing the other options of a variety of fruit juices, soft drinks, ice teas, coffees, blaah blaahhh etc.

The tea arrived and oh my god I took a sip... For a moment I thought that's about it! This probably is how it feels to be blissed!!! Awesome, not very strong tea but a very strong aroma of the masala that was added to it makes me safely say that the Masala Tea at CIC is the best tea I've ever had at any place outside home, ever!!

The roof top area was not more than 550 to 600 sq feet in size and was brimming with people of all backgrounds, races, languages, countries, and thought processes. There were families, couples, loners, random travelers who turn friends at cafes, kids with their mum dad, etc.

The cutest little girl was laughing with her mom while showing her mom the frills in her frock! I wonder what aura kids have that makes you forget for a moment about everything else that's happening in your life.... Her mom lifted the baby girl up and made her peep into the alley, the view of the street! Utter chaos but beautiful... Dusk time, neon lights at the restaurants beginning to start, some of them flickering, some focusing right at your eyes makes the place worth looking at...

Getting back to the food now, I looked through the food "items" on the menu scanning through the pastas, the steaks, the naans, the rotis , the tikkas, the japanese weirdly named choices, the noodles, the speghettis, etc. and finally decided to order the Chicken Steak Roast... The guy told me it comes with freebies such as sauteed beans, tomatoes, radish, etc. besides chips... BRING IT ON! was my reply...

A grilled breast of chicken, on a sizzling plate along with the promised freebies arrived after about 20 minutes of a comfortable wait... The chicken was tender, juicy and soft, tasted fresh and was smeared with what tasted like a mix of barbeque and tabasco peppers sauce.... all in all a very good choice of meal priced at another surprising amount of Rs. 120!!!

I took a good half an hour to savor my meal (mid-meal, honestly) and kept looking around my small round table that in the beginning had two chairs, one of which was taken during the course of my eating!

Around me there were two old men sitting and chatting about business in some European language, and there was a group of two families of Latin American origin, who could not pacify one of the infants that kept crying during the entire course of my meal! Probably, it was the weather, or the place, or the smell, or the number of people, or an amalgum of all this that made it itch so much!

I could see a guy sitting all alone, looking completely lost in the middle of nowhere and making his doze of some kind of thing that probably keeps him high all the time!! In no time, he took out a camera from his jhola bag and started clicking pictures of the surroundings, thanks to his corner table that enabled him to see the street down there....

I called for my check and to no surprise it came out to be a total of Rs. 140 (20 plus 120 remember.. my math is not all that bad). I paid a ten buck tip to the waiter who was all smiles from the beginning to the end and kept speaking in a broken English with me, only to realize ultimately that I was one of his fellow-citizens, as soon as I spoke to him in Hindi...

In all, I absolutely loved my meal at CIC, PG, it's worth a visit, for its location, the choice of food it offers and again the ambiance and chaos that you can witness sitting at the roof top of the travelers' haven in New Delhi...

Burrrrppppppp!!!!! oops.. excusez moi, s'il vous plait!
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