CBC meets at Zha Cafe & an anniversary

And finally it was 24th February. The day! What was so special or significant? Well, I was looking forward to attending the Chennai Bloggers meet [that also included a book exchange/sale] We had all been sharing book titles, reserving books, chatting away and generally creating a lot of buzz about the meet. It was my 1st time at the CBC meet, though i’d met quite a few during the Indiblogger meet and subsequently for the Evam Stand up show as well. The meet was happening at Zha Cafe, Adyar. 


This was my 2nd or 3rd visit to Zha Cafe in Adyar.. Well, technically 2nd since the actual 2nd visit turned out to be “oops, the place is shut, let us go sit in CCD” meet. You can read about the place here.


Would you believe it? The last time I was here at Zha cafe was on Feb 24th 2012, Friday and this year I was back there on Feb 24th, Saturday!! So, this is the anniversary post 😀

I walked in around 3.10pm only to see the room at the far end filled with people, all standing yapping away. I looked around for a familiar face to make sure I was at the right event.  Ah, there was Kalyan, and then I spotted Bragadeesh, Aravind, Jothi and few others… Saying Hi Hello I finally met Susan Deborah [one of the admins and a pen pal of sorts.. we had been exchanging letters/postcards for a while and this was the 1st time we were meeting] 

Soon it was time to settle down and behave.. lol… Making sure there was a tiny pathway for the staff to walk around, we squatted wherever there was a square inch, or more. A round of introductions, some leg pulling, chocolates from Singapore courtesy Prashant and the meet was well underway. Arasi of Zha cafe kept sending out drinks, sandwiches, vada, smoothies and we were all in high spirits through the evening. A special mention to the vada- they were sinfully hot & good.. 

The book exchange section was fun, it was an opportunity to not only meet fellow book worms but come across rare books, authors I hadnt read and to learn of different tastes. It was also an evening where I learnt how some are looking at doing more than just meeting and blogging. Mahesh, Sashi & Venkat spoke about using CBC to make a difference to the society. Spend a few hours every week, help those in need, share the knowledge and change a few lives… make them better!!

The backyard [if I may call it that] at Zha cafe is just as beautiful as the front or interiors. There were a few stone benches, stones made of paper mache lit up, and green picket fences of sorts all around. 
The postcard I chose..

The postbox 

As the evening drew to a close, I looked forward to the postcard that Zha cafe is famous for. They have postcards that you can pick up, write a message and a To address on and drop into the Postbox in the main hall. They stamp it, post it and it is a cool endeavor to keep the tradition going! I for one Love this concept and hope they continue it for as long as they can!! 


One of the other rooms

This is a place where one can chill with a book and a cup of kaapi or kadala mittai, or maybe just enjoy a game of snakes and ladders or pallankuzhi. It is a cafe with a difference, there are no speakers blaring loud music, nor is there a TV showcasing cricket match or some random news channel. It is a space that allows you to do what you want to do. The rooms are all done up in different themes – kerala style with a boat, rajasthani style with jharokas and puppets, movie theme with chairs labelled Director, actor and shelves lined with movie posters, or the room with a life size snakes & ladder game board. 


So, next time you are looking for a place that is different or curious about Tamizh and traditional games, head over to Zha cafe.. They have an outlet in Porur as well 🙂 


Where is Zha Cafe?


Kamaraj Avenue 2nd St, Rukmani Nagar, 
Adyar 
Chennai -600020
Ph- 044 4211 6027


and 



10, Shakthi Nagar,
Mount Poonamallee Road,
Porur,Chennai -600166.
Phone : 044-30064810.
(Behind ICIC bank and next to Shell Petrol Bunk)


What is Chennai Bloggers Club?

Well, as the name states, all of us hail from Chennai [or have some connection to the city] and are bloggers 🙂 Visit the 
Facebook page to know more

Aromas of China in Chennai


Yet another Thursday evening amidst friends, and this time we were at a new restaurant on Khader Nawaz khan road. Over the past few days I’ve noticed that quite a few places have shut, but a few new ones have cropped up. “Out with the old, in with the new” I guess and wondered how long these new places will survive… But that road has changed drastically over the years, it has become a landmark locality of sorts in the city. A road known for the “poshness”, high end shopping, eating and lounging.



Ok, so I headed up the elevator to the 2nd floor and noticed Aromas of China on the left and Khansama on the other side. They both belong to the same group of hotels. At the entrance was welcomed by a giant Buddha face on the wall and a lion near the maitre de’s table.

Slide into the space on the sofa, was a tad tight, but what the hell… Chit chatted and while waiting for the soup, nibbled on the Kim chi and tried to pick a few with chopsticks and must say I succeeded. Yayy!! Along came the soup, veg sweet corn soup- it was bland and felt empty. I added quite a bit of Chilli in vinegar water and soy sauce to add some flavour. Reminded me of the good ol days when Sweet corn soup used to taste exactly like this[bland that is].  I wondered and joked that maybe the guy who orders the spices was out of town or gone missing!!



 And then came the series of Veg starters- 1st came the momo, tried picking it up with chopsticks and did succeed. Was reminded of Kung Fu panda where Master Shifu & Panda train with a bowl of momos..This momo was just about alright, I’ve had better, what was missing? Flavouring, n it was nothing like the momos i’ve eaten [heck I even make em at home] !! .Anyways, back to food, there were quite a few corn based items- one was corn cooked in white sauce with other veggies; another was crispy corn which i liked, and finally came the Crispy fried veggies[ an assortment of veggies- cauliflower, carrot and baby corn]. I ate these with ample chilli sauce, and the mustard sauce. There was another sauce which was dark in colour, nearly black, a black pepper sauce [if i remember right]



In between mouthfuls we caught up on life, and everything else, while some were busy photographing the place and the people. For a Thursday evening the place was nearly full, which had me amazed [Chennai people do get out, amazing] The main dishes began coming out, one by one. The 1st in line was Noodles [which was quite good, esp since i prefer noodles over rice any day]. It was served along side a mix veg gravy [don’t know the name], it had cauliflower, snow peas, baby corn, capsicum and onion [tasted alright, like any Chinese dish]. The other dish was Veg dumpling, which had a flat cutlet kind of dumpling in soy based sauce. I liked it..especially since the other one was very bleh. I noticed the restaurant slowly filling up, and buzzing with customers. Always good to see a packed house 🙂



Then came the Schezwan Rice, it was red in colour making me wonder how spicy it was, but with the 1st spoonful I realised it wasn’t spicy at all. The rice was just about cooked and had a generous splash of spring onion, i wondered if perhaps they added colour to give it that scary look.


Ok, so where were we? Ah yes, food. We waited and waited, laughing, catching up, cracking up and some more when suddenly there were the waiter serving us some yumm looking desserts. The 1st one was Daarsaan [ flat noodles deep fried coated with honey and served with a few chopped up almonds] and vanilla ice cream. Now, I am not a big fan of Vanilla ice cream, but I did like this one and it went well with the dessert.  The other one was a spring roll of sorts, it resembled a cigar, except this had gooey chocolate inside and was HOT. Lip smacking, so much so that I had a 2nd piece and another dollop of ice cream to go with it.

Well, even though the food is Indo-Chinese, the kind we get almost everywhere, and even though I’ve had better food, if one was to go by the crowd piling into the restaurant, I’d say the
place was a roaring success. They are doing something right.. whatever that is!

Ambiance: The only quip I have is the sofa seating was very uncomfortable, getting in, sitting and the cushions, almost got backache, request the management to change the cushions
Price: A meal for 2 should cost around Rs1500 [little more if you are Non veg


Address:
Aromas Of China 
2nd Floor, #15, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, 
Nungambakkam, Chennai- 34
Ph- +(91)-9962379494 | 43178111

The place where Mocha was, it is  opp the building with Kryptos/Atmosphere.

This was part of a CFG Showcase that I attended and was conducted by Chennai Food Guide.


Disclaimer:
The
reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also
remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so
does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while
visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  🙂
 

Zuka, Pondicherry

“Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.” – John Q. Tullius




Imagine being surrounded by Chocolates- in their true form, as mousse, cakes, pastries, drinks and much more? It would be heaven for those who love Chocolate. Now, even though I am not crazy about Chocolates, I don’t mind indulging once in a while. 

When I was visiting Pondicherry last week, a friend of mine who lives there insisted on taking me to this new dessert place that she said was “awesome”. So, we drove down towards Mission Street, almost to the end and there was “ZUKA”. My friend mentioned they were earlier called Choco- la. 

We walked in and were greeted by Srinath Balachandar, the man behind Zuka. He also owns the cafe next door where they serve Sandwiches and quiche, soon they will be serving Coffee he told us. 

Simple interiors, a grand display counter and about 2-3 tables with chairs to sit and indulge in. The display showcases the variety of desserts made using chocolate, each one such a treat for the eyes. Srinath went on to tell me about his favorites and those that he recommends. He suggested I try the Hot chocolate and I took him up on it, while my friend went for the “awesome cake”, it was a multi layer cake with hazelnut filling combined with chocolate layers. 






 My hot chocolate arrived within seconds, a small cup with the drink, served alongside two small square cups made of chocolate containing chocolate shavings [to be added to the drink], a normal spoon and a spoon made of chocolate [that melts as you stir] .. It was hot, rich, sinful and divine.





The Awesome cake did full justice to its name. Every layer was different and the flavours came together beautifully.  [the one on the right in the photograph below]


Art decor at ZUKA… 








A chocolate bouquet… 




Wait, am not done. You are in for a surprise. The next day, once again, just before bidding Pondy adieu we decided to visit Zuka. Yes, twice in 2 days.. 🙂 

This time we decided to try something different. I once again turned to Srinath who recommended the Expresso mousse dessert, it came in a shot glass and with every spoonful there was a burst of coffee in my mouth. 


My friend ordered the Crunchy Caramel cake, a soft cake where the base had been soaked[rather sprayed] with caramel sauce and topped with crunchy caramel bits. Yumm… 




Started in 2009, “Choco- Là” by Srinath Balachandran is a place that does true justice to Chocolates. While chatting with him, came to know he went to France and worked in the master chocolate
maker Mr. Jean Luc Klugesherz’s chocolate kitchen. He imports all the raw materials from Belgium and makes each of the items here in Pondicherry.  

Choco Là gift boxes, T-shirts and mugs are also available! They even had a portrait of Thalaivar, Rajinikanth made from Chocolate up on display. 

Most items on the menu are priced between Rs50 and Rs80. Next time you are in Pondy, make a beeline for Mission Street, and you will find Zuka right there… It is also adjacent to Pasta Bar Veneto. 



Ambiance: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Price: 8/10
Overall: 9/10
 
Open daily from 9.30am to 10.30pm
# 319 Mission Street
Ph- (0413) 222 1191
Email: srinath@ebonyfoods.in
URL: http://www.ebonyfoods.in/

Disclaimer:
The
reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also
remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so
does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while
visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  🙂

Haji Ali once again…

It was 28th January 2013. How do i remember the date so well? It was the day I got the Tata Indica Vista D90 for review 😀


 That evening piled the family into the car, and we did a drive around the city, the marina beach, a quick bite at Vrindavan, New Woodlands and finally for desserts headed to Haji Ali on Greams Road. This place had a lot of memories for all of us.. The most recent being of friends landing here after dinner while I had to head back home. And they kept sharing pictures of stuff they ordered and dug into.. grrr… 

We walked in, found a table empty near the counter and started browsing through the menu card, wondering what to order. I wanted to try something different. 



While we were pondering over what to order, I spotted an entire order of Falooda waiting to be served to another table. Requested the guys behind the counter to allow me to take a photograph 😀


And finally, we placed our order and waited….Here is Gramma’s Strawberries and ice cream[ she had actually wanted cream but ordered ice cream]

 d I chose the Fresh Anjeer shake 

and finally Mom’s Dry fruits Falooda, 



What a fun evening it turned out to be… as always.. To read about my 1st visit to Haji ali, click here


Service: Quite prompt- 8/10
Ambiance- Cosy and comfortable -9/0
Cost- Reasonable – these costed Rs268 [approx]

Location-
Haji Ali Juice Centre 
85B, Murugesa Naikar Complex,
Greams Road. 
Call             (044) 28292220       or 28292227 for details or home delivery.
and
Haji Ali juice Center
#124 Sterling Point, Near Bharathirajaa Speciality Hospital & Research Centre, 
G N Chetty Road, T Nagar, Chennai – 600017
Call             (044)-28342704      ,28342705,28342706

Tadka talk by Chef Arora, Vegetarian Delights

One of those days when I was all set to travail across the city, to the other end of the world, well not nearly other end, or of the world, but I was headed to Velachery. Yep, you read it right.. Managed to wind up work, and headed out around 5.30, as a bunch of us had decided to do a mini meet at Pheonix Market city, the newly opened mall. Surprisingly, it took me less than half an hour to reach the mall. Spent about an hour there and were once again on the road. This time to a restaurant in that part of town, Tadka Talk, behind Chennai Business School.

Tucked away in a narrow lane, the restaurant is one you just might miss if you dint know the location or its existence. Had been hearing rave reviews about it, and a few who attending the Tasting session also spoke highly of the place.

The first thing that catches your eyes as you make your way to the restaurant is the Gym, it is right there, in front of your face. Came to know there were service apartments upstairs and the gym was part of amenities for those who stayed there.

Was received by Shafee, the man who owns the restaurant. As we walked in through the thick glass doors, I fell in love with the light fixtures hanging in the corner. The reflection on the wall was beautiful. Noticed a small washroom, and we made a beeline for a quick wash.

The restaurant has 2 seating areas, with enough space between the tables. There were  a few seating area near the wall, with a park bench of sorts with colourful cushions. On the other side is an open kitchen, where we could see the dishes being cooked, while the tandoor was inside the kitchen.

The USP of this restaurant is Punjabi Ghar ka khana [home style food- literally]

The evening began with a welcome drink – Spiced kiwi & raw mango served with a slice of kiwi on a skewer. I quite liked it, though it did remind me of Hajmola, and Jaljeera.  Another drink also did the rounds, it was a Kesar badam lassi, and I liked that more than the kiwi drink [I like yoghurt based drinks].

We were then served a spicy black channa soup (choliya di rassa) – which was good, filled with flavour but felt almost like a korma[bottom left image in the photograph on top].  Just as we were trying to figure out the flavours, the starters platter arrived, it consisted of (L-R) Lahori Seekh Paneer Chollia, Paneer Amritsari and Tandoori Phul. The Seekh was just about average, I liked the paneer Amritsari,  soft and tender with the typical tangy Amritsari marinade. The Phul (made with corn) was alright [I was tad confused about flavours, it had been mashed and wrapped on a skewer]  
These were served alongside three kinds of chutneys- A raw mango one that I loved, Tamarind & date chutney and ofcourse the quintessential Green chutney [ coriander, mint & green chillies]. There was also a bowl of Cucumber raita on the table along with another small cup with a pickle of sorts.
For the main dishes, we had the Lahori Subji Biryani [ almost like a pulao overdosed with masalas] served along side 3 gravies- there was the Phul Aloo [potato cauliflower curry], it was dry and tasted ok, wish it had a bit of gravy.  The highlight among the mains was the Kadai Paneer, with nice big pieces of Paneer. Then came the Rajama, which was a dish I was looking forward but it was a let down[to be brutally honest, tasted like the one you get the ready to eat packets].
Apart from these, we sampled an assortment of Indian breads: Roti, Butter
Naan and Kulcha Paratha [all 3 were good]. I was busy playing with Arnav that I dint take any pics of the main dishes. You can check them out at Deepa & Divyan’s Blog.. 

There was suddenly talk of Gajar ka halwa and my mouth began watering [ I like a well made hot gajar ka halwa], but alas, we were served two other desserts, the Gulab Jamun [warm & good] and Rasmalai[dint like the overpowering rose water essence that dominated].  And with that the dinner came to an end. 
My final verdict- well, if you live around Velachery and are looking for a pure veggie restaurant, you can head here for a simple meal. Let me know what you think of it. 
This menu is priced at Rs385 plus tax, which makes it a value for money deal. Most of the items on the menu are priced around Rs190 to Rs245  

Ambiance: 8/10
Flavours & Taste: 5/10
Portion Size: 7/10
Address:
#6 & 7, Baby Nagar First Main Rd, Ramagiri Nagar, 
Velachery  
Chennai – 600042
Phone: 044 4321 3838
Tadka Talk is located in the narrow lane right opposite TCS Velachery, it is behind Chennai business school.

Disclaimer:

This was part of a CFG Showcase that I attended and was conducted by Chennai Food Guide

 
The
reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also
remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so
does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while
visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  🙂

The Sweet Art, Chennai

I had the Indica Vista D90 for a few more hours, and what did i decide to do? Head over to my friend- Yalini’s [& her sis] outlet- The Sweet Art.  Located in Vadapalani, I had to weave through narrow lanes and crowded streets, all the while wondering if I made the mistake of bringing this car down this road.. But luckily, made it to her store and back home with no scratches or mishaps.. phew!



The store is just about a week old and it is cute, yes that is the word that comes to my mind. Small, yet spacious, limited items but lavish enough! Yalini & Suzie – sisters have opened this store, taking their home based business a step ahead. 

They offer different kinds of cup cakes [eggless & sugar free too], cheese cake, and other desserts as well. I also spotted a few savories, which are from their mom.

The simple decor, bright purple wall colour, the interesting little curio items all blended in quite well. The walls were empty, but they dint seem barren. The wall next to the counter was made of black slate sheets and had handwritten menu with pricing. A wash basin is tucked away on the other side of the counter. The Glass walls give the space a grand look. 




There were about 5 tables with 4 litttle seaters in each. Apart from these, there was enough room to walk around.  I had been meaning to visit the store, but just couldnt. The day before the visit Yalini had messaged me saying I was yet to visit. I replied saying I was going to drop in today and surprise you, but you beat me to it. Alas, that day I was busy and couldnt go. So the next day, wednesday evening was when i made the trip and I did manage to surprise her [well, I think I did]

What did I try? A day ago, Suzie had shared the image of the “love bite”, a chocolate cupcake with a fresh strawberry hidden within , chocolate icing and a piece of fresh strawberry. I had it in my mind, and luckily there was one piece left.!! What a treat it was, tucking into the cupcake was just delightful. The strawberry within was so fresh and delish. Enjoyed it. Apart from this, I also got to try Seeni sambal [hope i got the name right] that Yalini’s mom brought to the store. It resembled a samosa [semi circle shaped] with fried onion filling, the other one had veggies within. Aunty said they make it with meat as well. She mentioned she had just made a batch of Brinjal pickle which Yalini mentioned would be part of her offering at the Home Bakers guild.  


  


Spent some time yakking with Yalini, her mom and with her 2nd son as well. Few hours went by, and it was time to leave. Oh, how can I forget to mention the peach tea I had there. The store offers quite a variety of hot teas and coffee as of now. More to come in the days ahead. 

I packed a few egg-less cupcakes that her son insisted on placing in the box. And they were all delicious as well [ friend, uncle and grandparents enjoyed them] The last one was gobbled up by my friend and Floppy got a piece as well 🙂

Here’s wishing The Sweet Art team all the very best! Next time you have a cupcake craving, you know where to head and you could bring me back some as well.. ;o)

Address:
The Sweet Art
[Inside Nilgiris], Doshi Gardens Shopping Complex, 
#321 Arcot Road, Vadapalani, 
Chennai 600026
Ph- 044 4205 3123


Follow them on Facebook: The Sweet Art

Froyo Factory, Chennai


Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos. ~ Don Kardong

I am not the kind who craves desserts and ice creams, but fro-yo is a favorite. At home, there are days when i just whip up a smoothie [yoghurt+ice cubes+fruit]… So, one day last week when my friend I were catching up, we went out to dinner and decided to hop across to Froyo Factory for dessert. I had been chatting with Avanthi [one of the partners at Froyo] and was finally going to be visiting the outlet. We dint really know the location, so I got directions from her and tada, we were there. 

A small cozy outlet, the walls adorned with a few posters on health, and related elements, the place had a nice feel to it. With a few bar stool kinda chairs, it was one of those places you hop into, grab a dessert and hop away. 


We spent time reading through the menu, speaking to the man behind the counter and finally made our decision. My friend chose the Strawberry Madness, while i went for the Very Berry.


 These cute containers were filled with little treats, the guy in charge told me these were add ons for the sundaes- gems, nougat, caramel, dry fruits and so on. 





This is the Strawberry Madness [Rs100]- quite a  generous scoop of froyo with fresh strawberries and strawberry sauce – This was heavenly, esp for someone who loves the fruit.


 And this was mine- Very berry [Rs120]– Again, a generous scoop of froyo with freshly cut strawberries, some frozen blueberries and raspberries with a drizzle of strawberry sauce. – Loved it, it had the sweetness of the blueberry, tartness of raspberry and the freshness from the strawberries… 



We also got to taste the “Flavour of the day” which was “Cream & Cookies”, quite nice. The best thing about Froyo desserts are the rich flavour combined with low sugar/sweetness. Also, the cup here might look small, but it is not, the portions are quite large…

If you are looking for some interesting dessert options, head straight here!! They are open till 10.30pm !! 

PS: I loved the spoons, they were different and almost like  lacrosse stick 😀
Address:
Froyo Factory
#12, RajaChari Street, T. Nagar, 
Chennai- 600017
Ph- +91 9176255580
Directions: Head towards Joy Alukkas or BBQ Nation- There is a playground at the end of the roads, turn left, and then turn right along with the playground. You will find FroYo on your left, there is a bright white lit board 🙂 

Disclaimer:
The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  🙂