Brunch At Pan Asian, ITC Grand Chola With Chef Ashish

It is not just what you eat, it is where, how and of course who creates the dish that makes a difference.. And this is something I firmly believe in..  

Saying that, I can firmly state there are very few restaurants that get me excited, and one of them is Pan Asian in ITC Grand Chola.. Each visit has been simply heavenly and memorable. And so, last Sunday when I walked up the majestic steps towards the restaurant, I was already looking forward to the ambiance, the conversations and not to mention, the divine food that was bound to be served up!
I met Chef Ashish Singh, who has taken over the reigns a year or so ago, and through the next four hours we were there, he floored us with the dishes – each one tingling my taste buds, some with a burst of flavour and others subtle yet delicious… Here is a round up of all that I had during the relaxed Sunday Brunch [This was a sit down brunch and quite an elaborate one at that, nearly 7-8 courses] 
Soya Sauce being poured into the little plates

Fresh Wasabi being grated..

Glass of Red wine!

Tokyo Iced tea- Kiwi concentrate with lemon tea served chill

Now onwards for the food….

Zensai (salad)
Tofu wasabi Zuke(pickled wasabi)
Tamago yaki(grilled omelette)
shimeji(mushroom) Goma ae(sesame
paste)
Garnish:Shisho leaf(ooba)
Hanaho(purple flower)

Loved the Mushroom and egg omelette the most in this platter. Oh and the big surprise were the herbs/flowers which had quite a strong distinct flavour.. 


Stir fried water chestnut & lotus stem
Garlic, Chilli pepper
Absolutely loved this dish, the crunch, the subtle spice and the presentation had me going WOW with every bite!

Green tea Cappuccino
This was an interesting drink, blended with ice cream, it was something new..
Dim sum
Edamame with shaved Truffle
Shishitou Sauce

Absolutely loved this one, the truffle flavour was fabulous and the dimsum outer skin was perfect, wasn’t chewy,wasn’t too soft that it broke before I could pop it in my mouth. And the dramatics of dry ice was magical 🙂 
Bellini – Peach syrup with soda
Robatayaki
Grilled
Californian Avocado
 Soy and Yuzu Lime
Poached Pears
Kuramame

I love love avocado but had never had grilled avocado and could have eaten just this and been happy. The poached pears were sweet while the sliver of lime was the zing that brought the dish together.


Cranberry based drink..
Beijing Rolls
Sliced Inari(Fried and Mirin soaked soy
with Sweet Bean,
wrapped in Nama Uba(fresh soy) sheet blessed with dehydrated
soy crumb

The wrap was thin and the filling was light and airy. It also had a slight sweetness to it. 
From The Grill
Boletus
mushroom
Vanilla puffed roll with chili mango
Garnish: Hanaho leaf

Oh this was fun to eat, the puff roll was soft and when had with the mushroom made perfect sense. The chef made sure we noticed him telling us not to eat the leaves. There was a mini debate amidst  the group about what the leaves looked like, while I said Marijuana, another said Papaya…
Sushi
Asparagus
with cheese wrapped mame nori(soy sheet)

This was the first time I was having Sushi wrapped in something other than the Dark Noori sheet. It was light and very different. 
Mains
Wok
tossed Monkey head mushroom, Black pepper
Spinach
in Thai yellow curry,
Jasmine
Rice
Stir
fried Udon Noodles

This Bento box of sorts was heavenly, but quite heavy, especially all those courses we had been through. The spinach thai green curry and jasmine rice with the monkey head mushrooms were a delight to have. Not to forget the crunchy vegetables, including the lotus stem. 
Desserts
Chocolate rasberry with yuzu curd
Rasberry
macarons with passion fruit ice cream [few others got Lemon macarons]

We got the opportunity to meet the young Deepti who takes care of Nutmeg, where you get quite an array of pastries and desserts. This trio was presented by her- My favourite was the tangy passion fruit ice cream. But the other two were a hit and miss of sorts..  

This sit down elaborate Sunday brunch would cost around Rs 3300/- per head.It is an experience that must be savoured and relished bite after bite.. Was in the company of good friends and so the four hours we were there seemed to fly by. We were a happy bunch by the time we left the restaurant. If you are keen on giving your taste buds a new kind of experience, combined with a few pleasant surprises make sure to visit this restaurant. Vegetarian /non vegetarian doesn’t matter!! 

Address: 
ITC Grand Chola 
No., 63, Anna Salai, Guindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600032
Phone:044 2220 0000

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit 🙂

Paratha at Paratha Wali Gali, Chandni Chowk, Delhi

So you are walking down Chandni Chowk, across shops and shops and more shops, all you will see are heads bobbing about, bargains thrown in and a wide plethora of stuff.. Now you better pay attention as you walk along ok, cos in between the numerous shops are small food outlets tucked in.. There will be shops selling aloo tikki chaat, lime shikanji and quite a few other stuff.. 
If there was one thing you shouldnt miss when you are here at Chandni Chowk is the Paranthe wali gali.. It is a narrow lane, like I mean narrow and as you enter you will get the aroma of things being fried, the hot oil will overpower your senses. A bit like walking into the kitchen when something is being deep fried constantly. There are shops stacked next to each other selling quite a range of Parathas here, the one we went to has been around since 1872, had pictures on the wall of the owner with just about every world leader and a menu card that ran through the entire ceiling.. There was everything from the paneer paratha to tomato to dry fruits to cheese and much more.. In total,about 26 different kinds.. And mind you, these are the no frills fancies kinda places. You manage to squeeze in, find a empty spot and squeeze yourself in. A guy will come take your order, and you wait. No fancy decor, heck no decor, no fancy cutlery- well you have your fingers don’t you and well good food. Years ago when I came here for the 1st time, I was wowed, but now I was there just to experience the food and get out… 
You do not have a choice in terms of sides, there is a standard platter that will land in front of you- a sweet chutney with bananas,  and two different kinds of potato based gravies. That is it!! We decided to try the dry fruit and tomato paratha and both were delicious. They come piping hot, so you was for a few minutes and hope to not burn your fingers/mouth and just gulp it down in a jiffy… It is not very spicy and so works for all.. 
The cost varies from 40-100 bucks, depending on how rich the filing is. apart from this, the only other thing they serve are lassis.. 

Baking with my new Murphy Richards 28L OTG


About a decade or so ago, I went for baking classes with a friend of mine  [actually I went for it only cos she did, and she was preparing for her upcoming marriage- attended cookery classes, baking classes etc…] And it was fun.. Soon after, I remember coming home and trying some of the suff- donuts, cakes, buns, etc.. And then our over died, we then had only a microwave, in which I used to make this one Chocolate cake I knew and few years late that died and along with it went my baking instances as well.. 

But I have been wanting to get back to it, especially since I discovered there were quite a few ways to make things -not just baking, and it wasn’t complicated or difficult. Over the past 3-4yrs I began toying with the idea of picking up a OTG [i have no use for a microwave, not into heating food at all], but I just never got around to buying the OTG. This year again, in Jan I told myself I shall get one … and taking it one step further, I approached a friend of mine [ in the Navy] asking her if she could find out the rate and let me know. [Navy canteen is a good place to buy things, it is also 2-3K cheaper than outside stores]

She asked me which brand and I said Morphy Richards since that is the one most of my friends recommended and used. She wasn’t sure if the brand was sold at the Navy canteen and thus the conversation was forgotten. 

On March 8th, she calls and says she has picked up the OTG and will drop it off later in the evening.. I was stumped to say the least.. I asked her the price and she said it was around 5K.. That evening she and her husband came over, dropped it off.. And since then I have been grinning away… Oh and she said it was a gift..!! *speechless*


The next day I unpacked the OTG, found a place in the kitchen and decided to inaugurate it.. Looked up a few eggless cake recipes and found one that seemed easy. I had apples at home and that was what I was gonna use.  The cake turned out good, slightly burnt on top [probably the sugar I had sprinkled], tasted yumm and all loved it…

The following Sunday, I decided to bake one more cake, also cos I had promised a friend some cake 😀 This time, I knew I wanted to make a Carrot cake [ its my favourite kind].. When I scouted online, this is the recipe that caught my eye that I went on to whip up [minus the frosting]

    Yes, it looks slightly burnt on top but there was no indication of it in taste, the top was nice and crisp..And the cake was super moist, soft , light and delicious… Gave few slices to a friend who said it was good and his mom enjoyed it as well 🙂  Here’s to more baking… And of course I look forward to making my own Apple Pie .. Yay!! 

The OTG
  • Brand- Morphy Richards
  • Type : OTG
  • Capacity(Ltrs) : 28 Litres
  • Auto Cook Menus : –
  • Key Features :
  • Three knobs-
  • 1) Thermostatic Temperature Control function; 
  • 2) Cooking options- Keep warm function, Baking, Roasting, Rotisserie, Broil 
  • 3) Timer
  • Light indicator… 

Italian Fair at Focaccia, Hyatt Regency till 20th March

    A restaurant is only as good as the food the serve is a saying that has been redefined over the years. Now it is all about the experience From the minute you walk in, till the last spoonful or sip and the final Good bye. Over the years, I have visited some of the restaurants in Chennai so many times, the staff recognise me and the entire visit is a fun experience. Last evening we were at Hyatt Regency to experience the Italian Fair that is something Chef Alessandro has put together and is on till the 20th March [Lunch & Dinner]
Freshly baked Focaccia bread with dip a staple at the restaurant..

Few of the Chef’s
signature dishes that I tried,
Soup
Minestra di grano e peperoni- mixed grain and pepper minestrone soup




Starters & Mains


Ravioli di Barbaietola, Caprini e Tartufo Neroin Salsa Verde -beet root ravioli with truffle goat cheese and Parsley Salsa verde– this was simply divine, the truffle oil flavour was WOW

Rolled eggplant – Eggpant rolled with herbs & tomato, almost like  Rollatini- for someone not too fond of eggplant, I actually had a 2nd helping..

 Risotto con asparagi e scamorza affumicata  – asparagus and smoked scamorza cheese risotto- yet another winner of a dish.. 

Cannelloni di spinaci al forno- 
oven baked spinach and ricotta cannelloni with creamy tomato sauce

tortino di patate e funghicon fonduta di caption – soft lemon potato base with forest mushroom and goat cheese fondu

Potato mash with a medley of roasted vegetables- just perfect, I would be happy eating a bowl of this..


Desserts

Coppa caprese- chocolate brawny with vanilla ice-cream creamy ganache    
Zabbaione con Composta di Fragole e Meringa Soffice (Champagne Sabayon with Strawbrery compote and soft meringue)
The different kinds of Chocolates, roasted walnuts, wine and cheese


We were
chatting with Chef Alessandro during dinner and here is what he had to share,
“This is my first time in Chennai and it has been quite a busy day. I started
working at the age of 14 and since then it has been quite a journey. I love to
experiment and understand the diners tastes & preferences, like today I had
to make a few extra vegetarian dishes because you were a vegetarian while
everyone else was non vegetarian”. He also shared that his favorite cuisines
are Japanese & Thai [ his wife is Thai]. He was going to be in Chennai till
20th and then head back to Mumbai… It was fascinating talking to the
Chef, who is from Genova [Northern part of Italy]… He has worked in Monaco,
before moving to USA and coming to India. 

We
also had Sachin Shetty, a Sommelier who explained the different kinds of wine,
and how each is paired with food. He started his career as a sommelier with ‘La
Trompette’ Restaurant (Michelin Star) London where he worked for 2 years before
moving back to India. He says there are rules when you work with wine and food,
there are different wines for vegetables, rice, pasta, meat and desserts.
Similarly, he also shared some insight into how only a few wines are used for
cooking, elaborating on the depth, sweetness and regions they hailed from. He
is associated with Berkmann Wine Cellars India Private Limited.


Approx cost for a meal- Rs3500 [excl tax] for two

Address:
Hyatt Regency 
365, Anna Salai, Teynampet ·
Ph: 044 6100 1234
Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit 🙂

Cafe Dalal Street, Delhi

After
a bit of driving around, we finally found a place that was decent and within
our budget to stay at. It was in Connaught Place, outer circle [or whatever it
was called] . What this meant was we were spoilt for choice when it came to eat
outs or drinking holes.
  After quickly
freshening up, we decided to step out for some lunch. We had spotted Haldiram’s on the way over and so that was on our radar. As we began walking towards Haldiram’s  we crossed Dalal Street with a board outside that showed prices for
certain drinks and it seemed quite low. A friend in the gang paused and said
why don’t we try this place today? Her husband was stumped and said No. We
actually stopped him and demanded an explanation, and well, lets just say he
had none… The next minute we turned back and went into this place. A narrow
flight of stairs led us to the dimly lit pub, which had décor resembling a
stock exchange.. words.. company names. Prices etc. We
  found a table near which was a display screen
showing the prices of drinks over a period of time.


Looks
like it is one of those places where the price of drinks fluctuate based on
demand and that is how you are charged. 
We were quite excited about the place.. Began scouting through the menu,
ordered drinks- a beer, a vodka with aam panna and few other indian spices and
another vodka based cocktail . The drinks were good.. As for food, we decided
to do some starters here before moving 
to Haldirams for more food.
We
ordered the Pani puri, except this one came with paneer butter masala instead
of the sweet and tangy water. It was quite good, we loved it. Another starter
we ordered was the vegetable quesedillah. Both the dishes were good and
filling. We did try to wrap our head around the prices and how it fluctuated
but gave up after a while, especially when the bill came. It is quite a cool
place, and a different one at that- in terms of ambiance and concept.
As
we left, we noticed quite a few groups walking in.. Maybe Delhi too was a city
that woke up late over the weekend and partied late as well.
Address:
M-89/90, M Block, Outer Circle, Connaught Place, 
New Delhi 110001
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cafedalalstreet/

five sen5es, Westin, Velachery


On the eve of Chinese New Year, Westin Chennai Velachery unveiled their newest addition, the Chinese  Restaurant on the 1st floor [across from Willows, the sports bar] Five Sen5es. The interiors are simple yet reflective of Chinese culture, there is a large installation of sorts with a dragon and Chinese words on plaques around it. The ambiance reflects the contemporary elegance and brings out undiscovered facets of Sichuan cuisine with Executive Chef Yatendra Rawat holding the reigns with a team working hard..
While we waited for the food to arrive, I chatted with Chef about his culinary journey, what it was like to work abroad versus working in India, and specifically Chennai. It was quite interesting listening to his experiences and challenges he came upon! He has worked in Macau, China, Singapore before making his way to Chennai. Hailing from Delhi, the food hub of our country [well one that I love atleast] he shared his experience of working in an Indian restaurant to a Pan asian in China. He also told us about how in China seafood is sold live, swimming in buckets of water. You get to go to the market, pick what you like and they bag it for you. Infact there are are restaurants that will bring live seafood to the table for customers to choose from, and how seafood platter sometimes has live seafood flapping about. 
I also discovered that there are “Eight Culinary Cuisines” of China – AnhuiCantoneseFujianHunan, Jiangsu, ShandongSichuan, and Zhejiang cuisines.. The most common and one that Indians love is Sichuan, which is slightly spicy.. Cantonese on the other hand is fairly bland and simple.. Most dishes are gently tossed in the wok with salt, and garlic!
Chef told us they have managed to bring in authentic pots, bowls, plates to cook/serve the dishes and has kept flavours as close to the original as possible… And he was so right, the meal was divine!! 
The evening opened with different kinds of Sushi- I loved the veg one- Vegetable Futomaki [seaweed rice rolled with crunchy vegetables inside] and the wasabi, pickled ginger and soya sauce was yummy.. It was followed by a bowl of soup- Soto Ayam – a clear soup with fresh greens and wontons.. 

As for the mains, I got to try the melt in your mouth Tofu that had been cooked in Chengu sauce with the Hot Basil Thai Rice [cooked with fresh basil and thai jasmine rice which was slightly sticky].. Oh not to forget the beautiful stir fried greens [brocolli, boo choy & snow peas].. 

Time was flying by, but the conversation flowed freely and we had such a good time learning about various cuisines, the little insights that the Chef shared that we completely forgot about desserts. Three desserts made their way to the table, – Pumpkin Pudding [ smooth, creamy and heaven in a bowl], the Portuguese Egg tart with ice cream and Lava Cake[with the surprise tucked within a spoonful- the subtle lemongrass flavour]. The clear winner among desserts is the Pumpkin pudding for me!! 

By the time we were done with dinner, we knew this was a restaurant that we would be coming back to for sure. Chef also told us they were going to host a Dimsum festival in March and something else in April.. 
As we left the restaurant, oriental music continued to play in the background and the customers were buzzing in the restaurant…

For now they are open only for Dinner – 7pm to 11pm
Cost for 2 people- Rs2500 onwards [excl Alcohol]


Address: 
#154, Velachery Main Rd, Velachery, 
Chennai -600042
Phone: 044 6633 3777


Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit 🙂

Chocolate Brunch at Flying Elephant in Park Hyatt, Chennai

It was a Brunch with a difference.. Actually it was a one of a kind brunch, atleast I havent heard of one this kind.. This was not the first time I was at the Hotel or the restaurant, but this was the first time I was here for the Brunch..Park Hyatt Chennai partnered with Cocoatrait for a brunch like no other at Flying Elephant … just for a day [last Sunday 28th Feb].. It was a meal where they showcased chocolates, whose beans have originated in exotic lands like Madagascar, Peru, Venezuela and Ecuador. Their chefs have thoughtfully integrated them into dishes like risotto, salads and many other savoury dishes taking us on an exquisite experience that is beyond the usual. The brunch finishes with the delectable desserts that are sheer works of art.


Some of the dishes we tasted were Madagascar Dark Chocolate Paneer Tikka, Colombian Chocolate Pizza and Ecuadorian Organic Lemon Grass Chocolate .. mouth watering right??!! Hah, you had to be there to savour the flavours and soak it all in… 

Am not even gonna explain the dishes, I would end up drooling and forgetting what I was writing.. So, just feast your eyes on these images and dream on… 

The three men behind the Chocolate Brunch- Chef Grzegorz Odolak [Park Hyatt], L Nitin Chordia [Cocoatrait] and Chef Vamsi Krishna Gadiraju [Park Hyatt] [Image Courtesy:Mohamed Ali]

Sushi [veg]

Mocktail, Fruit salad and Butternut squash soup- all laced with chocolate

Pizza, paneer tikka, Risotto and Polenta cakes

 Divine desserts – Brownie with Pacari chocolate, chocolate cup with mango filling, chocolate dense cake that had a layer of salt which was just WOW, Banoffee pie and Fruit tart

 Chocolate and Blueberry Macarons

 More from the dessert counter… Including Rasamalai and cake pops
We spent not one or two but a good four hours at the restaurant, talking about chocolate, listening to Nitin explain the fine details and aspects of each of these chocolates and the conversation flowed beyond the food… That is how at home we felt at Park hyatt!! Until next time, adios~!! 

Address:
PARK HYATT CHENNAI
#39 Velachery Road, Near Raj Bhavan
Chennai,  
Tel: +91 44 7177 1234

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit 🙂