Housefull Restaurant Review: Superb taste trumps ‘aggressive’ pricing [4.5/5]

Give me food and I will eat all day. But as a non-vegetarian, I do like myself some skewered, roasted, curried or other kinds of meat when I am eating out. Housefull in Sheshadripuram, Bengaluru, made me rethink that choice for the entire duration I was sampling its fare.

Housefull Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Just three of us were invited at a short notice, and had a great foodie experience – both in terms of eating and service.

The pricing was described to us as “aggressive,” but in our minds the quality of food – although the spread was entirely vegetarian – was quite up to the mark.

Drinks

Of the three drinks we were served, I picked up the Aam Panna – the traditional Indian drink served through the ages after being made from mangos that are on the raw side. However, the chef here had managed to add a little extra seasoning to his interpretation, and I dare say, it tasted delicious!

Novelties at eateries are – ironically – nothing new. Thus, street-food staples like golgappa – or pani puri, pani patashe, fuchka, gup chup, etc, across India – have been on restaurant menus for quite some time.

Housefull has its own Golgappa Shots. While the fillings are the same, the water you consume them with is different – one sweet, another sour, and the third is masala chhaas.

Starters

First up was some Masala Khakhra, treated with some wonderful sauces and the pungent flavour of Rasam powder. The sharpness of the spices on this khakhra – traditionally a Gujarati snack – was offset nicely by the creamy, sour sauces spread evenly over the surface.

We were also given some Cheesling Bhel to sample. Yes, these are the same Monaco Cheeslings that we had with tea on lazy afternoons. Except, the chef at Housefull has some special tricks and flavours up his sleeve.

Each mouthful of this dish is a crunchy, creamy delight that will have you craving for more! Get a couple of plates of this ordered home and pair it with some good beer. You won’t be disappointed!

Even the Pav Bhaji has a twist here. Small pieces of butter-soaked bread are served on some smooth-yet-savoury bhaji. Skewer the bread with your fork and use it to scoop up the bhaji, which has been topped with a dollop of butter. Grab some seasoned raw onions as well. As hearty as it gets!

Next up, we had some Makhna Nut Masala. Again, a heavy dish, but the flavour profile was wonderful! When you combine tangy, crispy fox-nuts with cashews, almonds, sev and a secret concoction of sauces in just the right way, it could very well be your signature dish!

Now, one item of vegetarian food that is extremely healthy but detested by children across the world with almost equal hate is broccoli. Housefull seems to have a trick up its sleeve here as well, serving it Tandoor-roasted and with mustard.

The Tandoori Mustard Broccoli is indeed an interesting dish, and may get at least some to take a nibble. However, a little more flavour infused into the actual broccoli heads would go a long way in making these more palatable.

Next up, some Gujarati Koki. Topped with some special sauce and served with some chilli sauce and curd. Again, a real tastebud-tingler.

Housefull’s menu may primarily North Indian, but there are some fusion surprises as well! One such dish is the Spicy Sriracha Paneer – a possible interpretation of the traditional Chilli Paneer. This was a little underwhelming, but still a good eat if you like paneer.

Main Course

Now, I understand that at least one of the dishes here isn’t exactly main-course material. However, its Housefull version is worthy of the “main course” tag.

This is the Chholey Bhaturey. The Bhaturey here may seem a little too little when faced with the quantity of the Chholey. If that is the case, call for some of the other kinds of bread around polish of the deliciously succulent, soft, sweet-and-tangy Chholey. They are a revelation!

If you still have some stomach space left, try to smooth Daal Makhni and the delicious Paneer Makhni – each in a league of their own.

Pair these with some smooth-but-spicy Chilli Cheese Naan, some crunchy Red Onion Naan or the sweet Taaftaan.

Try some Paalak Pulao if you like, or if you don’t want the breads.

And if you still want some Chinese, Housefull offers some Hakka Noodles.

Desserts

You have an interesting selection of desserts at Housefull. For example, the Gulab Jamun Mousse. This is two gol gappas filled with chocolate on solid cubes with sections of gulab jamun at the bottom.

Next up, some Bournvita Pista Kulfi. In short, pista kulfi covered in actual Bournvita powder! Now, I was not exactly crazy about these, but give it a try if you loved eating Bournvita powder on its own.

And finally, some Guava Chilli Ice Cream. Remember eating guava that was on the cusp of ripening with some salt paired with red chilli powder as seasoning? This tastes exactly like that, except in ice-cream form, and no pesky seeds.

Final thoughts about Housefull

Here’s an eatery that serves primarily vegetarian food, but the quality will make you want to keep going back.

Sure, the price is slightly on the steeper side, but the quantity served can easily keep the bill on the lower side!

And even the service is great. Here’s to you, Laltu – our server for the night.

If you have anything to say about to review, or just want to reach out, right this way, please! We promise to reply in a jiffy.

Chicken Korma recipe: Yummy Indian curry in the comforts of your home!

It has been quite some time since we posted a recipe on this blog. To be honest, we were just cooking more of the mundane stuff, and were not experimenting as much. However, all that changed one Sunday when I decided to cook what Gordon Ramsay would call a curry-house classic: Chicken Korma.

It’s a sweeter, more mellow version of the chicken curry that we know of, and can be eaten with both rice and various kinds of Indian flat-bread.

Chicken Korma, a la Yum Central
Chicken Korma, a la Yum Central

So get your toque – not to be confused with a toke – on, your spices and ingredients out and your utensils ready for one helluva curry ride!

Serves 2-3 people. Takes 30-40 minutes to cook, minus the marination.

Ingredients

  • Chicken: 600-700 grams, big pieces, with the chicken on the bone (can be boneless as well)
  • Cooking oil: around 50 ml (of your choice)
  • Onion: 300-400 grams, ground into a paste
  • Tomato: 200 grams, ground into a paste
  • Ginger-garlic paste: 20-30 grams
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro for our state-side friends): 20-30 grams, chopped
  • Cumin seeds: 5 grams
  • Cloves: 2
  • Green cardamom: 2
  • Cinnamon: 5 gram in small sticks
  • Curd (yoghurt or yogurt): 50-100 grams
  • Turmeric powder: 5-10 grams
  • Red chilli powder: 5-10 grams
  • Cumin powder: 5-10 grams
  • Coriander powder: 5-10 grams
  • Garam masala: 5-10 grams
  • Heavy cream: 100-150 grams
  • Vinegar: 5 ml
  • Salt: As needed
  • Water: As needed

Optional ingredients

  • Dried fenugreek leaves: 10 grams (activate with a little hot water before using)
  • Cashew and almonds: 30-50 grams, chopped or broken into small bits

Marination

Wash the chicken well. Put it in a deep container. Add the curd, and half of the following: ginger-garlic paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala and red chilli powder. Add salt and a dash of vinegar.

Mix everything well, making sure that the marinade penetrates well into the chicken. Now freeze the mixture for at least a couple of hours.

Marinated Chicken
Marinated Chicken

Recipe time!

Preparing the masala

This is essentially the most important part of the cooking process. A weak, undercooked base masala or spice combination can be the difference between a mouthwatering delicacy and a soggy, bland dish.

First, get your onion and tomatoes ground to a paste. Like so:

Onion:

Onion paste
Onion paste

Tomato:

Tomato paste
Tomato paste

As that is done, heat the oil on a medium flame, and add the whole spices – the cumin seeds, the cardamoms, the cloves, and the cinnamon sticks. Let them sputter around and release their flavours a bit. Don’t let them burn, though.

Whole spices in oil
Whole spices in oil

Then, add the onion paste. Be careful about the sputtering. The water released by the onions and the hot oil do make a volatile combination, if “volatile” is indeed the word for it.

As the onion releases more water and starts to reduce, add the rest of the ground spices – coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder and garam masala – and salt and stir to mix them well.

Ground spices go in
Ground spices go in

The resulting mixture should start to look like an ochre shade, and start reducing further.

All spiced up!
All spiced up!

I added the ginger-garlic paste at this point, but you can add it well before adding even the ground spices. Mix this well, and that typical “Indian curry” smell should start by now.

Stir till things get reduced a bit further.

Now add the tomato paste, and stir well to get things mixed.

It might be a good idea to turn the heat up a notch or two and let your masala reduce even further. Keep stirring so the masala doesn’t burn. But don’t be so fast that the masala does not acquire a smoky flavour from the heat.

The result now should be a brown mixture.

The masala base is ready and fragrant!
The masala base is ready and fragrant!

The funny thing is, you can make this masala in large batches and store some of it in the refrigerator for at least a week or two. It may lose some of its flavour, but still retain quite a bit of taste.

Making Chicken Korma

With your base ready spread it across the bottom of your utensil. Turn down the heat to low-medium. Bring out the chicken and lay the pieces on the masala. Let the chicken soak in some of that flavour.

Meanwhile, if you still have some of that mixed marinade left, add it to the masala.

As the chicken starts to secrete its juices, mix the pieces well with the base, so that the masala gets into the crevices of the chicken and adds to the flavour. Let more vigorous stirring ensue.

Once the chicken is covered with the masala and acquired most of its colour, add the cream and once again, stir away!

Cream maketh the Chicken Korma!
Cream maketh the Chicken Korma!

The cream will tone down the kick of the spices, while its water component will mix with the smooth masala, which will now start to secrete some really flavourful and fragrant oil.

Now, add some water for the gravy – depending on the thickness of the gravy you want – and turn up the heat a little. Stir so that everything is mixed well.

Cover your utensil, and let all the flavours be sealed in. Keep checking so that nothing sticks to the bottom. Stop cooking when the gravy has reduced to your liking. Garnish with freshly-chopped coriander leaves.

Chicken Korma is ready!
Chicken Korma is ready!

And finally, plate and serve!

Optional steps

Remember the fenugreek leaves and cashews? Here’s how you can use them.

Fenugreek leaves: Add them to a little hot water, so their flavour starts to come out. Add them to the Chicken Korma gravy when it is still a little runny, and enjoy a whole new flavour profile!

Cashew and almonds: Either crush them into small pieces and add towards the end of the recipe, like when the gravy has almost done reducing. Or, make a paste and add to the gravy at the same time for a smoother taste!

Finally…

Cook some rice and have a dry-ish accompaniment with the Chicken Korma, or use some Indian flat-bread – roti, fulka, parotta/paratha, naan, kulcha or what-have-you.

While you are at it, why not even try some pita bread or something similar, and tell us what you think of the results?

Also, got any tips, tricks, changes to the recipe or feedback for us? Write to us in the comments, or reach us directly! We promise to reply as soon as possible!

Restaurant review: Mobydick is a whale of a fusion experience! [4/5]

Mobidick Steak

First off: Quit sniggering! You are clearly a troglodyte if you have not heard of the 1851 novel by Herman Melville, which in itself is a literary must-read, or the 1956 film made on it. And in case you are mature enough to have realised the cultural significance of the name Mobydick, prepare to immerse yourself in the fusion food offered by this restaurant in Koramangala, Bengaluru.

Mobydick Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cooling off

I was recently invited to taste what I was told was some fresh additions to the menu of Mobydick – of which I had heard only good things, but never got a chance to verify the praise in person.

I reached the place after a hard day’s work, and was greeted with a cosy ambience and an orange lemonade – an orangeade?? – as my fellow reviewers came in one by one. It’s the one on the right:

Image: Fresh drinks at Mobydick
Fresh drinks at Mobydick

It took us all a little time to regroup, and I spent that time soaking up the surroundings in what was definitely a friendly place to unwind at the end of an energy-sucking workday.

Image: Mobidick ambience
Mobidick ambience

Starters

We were soon served a few starters – both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. I did not taste the Vegetable Samosas, but the Kasundi Fish, BBQ Chicken Wings, Double Pepper Lamb and the Chili Basil Prawns did find their way into my tongue and down my gullet.

Image: Starters at Mobydick
Clockwise from top: The prawn, chicken wings, kasundi fish and vegetable samosa.

Now, the stand-out here was the Kasundi Fish, and not because I am a Bengali who likes both Kasundi and fish. The reason I would gladly revisit that dish is that the fish was some fresh, boneless and tender Basa covered with Kasundi (mustard sauce) that had a creamy base.

It made me wish I could sit down with a glass of wine and intersperse every swig with a single bite off the Kasundi fish. That’s how unwinding after a demanding week of work should feel like.

Meanwhile, check out this pizza-shaped Garlic Bread that had made its way to our table!

Image: Garlic bread at Mobidick
Garlic bread at Mobidick

Main Course

Now, before I came to Mobydick, I had heard of its legendary burgers. Got to see one of them in front of me, and it was huge! Didn’t taste it, though, because I had my eyes on something else.

Image: Mobydick burger
Mobydick burger

There was some really creamy White Pasta around as well, along with a bread basket. Filling and relaxing, I must say. It’s great how some food can lift your mood.

Image: Pasta at Mobydick
Pasta at Mobydick

And then came something that the owner said was fast becoming one of the most-served dishes of Mobydick: the Chicken BBQ Steak and the Lamb Steak. I sampled both, and they were at least a one-time-try.

Image: The famed steaks of Mobydick
The famed steaks of Mobydick

Finally, just when I thought we were done, out came what was to me the highlight of the evening! The Thai Green Curry may have many interpretations across restaurants, but I would personally recommend that you try the one at Mobydick!

Image: Thai Green Curry at Mobydick
Thai Green Curry at Mobydick

It does not matter whether you get the vegetarian one or the chicken variant. It’s the curry you want to taste.

Imagine a small balloon filled with flavour hanging inside your mouth. An invisible needle pricks it, and the flavours splash their way to every corner of your mouth, tingling every single pleasurable sensation possible on the tongue! That’s what the first and every subsequent spoon of this rendition of the Thai Green Curry felt to me.

This was also probably one of the most layered bits of food I have eaten in a long time. On its own its a strong spicy curry that packs heat like gut-punch. But pair this with some rice, and you have a fragrant, milder mixture that you can keep eating spoonfuls of and still crave for more!

Dessert

Now, I was full by the time dessert came along, so I didn’t taste much of them. I did, however, have a few spoonfuls of the Brownie with Ice Cream.

Image: Dessert at Mobydick
Dessert at Mobydick

This is one dessert that is as difficult to get wrong as it is to lift beyond the regular variety. Mobydick manages to keep it simple and sumptuous, just like it was meant to be.

Final thoughts on Mobydick

Not too many places around Bengaluru have a combination of ambience and food that you want to go back to. Mobydick was an exception here. It served up a nice place to unwind with a wide variety of fusion food.

Image: Mobydick bread basket
Mobydick bread basket

I do not know when, but I do intend to return with appreciative company to Mobydick on another evening and chill out.

Restaurant review: Behrouz Biryani is a revelation, but we want more! [3.5/5]

It was on a stuffy Spring-Summer evening that a black box was delivered to our home. Its very packaging oozed royalty. It raised our expectations from the contents of the black box with the golden lettering that said “Behrouz – The Royal Biryani.” And Behrouz Biryani turned out to be a revelation!

Behrouz Biryani Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

However, it also felt like a bit of a letdown, because we have tasted similar biryani before, and there will be many fans of spicier versions of biryani who might not like what Behrouz has to offer.

That being said, one must also keep in mind that what Behrouz offers is not exactly a pushover. Here’s what I thought about it.

Dum Gosht Biryani [Boneless]

Your first spoonful of Behrouz Biryani might not make it seem like anything too different. But this is no offering that is meant to be wolfed down.

The Dum Gosht Biryani, which had been delivered to me by the good people at Behrouz, is a slow-burner. It requires the food equivalent of good wine being swilled around your mouth for all the delicate flavours to come through.

Now don’t be disheartened by the whole spices you encounter, and there are a lot of them. Simply cast them aside as you taste the sweet caramelised onions blend with the spicy masala of a fragrant biryani.

Then comes the titular gosht itself – a succulent piece of boneless goat or lamb meat that has has been marinated till every bit of it tastes of savoury freshness along with the original umami.

But honestly, I had expected a bit more from Behrouz. As in at least the quantity. When you are paying more than Rs 350 for biryani, you expect it to satiate not just your hunger but your lust for the dish as well!

The sides

Biryanis are usually served with either a spicy minty raita. A raita, for the uninitiated, is a yoghurt-based side dish that may contain chopped onions, tomatoes and even chillies, or can be mixed with salt and black-pepper or a mint paste.

And for dessert, Behrouz served up a Gulab Jamun that, while sweet, is not overwhelmingly so. A mild spicy aftertaste – I could not identify the spice – is kind of a bonus.

Final thoughts on Behrouz Biryani

Behrouz served up what was definitely a good biryani. But is it royal? The jury is still out on that decision. Nevertheless, Behrouz’s is definitely one of the better biryanis around.

One only hopes that they increase the quantity a little more. And that is one of the reasons why the review score here is 3.5 and not more.

Watch Restaurant Review: Grab a pint, some finger food and chill at BBQ’D [4/5]

Live barbecues have their own charm. Few things can beat the combination of a hot barbecue, a cold pint and a weekend evening to kick up your legs, let down your hair or do whatever English idiom linking the human anatomy implies chilling. That is BBQ’D in short for you. For a longer review and a video, read on!

BBQ'D - Global Grill & Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Unwind and chill

If BBQ’D ever wants to go for a motto, the words “unwind” and “chill” should prominently feature in them. The eatery – to me – is primarily one where people should go with family and friends to chat around while they eat.

There is a buffet at hand, and even otherwise, the barbecues keep coming. Order your choice of drink, and keep sipping as the grill shimmies with fragrant fumes.

One suggestion would be: Try the home-brewed beer offered by BBQ’D.

Craft beer at BBQ’D

From left to right, these are Hefeweizen, Masala Saison, Chocolate Stout and India Pale Ale (IPA) in the smaller glasses. I took a liking towards the Hefeweizen, and the result was a taller glass on my table, as seen in the second part of the photo above.

Finger food and barbecue

BBQ’D has a nice section of finger foods and starters. For us, one of the first to arrive was this Grilled Chicken Pizza.

We also had some Carrot Chicken Momo, steamed with a creaminess to the centre that makes for a great pairing with the beer I had chosen.

For the barbecue, we had Cajun Spicy Chicken, Char-grilled Fish and Yakitori Prawns. To be honest, the prawns won this deal by a mile.

Pardon the photo, please. It does little justice to the offerings.

Now, these may not look like it, but they were some really good Fish Tikka:

And then there was some Flambe Chicken, which has – in this next picture – landed on my plate after having been set on fire with some tequila. Noice!

Main course and dessert

Now, I won’t bore you with the main course, because honestly our appetite had been quite satiated by the starters. Suffice to say, the entrees were up to scratch.

Most of us at the table chose to go for some dessert. And this is where BBQ’D wowed us again.

None of the desserts was overpoweringly sweet. They were just right to sweeten the tooth and give a small sugar high to complement the light high from the little social drinking we had indulged in.

Final thoughts on BBQ’D

This is a new place, and will take a little time to settle down. Nevertheless, BBQ’D is already a nice place to – and we can’t stress this enough in a city that gives you tension every direction you look – relax with some F&B on a weekend evening.

Watch the video of my experience here:

Got something to tell us about this review or something else? Like pointing out a mistake or giving us some interesting bit of trivia? Right this way!

Restaurant Review: Hungree Belly really fills you up! [4/5]

HSR Layout in Bengaluru has become one of the most happening places when it comes to happening things. And when it comes to food, there is no exception. However, just because the place is happening does not mean the food is happening as well! That is where Hungree Belly stands out, with some great and experimental food. Visit this place if you are in for a culinary mini adventure, or just want some quality Tandoori Chicken! Read on for the longer version of the review.

Hungree Belly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

At first sight, Hungree Belly might not look like a place where you have a good dining experience. It may even come off as tacky! But please do not be fooled by the informal looks or turned off by the prices. Sit down, order some food and owner Prateek Chandok – a chartered accountant-turned-restaurateur – may just walk by and suggest some great orders. Heck, he might even get the kitchen to rustle up something special for you!

Getting there is not a problem if you are a regular in the Koramangala area. A bunch of us went there, and this is what we experienced.

Starters

Chandok, who was at the venue on this day we visited, was more than happy to recommend us some starters. He began with some desi jalapeno poppers aka some mirchi bhaji and some fried prawn dumplings, as seen here:

Finger food!!

Suffice to say, they were delicious! Mildly spiced though they were, these were good finger food. But there was more to come.

Here you see, clockwise from top left: Chicken 65 [Hungree Belly-style], Chukandari Paneer Tikka, Hariyali Tikki and Tiranga Paneer, aka bread pakoda with a paneer filling.

Palate-tickling affair!

Chandok stayed true to the name of his eatery and its spirit, that people need a little more than a single dish when they are hungry, and hence the noodles with the first dish.

The paneer tikka was surprisingly delicious, in that the flavours had permeated the otherwise dense cheese. The grilling had also made it slightly smoky and charred, which was also great! And the bread pakoda was nothing like the old-oil-soaked cholesterol-inducing stuff sold by the roadside.

And then, some more finger food. Here we have, again clockwise from top left, some Classic Chilli Fish, some Hungree Belly Cheese Nachos, some Elvis Presley-style breakfast – which is a huge calorific intake given that it is PB&J sandwiches and fries, something Elvis apparently had to replenish his strength after a night of rocking – and some Pav Bhaji.

To be honest, the Pav Bhaji was a bit underwhelming, in that the bhaji was nowhere near the hearty goop of veggies that are found in many roadside stalls dotting Mumbai. Even the nachos, served with Rajma for some reason, were not a big draw, in that they were heavy and oily.

But the Chilli Fish seemed to make up for that, given that it was beautifully flavoured and succulent enough to disintegrate when pressed between the tongue and the roof of the mouth! Even the Elvis breakfast was good, but recommended only if you want a lot of empty carbs!

Now, Tandoori Chicken is a dish few people can get wrong. Get it just right, and you have repeat customers. Hungree Belly goes a step further and gets it really delicious, and my mouth is watering even as I write this!

Soft, succulent, smoky… this is one dish that is a must-try here!

Main course

Before I treat you to the main course, here’s an apology because I was too busy eating to click the breads, which made this Hungree Belly Dal – a take on Dal Makhni – and the Methi Matar Makai Malai [M4 for short] taste absolutely delicious!

Veggie delights!

Now I am no vegetarian, but that M4 made one out of me, at least for some time. The dal was no slouch either.

And then they brought out the meat! Here we have the Hungree Belly Mutton Railway Curry and Chicken Dahiwala. The mutton is the bigger draw here.

Money on the meat!

And what great food exploration is complete without some Chicken Biryani?

Another apology here, because I could not stay back for the desserts, which I was told were every bit as delectable as promised!

Final thoughts on Hungree Belly

Here’s wishing Chandok and his team all the best, with years and years of filling the “Hungree Belly” of people!

Got something to tell us about this review or something else? Like pointing out a mistake or giving us some interesting bit of trivia? Right this way!

Restaurant Review: Vaho Kafe blends health, fusion and taste! [3.5/5]

There are two versions of this review. Short version: Visit Vaho Kafe; order their fusion food if you are feeling adventurous, health food if you are feeling bloated or fat, and the weekday or weekend combos if you want to chill and enjoy their food. It’s simple, somewhat reasonable, and you can get takeaways! For the longer version, read on…

Vaho Kafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vaho Kafe advertises itself as a “Kafe and Pressery,” meaning you get food as well as cold-pressed fresh drinks there. Owner Umesh Reddy wants to project Vaho as a one-stop destination for healthy and fusion foods, as well as some combos – what came across to me as a mini-version of a thaali – of traditional food. Vaho has also recently added more to its menu, keeping in mind the demands and feedback of corporate clientele.

Vaho Kafe, and owner Umesh Reddy.

However, the primary offering of Vaho continues to be health food, as is evident right from the water they serve on the tables! On the day I went to the eatery, the water was infused with ginger, but it varies, from cucumber to cumin to other healthy alternatives.

The presentation on the table

The food we had as takeaway

In total, four things were ordered: Biryani with Peri Peri Chicken, Chicken Tikka Roll with Cheese, a Glow Onn juice [fresh-pressed and put in a handy, branded bottle] and a Wholesome Mexican Salad.

First, the roll. The idea of making any and all food healthy is extended here as well, with the wrap being made of Atta [wheat flour] and not Maida [refined wheat flour]. And even after about three hours of being made, the roll and its contents did not give way, like any Roti or other flatbread made of Atta does when exposed for a sufficient period to anything that has more moisture.

The chicken seemed a little bland and there seemed to be not much of a presence of cheese anywhere. But the freshness of it all was there in every bite, and I savoured it to the hilt!

The roll. Should have taken a pic after taking a bite, but I was too hungry…

However, we had had the Biryani first. Hyderabadi-style Biryani is always a treat, but this time the chicken was prepared peri-peri style. It was lip-burningly good, but the slightly tangy, vinegary aftertaste was a bit of a letdown. That, however, did not stop either me or Pooja from polishing it off to the point where ants would starve. After all, Biryani!

The Biryani. Hyderabadi style!

The healthier options

Then there was the salad. Put it in the fridge and had it next morning. Surprisingly fresh and crunchy, and every bit as wholesome as promised! If I was not partial towards Biryani, this would have been the pick of the entire meal! I mean, can anything else beat a salad made of freshly-chopped onions, halved cherry tomatos, chopped capsicum [bell peppers], cucumber, millets and an assortment of fresh ingredients with a dash of lime that you get to squeeze fresh into the prepared meal?

The wholesome Mexican salad made for a great breakfast!

And finally, the juice. Pooja appropriated it from my possession, but was gracious enough to give me a few sips. It tasted like the ingredients we were promised it would have, but was not to my liking.

Final thoughts on Vaho Kafe

Some of the things we did not order were the weekday and everyday combos, which we were assured were good and were often ordered for corporate lunches. As for the other foods, even the Biryani was made with less oil than what usually should go in. So if you are a health nut and want some good wholesome food, this is your place.

Umesh Reddy also wants his Vaho Kafe to be a place known for fusion food. To be honest, the fusions may be a bit of an adventure, and may not sit well with palates used to the authentic varieties. But if you crave adventure in what you eat, give this place a try: It will surprise you!

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Restaurant Review: Flechazo offers good food and experience! [4.5/5]

What are restaurants for? To sit down, order, enjoy the food, converse, pay the bill and be done with it? Many a serious foodie – more like food critics a la Anton Ego from the Pixar blockbuster Ratatouille – would say that is exactly how restaurants should be. However, times have changed. Food – from being a necessity once – has become an extension of the gathering point after a day, week or month of hard work. It is where friends and colleagues assemble to enjoy some food and beverages, let down their hair, and simply enjoy! Now, not all places can offer such enjoyment. But Flechazo is not all places.

Flechazo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I went there with a batch of like-minded friends to do some tasting, but to my great delight – especially after a really hectic week at work – managed to loosen up. So much so, that I forgot to take enough pictures of what we were eating! However, I hope to serve up enough of a pen-picture to whet your appetite!

The sauces and condiments. So full of colour!

The food

Flechazo offers a buffet, and bunch of starters to begin your meal. The buffet cost is Rs 664 if you are a vegetarian, and Rs 791 for the non-vegetarian fare. And that is minus the bar tab, which you can run up to quite a bit. Sounds a bit too much? Grab the early-bird offer of 15 percent off when you get lunch at 11:30-11:45 am. Also, there’s offer on a beer and a cocktail or a mocktail. Here’s the menu for the day we visited:

The menu for the day.

The starters were mostly delicious. It’s a shame I do not have photos of the Asian-style crispy potato – a dish we asked for three times! Somehow, it always seemed to be lapped up pretty fast! These are both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare.

The starters: Vegetarian (left) and non-vegetarian.

Then there was the main food. Again, I will let you judge with the photos, because although these look and taste delicious, there are bigger attractions ahead! These are the non-vegetarian dishes…

The non-vegetarian main course.

And these are the vegetarian ones.

The vegetarian dishes in the main course.

The attractions

Now this is the most exciting part about Flechazo! People love pizza, but how often do they get to make them? Flechazo offers exactly such a service, and we were not amongst those to pass it up. I mean, would you? So here I am, having made my own pizza and ready to put it in the oven. Can’t tell you how it really compared to a Dominos or a Pizza Hut, but the experience was something no pizza chain has offered so far!

Arkadev Ghoshal
Yours truly, with his creation. Photo courtesy: Fellow foodie Priyanka Jagaty.

Another exciting part of Flechazo is this train of small platters of starters – from sushi to golgappa (pani puri, phuchka, gupchup, pani patashe or whatever other name you know it by). Just wait around for whatever you want to come to you, pick it up, walk back to the table and by the time you come back for more, whatever you had taken would have been replenished!

The starters in a train!

Finally, no meal is complete with a dessert, and Flechazo has a last ace up its sleeve! The cream is mixed with liquid nitrogen right in front of you to form fresh ice cream. Choose your flavours, and taste the cold sweetness that Flechazo delivers up to aptly end an adventurous meal!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for…?

Final thoughts on Flechazo

Flechazo’s price tag is one that is a bit of a deterrent when it comes to regular eating there. However, this is absolutely the place you want to take your family – especially your parents and kids – if you want them to have a dining experience you want them to remember and brag about! That is solely why it gets just half a star less than full marks.

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Restaurant review: Wok has potential and the right ingredients [3/5]

Bengaluru is becoming home to all sorts of restaurants. While some offer ambiance and a fine-dining experience, others offer quickfire food that you can later consume in the comfort of your home. The latter is especially welcome at the end of tiring days when you seek comfort in what you eat. And Wok in Koramangala offers just that.

Wok Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

It’s a cosy little nook on Splendid Plaze in Koramangala 5th Block. Sure, there’s another one at Domlur as well, but this one is the older one of the two, functioning since October 2016. Besides the regular fare – hot and sour, lemon clear, sweet corn and manchow soup in veg and non-veg, besides chilli and manchurian chicken, baby corn and broccoli – it also offers schezwan chicken and saigon chicken.

Wok, the takeaway place

But the menu is much more than just this. Want some rice or noodles? Feel free to mix and match from a wide selection of noodles, rice, sauces and other condiments! Too weary? Ask for some recommendations. Here’s the menu for you. BTW, the dim sums will come later, as will the soft drinks and water, and a whole new outlet!

The new menu

We – Arkadev and Pooja – went with the recommendations, and were urged to try out noodles with prawn in Beijing sauce, rice with chicken in Lankan Sambal, Schezwan Chicken and the traditional sweet corn chicken soup. Basically, a mix of adventurous and the usual fare.

The tasting

We started with the rice. This was spicy by my standards, but Pooja likes spicy. She found it perfectly well made, and had quite a few spoonfuls. I, on the other hand, seemed to be tasting something akin to when food goes bad and starts to smell or taste slightly alcoholic. Pooja found no such taste, so this was probably entirely on me. The first experiment had yielded mixed results.

Rice with chicken and Lankan Sambal

Next came the noodles. A little less experimental, and well beyond the realms of normal noodles in lesser eateries! While these were slightly oily, they were well seasoned enough to pass all other tastes. We also put them to the “store and eat later” test. The reheating happened in the microwave, with the entire box going in, and the noodles came out as tasty as when we had eaten them earlier!

Noodles with prawns in Beijing sauce

And then, the Schezwan Chicken. Again, really soft – but not entirely succulent – flat chunks in dryish condiments that complemented both the noodles and the rice – the latter according to Pooja – quite well. These, two were stored in the refrigerator and reheated and eaten later, with minimal loss in taste. Good job, Wok!

Schezwan chicken

And finally, the soup, the entirety of which was consumed after storage in the refrigerator. This was to determine how much corn flour / corn starch had been used to thicken it. Sadly, it was quite a bit. So much so that continued heating and mixing of water did not reduce the lumpiness of the product. The chicken and the corn were still fresh, but guys, reduce the corn flour please.

Here is how our entire order looked like:

The full order

Final thoughts on Wok

This not a fine-dining place, so it should not be treated as one. It strives to provide good Chinese food. The lack of quality in some parts is made up for in ampleness by the quantity. The quantity is also what makes Wok pocket friendly. And then there’s the promise that shines through in some dishes. Little tweaks here and there – like the corn flour bit – could put Wok ahead of the game.

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Restaurant Review: Echoes Koramangala, where food and service speak volumes [4/5]

The oft-cliched understanding in the restaurant business is that food quality and service speak much louder than a blitzkrieg of advertisements. But there’s a reason it has become cliched: It was widely true once, and still holds true – albeit in much fewer cases. Echoes Koramangala is one such place.

ECHOES Koramangala Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We – some like-minded friends – visited the place, and were nearly floored by it! Why? Like I said, the food and service spoke volumes, despite our servers being all hearing and speech-impaired. Of course the cooking-staff speaks, but come on! This was a dose of empowerment we all found wonderful!

Echoes Koramangala

So how does it all work? See these three photos, and the explanation comes after that.

This is how you order…

As soon as you sit down, you find the eight cards – seen in the top left image – on the table. These, along with the pen and paper the wait staff bring you, are to be used to order and give feedback. But how do you call them in the first place? See the switch on the right? Press it, and a light corresponding to your table switches on, as seen in the bottom left image. Neat, huh?

Starters

So we sat down and placed our order. The first to come out were several mocktails – Echoes Koramangala does not serve alcohol. These are various kind of chocolate shakes, simple sparkling drinks and and a Red Velvet. They are real lifesavers in the summer Bengaluru is currently sweltering in, and really once the food starts coming, you really understand the importance of these beverages!

Wet your whistle before you whet your appetite.

The next to come out is fast turning into a staple in many eateries for any meal as a starter. Honestly, nothing beats cheese-covered nachos with a salsa sauce dip when it comes to good finger food when all you want to do is some chin-wagging of both varieties!

Pardon the image quality, please.

Then, the full-meal starters: Clockwise from top left, a form of mushroom tikka, chicken and fish Chinese style, and some chicken kabab.

A hearty start…

Next up, something recommendation-worthy! On the right might have been some more kababs, but on the left are the showstealers. Those are chicken and veg momos, and they deserve a special mention because rarely does an eatery season the covering of momos. Echoes did, and my tastebuds are still craving them even as I write this!

Quite an eyeful, and then very mouthful!

Some more starters, all equally nice – both veg and non-veg are great!

Come, get some!

Main course

The thing with these gatherings is, we often fill up a little too much on the delicious starters. But that did not deter some of us – me included – from partaking in the main course. Here you see, clockwise from left, the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani, the Classic Butter Chicken Thali and the Veg Tiffin Service. Props are due here for the Butter Chicken Thali, where the gravy is tasty enough to polish of several rotis at a single sitting!

You ready for this?

And then the two pastas. Well done, beautifully seasoned, and a simple delight when you want to sit back and yak away, with the conversation interspersed with small bites.

You can’t look past-a this!

And finally, a couple of pizzas. Thin crust, good cheese crunchy, and overall delicious!

Pizza is love! Pizza is life!

My friends stayed back for some dessert, but I had to get out of there to reach home on time. Had office early next morning.

Final thoughts about Echoes Koramangala

But like I have said before, the service speaks volumes, and the ambiance at Echoes Koramangala is one of the friendliest I have seen in eateries around Bengaluru. Visit this one for the food as much as for the experience! I even wrote an article about it!

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