Monday, March 2, 2015

Sweet Tooth Chronicles

Got a sweet tooth? Staying in or visiting Gurgaon? If yes, then head over to Cyber Hub to try some unique concoctions that are guaranteed to satisfy your sweet cravings;


Cherry Comet

Their USP is "instant Ice Cream" which is basically because they use liquid nitrogen to whip up ice cream on order. While my daughter and wife both enjoy what is served here, I feel rather middle of the road about what they serve.

The shop itself has a different kind of a smell, which is a mixture between an experiment lab and an ice cream parlor. They do have outside seating in-case someone has a sensitive nose. The ice cream is made in-front of the customers so that's always good and fun to watch with the kids.


As for the flavours, amongst the ones I've tried, Belgian Chocolate, Vanilla, and Bournvita, the last one is my favourite. The ice creams have a very rich and creamy texture to them and resemble Gelato to an extent.

I believe it is fun to try their flavours on occasion just to have something unique and different, so repeat visits sure are in the cards.

I do have a small "complaint"; after buying the ice cream in a waffle cone, we asked for a cup later as my daughter was finding it difficult to eat from it. We were refused the cup (which is free) because apparently they keep an inventory of the cups and it won't tally with their accounts. I do hope something can be worked out in this regard on a management level. Still, not a big enough deal to not visit the place again and on top of that the staff was courteous and friendly so that too was a plus.

As for the price factor, two small (but they are not tiny so sufficient) scoops and two waffle cones cost us Rs 400, - I'll let you judge if that's expensive or not.


King's Kulfi

A tiny shop amongst the big brands of the food world at Cyber Hub, Kings Kulfi is simply to die for. Okay, so Kings Kulfi itself is becoming a big brand with a number of outlets across the region, still their presence is rather unassuming here. Nevertheless, they present a pretty impressive assortment of flavours and at acceptable prices (Rs. 40 per Kulfi stick) keeping in view their location and everyday rise in cost of living.

I've had the pleasure of trying Kesar, Butterscotch, Tutti Fruity, and their Paan favours which have all turned out to be heavenly. The Nutty Buddy, reminder of the one Nirulas used to (or still does maybe) serve was brilliant.

So, if you're going to eat at Cyber Hub, I highly recommend that you keep a little space in your tummy for a visit to Kings Kulfi and maybe even try one of their exotic fruit flavoured Kulfis.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Farzi Café


The good thing about going to a restaurant with the family is that I get to try a lot of different things. As this was the case with Farzi Café, the much talked about place at Cyber Hub, Gurgaon, I was able to sample across their menu and got a pretty good idea of what they offer.

Sunday afternoon can be quite hectic at Cyber Hub and even at 1:00 PM, which is just about the start of the lunch hour, Farzi Café already had a 45 minute wait time. Luckily for us, we got called in after waiting for about only 15 minutes.

Why Farzi? That question lingers in my mind still. I could have asked the management but didn't. All I can conjure up is that the food isn't supposed to look like what it is, thus Farzi (fake). Unfortunately, my only complaint about the whole place is because of this; that is, I couldn't see the food let alone know what is was supposed to look like to actually comment on the play of words they are going for. Yes, the lighting at Farzi Café is a huge problem. Dim lights, very dark ambience, black side plates on the tables, it just seemed weird. I'm not a fan of their layout either and maybe it works well for evenings when the performance stage is in use, live music playing, no kids, and I assume the bar in full use, but at lunch it was a disappointment.

The good news however is, this is all I have to complain about. To start with, the service was perfect. The staff was courteous, knowledgeable, friendly, and while the place was full and we did have to call on them a couple of times before they attended, it didn't matter. It was service with a smile from the beginning till the very end.


Now, I'd heard of and read about Farzi Café a lot, and everyone seems to mention their unique presentation style. While this is no fault of theirs, as a result of all the talk I was expecting something truly out of this world, and while Farzi does have a very unique style of presenting some of its dishes, and that shows initiative and passion for the culinary and presentation arts, it wasn't all that I had going in my mind; think Heston Blumenthal and his flair for the culinary theatrics. It’s different, and Farzi tries to be inventive and everything is “zara hatke”, so yes there is no doubt that the experience, if we can call it that, was worth it at the end.

The act at Farzi begins with on-the-house Mishti Dohi shots. Great presentation and a lovely idea to top it with strawberry syrup; perfectly sweetened, this pre-appetizer was a great start. One thing is for sure, this certainly beats the generic Papad or the breads that are usually served at other restaurants.

As for drinks, like most places these days, because we were in a group of 5 adults we ordered the Carona HI5 (5 Bottles) at around Rs. 1100,- which is a great deal.

Our food varied since everyone in our house has different tastes. I was the only non-vegetarian and went for the Galouti Burger. Heavenly I tell you. The Kabab in the burger was juicy, cooked just right, melting in my mouth. Presented in a "box", which my daughter found fascinating till the point, she realized it cannot be taken home, along with thick chips (that's the way it should be), the burger has gone in my all time favorite food list. The same could be said about the Gupta Burger, the vegetarian equivalent of the Galouti Burger. Similar presentation, the two medium sized burgers were a delight.

Next up, I managed to take a few bites of the Tandoori Guchchi Risotto which was smooth, perfectly spiced, and once again much loved. The idea of mixing tandoori with Italian showed a bit of genius. A similar kind of appreciation went for the Tandoori Paneer Tikka with Lachcha Parantha. The gravy that was poured, at the table, on the paneer tikka, was delicious, smooth, having the right thickness, and colour and would give any paneer dish around the world a run for its money.

My daughter, the pizza and pasta eater, went for the Spaghetti Aglio Olio, Tamatar Ka Kut which had a unique taste due to the coconut shavings on it. Unfortunately, the spaghetti and later on the Vada Pav turned out to be extremely spicy, so much so that I had to let the staff know, which almost never happens. But, here is where Farzi scored big points with me. Without any excuses or explanations, seeing that the Spaghetti was for my daughter, they went ahead and whipped up an extra new plate, non-spicy, on the house. We managed to consume the Vada Pav, which was an appetizer, but the idea of making it as a Bonda (Big Ball) didn't go down well and it was the least favourite of all that we had that day.


I'm glad that restaurants are taking steps to be different and present their paying customers with something they will remember, cherish and talk about much after they have left the place. I had heard a lot of bad things about quantities served at Farzi Café, but my entire family was quite satisfied with the amount we were served.

Farzi has a lot to offer and although I'm no fan of their interiors, it's something that can be easily overlooked because the food they present is worth a try, in fact it’s worth a few visits.

Moreover we did skip their desserts for two reasons; firstly their much talked about Firni at Rs 500,- plus seemed astronomically expensive especially since my Dad makes a to-die-for Firni at home and secondly right across from the restaurant is King's Kulfi and they serve an assortment of tasty Kulfi in some rather exotic flavours. But, someday in the future, if not the Firni, I shall try something else at Farzi.

The damage at Farzi was Rs. 5000,- including drinks and food for 5 adults and that's as good as it gets these days keeping in mind all the taxes etc.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Asia7


Situated on the "food floor" of Ambience Mall, Asia 7 is sandwiched between Punjab Grill, the place to go for wonderful Dahi Kababs, and one of my favourite places to eat Fresc Co.

I first visited Asia 7 when it first opened its doors in Ambience Mall. At that time I went for their afternoon lunch buffet and to cut a long story short, I didn't visit the place again, even though I'm at Ambience Mall a few times every month, till last week. Their buffet at the time wasn't bad, it just wasn't anything special.

My views about their food unfortunately still hold true, even though we went for the À la carte menu this time around. Craving some good Asian food, and on having heard positive reviews from fellow foodies, I decided to skip the mains and simply try a few appetizers/starters.


A couple of Dumplings, some Maki, and the experimental Guang Bing seemed enough for me and wife. The Exotic Vegetable and Chive Dumplings were well cooked and the filling was fresh, green, and even though it was hard to figure out the "exotic" vegetables that were included in it, the three well and equally sized pieces tasted good.

Next up was Maki. A special thanks to Asia 7 for acknowledging my request of giving 4 pieces each of the Tuna and Salmon Maki rather than 8 pieces of any one of those as it is stated on the menu. In terms of taste it was satisfactory, just good enough to subdue my craving for Sushi but not for “Good” sushi. Moreover it lacked the finesse that I've seen in Sushi dishes served elsewhere. I'm double minded about the size as sometimes it seemed fine while at others maybe a slightly larger size would have worked much better.

The Philadelphia Cheese and Mushroom dumplings were nicely shaped and sticky and perfect from the outside. While the filling was okay, it resembled the mushroom in white sauce that gets made at my home, so once again nothing special.

As for the Guang bing, the host warned us that this dish was usually not appreciated by Indians, but being the adventurer I am, I had to try it. What we got was semi-sweet perfectly crispy and cooked buns filled with salad in a sort of a sauce/gravy. Take your Kimchi salad and whip it up in a different sauce if you may. While these tiny "burgers" looked good and tasted fine, the filling left a lot to be desired. I will add that I did like them, so I guess the next Indian who asks about Guang Bing, the host can tell them that they are appreciated by at least one Indian.  

Besides the food, the service was courteous and timely so kudos on that, especially considering the restaurant was at almost full capacity.

The damage to the pocket turned out to be roughly Rs. 750,- per head not having taken any drinks (except water) and no mains. Still our tummies were filled up so I can't complain about the quantity either.


Would I visit Asia 7 again? Not in the near future. Twice it has provided me with food that was satisfactory but in the cutthroat world of restaurants where new and old places are trying to be innovative and competitive, Asia 7 sit rather comfortably in the middle and that no longer is sufficient.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

SodaBottleOpenerWala


First off, I must apologize to my Mom, who said my reviews are getting longer and longer day by day. This is another one of those long reviews and me writing this here, now, doesn’t really help that cause any further.

SodaBottleOpenerWala (SBOW) has been the talk of the town for quite a while now. It was about time that us North Indians were treated to something different and unique, and the notion of having Parsi and Iranian food, which is still limited across the country, was welcomed wholeheartedly.

However SBOW eluded me till now primarily due to the menu catering mostly to Non-vegetarians which meant that it was hard for me to find company. So, the first chance I got to eat out with a non-vegetarian friend, I found myself at the restaurant.

A Monday lunch and CyberHub, Gurgaon, where SBOW is situated was buzzing with either office-goers taking a stroll or families and groups getting together for holiday lunches and then there was also the occasional business lunch taking place. A mere 20 minutes after we sat down to eat, the place was full, so much so that by the time we left there was a waiting in place. My experience at SBOW was what I’d say fifty-fifty. It stood out and I will visit it again, there's no doubt about that, but certain things were amiss that took away from the whole eating experience.

First impressions do last and SBOW gets brownie points for keeping the decor just quirky enough so that it doesn't come across as being “trying too hard”. Clean, comfortable seating and enough cultural inputs make the place easy to the eye and also gives something for the visitor to look at during those silent moments in-between conversations. Unfortunately, the service lacked the class I expected. The staff assigned to us seemed clueless and when we asked for a recommendation he could only come up with one suggestion. Furthermore, as the place started to fill, I could tell they wanted to turn our table around and asked twice if we'd like the plates cleared. I had to ask and stop them from taking my plate at one point. I hate this. I enjoy my conversations, especially if I am meeting a friend after 3 years. I like to sit and relax and eat and not feel that someone is looking at me in the hope that they'll clear the place the moment I take the last bite. While the staff was courteous, a general lack of good service was a major let down.

Onwards to the food and drinks; The Raspberry Soda was bright, filled with real fruit bits and proved to be quite the refresher. The Irani Special Chai on the other hand was fairly standard and didn't have a distinct enough taste one would expect. The Khade Chammach Ki Chai comes with the description "No charge if you can drink this ". Curiosity got the best of me and I ordered it without bothering to ask what it was. Why someone would serve anything that they don't expect their paying customer to finish, I know not why. As it turned out, it's a glass 3/4th full of sugar with 1/4 tea on top. What a waste of money and sugar if you ask me. I still would have been okay if the ratio were reversed or it was at least 50:50 sugar and tea, but the novelty and quirk quotient of this got a big thumb down from me and my friend who refused to even taste it.

Enough badgering for now as we move towards the good stuff. The Dhansak (Mutton), the one dish that I had heard of from before, the quintessential Parsi dish, was Out of This World! Simple and homemade flavours of the lentil that was smooth and perfectly seasoned with pieces of tender mutton served with caramelized rice and Kachumbar (mixed salad) was divine. It came in a typical Mumbai Dabba and the quantity was good enough for two people to share. With the Kachumber being fresh and colourful and the taste of the lentils still lingering in the corner of my foodie-mind , I'd visit the restaurant again for this dish alone. It should also be noted that I'm not a mutton fan so this really is a big deal.

The Goan Sausage Pav was bright red, tangy, and exciting. While the onion flavour ruled over all the other ingredients, it did add a zing to the entire dish, and the moderately spicy concoction was brilliant. Both the Dhansak and Goan Sausage Pav plates were wiped clean as a result of their excellent tastes.

Everything we ate till that very moment raised the bar quite high, so when the Tamota Papeta Par Eeda, which is basically baked eggs, was served, our expectation levels were sky bound. As all good things must come to an end, so did the flavor festival which we were enjoying till then. I'm not sure how this dish works. Once again it lacked any uniqueness and with a tomato base with potato and an egg seasoned poorly it just took away the joy the previous two dishes had infused in us. I seriously think the Tamota Papeta Par Eeda (it’s fun to say, and that’s about it) needs to be given some serious thought by the management and either drastic change should ensue or removal from the menu altogether.

When it comes to re-visits, unless the management reads this and stops me, I'd very much like to return and try out more of the "authentic" options they have. A variety of typical Bomaby food is also available and there is a bakery that I need to try, but for now it's the Parsi and Iranian dishes that truly interest me.


SodaBottleOpernerWala would easily have gotten a 4.5/5 star rating for me, instead of the 3.5 stars I gave it, had it not been for the average service, the Tomata thingy, and the Khade Chammach ki Chai. Hopefully I can discover some of their other specialties next time and increase the rating afterwards.