HMSHost at RMZ Eco World

With new restaurants opening almost every second week in the city, there’s more than enough fodder for the enthusiastic food blogger to graze on. For someone like me, balancing it all out has been a challenge. And somewhere in this challenge, I’ve ignored something that’s a lot closer to home… or in this case…closer to work. I was a bit surprised when the team at HMSHost reached out to me a few weeks ago through a friend to come over to the food court at RMZ Eco World in Bengaluru. Instead of absent-mindedly making my way through a meal while talking shop, they wanted me to sit down, draw a deep breath and see what all they had to offer.

If you’ve travelled through the Bengaluru, Delhi or Hyderabad airports, you’re probably more familiar with the brands of HMSHost. The company offers traditional fare from Taste of India and 4-States, to the more popular Indian-Chinese from Noodle. Also bringing in international brands like KFC, Pizza Hut and Lily to such establishments, HMSHost has over a decade’s worth of experience in India.  

Now, it was impossible for me to go through everything on the menu at each of the 12 brands they run at RMZ Eco World, so we decided to choose a handful of restaurants and have the executive chef present what he felt were their best dishes.  We began with food from 4-States, a restaurant that’s traditionally been my choice for breakfast. Priced at INR 140, I was very sufficiently impressed with the quality and (a tad excess) quantity of the lunch thaali. With rice, sambar, kheer and a south-Indian styled curry that was very homely for place that looks at mass production, this meal was an absolute steal. For someone with my appetite, this meal can be shared by two people quite easily. No wonder it’s a top-seller. I also liked the ‘very-instagrammable’ appams and wished I had a delicious mutton stew instead of the veg stew, which was quite nice. (I’ve been brought up on the mutton stew-appam from Koshy’s combo) The masala dosa served was crisp, with fab chutneys… and quite filling.

Veg Thaali

Veg Thaali

Appam and Veg Stew

Appam and Veg Stew

Dosa

Dosa

From Noodle, their Indian-Chinese outlet, we tried the Malaysian Noodles which were well cooked and met the expectations I had in mind. We were confused as to why the dish was being served with both a boiled egg as well as a fried egg. (I can hear a Master Chef contestant going, ‘Eggs done two ways’). What I really fell in love with, thanks to a wonderfully prepared sweet-soy-sour sauce was the Pan-Fried Crispy Noodles. It also was my favourite dish among everything that we tried that afternoon. The fried rice with XO sauce is also something I’d recommend. (Do ask for a fried egg instead of the boiled egg that it’s served with)

Malaysian Noodles

Malaysian Noodles

Pan-fried Crispy Noodles

Pan-fried Crispy Noodles

Rice in XO sauce

Rice in XO sauce

Moving on to the Taste of India, we began with a plate of kababs, which could have been a lot more enjoyable than they already were, had they been boneless. The paneer tikka was surprisingly good. Not dry, not overly spicy, and relatively soft. However, the popular Chicken Biryani from Taste of India was what stood out for me. Wonderfully flavoured rice, with a tender leg piece of checking that was perfectly complemented with one of the better salans I’ve had in a while. The meal closed with a sizzling brownie.

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Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani

Sizzling Brownie

Sizzling Brownie

While I’ve got another visit scheduled to try out some of the other non-mainstream brands they have at RMZ Eco World under the HMSHost umbrella, it’s important for me to point out that these joints are open to the general public, and operate on weekends as well. So, if you do work in the area, do check out the numerous options available under one roof. 

PS – One stand out point, is that the Pizza Hut here serves Pizza by the slice as well for those of you who, like me, have cravings which you know can be satisfied with just one slice.

Tea becomes the new drink of choice for Millennials - Economic Times

I had shared my thoughts on how tea is a new attraction for the millennial crowd and how fancy tea bars need to educate folks about how tea is a lot more than chai, and help make all the various options mainstream.

As quoted in the article - Nikhilesh Murthy, food blogger and tea enthusiast, adds, “Instagrammable dining is the top trend now and has fuelled the mushrooming of elite tea bars. It’s the statement to make. Tea bars, however, must host workshops like tea-pairing to educate people and become more accessible.” 

You can read the entire article here.

 

Time for some Nikkei at 1Q1

I’m always a tad excited and nervous at the same time when it comes to trying out a new menu. Will I absolutely love it? Will it be pedestrian reinvented regular fare? Will there be that one dish that blows my mind and I tell all my friends about it? I always hope and pray that it’s a good menu with dishes to impress because I’m very respectful of the effort that goes into creating or re-imagining dishes on a menu. I was invited to 1Q1, located opposite the Indian Express Building in Bengaluru, to try out the new menu. The last time I was at 1Q1, I was inebriated enough to not remember what I ate. So, this was a new menu in that regard.

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With enough people to field a football team, there were adequate reinforcements for us to try everything on the menu. We could be here a very long time if I start going into every dish, so I’ll talk about my favourites from the menu. The appetizers featured a variety of dishes in various pan-Asian styles. Thai Chilli Potatoes, Broccoli & Baby Corn in Nam Prik Pao, Thai Birds-Eye Chilli Pork, Bangkok Chicken were some of the dishes we polished off pretty quickly. While it didn’t quite bring back memories of inexpensive Chinese take-out from my trips to the U.S, my favourite was the General Tsao’s Chicken. Crispy, succulent pieces of chicken in a sweet and spicy sauce… this would be my pick the next time I head there. The perfectly cooked pork almost made it to the top of the list, but I’d have liked the skin to be crispy.

General Tsao’s Chicken

General Tsao’s Chicken

Thai Birds-Eye Chilli Pork

Thai Birds-Eye Chilli Pork

One of the things that makes 1Q1 stand out from the numerous pan-Asian restaurants is their Nikkei section on the menu. I remember first reading about this style in 2016, but this was my first time tasting it. For the uninitiated, the Nikkei cuisine came into existence in the late 19th century when about 800 Japanese migrated to Peru and began integrating their culinary heritage with locally available Peruvian produce. While I do know that this style features a lot of sea food, I do not have an authentic frame of reference. We began with two varieties of tostadas, one with avocado, cucumber, broccoli, grapefruit and edamame for the vegetarians, and the other with tuna salsa, jalapeño chillies, hicuiana sauce for the non-vegetarians. I would very gladly trade in my plate of greasy uninspiring nachos at my local brewpub for a plate of these. The vegetarian version was a favourite of mine owing to a better balance, and diversity, of flavours while the non-veg tilted towards being spicy. (Which was a minor injustice to the fresh fatty piece of tuna).

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The Green Mango and Whitefish Tiradito was a delightful-delicate dish that had a wonderful slice of fresh red snapper whose natural flavour was enhanced by the sweet-sour flavours of the green mango. I definitely did not want to share this dish. Another favourite of mine was the Grilled Octopus in an Anticucho Sauce. Octopus is something don’t quite relish owing to the rubbery nature of the flesh. This experience was further ruined when I was served a live baby octopus in the famous Jagalchi Market in Busan, where I shrieked and bolted from the table. Fortunately, the grilled octopus, besides being very dead, was actually grilled very perfectly. Crunchy bits of octopus flesh with a citrus-herby sauce had me nearly polishing off an entire plate. Thankfully, there wasn’t much enthusiasm from the others. So yaay, all mine!

Green Mango and Whitefish Tiradito

Green Mango and Whitefish Tiradito

Grilled Octopus in an Anticucho Sauce

Grilled Octopus in an Anticucho Sauce

There were four cocktails being served for lunch. The Saku Bliss, a concoction of hibiscus tea infused with Bacardi and shaken into a sour. The Moonshine Volcano, a light gin-based cocktail and the Twilight, a grapefruit and whisky cocktail. My pick of the lot was the Mystery Dynasty. This was a balanced mix of walnut flavoured whisky with home-made banana liqueur.

Mystery Dynasty

Mystery Dynasty

Moonshine Volcano

Moonshine Volcano

We moved on to a variety of dumplings and sushi but I kept sneaking in bites of the red snapper and the octopus in between nibbles of sushi and dumplings. The dumplings, especially the Crystal Dumplings and the Pork Gyoza beat the sushi hands down.

Crystal Dumplings

Crystal Dumplings

With all the starters, the poor main course got secondary treatment.  What did stand out was the Rendang Lamb Curry with the lamb cooked almost perfectly. Also, the Phad Kaprow Gai with Egg and Rice was a very enjoyable dish on its own.

Rendang Lamb Curry

Rendang Lamb Curry

Phad Kaprow Gai with Egg and Rice

Phad Kaprow Gai with Egg and Rice

The highlight of the afternoon would have to be the desserts. The Classic Cheesecake with Sour Cherry Coulis was a wonderful combination of flavours. The near-perfect baked cheesecake was light and perfectly balanced out by the sweet citrus flavours of the sorbet. The Deconstructed Apple Pie was a delightful reimagining of a classic dessert. But my absolute favourite and the most memorable dish of the afternoon would have to be the Avocado Parfait with Gooey Brownie Squares and Matcha Soil. Served with vanilla ice cream, the parfait was superb. Fresh buttery flavour of the avocado complemented by the chocolate flavour of the brownie left me sighing in happiness.

Cheesecake with Sour Cherry Coulis

Cheesecake with Sour Cherry Coulis

Deconstructed Apple Pie

Deconstructed Apple Pie

Avocado Parfait with Gooey Brownie Squares and Matcha Soil

Avocado Parfait with Gooey Brownie Squares and Matcha Soil

The Nikkei cuisine, executed very well, makes 1Q1 stand out. Small fixes to some of the dishes are needed. Overall, I’m quite happy that I thoroughly enjoyed almost all the dishes on the new menu. And fell in love with some of the dishes. It’s past midnight while I have to torture myself to complete this blog post while my mind keeps going back to that avocado parfait.