The Soup and Dim sum festival, Hunan

During the monsoons, there’s probably nothing more comforting than a cup of hot masala tea with fresh onion pakodas. Dishes that are apt for this kind of weather include samosas, fresh idlis, Maggi noodles and more. Adding to the usual suspects, keeping the emotions that a hot dish on a cold wet day should evoke, Hunan has put together a festival to celebrate soups and dim sums. I was invited along with fellow food enthusiasts to try out this menu.

That evening saw the city witness particularly intense rains (and the traffic jam that comes along with monsoons) that had me raring to go. Our evening began with the Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup, a Thai inspired vegetarian soup that hit the spot immediately. Strong flavours of carrot, coconut milk, spices with the crunchiness of peanuts made this an ideal soup to kick off the evening. I would have preferred if the carrot and sweet potato were a little crunchier to add some more texture to the soup. 
The first dim sums we sampled was the Bok Choy and Mushroom Money Pouch followed by the Truffle Scented Edamame dumpling. I enjoyed the latter a lot more owing to the more subtle salty flavour of the edamame which with the dipping sauce was a lot closer to the flavours I enjoy.

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Bok Choy and Mushroom Money Pouch

Truffle Scented Edemame Dumpling

The Chicken Drumstick with Noodle Soup was my favourite from the evening. What hit the home run with the soup was the flavourful broth which was a chicken consommé with soya. The combination of that broth with the light noodles, the tender chicken leg and vegetables ticked all the boxes in my book. To balance out the meaty flavours of the broth, we were served the Vegan Vietnamese Spring Roll, a healthy and very sober option of crunchy vegetables wrapped in rice paper with a lovely spicy hoisin peanut sauce. 


Chicken Drumstick with Noodle Soup

Chicken Drumstick with Noodle Soup

Vegan Vietnamese Spring Roll
The Sweet and Sour Tofu Soup with Crabmeat was a bit of a miss in my book, predominantly because the strong tangy flavours overpowered the natural flavours of the crab. The sampling session was back on track with the Chicken Meatballs with Prawn Wanton Soup, a light clear soup that highlighted the simple flavours of the chicken and prawn. This was my second favourite soup of the evening. I would have preferred to have started the evening with this soup rather than with the sweet potato and carrot. 


Chicken Meatballs with Prawn Wonton Soup
Another big highlight of the evening was the Cocktail rolls with Chicken and Prawns. While by themselves, these crispy rolls offered good meaty flavours, it was the chilli and mango dipping sauce that accompanied the dish pushed it to a whole new level. It brought back fond memories of the Chilli Orange Marmalade dipping sauce from my New Orleans trip. Borrowing the tagline of a fast food brand, the rolls with the dipping sauce were ‘finger-licking-good’. Don’t miss ordering this one.

Cocktail Rolls with Chicken and Prawn

Some of the other dishes such as the Sesame Chicken Potstickers, the Chicken Steamed Bao and the Taro Puff with Chicken didn’t offer me flavours that made me sit up and take notice, and want to go back for seconds. We were also served a Khow Suey but I was too full to have more than a couple of spoons. An honourable runner up to the Cocktail rolls was the Crunchy Wanton Ribbon Prawns. The marinated prawns were served in a little wanton cage like package that allowed spicy honey mustard sauce to coat not just the outer wanton but the prawn as well, making this a strong flavoured dish.

Crunchy Wanton Ribbon Prawns

Khow Suey

 The final dish of the main course, the best for last was the Pork Flower Dumplings. Rolled into the shape of a flower, with a pork filling in between the petals, a sweet soya sauce is poured over the dumpling. Eaten in one go, the flower dumpling held the sauce and was a perfect end to the meal. Definitely a ‘must-have’ in my books. Dessert was a relatively simple affair with chocolate spring rolls and ice cream.

Pork Flower Dumplings

Pork Flower Dumplings


Coming in at the right season, the Soup and Dim Sum Festival offers an excellent mix of subtle and strong flavours to suit every palate. Considering the fine dining experience that Hunan offers, I feel the prices are just right with soups and dumplings priced at an average of INR 300. The festival is on till the end of August, only at the Koramangala branch of Hunan. My top three picks for the evening would be the Chicken Drumstick with Noodle Soup, the Cocktail rolls with Chicken and Prawns and the Pork Flower Dumplings.

Coastal Adventures at Monkey Bar

While I've been to the (now erstwhile) Monkey Bar on Wood Street for Sunday breakfast a fair number of times, my visit to the Indiranagar branch to review their on-going Coastal Adventures food festival was my first visit there. The food festival which started a couple of days ago features some of the big flavours from Udupi, Kundapur,  Mangalore and Kerala. While keeping the main flavours intact, the chefs have put their own little spin on every dish with additions of bread or salad to ensure that the festival isn't an 'also ran' food festival.

The afternoon started off with the Southern Fry. This dish consists of batter fried calamari with coconut crusted prawns in a coconut and dried shrimp crumb and is the perfect pub-finger food. With a dash of lime on top, the dish was absolutely comforting and was polished off quite quickly at our table. What was missing for me was perhaps a chutney of some sort. The first cocktail I tried was the Chilli Puli, a spicy salty cocktail of tequila, tamarind paste and green chilli. Probably not the best choice for a relatively empty stomach.





The prawns were followed by a serving of the Kuttari Salad. Mimicking the flavours of Thai-raw papaya salad, this dish comprised of baby spinach, red rice, raw mango, coconut and peanuts, with a very prominent curd pickle on top. I'm not a big fan of red rice, but this salad made me go back for more. With the sourness of the raw mango and crunch of the peanuts with the red rice, this dish was not only texturally appetizing but quite refreshing to eat. The Udipi Beet Cutlets that followed was one of the dishes that didn’t quite hit the mark for me. While the individual elements of the dish, the rava crusted beet cutlet with peas filling, the Kerala paratha and the coconut tamarind ketchup, were good individually; combined together I wasn't able to relish the combination. The cutlets themselves are very similar in taste to the Veg Chop - a favourite of mine from Kolkata. 




We were then served the Kundapur Wings, a dish that comprised of chicken wings tossed with Kundapur ghee roast masala served with sprouted moong kosambri salad. The wings were tender and quite spicy. One was expecting a bit of relief from the coconut, which could have been a bit more prominent, but that never stopped us from going back for more. While the kosambri salad seemed to have been put on the plate to offer relief from the spiciness of the masala, I wasn't too convinced. Call me a wings-purist, but the only accompaniment I like with my wings is a blue-cheese dipping sauce. That being said, lovers of spicy wings should give this one a spin. While we waited for the next dish, I ordered the Soulful Kadhee, a sweet cocktail made from gin, Kokum syrup, tender coconut, curry leaves and lime cordial.




Next up were the Monkee Eggs. Inspired by the more traditional Eggs Benedict, this dish consisted of coriander and black pepper crusted poached egg on puff pastry, with green chutney and a coconut cream hollandaise. The food snob in me was expecting a more runny poached egg, the kind that you cut into the dish and the yolk oozes out and everyone goes 'Aaaahhhh!', but that didn't hold back the dish from becoming my favourite from the afternoon. With the egg cooked almost perfectly, the light yet crunchy puff pastry, the contrasting flavours of the chutney and hollandaise, it was love at first bite. Needless to say, this is a 'must-try' dish.


The Kerela Bao Uttapam was another dish where the individual components of the Kerala-inspired Beef Fry and the Bao Uttapam worked well individually, but I wasn't able to appreciate the combination. We were served the Prawn Ghee Roast. Now don't let the name throw you off, the dish wasn't the traditional ghee roast that one would expect. However, cooked in the Kundapur style and served with garlic toast, the dish packs in quite a punch when it comes to bold spicy flavours. It's the kind of spice that make you want to go back for more (which we did). The fresh crunchy prawns and the gravy with the crunchy garlic toast brought a satisfied smile to my face. 



While we waited for a second serving of the prawns, we tried the KP tacos. Replacing the crunchy taco shell with a flaky Kerala paratha, the filling was a Chettinad styled pulled chicken with black lychen, baby onion salan and garlic pickle, comforting flavours with a twist that worked well. The tacos look deceptively small and are actually quite filling, so keep this for last. We ended the meal with some delightful homely Mangalore buns.



The Coastal Adventures festival began on the 16th of June and goes on till the end of the month. If you're looking for strong flavours, fresh seafood and cocktails to pair with, do head over the Monkey Bar. As far as the price goes, a meal for two without alcohol excluding taxes would cost you INR 1200++, and with alcohol excluding taxes, INR 1800++. I give this festival a 4/5.

The Dragon Boat Festival at Yauatcha

A little over a week ago, I was invited to Yauatcha at 1 MG mall in Bangalore (Nope, not the Michelin-starred one in London) to sample and review the fare from their on-going Dragon Boat Festival. The menu is built around Zongzi and is offered with a variety of fillings. For the uninitiated, Zongzi is more popularly known as the sticky rice dumpling - sticky rice stuffed with various fillings and wrapped in a leaf , it is then either steamed or boiled.


While I waited for the first dish to be served, I tried out the Citrus Spritz, a cocktail, on the menu. Combining the flavours of vodka, dry vermouth, lime and Chandon Brut, the cocktail wasn't particularly great. I've never been a big fan of spritzer(ish) cocktails in general; this one didn’t help change my mind. The cocktail was quite bitter, lacked the freshness that one would normally associate with a spritzer and wasn't good when paired with the food that was served.


I started off with the Lamb and Pine Nuts Dumpling, tender lamb with a sweet soya flavour was the plus point of this dish. The pine nuts were soft and offered nothing in terms of flavour or texture. The Pork Belly with Shiitake mushrooms had strong flavours of both ingredients, I do wish the pieces of the pork were larger in size, and would have pushed this dish to the top of my favourites. My favourite for the evening was the Chicken Dumpling that came with Cashew Nuts. While it may the familiarity of the flavours of chicken and cashew when it comes to an Asian meal, this particular dumpling stood out of the pack. I did go back for seconds on this one.



The Chicken and Prawn dumpling was a bit disappointing with the flavour and aroma of the prawn completely taking over the entire dumpling. I personally found this a tad too dry and had to dip it in some chilli sauce to make it a little more palpable. While the prawns themselves were nice and crunchy, the chicken didn’t add any value to the dish. The vegetarian section was a tad disappointing. I had heard great things about the edamame and vegetarian duck dumpling, but found the taste a bit too sweet and the texture quite soapy. The asparagus one wasn't something to write home about.  


Post copious amounts of sticky rice, I was looking forward to some relief in terms of dessert, and that came in the form of the Wine-soaked water chestnut and mango cake with Sauvignon Sorbet. Great presentation on the dish with the sorbet standing out in terms of flavour. The mango cake with the crunchy chocolate base was blissful. While it wasn't something that pushed the boundaries in terms of flavour or innovation, the dessert was comforting and hit all the right places. It is without a doubt, the hero of the festival.




The festival is on till the end of June, and is offered along with the regular menu at Yauatcha. My recommendations would be the Chicken and Cashew Nut Dumpling, followed by the dessert. I give the festival a 2.5/5.

Vh1 & The Humming Tree Present: Blackstratblues & By2Blues

After inching through two and a half hours of traffic (why do I bother even talking about this problem any more in B'lore?), I finally made it to the Humming Tree to catch By2Blues opening the evening for one of my favourite bands from Mumbai, Blackstratblues. This is the third time I'm seeing By2Blues play live. This band is a classic example of how you don't need fancy electronics and (no pun intended) all that jazz to put up a good show. Keeping it simple the band had a healthy mix of covers from Eric Clapton, CCR and other crowd favourites along with some own compositions. The band had Shalini Mohan (from Lagori) accompany them on bass; and set the mood perfectly for Blackstrat Blues to take over the rest of the evening.







Starting off proceedings with The Happy Billy Song, Blackstrat Blues had the crowd screaming out requests from the first note. The audience were privy to some new material including a soft ballad titled Northstar which Warren dedicated to the missus; and a very trippy untitled number whose bass a drum riff were absolutely trippy and addictive. I could probably listen to just those two instruments playing that groove in isolation and not be bored. There was also a tribute to SRV and the band’s take on 12-bar blues (Check out my Instagram feed for a sneak peek)







The band powered through popular hits like Anuva's Sky, Folkish Three and The Universe has a Strange Sense of Humour. Having seen Blackstrat Blues perform for the seventh (or eighth ) time, it's very clear to see that the band have become really comfortable with one another, joking around between songs and having a good time playing with one another. Warren Mendonsa himself has become relatively verbose and spent a good amount of time between songs talking to the audience and sharing stories rather than rushing through the name of the song and the occasional thank you. That being said, he should never sing 'Sultans of Swing'. (An inside joke with the band that I didn't quite follow beyond the fact that it had something to do with a gig in Mumbai with Zero)





Talking about how he was inspired by The Beatles' song Here Comes the Sun, Warren moved into the penultimate song of the evening, Ode to a Sunny day followed by a very smooth transition into Renaissance Mission, the last song for the evening. This was yet another stellar gig from the band. Going by all the new material that was played, I’m looking forward to the next album whenever it’s out. 

Smoke House Deli Goes the Healthy Way

For most people, the term ‘eating out’ is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle (and now an expensive one too thanks to various taxes). More often than not, the term ‘health conscious’ brings up images of abstinence from good tasting food. My addiction to 'all things salad' from late last year has however shown me that eating healthy doesn’t have to mean ‘eating boring’. (PS: It’s a different story that I’ll gorge down an entire chicken after a rather large bowl of salad). 

Bringing fun and flavour to the term ‘healthy’, the folks at Smoke House Deli ( on Lavelle Road) introduced a special, and fairly elaborate, menu of healthy yet scrumptious food that covers everything from vegan to vegetarian to diary free to paleo and more. I was invited to the launch in March, but owing to work and travel, never got around to writing about it. I have gone back twice since to satisfy my appetite with the healthy options. While the launch had us sample almost all the dishes off the menu, I’d like to describe some of my favourites and some of the healthier options whose flavour doesn’t have me quite convinced. The Paleo Coconut and Seafood Broth is one of my favourites on the menu. A Thai-inspired soup has been created for the lactose intolerant eater, without compromising on flavour. Strong flavours of lemongrass and coriander make this a favourite for almost any time of year. There was also a Millet and Spinach soup that a friend of mine fell in love with, but I’m yet to give that one a taste.


The menu also offers low glycemic sandwiches made from either gluten free bread or ragi, which despite the ominous sounding category were quite flavourful. I do recollect trying out the Soya Marinated Tofu and Spinach, whose filling I enjoyed thoroughly although the bread didn’t quite hit the spot as it got soggy fairly quickly and crumbled. 



Salads! One of my current cooking obsessions! The Super Salads offer patrons numerous options to choose from including Grilled Peach and Papaya with Amaranth Granola, a Classic Watermelon with feta and arugula (another favourite of mine), smoke chicken and caper berries and more. The highlight for me was the apricot chilli dressing on the Kefir soaked Chicken with organic red rice and brown rice flakes salad. (PS – Not yet a fan of red rice).



SHD has also included gluten free pasta made from scratch with their signature non-wheat flour. We were served a plate of the Jowar Gnocchi and Mushroom Fricasse. I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a moody eater when it comes to regular Gnocchi. Unfortunately, the one made from jowar didn’t quite cut it for me. Everyone else at the table did seem to enjoy the flavours and go for seconds. My favourite from that course was the Grilled Vegetable Ravioli with Coconut and Soya Milk. Served with sunflower seeds, the sauce tasted fabulous with the ravioli that was cooked perfectly. 



The main course (Yes, we’ve just gotten to the main course) kicked off with Pan Seared Rawas with Soya milk and Bhavnagri sauce, served with kidney beans, chickpeas and corn. Another diary free dish, the fish needed probably just a minute more of cooking as it the skin was a bit soft. Besides that, wonderful flaking and a strong blend of flavours from every element on the plate. Some of the other dishes we sampled were the Ras El Hanout grilled Chicken with Spicy Brown rice, something that found favour with everyone owing to the overall spicy flavour; and the Lean Tenderloin steak with Roasted Cauliflower.





I was looking forward to seeing what dessert would have in store, because, to me, the only healthy dessert in the world is a simple fruit salad. While the Banana Flour Cake with Carrot Pate wasn’t the most appetizing dish I’ve seen, the flavours were all there. While it ticked off all the boxes on what a dessert should be, it was missing the typical guilty pleasure of a dessert that one expects. It was a similar story with the Cacao Nib and Soya Milk Cheese Cake with a Nachini Crust. Ticked all the boxes, great presentation but I wasn’t feeling guilty. And it is that guilt that makes one love a dessert even more.



Despite staying away from all the good stuff like cheese, butter, oil and more, the meal at SHD was quite filling yet didn’t make me feel bloated such that I wanted to go back home and sleep for the rest of the day. As I had mentioned, I’ve been back to SHD on Lavelle Road twice since the inaugural lunch and have never missed ordering the Paleo Coconut and Seafood Broth and the classic Watermelon with feta and arugula salad, irrespective of what else I may order. Kudos to the chefs for going the extra mile to bring the terms ‘healthy food’ and ‘tasty food’ closer to one another. It won’t be love at first bite for many people, but do make your way through the extensive menu and find your favourites.

The Gumbo Shop, New Orleans

It's been over two months since I've gotten back from an awesome few days in New Orleans, which is now one my most favourite cities in the world not only for the beautiful music but also for some of the fabulous food and ales I tried while I was there. It's about time I cleared out the backlog and shared some of my experiences of the city before I set off on another international adventure.

Renowned for its Creole and Cajun flavours that are a combination of the best of French, Spanish and African cuisines, I was eager to hit the streets and experience the same. My first stop after arriving in New Orleans was the renowned Gumbo Shop. Established in 1948, the Gumbo Shop claimed to offer some of the best flavours of New Orleans. Well, with over six decades of being in the scene, one would expect nothing less. The Gumbo Shop featured among the top two 'must try' places in almost every list I read. I arrived just a little past noon to find the place packed and had to stand in line for about twenty minutes before I got a table. Seated right opposite a large mural of the iconic Jackson Square from way back in the day, I instantly fell in love with the fairly rustic look of the place.



I started off by ordering a small bowl of Chicken Andouille Gumbo, which arrived sooner than expected. The moment it was placed on the table, I had a look and wasn't too sure about what emotion to process. At the risk of sounding uncouth, the gumbo looked like the New Orleans version of the Indian favourite Raajma-Chaawal (Kidney Beans and rice) with sausages thrown in. While I was disappointed by the appearance, the flavours were something else. The gravy was packed with strong spicy meaty flavours of the andouille, a cajun styled chicken sausage and the chicken broth. The okra seasoning brought some relief with its impactful herbal flavour.  It's a good thing I ordered a small bowl because anything larger would have filled me up.



For the main course, I ordered the Jambalaya, another dish I've heard and read so much about with a side order of Alligator Sausages with a spicy orange marmalade dipping sauce. Yes, you read that correct - Alligator sausages. While the dish looked like any other regular sausage, the flavours of the meat with the spicy-sweet-citrus kick of the dipping sauce made me fall in love with the dish instantly. Alligator meat is a white meat that has a flavour that finds a place somewhere between chicken and fish. High in protein, with the right amount of gaminess, alligator is a staple dish in creole cuisine. The sausages were mildly spice with the cajun flavour and smoked perfectly. What took the sausages from a good dish to a great dish was undoubtedly the spicy orange marmalade dipping sauce. I shamelessly asked for another helping of the dipping sauce to polish off just by itself. The folks at the Gumbo Shop were kind enough not to charge me extra for that.



The Jambalaya, a rice-based dish cooked with smoked sausage, shrimp, and chicken was a bit of a disappointment in terms of appearance and in terms of flavour. Drawing parallels with saambar, the dish reminded me of the saambar-rice that would be packed into lunch boxes during school and would end up being completely dry by the time lunch came around. I did have to throw in the towel halfway through because the dish did nothing for me. I ordered a second plate of Alligator Sausages.


Dessert included a relatively simple Praline Sundae. Two scoops of vanilla ice cream with a lovely caramel sauce, topped with praline and pecan nuts was just what the doctor ordered after a meal packed with the mighty flavours of gumbo and alligator sausages.


While the meal worked out to a little over $40, it was completely worth it. The Gumbo Shop set the stage for all the lovely creole flavours I was going to experience in New Orleans. I returned to the Gumbo Shop three more times during my trip just to have a plate of the Alligator Sausages.

Windoze at Bflat

In the post below are some of the pictures I took of Windoze, who played at Bflat in Bengaluru. The band were joined on stage by special guests, Ananth Menon and Vasudev Prabhu from By2Blues, and Sylvester's fellow 'The Stage' contestant, Rupin Pahwa. 

















Bene meets the Persian Terrace at sea, the Sheraton Grand

Bringing two of my favourite cuisines together, the Sheraton Grand is mixing it up at their on-going sea food festival by bringing together Italian flavours from Bene with Mediterranean flavours from The Persian Terrace. I was invited to try out some of the dishes at the opening night of the festival. Readers of the blog know how much I love Mediterranean food and the flavours it offers. The evening meal commenced with an appetizer which brought together watermelon, feta cheese and prawns in a herb salad. On my current obsession to have salads with every meal, watermelon and feta cheese is one of my all-time favourites.  Throw in some prawns, what’s not to like? The dressing of the appetizer offered strong tamarind flavours, like a chaat. While tamarind powder finds a miniscule place in some Mediterranean cooking, I wouldn’t classify the dish under that umbrella. All that aside, it was a lovely little appetizer and I’m planning to try and make it at home… without the prawns alas. 



This was followed by a serving of Spanish Garlic Prawns. While the flavour was good and the dish looked absolutely appetizing, the crunchiness of the prawns was a bit uneven. Of the three prawns served, two of them had the perfect crunch one expects of such a dish; while the third seemed to have been overcooked just a little more than required. The familiar flavour of the light garlic sauce was polished off with the toasted ciabatta that accompanied the dish.



Next up were the soups. We started off with a Mediterranean soup – the Ghalieh Mahi, a spicy herb soup. One sip in and I was thoroughly disappointed by the flavour. Very reminiscent of a spinach based lentil dish that we make in South India, the soup did nothing in terms of flavour to make me enjoy it. I took a few more sips and that was about all I could take of the soup. The silver lining – the serving was small, so I did not feel guilty about wasting it. The next soup however was something very similar to what I had had at Bene a couple of years ago. The Italian style Market Seafood Soup was a winner with strong Italian flavours of seafood that packed a punch. I loved this the first time I had this, and still do. Unlike the former, this soup left me wanting just a little bit more to tease my taste buds.



The first main course was Moroccan seafood Tagine with Cous Cous. A dish that could have been perfect if not for the slightly over cooked prawns which I thought was calamari. In terms of flavour, the sauce with the citrus cous cous was delightful. But nothing like a meat not done to perfection to take away all the good work that went into the dish. The second main course was very enjoyable; a Mixed Grill of Seafood with Greek Salad and Crusty bread. The grilled prawn displayed in its shell brought a certain rustic look to the dish. The dish was simple with a whole lot of natural flavours in every bit of seafood.  A simple classic dish.





Dessert was my favourite part of the meal. The one thing I always recommend to folks going to Bene is to try the Bene Classic Tiramisu. Packed with flavour and a slight alcohol tinge when you put a spoon of it into your mouth, makes this one of my favourite dishes at Bene. Needless to say, I polished this off quickly. And while in hindsight I should have said no, I polished off a second plate from another blogger at the table who said she wouldn’t be eating any more than a few spoons. Well, I can never say no to anyone offering me food. The evening came to an end with a fine espresso.



The dinners at the food festival are prices at INR 2500 (without the paired wines) and INR 3250 (with the paired wines). Besides the set menu that comprises of both Italian and Mediterranean spread, the festival also offers a variety from their ‘Catch of the day’ market that can be cooked to your liking. The Italian flavours came out more strongly than the Mediterranean flavours. Considering my bias to the latter, I felt a tad disappointed. Don’t miss the seafood soup and the tiramisu should you head here. The festival is on till the end of the week.

Mikkeller Bangkok... 30 brews and a 12-hour Braised short rib.

Besides food, a new addition to my ‘must-try’ list whenever I’m in a new city is a local microbrewery. On my first day in Bangkok, as a small celebration of my first ever solo backpacking trip in a foreign country, I decided to indulge myself and went over to Mikkeller Bangkok (MB) in the evening. Located in a more fancy part of the city, MB impressed me from the moment I stepped in. The first thing that hits you is the chalk board that showcases thirty varieties of home-brewed beers. Yes! THIRTY! I knew I would be leaving a bit disappointed not having tried all thirty flavours. This is one of the drawbacks of travelling by oneself, no company to try out more food and drink.

30 varieties of beer
After a long day of walking around in the humidity of Bangkok, I ordered the strongest beer that they had on the menu. I started the evening with a glass of the Big Worster BA Chardonnay, a barley beer with wine, strength at 18.3%. While I give the beer full marks for being strong, the taste was a bit confusing as the brew combined the flavour of both beer and Chardonnay. Not the best thing I’ve had, but definitely the strongest. I switched to a more familiar flavour with the Georgen Imp Stout, 12.12%. Now this was something in familiar territory. With a dark cocoa flavour suppressing the previous brew, my evening was back on track. I ordered a plate of Pizza Dip, which was Paprika beef, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese with some nice crunchy bread on the side. The dish was essentially pizza made into a dip. While the quantity was a bit much for one person, I took my time as I let the flavours of the marinara sauce and the beer play around with my taste buds. It was early evening, and I had a long night ahead of me.

Big Worster BA Chardonnay

Pizza Dip

Georgen Imp Stout

The next beer I tried was the Nuclear Hop Assault DIPA, 8% which was a light Indian pale ale with a very refreshing taste. I ordered a salad which consisted of scallops, fresh watermelon and goat’s cheese dip. I’m not a big fan of salads; but I simply loved this particular dish. Absolutely refreshing in taste, the saltiness of the scallops with the fresh water melon just melted away in my mouth, cleansing it of the taste of the strong marinara sauce from the previous dish. Absolutely elegant in flavour, this simple salad got two thumbs up from me. 

Scallop and Watermelon Salad

While I waited for the main course, I got a little adventurous and sampled the Raspberry Tripleback, 13%. Let me put it this way, a bottle of beer got drunk one night and totally did it with a bottle of Raspberry Jam. Nine months later, the child of that one wild night was what this beer tasted like. I’m delighted that I took only a sampler and not an entire glass. Clearly, as far as experimenting goes, the night was not going my way.

Raspberry Tripleback
The main course….oh, the main course! I’m drooling just thinking about it. My main course was a 12-hour braised short rib with pumpkin done three-ways with lentils. If one ever wants to appreciate the beauty of braised pork, this is the dish to have. Braised to sheer perfection, the pork could be had with a spoon almost as though it were some sort of a dessert. Yet, the juiciness of the meat once you pop it into your mouth was ….. OMFG, I died! Giving it a lovely contrast was the excellent pumpkin done three-ways. Nice salty pork with sweet pumpkin…. This dish is definitely among one of the best I’ve had. I paired that with a Beer Geek Imp Stout,10.9%, which had a lovely coffee bean after taste to it. 

12-hour braised short rib



If I thought the main course was going to be the highlight of the meal, I had no clue what was going to hit me when I ordered dessert. Yes, I ordered dessert. Yes, all that food and beer went into one person. I don’t care if you judge me. I was having a ball. Dessert was a recommendation from the owner – Warm doughnuts. While the name comes across as boring, the dish was the crescendo of the good food at Mikkeller. Filled with a dark beer chocolate that simply oozes out as you bite into it, this dessert had me forget all my table manners. I munched away at the doughnuts allowing the filling to run over my fingers as I shamelessly sucked on them to ensure that not a single drop made its way to the napkin. The sheer joy of having this dessert cannot be captured in words.

Warm Doughnuts


Before I hit the road, I chugged down a final glass of the Arctic Sunstone APA, 6%.

Amen...

Overall, this was a fabulous evening at Mikkeller and I only wish that I had familiar faces to experience all the great food and beer of the place. But not regrets of going there. Mikkeller Bangkok is on the pricier side and those on a budget vacation may want to rethink going here. But if you are going to spend good money on a night on the town, this place would be my first pick. Kudos to the folks for setting up this fabulous watering hole with some fantastic food which set the tone for the rest of my vacation.

Street Food in Bangkok

For those of you who haven’t been following me on other social media channels, I spent 12 glorious days backpacking all by myself through Thailand. And by through I mean that I went to more than one city. Besides being a budget destination, one of my biggest attractions to head to Thailand was obviously the food. I spent the entire four hours of my flight to Bangkok imagining all the delicious street food that I would get to savour and make inappropriate noises of appreciation. The moment, they let me into the country; my sole purpose for the day was to find some Thai street food. I freshened up and went over to the Reclining Buddha temple where I spent a few hours before I stepped out and sampled some of the glorious flavours of authentic Thai food. And by George, I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The Reclining Buddha

Tuk Tuk

I kick started my vacation with a Raw Papaya Salad. Coming from India, one tends to be a tad arrogant when it comes to one’s ability to handle spicy food. But I was quickly brought down to earth with the first bite of this salad. The first flavour that hit me was the sweetness of the papaya; I thought to myself that this was going to be a breeze. A couple of seconds in, the spice kicks in….and oh what a kick it was. Parts of my tongue were enjoying the sweet taste while the rest was on fire. And yet, I went back for more. This absolutely contradicting flavours of sweet and spice kept calling me back for more. Pretty soon, I was sweating and had water coming out of my nose, but I still kept gobbling away at that salad. What a way to start off my vacation. I cooled my senses down with a nice cold bottle of fresh pomegranate juice. 

Raw Papaya Salad

Fresh Pomegranate Juice

Next up was the grilled chicken which was cooked really tender. Fresh off the grill, the chicken was as soft as a lightly toasted marshmallow and wasn’t spicy at all. Just meat with the natural flavours of coal made this a super addition to the meal. 

Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken
I still needed some time to allow my taste buds to regain their sense of flavour, so I walked about for a bit before I came across this stall selling fresh crunchy banana spring rolls. While the spring rolls themselves were sweet, the chilli-honey—garlic sauce that accompanied it was the kicker. Lovely contradicting natural flavours hit all the right spots. 

Banana Spring Rolls
Lunch was the very famous Pad Thai noodles at an adjacent stall. To be honest, I was a little disappointed by the flavour. I’ve had more impactful and aromatic Pad Thai back in India and this one was quite bland. Missing a lot of the spiciness, the only flavours that came through were that of the vinegar, palm sugar and the peanuts.  It could be thanks to a large group of Spaniards at my table who asked for no spice in their Pad Thai, and I got served from the same batch. But it wasn’t the end of the world. I was in Thailand where Pad Thai stalls can be found at almost every corner.

Shrimp Pad Thai

Shrimp Pad Thai
My vacation was off to the kind of start I expected it to be with regard to food. There’re a lot more blog posts coming up over the next few days.

The Ritz-Carlton presents Chef Vivek Singh of the famed Cinnamon Club in London

As someone whose life’s dream is to travel the world and try out great food, it’s quite a joy when the world comes to you. Thanks to the Ritz Carlton and Jet Airways, I was able to taste the cooking of Chef Vivek Singh, who is reputed for his Indian-themed fusion signature dishes from his restaurants the Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Soho in London. We were able to taste some of his signature dishes including the Seared Scallops with spices and Cauliflower Puree, the Clove Smoked Loin of Lamb with Rajasthani Corn Sauce (whose meat was one of the best cooked ones I’ve had) and a handful of other dishes which blend Indian-tastes with the western flavour. For those of you who can’t travel to London any time soon, do head over to Riwaz at the Ritz Carlton to try out some of Chef Vivek Singh’s dishes.