Burma Burma

If anyone thinks that you need to have a bar and serve meat to have a successful restaurant, then this is the sweetest slap on their face.

This restaurant is making me write after a hiatus of more than a year, well that should speak for itself to begin with. Other than my aversion to drinking or binging out for no reason or rhyme, it does make this blog kinda limited edition. And then there are taxes.. you do kind of feel guilty if that list is longer than what you order.

So this place was on my agenda for a long time (read: over few months). The only reason stopping me was the long drive from Delhi to cyber hub. We all know the kind of mental preparation that needs if you’re not used to crossing states on a daily basis.

Speaking of states, this place boasts of a cuisine that we usually think is bland, raw, and hence healthy. Now I have not been to Burma (now Myanmar) yet. But this place makes me want to! And that is a big credit on top of the ambience, service, clientele, and the kind of food they serve here. From a big CEO’s family to one side, to a bunch of start up kids on the other, the gamut of its clientele is mass and all inclusive. With a cover of around 50 seats in a place like cyber hub where people are spoilt for choices, there’s a waiting queue, reservation line and a turnaround of covers most evenings and afternoons. Either that goes to say that people are becoming health conscious as the majority of menu is either salad/soups  and noodles. Or they have just taken up to this cuisine and made it palate worthy. Yes Samosas in chickpea soup can only be as delicious when its a love child between Burma and Delhi! Now I wouldn’t go into the main course or the dessert, coz my explanation may border on being repetitive, so I\ll leave you with just this. Pick your phone, book a table and try it for yourself.

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Rosang Soul Food

You wouldn’t even know about this place until someone seasoned recommends to you or just takes you there by surprise.. like it happened to me. Located in some corner of some street in Green Park, it stands on its own only for its loyal clientele. And what a clientele to boast of, well.. let me keep it until later so you read it till the end.

For the uninitiated, it is the only restaurant of its kind which serves north-eastern cuisine from the seven sisters of our country and more! If you are a meat lover, then you are in for a treat. And if you are not, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Not only do they use exclusive herbs from the region, they also source their vegetables from there. Soon it gets validated as the aroma of what you’ve ordered wafts towards you. By the look of it, I get curious with the simplistic presentation and can’t wait to dig in. It’s the same ingredients like mushroom, onions or any other vegetable, but the taste has a stark difference and so in its texture. A little spicy in a very novel way. Then looking at the red Mizo Rice along with bamboo curry which were both absolutely new to me. My tongue does a little dance inside! A mouthful of new flavours and textures – little earthy and fuller perhaps, that manifests only when the contents have been grown in a place where our rest of day-to-day food doesn’t. You just know its special in some way.

I wish I knew more about where my local Safal guy gets his vegetables from. And we wondered how as a kid we had access to so many varieties of vegetables alone. My friend reminisced how he knew and had about 21 varieties of Spinach itself. I realised how less we know about our food these days, when it’s grown, where it comes from. As no produce is as natural as it used to be or supposed to be and is gradually resembling closer to an industrial product, thanks to the genetically modified seeds.

However, this place right here, makes an effort towards keeping the authenticity alive, and that makes all the difference. A lot like Slow Food Movement where the focus is on knowing what you are eating, finding out where it comes from and how it affects the environment. The entire process of the meal then becomes a lot more lively and fiery in a good way. You become a part of the god’s gift that this place literally means and feel it. With the writer of God of Small Things from god’s own country smiling at me as she finishes her meal and leaves.. it does become a situation like.. ‘O my god!’

Gaggan

Kuh-ggannn, is how our cab driver read it to us. I was excited for we had planned this for sometime. The moment the cab stopped, I thought we were entering someone’s residence. Someone posh, someone classy and elegant. As we usher in, I get the feeling of being at the right place at the right time.

Subtle noises, clinking of glasses and hushed laughter fill in the room, along with the black bus boys meandering in the middle. We are seated on the extreme left end on a corner table –  nice for us to have our conversation, away from everyone else, until another couple joins in soon to sit to the far right end of the corner.

We settle for the most elaborate, between 14-16 course Best of Gaggan Tasting Menu, not wanting to miss out on anything. Vegetarian for me and non-vegetarian for him. Once we choose the fancy drinks, we sit back, ready to be lured and get on the gastronomic journey that Gaggan promises.

The drinks, I have to admit floored me at once. I forgot what it was called, but it came in a coconut shell with all of its smoky flavour AND the smoke, little like Pina colada to sip on. Ah! The jazz that it started with, i was loving it already. And believe you me, it happens so rare!

It will turn out to be a very long post if i go on describing each course, and will totally lose the point. So i’ll stick to what held my sway and what swayed off.

Starting with a bunch of mini-bites that kept coming in the span of half an hour had me on a roll. The white-chocolate golgappas were definitely innovative for me, what with that edible packet of nuts on the side and a yoghurt bubble that bursts in the mouth. Beautifully decorative and deliciously textured bites were in the order, and I could hardly keep my hands off it. At one point it was hard to differentiate between the presentation platter and the food that was served on it. To have a sneak-peek you can always go to their page and drool over.

Next up was the soup. I mean who can ever fall in love with a soup? Sure they can fall in soup. but this .. here.. was.. sheer.. orgasm. The truffle soup, the way it came, the way it smelled, the way it smoked, it was love at first sight, smell and taste. I could hold on to that little rock and make love to it while I sipped little sips of it so it goes on forever and ever. This was my nirvana. And I did not want it to get over. I moaned unapologetically.

That was the highest point of my entire meal. The charcoal, although exquisitely presented couldn’t have possibly kept up with the truffle soup. And it was not meant to either. Subtle, gooey, it was the surprise element that it was supposed to be. Later, followed by other familiar flavours and textures, I was beginning to get full but the presentation kept alluring me no matter what. I ordered another drink that I remember the name of. Sexy Poison was served in a glass with a cat tail, and tasted like an elixir. There was a certain fun element that most of the dishes and drinks flaunted. The way it was written, presented or tasted, it was sort of a tease throughout. A bit of this with a bit of that seemed easy to pursue.

Meanwhile we spotted a loner ordering shorter version of Tasting Menu. He would nod at himself while eating, a little too often. Like he was justifying that he has come for the sole pleasure of eating and nothing else. Like its not a social place but a place where they serve your taste buds only. He had to be a banker, I at once thought; an investment banker to be precise. Who comes alone in a destination restaurant that is currently at no.3 and pitted to be the no.1 restaurant in Asia?

Well, the story doesn’t end here. He’s then seated on the table that’s between the two couples which is us. Did I mention, we’d got talking to the other couple discussing the food and drinks and restaurants, and life and it had become quite a group affair, until the gentleman butted right in. I saw him enjoying his chhole chawal with a lot of chaw (interest). All awkward, he decides to strike a conversation with the other couple. Seemingly disinterested, they give in out of courtesy, while we all slyly wait for him to leave. His dessert is now over, and the waiter signals for him to leave. Whats funny was how shocked he appeared and sorry he felt to be leaving the table that he had just interrupted with.

I was only glad with the way waiters use their discretion at such places. Thats one of the things that makes this place such top-notch. Not to my surprise, he confirmed that he works at Morgan Stanley, Hongkong before leaving us to get back to our merrymaking and dessert courses.

With some ostentatious dehydrated miso look, the desserts looked very Japanese except the Lollipops that were crumbly on the outside and yummy on the inside. I felt like complaining how this could be Indian, but then again, just a thought later I knew how diversified India truly is. So no matter how far away you go from making Indian, or variate it on multiple levels, it could still somehow easily belong to atleast one of our states, or city.

Indian Accent

It been over a month and a half that I went to this restaurant. I can’t claim for my memories to be fresh that I still remember the taste. However what I do remember is that it was different in a way that Indian cuisine isn’t supposed to be. Not greasy yet fulfilling, light yet varied, Indian yet had an European touch. None of those elaborate saucy-curry like spreads or a mix of all that you can’t tell what has gone in. Simplicity of flavours intact along with complexity of textures, is what makes Indian cuisine. The way it’s presented in mind-boggling forms makes it modern.

Now that we have defined roughly what modern Indian cuisine is, I wonder whats the market viability of such a restaurant within the Indian market. Like someone recently said, people don’t buy a Louis Vuitton everyday, but sure they will go splurge on the street almost daily without a second thought. So is there truly any business value and sustainability in an instance like this? Well.. i don’t know. But I’d sure like to see where it goes and how.

Everyone craves temple food once in a while but would they appreciate it as much if they had it everyday? I had similar thoughts after I’d had my pig-out session with my sisters with the tasting menu last month. The restaurant is known for its classic twist and top-notch clientage, not to forget the celebrated chef whose first-mover advantage in this segment in the country has gone to make it the acclaimed restaurant that it is today. So i have a mixed bag of a story to tell.

A three-hour traffic barely goes for a good opening to any evening, and would usually end up in a brawl in Delhi, except in this case where it was a determined drive to explore this restaurant no-matter-what. In a place that is hard to find, nestled in some corner of a colony that makes you walk and wonder if all this trouble is worth the effort. I was making mental notes to trash the restaurant for all the inconvenience it caused me even before i dined there.

Gladly, it’s not going to be that. All the doubts are soon put to rest once you set foot inside the club like environment and see families happily enjoying some classical music with their food and few hi-flying executives equally engrossed with their phones and plates alone. It’s not unusual, but not a usual feel as you enter an Indian restaurant in a five-star hotel. This one is bustling in a continental way. And i forget all about my traffic woes immediately.

It’s difficult to not appreciate the exceptionally well curated courses and pin down the quirks in the ingredients used. Just to summarise, I loved the blue cheese naan-lets for starters and beetroot tikkis with wasabi chutney. The potion control through little shapes and sizes is just whats needed where you can’t decide when to stop. The khandvi ravioli with cheese arbi mash, and the potato sphere chaat was nicely deviant while the baingan bharta cornetto.. left me quite offbeat and curious throughout.

The dessert platter was another playground of all the distinguished flavours and textures that round off the meal on another queer high. Am still contemplating if its time to go back and mull in a familiar yet a contrast of taste, that only Indian Accent can justify.

Le Bistro du Parc

Recently FoodTalkIndia organised a vegetarian dinner…wait for it.. at a french Bistro!
Considering this time of the year, the festivity during Navratras and the abstinence few people force upon themselves to feel less guilty, was probably reason enough. But when was french cuisine known for its vegetarianism? To me, it was an irony of sorts. I wondered about my last authentic french dinner which had gooey memories of cheese and sauce and indigestion cause of too much lactose. So I was left intrigued about this one.

Since I couldn’t make it for the dinner, I didn’t wait long enough either and went for a luncheon the very next day with a girlfriend. Please note it was still hot outside, and winters far away in sight.

We sauntered in through a shady looking market to this place and the transformation from menial to major happened in a step or two. I pushed the glass door open to enter. A mental window clicked open too. I blame the french monsieur who greeted me with a wide smile and ‘Hello’. My immediate reaction was to blush and run upstairs to hide myself. Il etait le ‘coup de foudre’!

Settling after breaking a wine glass to face the beautiful park, we ordered some Chenin Blanc to calm our nerves down. Noticing only women around for brunches in groups actually made perfect sense now. They all want to open a french window in their head.

Who said men can’t figure out what women want. They probably haven’t visited this bistro yet. It wasn’t for nothing a kiss was named after these people. Anyway without wondering much we begin with a Parisienne salad and some sour bread to go. I feel the new flavours that could be very well mediterranean if it didn’t have the french twist. I savour it all and wipe the dressing off the plate with some loaf.

Next up our main course was made of thin pastry, called the Chou Farci with Vegetable Flan & Beurre Blanc, while the girlfriend ordered Potato & Brie Gratin with Green Salad & Apple. Seldom do french food look this healthy, light, colourful and delicious especially when its vegetarian. The green surroundings absolutely in harmony with the dishes; helps calming our nerves further down. Looking at the park, its so easy to open all your windows of the mind. The food definitely takes it to another level. Dare I add, a french niveaux is hard to keep up with as it is.

Without further a do we were raring to try more and order the Valrhona Chocolate Rocher. I figure to really test a place, you’ve got to taste the kind of chocolate they serve. The name had got us drooling.. like we weren’t already. The first spoon.. God.. was it orgasmic! We literally moaned for minutes. Everything was set to pleasure your senses. Right from the food, the mood and the good..ness! We were left craving for more… and it wasn’t just the food.

The product is the only truth, said Chef Alain Ducasse. And I say seldom does the truth gratify so instantly.