Friday, November 30, 2012

Beijing Bites

Beijing bites happens to be within walking distance of my office and it’s usually the place we hit when we have some treats or crave food other than the sad canteen fare.
I’ve been to this branch twice now for lunch– both times its extremely full with techies waiting outside , and having reservations don’t help either. Usually, there’s a waiting period of atleast 20-30 minutes.
We usually start off with the hot n sour chicken soup – which is a favorite of most of us. 
Hot N Sour Chicken soup
Pretty standard spicy soup with a generous portion of veggies and chicken.Cant go wrong here.
We ordered the dragon chicken and drums of heaven as starters.
Dragon Chicken
The dragon chicken was the usual spicy saucy fried pieces of boneless chicken along with capsicum and onion, with a hint of sweetness.Not bad but not great either.
Drums of chicken were just ok – batter fried pieces of chicken on its skimpy leg.It was hot and crispy and that was about it.
Drums of heaven
For mains we ordered a mixed fried rice along wit garlic chicken gravy . Nothing much to rave about.
Chicken Koithio,Garlic chicken and Mixed fried rice(L to R)
We also had an order of chicken koithio- which is flat noodles in a chicken spicy sauce and lot of veggies. It was ok but I’ve had better in other outlets of Beijing bites.
Overall it was just a normal eating out experience – and cost effective.
On earlier occasion - I’ve tried the Thai red curry as well, it was good but no pictures!

Location –  II Floor, 120 B, EPIP Industrial Area, Near Sai Baba Hospital, Whitefield, Bangalore    
Price ( for 3) – Rs 1200
Yum-O-Meter – 2/5

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kaira , Cochin

Nestled in the heart of the busy and bumbling Cochin city, lies this cozy little place,Kaira , with their tagline ‘A place where good things happen’.
When you walk in, you are greeted by lovely paintings – it’s kind of a mini art gallery where if your wallet permits, you can walk off with one of these masterpieces after your meal. Smiling people everywhere are ready to assist you to your table.
Mona lisa in naadan vesham?
The ambience is really classy and the décor minimal but each piece makes a statement of its own .The tables are not too closely placed together which makes for the beginning of a pleasant eating experience.

The best sitting area would be the lone table in an outdoor seating where you can feel the cool breeze and enjoy the lush surroundings- perfect for those family get-togethers or hanging out with your friends.

Everyone here recommends the fish curry meals which is a steal at 120 Rs.
You have the option of either getting it served on a plate or in true mallu style, in a banana leaf. It comes with the typical kerala side dishes to every meal – some upperi ( fried plantains) , pickled beetroot in vinegar, inji curry( sweet n sour ginger curry) , beans mezhekuperuti, pachadi(yoghurt based side),avial and kootu curry , along with your moru , rasam, sambhar and pappadam.
Kerala Meals
The fish curry has a grated coconut base and all this mixed with a handful of rice together tasted just divine. 
Fish Curry

The only complaint perhaps was that the pappadam was a little bit oily which was duly noted by the chef.
We also tried the beef ularthiyete – which was tender and spicy, karimeen( pearl spot) fry , chemmeen ularthiyete( prawns) and mussels fry.
Beef Ularthiyete
Chemeen ularthiyete
Mussels fry

The parottas here are crisp and flaky and pairs great with the beef ularthiyete. 
Don’t forget to try their signature dish of light as a feather kallapams and duck roast – the kallapams absorb that creamy n delicious gravy just like a sponge and just so flavorsome.

The mutton biriyani is also spectacular with subtle spice and rich flavours.
For dessert, we had the Vattalapam – a srilankan delicacy almost like caramel pudding but with coconut milk and jaggery .It was just spot on – creamy and delicious.

We came back here to try the Sunday breakfast. I ordered the English breakfast which consisted of eggs, sausages, bacon, a pancake, potato croquette and 2 slices of toast along with accompaniments of jam, butter and honey and a glass of watermelon juice.

English breakfast

You can decide how you want your eggs done, fried or scrambled and I went for a fluffy omelette. The potato croquette was crisp and crunchy outside n melt in the mouth inside. We finished this with a cup of coffee and some cut fruits, taking our time to relax and catch up .They plan to start a seafood grill area soon as well as a coffee shop – with bakes , sweet and savory. Looking forward to sampling these at my next visit.

Just a preview of what to expect in the pastry section- 
Orange cake with chocolate ganache and orange buttercream
Chocolate Truffle cake - simply melt in the mouth

Kaira is a place you feel like visiting again and again with its pleasant ambience and once here , you want to take all the time to enjoy your meal. Truly an experience eating here!

Location – Chittor Road, Kacheripady , Cochin, Kerala
Yum-O-Meter – 5/5

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cafe Thulp

This is a review long overdue, considering the fact it’s in my favorite list, and a place we frequently visit with friends and family. Café Thulp is nestled in the heart of koramangala, and considered ’The place’ for the best burgers in town. We have tried almost all of the burgers and none of them have ever been less than awesome. 

First up – come early, if you want good seating. It’s almost always crowded, and open through out the day which is a good thing .

The ambience is very lively and in case you turn up alone for a bite, there is a section with old books and even some (old) toys to occupy the little ones. There are board games as well, to be enjoyed wit a group of friends. The menu is a fun read, with innovative names.

In the starters- aptly named ‘Start me Up’, the ‘Buffalo Bill’,which are described as fiery buffalo chicken wings ,are to die for. 
Buffalo Bill
 It’s well marinated and succulent- everything you’re looking for in chicken wings and comes with a cream cheese dip.
The ‘Skin flicks’ are sinfully good- how can the combination of crispy potato skins slathered with cheese sauce, bacon and ham go wrong.
Skin Flicks
The ‘Gonzo Garbanzo’ had really soft and fresh pita bread and creamy hummus to dunk it in.
Gonzo Garbanzo
 Going to the all day brekker options, our favorite is the ‘Frogs in Heaven’.
Eggs Bangadicti(L) , Frogs in Heaven(R)
 Don’t be put off by the name – its just French toast with cinnamon and orange ,along with side of honey and butter– really filling  and baby A loved it.
The ‘Eggs Bangadicti’ consists of two perfectly poached eggs, just bursting with flavors of spicy cheese sauce, grilled onions and grilled ham on toasted buns.Yumm!
Do check out the corner blackboard with the days specials- the cheese omelets are amazingly fluffy  and for sides you can chose ‘Sideshow Bobs’ which are bacon rashers, fried ham or sausages.
Now the part which Thulp is known for – the burgers!
Usually we go for the Moo burger with bacon and cheese. All around meaty beef served with french fries and coleslaw. 
Moo Burger
 If you have the stomach for it , you can try the ‘Moos yo daddy’, but be warned ,its 400gm cheese burger , impossible for us to finish in one sitting .
Moos ya Daddy
Look at the size of that!
 The other special ‘Moosies’ (burgers ) here which we’ve tried are the ‘Ho Chi Minh’ ,which is a Vietnamese grilled pork burger with mint and chili . The combination of the oriental flavors and mint really shine through.
The ‘Ginza by Night’ is a teriyaki beef /chicken burger with grilled mushrooms. Nicely done and spiced, worth a try.
The ‘Gonzeshwara’ is a bacon wrapped fillet steak, cheese and egg burger with bbq sauce.
 I somehow didn’t enjoy it as mush as the others, cause it was like having a steak inside the burger and it was not as tender as I expected , had to do a little extra chewing .But flavors are spot on.
My favorite is the ‘Singin Saudade’ which is beef burger topped with fiery goan sausage and grilled onions. 
Singin Saudade
 It’s incredible and spicy. Perfect for those cold nights, for your spicy meaty fill.
Each of these come with coleslaw and French fries – which are both really well done, it’s so difficult to get good coleslaw nowadays.
There’s also a variety of sandwiches and pastas .
We generally wash down our meal with ‘A Cardinal Sin ‘ , which is hot chocolate and a snickers bar- the snickers generally is our dessert . 
A Cardinal Sin
 There are a couple of desserts on display as well but I’ve never tried any of them.
I’m sure this is a place we would be coming to, again and again, as we feel its worth our money and never ever been a letdown. Perfect place to hang out with your friends for a nice meal to just talk or play some games. A must try !

Location – 1st Main, 1st Block, Koramangala, Bangalore
Price ( for 2) – Around 800 Rs
Yum-O-Meter – 5/5

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Aromas Of China

It was the first day of college , and I had a mix of emotions – excitement of a new place and new course, as well as a  little nervousness about the kind of people I would meet there. It was a small town and I wondered if I would really fit in there . On my side sat a brown eyed girl, who didnt really look interested in making small talk. On the other side sat a more approachable girl,and the first thing was I noticed was all these colourful butterfly clips(!!) in her hair.As we sat through our first day together , little did we 3 know it was the start of a wonderful friendship. Brown eyed girl – Soph , though on the quieter side , was the practical and sensible one, she was the one I could turn to for honest advise and be my guide through last minute studies. And the colourful clip girl , Indu(@indugetscooking) was the one I could get crazy with. She made me laugh and in bouts of constant homesickness , kept me sane.
4 years passed by in a flash, gossiping , laughing ,crying( especially when it was exam time) and even fighting together .I can say that it was the probably one of the best times of my life.
Now I’m so proud to see her wonderful blog . I enjoy each and every post of it – maybe because I can relate to the little stories behind most of them. Be it waiting for her parents to get some yummy chicken noodles during our study leave, our desp chart (which I must mention Indu hardly featured in :P), our birthday treats in Nelco, the sharja shake in the most unhygienic fruits shop ever, eating her tiffin beneath the bench during class,we were all in it together. Since we’ve been through so much together, it only makes sense that she does guest posts for me as well ( I mean I shouldn’t be the only one having so many calories ;) ).
So I’m passing over the rest of the post to Indu , and her experience at Aromas of China, a place she keeps convincing me I have to visit- and now going through the below is really tempting me to book a table right away. As she loves to cook its only appropriate that she ends the post with one of her delicious recipes as well.


Carol is one of my best friends, has known my heart and soul (she says I am a beautiful person inside out) and has kept with me through every thick and every single thin. We studied together in college, made every day at hostel a party, and walked the long roads of Chengannur talking about every single thing under the sun. We shared our love for food and fantasized about the beef at Nelko, the pastries at Anne's and the burgers at Sun & Star. We divided chocolate into tiny bits and fought for the bigger share. Even now when we get together, I feel like an 18 year old with not a single thought about tomorrow. Ah, what would life be without friends and life has been generous in giving me a friend like her.

Carol and her husband simply love to eat good food and visit some restaurant every weekend. She records their experience (the food, service, ambiance, decor, the entire works) at each place on her lovely blog. I love going through her reviews since they are so detailed and leave me in no doubt as to whether or not I would enjoy eating somewhere. I am delighted that she allowed me to guest post on her blog. Thankyou Carol!

My parents, as opposed to qya and me, do not approve of eating out regularly. I usually have to beg and plead with them to go out, and qya's excited musings about various menu options at restaurants always help. It was no different when I proposed that we celebrate their wedding anniversary at the Aromas Of China. They said no, I said don't be boring, qya was happy they offered marshmallows. Finally the marshmallows won out, and we were on our way!

The restaurant has elegant interiors. The tables and chairs are in rich dark wood, beautiful paintings depicting scenes from a Chinese banquet adorn an entire wall, and large Buddha statues grace the dining rooms. The warm ambiance makes it a great place for celebratory meals, I thought rather smugly. There are also glass enclosed private dining rooms, but they looked slightly intimidating and are probably reserved for the Chinese mafia heads.

We decided to try the buffet. We started off with chicken soup which was a bit too thick and none of us felt inclined to finish our bowls. Next, came chicken momos, crispy fish with chilly soya and spicy fried chicken winglets. True to its name, the fish was quite crispy and with subtle chili, garlic and soya flavours, it was really good. I liked the chicken as well though it was not particularly better than the chicken lollipops I have eaten at other chinese restaurants. Momos, no thanks to seconds.

Chicken Soup
Chicken Momo
Crispy Fish with Chilly Soya


Post a chicken and broccoli salad tossed up at the live salad counter, we moved on to the main course. For the first time ever, I preferred the simple fried rice to the slightly (ever so slightly) oily Chicken Hakka noodles. The wok tossed prawn dish was good and the lamb with dry pepper and cashew even better. The chicken satay was the best I have ever had and it more than made up for the bad Shredded Chicken in Spicy Mustard. Vegetarians can choose from a wide array of dishes serving corn, roasted chinese greens, okra, potatoes, tofu  etc. I thought the reddish szechuan noodles looked particularly  good but the knowledge that it lacked tiny morsels of tender chicken stopped me from sampling it.

Chicken Satay

Finally, we came to the most awaited part of the meal - the desserts. Even though I was almost bursting to the seams, I was able to fully appreciate the sweet delicacies which are quite unlike the desserts normally served at buffet meals. My favourites were the fruit pavlova and the chocolate fondue, while qya seemed to like the chocolate cream catalan and my mom preferred the darshan. I did miss the chocolate fudge and chocolate pancakes I ate on my previous visits, but all in all I could find no fault with the desserts.

For the chocolate fondue

Fruit Pavlova

The service was good, the staff was friendly and they even answered ALL of qya's queries patiently.
The buffet is priced at Rs.325 on weekdays, Rs.349 on Fridays and Rs.399 on Saturdays and Sundays (prices are exclusive of taxes). At the price, I do wish the buffet included a welcome drink and that bottled water was on the house. But, I must say I loved the food experience I had here and would love to visit the place again.

Inspired by the Chinese food I had, I attempted a Chili Soya fish at home.

Here is the recipe:

You will need:

500 grams firm fleshed fish, cut into thin strips (without bones)
2 tablespoons chili soya sauce
2 green chilies
6 cloves garlic
1 cm piece ginger
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 1/2 teaspoon pepper powder
To fry, sesame oil

5 spring onions (the white bulbs)
1/8 cup spring onion greens, chopped
3 green chilies, finely chopped
1 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili soya sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup fish stock (see notes below)
2 tablespoons sesame oil


To prepare the marinade, grind together green chilies, ginger and garlic. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade along with the fish and let it rest in the fridge for atleast half an hour.

In a pan, heat the sesame oil. Add the fish strips to the oil, and fry. Turn over only when the side immersed in oil is almost done, else the cornflour coating may stick to the pan. Like wise, fry the other side of the fish strip also. Remove from oil and keep aside.

To make sauce, transfer oil from the pan to a heat resistant container and wipe it clean. Add some more oil to the pan. Toss in spring onion whites, ginger, garlic, green chilies and sugar and saute for a few minutes. When onions start to caramelize, pour in fish stock and soya sauce. Let it boil for a few minutes till the sauce becomes thick. Add the fried fish and spoon over the sauce so that it is well coated. Sprinkle over spring onions greens and heat for a few more minutes. Serve hot.


I didn't add salt to the dish since chili soya sauce already has salt in it. Adjust according to your taste.

You can make fish stock by sauteing together fish bones, carrot, onion, celery and spring onions in a bit of butter, then tossing in a star anise, cinnamon and pepper corns and simmering in plenty of water for about 30-45 minutes. Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice and adjust seasoning. Strain before using.