Before I entered the blogosphere, I used to dine out for various reasons – sometimes I lacked the motivation to cook, at other times it was to catch up with a friend, and mainly, for the pure joy of trying something new. But then as ThatGoanGirl grew and restaurant invites started pouring in, my desire to eat out for these reasons started to diminish. Why look for an interesting place when I have 3 lined up?

And one Sunday, I decided to do just that – dine somewhere I hadn’t been before without having being invited, with the sole purpose of doing a full-fledged post about it. (Not mini guides like the one I did for eateries in Lower Parel.) I’m not sure what I was looking for, but Candy and Green popped up and after quickly browsing through the pictures, I hopped on a train and in 2 hours, I was being shown a table. Yes, I traveled 2 hours for food, haha.

candy and green

AMBIANCE

The rooftop was closed, and with the Mumbai heat at an all time high, I wouldn’t have opted for it, even if it wasn’t. Inside the high-roofed dining area, tall, glass stained windows allowed sunlight to pour in, and brightly coloured chairs added to the cheerful and welcoming feels. I absolutely adored the marble table tops with gold accents for a touch of stylish modernity. And the patch of green behind the bar for a nice summery touch made the place look so tropical! It’s a mix of a lot of things, really, but boy, do they work in harmony!

candy and green review

SERVICE

The restaurant was at 50% capacity and the staff was attendant and articulate. They suggested popular sellers, refilled water glasses before they went dry and explained the offers on wine in length. Most importantly, the food came out quickly!

candy and green interiors

FOOD

Candy and Green is all about eating healthy and eating well. What sets them apart is that not only is their menu completely devoid of meat and eggs, a fact I found out after I went there, but the restaurant grows its own herbs and vegetables and uses them across cuisines – Continental, Italian and Asian. As a non-veggie and someone who leans towards the unhealthy items on menus, I was blown away at how every dish was healthier than the next, yet, so colourful and presented with finesse. They even have Jain edits of a variety of items.

Hearty soups, guilt-free salads, cold pressed juices, cheese boards and flatbreads feature on the menu alongside a long enough list of ‘small plates’ and ‘sharing plates,’ teas and coffees. They have a generous offering of wines and spirits too!

Items like dosa waffles, spicy mango mousse crostini, kale chip chaat and satay paneer skewers sounded like interesting starters. So did mains like cottage cheese steak, chickpea and feta cutlets, tie dye nachos and ‘black is back.’ But here are my picks from that Sunday brunch.

Activated Charcoal Lemonade – Activated charcoal is a big deal nowadays. Should I be embarrassed for not trying it until now? My ink black slushie was the perfect antidote for a hot day. Delicious, not too sweet thanks to the activated charcoal and it didn’t dilute until the very end. Just PERFECT for a summer day – you’ll love it!

Zucchini Parcels – Bland zucchini ribbons were delicately wrapped around ricotta cheese, little pieces of apricot and toasted nuts on a bed of chilli aioli for gentle spice. The little crunch of zucchini married well with creamy cheese and those little bursts of sweetness from the apricots were a delight! If you’re sharing the plate and have only a couple to yourself, you’ll literally feel yourself craving more.

zucchini parcels candy and green

Spaghetti in Marinara with Vegan Meatballs– Tofu and mushroom meatballs emboldened by a rich marinara sauce with a generous portion of thick noodles. Protein rich, so filling and the texture of those meatballs was almost like chicken! This came to my table right at the very end, and though I was stuffed already, it was too good to waste. This is the yummy reason I skipped dessert. On a side note, how good do those plates make everything look!!spaghetti and meatballs candy and green

Smoked Sweet Potato Burger – A healthy diner like this one has to have avocado toast on the menu. OBVIOUSLY! But among the interesting sandwiches (like the lotus root slider), the sweet potato burger caught my eye. A patty made of sweet potato in a bun was surprisingly not as dense as I would have thought, but thankfully, it was a small burger so it wasn’t too tedious to finish. Charred onions, jalapenos, feta yogurt and homemade chipotle sauce added enough interest to break the monotony.

sweet potato burger candy and green

Truffle Mushroom Flatbread – Think about the earthy flavour of juicy mushrooms combined with the umami richness and intoxicating aroma of truffle oil. Add the nutty, smoky flavour of gouda cheese and voila! The rustic truffle mushroom flatbread with a nice crispy-soft base. It’s not exactly ‘clean and green’ eating, but if you’re a little indulgent like I am, you will enjoy it!

mushroom truffle flatbread candy and green

The fact that their all-vegetarian menu doesn’t have an overdose of paneer itself is as praiseworthy as their fun-meets-fit menu. So vegetarians, the next time someone tells you that vegetarian dishes can’t be as good as meaty ones, take my advice, and send them to Candy and Green, you may just convert them!

COST – Rs. 1600 for two people

Address –  Hubtown Skybay, Bhulabhai Desai Marg, Breach Candy, Cumballa Hill, Mumbai

Check out some previous restaurant reviews – The Black Sheep Bistro in Goa and Poush in Mumbai

Till next time!

The fascination that the city has with microbreweries doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. Kaitlyn’s Beer Garden is a comparatively newer one, however, a lot of things set it apart from the handful of microbreweries in Mumbai. For one, it’s location on a prime stretch of Bandra real estate – Hill Road, and two, its ambiance.

AMBIANCE

Until I did some research prior to visiting it, I was under the impression that the restaurant is ACTUALLY in a garden. But no, it’s on the second floor and a tiny lift at the side of the building will take you there. The tables are large, and wooden chairs, well cushioned, but what makes the place stand out among the sea of pubs in Bandra are the eerie looking artificial tree barks placed throughout the restaurant. At night, the trees light up, giving the place an outdoorsy feel, but during the day, the leaves add a little greenery, balancing out the dark furniture and floor. The naked grey cement walls look humble and a lot could be done to them to enhance the space.

kaitlyns beer garden bandra

Pick a table near the French window and watch the rickshaws move like black and yellow beetles on the road below. I did, as always, with the intention of good lighting for my pictures.

SERVICE

The welcoming staff are quite attentive and prompt, and they spared a lot of time at the table due to the fact that the restaurant was empty, save for one other table, that weekday afternoon. Apart from the dessert, the other dishes they recommended were decent.

FOOD

The menu is huge (literally) and opens up to the length of a newspaper, however, the options verge on being limited. While the nibbles are pretty good, there’s nothing too dazzling about the mains. What patrons go here for are the drinks – a large selection of bottled beers, classic and signature cocktails, innovative beer cocktails, malts, whiskeys, vodkas and more. It’s clear that this place is all about the beer, so ordering a few of their crafted brews should be on the agenda. People rave about the Belgian Wit, so give it a try and move on the Kolsch, the Midwestern Pale Ale, the Stout and the Saison.

Here’s what I tried:

Butterfly Pea Beer And Black Pearl – To be honest, we ordered the Butterfly Pea Beer because we was told by the staff that it changes colour. And it certainly did – rapidly, from blue to pink, on addition of lime juice. Pretty neat! This complex beer based cocktail was made using Bira Blonde and butterfly pea. Black Pearl, on the other hand was a concoction of Jack Daniels, sweet and sour, diablo and chocolate sauce. I don’t drink, as you know, and so, my +1 for the day did. His verdict? It was TOO chocolate-y at the bottom but until then, it was just “okay.”

Spinach and Burnt Garlic Fritters with Chilli Honey Drizzle – A generous portion of bite sized, sticky, spicy fritters was served (what you see in the image is half of the actual quantity). Just the right amount of heat, and a unique, rustic texture with a hearty flavour. Makes for some great ‘chakna’ with beer.

spinach and burnt garlic fritters kaitlyns beer garden

Beer battered prawns with wasabi mayonnaise – Fantastic! An irresistibly-crispy batter coated the prawns, and the pungent wasabi mayo – drizzled with a sweet tomato-mayo gave it a nice kick. Loved how light and non-greasy the batter was over the delicate, perfectly cooked prawns. Biting into it was blissful and we loved the wasabi mayo so much that we dipped everything in it. I’d definitely recommend this.

beer battered prawns kaitlyns beer garden

Charmoula Chicken – Chunks of chicken marinated in a flavorful coriander-yogurt paste, still steaming hot from the tandoor came to the table still tender and juicy. A decent starter if you don’t want to binge on deep fried or cheesy mains, and if full-flavoured fare is more up your alley, you’d enjoy this. The presentation of the food, in fact, of all the starters, on long black dishes added to the visual appeal.

Sloppy Chicken Burger – Comprising of a chicken patty, cheddar cheese, fried onions and an omelette, this one was just like your average cookie-cutter burger, and I felt a lot more could be done to make it a winner. Perhaps some more ingredients such as BBQ sauce or bacon would make it more appealing. Thumbs up to the fries!

loppy burger kaitlyns beer garden

Our Famous Black Pepper Chicken – I always gravitate to dishes that restaurants claim are their speciality, because I’d assume they are ordered frequently, and therefore, perfected. But if this was the level of perfection, then it just about hits the ‘average’ mark. This continental dish featured two chicken fillets, mildly spiced, with a peppery sauce, which had the texture of the Indo-Chinese chicken Manchurian gravy. Again, here the potatoes (mash) was the dish’s saving grace, with its smooth texture and subtle seasoning.

pepper chicken kaitlyns beer garden

Triple Chocolate Explosion – Double disappointment, because not only does the dessert section of the menu have ONLY two items (who wants the ice cream sundae, anyway?), but this dessert had an identity crisis of some sort. Weirdly crumbly cake that wasn’t rich or indulgent had cocktail fruit chunks inside which made it even more confusing. Three scoops of vanilla ice cream at the crown, drizzled over with chocolate sauce, and two wafers sticking out on top, doesn’t really need a genius to put it together. I’m surprised that despite the dissatisfaction expressed over this dessert by innumerable patrons on review platforms, no attempt has been made to change it or remove it from the menu.

My advice? Go for the drinks and starters. It is an affordable watering hole to hang out at with a pleasant ambiance and music, meaning Mumbai can definitely quench its insatiable thirst for microbreweries here. The ones at Andheri are getting a bit too ho-hum (and way to crowded.)

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1800 with alcohol

Address –  Khan House, Hill Road, Above McDonald’s, Bandra West, Mumbai.

I have one more place to tell you about, before I move to the Pondicherry travelogues you guys are waiting for! Stay hooked, and catch me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram until then!

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own.

Being one of Mumbai’s corporate hubs, Lower Parel has a mind-boggling amount of restaurants to feed tens of thousands of hungry employees in its many sky rises. Tiny udupi joints, swanky pubs, chain outlets and even restaurants by celeb chefs like Jamie Oliver and Sarah Todd – you’ll find all kinds of restaurants in Lower Parel. Being located conveniently, between SoBo and Bandra, it is a meet-up spot for those in the suburbs and in town.

One would need a lot of time and moolah to properly experience the food in Lower Parel, however, here’s my humble attempt to list down the places I’ve tried.

PRONTO, Kamala Mills Compound

A relaxed, unfussy little place you can head to when you want some good, old-fashioned  pizza! Apart from Lower Parel, they are also located in Bandra and Churchgate. The menu has Italian inspired items- salads, soups and starters, sandwiches, pastas and pizzas along with mains like Pollo Arasto, pan seared kingfish and red thai curry. I tried the BBQ chicken pizza and added corn. (Fact – I don’t like pizza without corn.) Overall, good portions, tasty, value-for money and a quiet, hang-out spot when you don’t want to head to a mall or a CCD.

pronto-pizza

212 ALL GOOD, Phoenix Mall

Homegrown, organic, pesticide free… 212 All Good is an intriguing cafe that encompasses the essence of healthy eating because, well dieting is passe! The restaurant promotes healthy eating, but they aren’t talking about Chia seed pudding and acai bowls here. I tried the Himalayan Trout with pea mash and sweet potato – subtly seasoned and excellent. I also sampled the lean tenderloin chilli corn carne came with bread that was weirdly crumbly. And the dessert, bread pudding with coconut milk, wasn’t overly sweet so no pangs of guilt! Win! Everything, including their mayo and ketchup is made in house. Do try their version of cola which is caffeine free, made with palm jaggery, sugar caramel and herbs.

212-all-good

FRANCESCO’S PIZZERIA, Phoenix Mall

After eating at Francesco’s Pizzeria, every other pizza I’ve had has failed in comparison. This tiny little white-washed Italian restaurant at Palladium is QUALITY ALL-THE-WAY! The length of their menu will have you agonizing over what to order, but take my advice and choose the Pollo Bianca and Piri Piri Chicken, the best I’ve tried on the menu so far. Their Nutella Cheescake is fantastic, too! You won’t want to share!

francescos pizzeria

PUNJAB GRILL, Palladium Mall

Order anything here, you won’t regret it! Visit Punjab Grill for top-notch ambience, service and an extraordinary meal. I visited to try out their special winter heirloom menu and was blown away by their Murgh Dalcha Tikka and Tamarind Tandoori Chicken wings. The starters and tikka itself make for a filling meal, but don’t miss out on the biryani and curries. Punjab Grill is a foodie’s delight!

heirloom-menu-punjab-grill-1440x1080

THE ROLLING PIN, Opposite Phoenix Mall

A patisserie and restaurant serving ‘eggless-vegetarian’ fare, you can’t miss TRP’s bright glass façade when you turn in towards Phoenix Mall. The pastry section is definitely the highlight, showcasing whimsical-looking, indulgent pastries. However, if you just came for dessert and not a meal, you will have to stand by the glass cases and eat it, or pay extra to actually sit in the restaurant. Diners can head to the next section, besides the open kitchen for a variety of English breakfast items, Continental fare, pizza, etc – a few hits and misses, here and there. My go-to dish is the panko crusted mushroom stuffed with cheddar cheese. How good does it look!

rolling pin lower parel

BOMBAY CANTEEN, Kamala Mills

Tacos made of theplas, multi grain khichdi, dhokla chaat, red snapper ceviche, rum-infused gulab jamun… everything at the Bombay Canteen is distinctly Bombay-ish, with a cool firang (foreign) twist. The Bombay Canteen is renowned for using local (and often ignored) ingredients, celebrating regional cuisine and richness of palates with the utmost finesse. The ambience is different – a multitude of floral tiles, stained glass accents and brick walls. Even the little details here are nostalgia –inducing, right from the Kismi toffees at the entrance and the menu that looks like those old registers that teachers used to use.  I’ve tried so many dishes here and loved them all – so if you’re in Mumbai and can only eat ONE meal in the city, this is where it should be at.

bombay canteen lower parel

SHEESHA SKY LOUNGE, Raghuvanshi Mills Compound

I first went to Sheesha Sky Lounge when it was barely a month old, on a week night, and with over 40 tables, it still had a waiting list. Here’s all about my wonderful experience at Sheesha Sky Lounge , one that is bookmarked in my memory for the best Nalli Nihari I’ve ever had! The prices at most rooftop restaurants in Lower Parel are hiiiiiigh, so if you’re looking for an affordable one serving delicious Indian food with a side of hookah, here it is.

sheesha sky lounge

ELEMENTARIA BAKERY CAFÉ, Opposite Phoenix Mall

One of Mumbai’s finest dessert bars, this is a café in Lower Parel you could go to satisfy serious sweet cravings. I loved the red velvet tub cake, although I felt it was priced far higher than necessary. The snacks are limited, ranging from savoury croissants and quiche to puffs. If you plan a visit, indulge in their cupcakes, waffles, chimney cakes and ‘cutting desserts.’ When I went last week (Feb 2018), the place was uncomfortably hot, so I hope they fix their air-conditioning issues.

elementaria cafe lower parel

That’s all for now! I’ll keep updating the list as and when new places open (and shut). Until then, check out my #TGGFinds – Restaurant Guide to Vasai!

Let me know if you enjoyed this post! Bye!

Bombay Bronx encapsulates the spirit of Bombay, its flavour and its quirks. This fun, ultra-modern yet rustic resto-bar is a series of contrasts, just like Amchi Mumbai is. Located in the posh neighbourhood of Breach Candy, I first set foot in it a couple of years ago for a friend’s birthday party. I remember it being SO crowded, and we stood at the bar, screaming to each other over blaring music.

The food then didn’t really lure me enough to travel all the way to SoBo again. But when I did visit last week, I was pleasantly surprised. The place looked brighter, more colourful and with even more ingenious twists, post a renovation that was completed a couple of months ago.

AMBIENCE

Whatever you associate with Mumbai, you’re bound to find here, in a quirkier avatar. It’s so clichéd, in a great way and as they say of Mumbai, you’ll either love it (the attention to detail) or hate it (the over-the-top elements.)

The half-rickshaw that greeted diners at at the entrance was gone and a half vintage-looking car took its place as a photo booth for selfie-addicts. The Mumbai Local train compartment with hanging train handles was done away with as well, making the place look much more spacious. Instead, a wall to wall caricature of the train compartment, with various characters you find in the Mumbai local, featured on the wall.

bombay bronx amitabh Speaking of walls, the larger-than-life painting of Amitabh Bachchan wearing bright, yellow pants and a blue shirt, striking the ‘angry young man’ pose still remains one of the best attractions, and next to it, a new lego character was splashed on the wall. You can’t miss the new addition to the space – the dazzling set-up done along the entire width of the bar – a collage of flashing yellow vehicle headlights and red brake lights added a lot of glimmer to the filmy space, while reminding you that you’re never too far from Mumbai’s traffic-choked streets.

The music? Upbeat and current Bollywood + Bilboard hits to add to the ‘hatke’ vibe.

SERVICE

When I arrived at 8 pm, there was only one table occupied so the staff was just a gesture away. Dishes came to the table one after the other, faster than I could click pictures of them, and it stayed that way even when the restaurant started filling up! The staff could do with a better briefing on the menu – ours seemed like he had 50/50 knowledge of it.

bombay bronx ambience

FOOD

TBB 2.0 has fun new additions on the menu and while many items are twists on classic Mumbai finger food to tease your taste buds, there are some divine finds that I would definitely go back for! Whatever I sampled was so picture-worthy! In terms of drinks, they have quite a number of Indian spirits along with beer and wine cocktails, twisted classics and alcoholic iced teas. For teetotallers like me, a decent amount of mocktails, smoothies and shakes featured too. I tried ‘Simply Magic,’ which was a refreshing strawberry-peach lemonade, but for those who want to go the true-Mumbaikar route, the Imli (tamarind) soda as well as the cucumber-raw mango fizz would be interesting choices.

Let’s show you the food:

OVEN BAKED CORN, CHEESE AND SPINACH SAMOSAS – Big, chunky, soggy samosas are such a put-off so I was glad these were small, deliciously crispy, well stuffed and simply irresistible! The menu said that tamarind chutney would accompany it, but sadly, it didn’t. A pity, since it would have been even more ah-mazing with it!

bombay bronx breach candy

THE BOMBAY BRONX CHILLI CHEESE TOAST WITH MASALA FRIES – Mumbai’s cheese chilli toast isn’t just a toasted slice of bread with cheese! It’s much more elaborate treat to be savoured at any time of day. TBB totally nailed this one. Laden with melted cheese, tiny pieces of bell peppers, onions and chilly, it came with a side of crispy masala fries for those who want a little extra heat.

cheese chilli toast bombay bronx

BOMBAY ISHTYLE CHILLI CHICKEN – Semi-dry chilli chicken pairs well with a mug of beer! This Indo-Chinese street food item thankfully didn’t have any funky twist to it, because it’s already perfect the way it is. Boneless, bite sized pieces of chicken in a soya-ketchup-garlic marinade was tossed with a decent amount of sautéed onions and capsicum that doesn’t let you complain about all-veggies-no-meat. You cant go wrong when you order this crowd-pleaser at TBB!

bombay bronx chilli chicken

CHICKEN MALAI KEBAB – My favourite type of kebab, and one I tend to order whenever I see it on the menu! The malai kebabs here didn’t disappoint. Mild, fragrant and irresistibly tender, I could taste the cream and cheese in every bite. The chicken was ultra-soft and came apart at the slightest insistence. Yum!

malai kebab bombay bronx

TRUFFLE AND PARMESAN CHEESE PASTA – I’m not sure what prompted me to step away from the Bomaiya fare and order pasta, but it was undoubtedly the highlight of my meal. Truffles always add that intoxicating scent and flavour that is simply indescribable. The luscious, earthy and umami-packed flavour in every cheesy bite just did it for me! Highly recommended.

that goan girl bombay bronx

BRONX PAV SLIDERS – The quintessential vada pao has several avatars and appear under the Bronx Pav Slider section of the menu. I sampled the rajma ki galouti (mashed kidney bean) slider with fried onions, roasted garlic, chilli pickle and cream cheese glaze. The addition of salty-sweet cheese is an ingenious touch and it keeps drawing you in to take another bite, however the dish could do with a little fine tuning.

bombay bronx slider

All in all, the Bombay Bronx 2.0 still remains an innovative addition to SoBo’s nightlife scene. Try and get there early to grab a table because as the night progresses, lights dim and DJ-wala-babu turns up the volume, you’ll find the place filling up in no time.

Check out my reviews of other hot places in Mumbai – Pa Pa Ya, The Daily Bar and Kitchen, and Sheesha Sky Lounge, if you haven’t already!

…. also, let’s hang out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Until next time!


Cost for 2 – Rs. 1600/- with alcohol

Address – 10, Hub Town, Akriti Sky Bay, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Breach Candy, Mumbai

Ever since I got invited to review Poush, a restaurant serving Kashmiri food and Just Kerala, a south Indian one, I’ve had the song ‘Kashmir Tu Mein Kanyakumari’ stuck in my head. And apart from that one line, I don’t know the words to that song at all. Anyway!

There’s no denying that Mumbai is a mixed bag of cultures, traditions and religions. Naturally, restaurants serving authentic regional cuisine have to find space among new-age fusion restaurants to give people a taste of home, and give foodies a taste of what the country has to offer. Poush is one such place.

AMBIENCE

poush kurla

Comfortably located on the topmost floor of Phoenix Marketcity, Kurla, Poush is anything but inconspiculous. Through its arched wooden windows and intricate patterned curtains, you’ll notice that the interiors aren’t what you’d find in an ordinary restaurant. In fact, it has been designed to resemble a traditional, opulent shikara – or houseboat – on the Dal Lake in Kashmir.

poush mumbai

Both sides of the restauant feature ‘cubicles’ with drawn curtains wherein a thin matteress on which to sit cross legged on either sides of a low table are placed. The center of the restaurant has conventional tables and chairs. I picked the former seating arrangement and stretched my legs out under the table that seemed almost too big for two, but too small for four.

Instrumental sitar and tabla music played on in the background and our tummies began to rumble for a taste of Kashmir’s delectable cuisine.

SERVICE

The staff was quick to attend to patrons and suggest the specials among the vast dozen paged menu. The food came out surprisingly quickly for such lavishly cooked dishes. I couldn’t help but smile when, on requesting for the traditional Kashmiri Thaali comprising of 6-7 meaty dishes, the waiter raised his eyebrows, looked at me and said “madam, zyada padega aapke liye,” (that would be too much food for you). Can’t blame him or his good intentions – he doesn’t know who he’s dealing with 🙂

FOOD

I always read zomato reviews AFTER I visit a restaurant, so that the opinions of others don’t cloud my own judgement. I go without any preconcieved notions and apart from knowing what the menu is like, I don’t read what others have to say. So I was honestly surprised when I came home and read one negative review after another about Poush. My experience was by and large quite positive!

Alphonse and Love Story –  I wasn’t a fan of Alphonse which was made of mango juice, khus and cream. Since it was a mango-based drink, I thought it would be, well, mango-coloured and not green! True, it isn’t the season for fresh mango, but the overly-sweet, artificial taste of the juice was not just lingering, but strong. Love Story, on the other hand was great! I loved the tart pineapple, sweet mango and delicious flavour and scent of rose!

poush kashmiri restaurant

Poush Special Kebab – Rajma Masala is the quintessential comfort food for North Indians and a few of us in the south, too. I skipped the regular meaty kebabs and tried this vegetarian one simply because the name said it was a Poush special. It was a great start to the meal – crispy edges, soft inside and the taste of sauteed onions and herbs was present in every bite! Different from the creamy, satisfying rajma I’m used to.

poush special kebab

Kokur Seekh Kanti – Boneless chicken in a smoky tomato gravy is always bound to be a crowd pleaser. What would have made it much better was if the chicken wasn’t as hard and chewy as it was. I felt the presentation could have used a little work, too.

kokur seekh kanti poush mumbai

Trami – I had a fabulous introduction to Kashmiri cuisine through the Wazwan, a multi course feast prepared during Kashmiri weddings and served on a copper thali called a Trami. To call it a meal would be an understatement, it is nothing short of a meaty celebration. The ‘half-trami’ comprises of 5 starters and 5 main dishes that serve 2.

I was a little surprised on seeing 5 starter pieces served around a heap of rice. Nadier Palak Tikki was fenugreek cutlet of sorts, sort of like a dal wada or a dry cutlet. It was similar to a dal wada in looks and texture but the strong herbal taste of fenugreek was the prime differentiation.

trami wazwan poush mumbai

Fried chicken was yet another starter – it looked red hot but was mild in taste and, unlike the kokur seekh kanti, quite succulent. Next up, seekh kebab – melt-in-the-mouth minced mutton marinated and grilled on skewers over coal, keeping the delicate crunch of onions in the meat for texture.

The most interesting starter was the kabargah, which I learnt were ribs of a young lamb cooked in a special blend of milk and spices and then fried. It comes absolutely bone-dry and tastes as if it had been dried in the sun for days. I really got down and dirty eating this Kashmiri delicacy, with its crispy edges and sinewy meat that took quite a lot of effort to get off the bone. The best way to eat this is without any inhibitions!

Lastly, we sampled methi maaz which stood out for being the only gravy starter. This aromatic, spicy curry had tiny fatty chunks of mutton and generous amounts of fenugreek. The rice helped balance out the fiery spices here, but made us so full that we didn’t anticipate how to tackle the 5 mains.

that goan girl poush

Among the 5 main dishes I mopped up with tandoori roti, I loved the hearty Rogan Josh best! This signature bright red lamb dish had robust flavours and the softest meat soaked in rich, flavour-packed gravy. Goshtaba was another first for me. It was a dish of tough, tightly formed mutton balls cooked in a mildly tempered curd gravy. A tasty bowl of rajma was the only familiar dish I knew of. Nadier Palak added a whole new taste profile thanks to the lotus stem-spinach gravy and broke up the meat and spice overload. Lastly, Ruwangan Kokur also featured which was a chicken dish cooked in a tomato gravy with ample seasoning with kashmiri chillies.

trami kashmiri food

When we were too stuffed to breathe, the waiter bought out an elaborate spouted copper teapot with water and a vessel called a Tash Naer to wash our hands in and finally, dessert comprised of a simple Phirni in a clay dish.

phirni poush mumbai

No Kashmiri meal is complete without Kahwa, a strong, fragrant, absolutely delicious green tea. While I’m not a fan of green tea, the taste of cardamom, nuts, saffron and apples really cleansed my palate and was soul-warming to say the least. Loved every drop of it!

kahwa poush mumbai

That comes to the end of my elaborate, scrumptious meal at Poush in Kurla. If you’re based in the Western Suburbs or SoBo, it may seem like a tremendous task to travel all the way to Kurla, but for die-hard food lovers, it is worth the trip! Poush also delivers all across Mumbai within 1-4 hours, depending on where you’re based.

Address: S-25, Floor 2, Phoenix Market City, LBS Road, Kurla, Mumbai

Cost for 2 – Rs. 2000/-

Hope you enjoyed reading this! I’ll keep you posted on my latest food discoveries on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too!

Note – I was invited to review Poush, and my meal was sponsored. However, views, as always, are my own.

What’s not to love about the southern state of Kerala? Perhaps India’s prettiest state, it’s tranquil backwaters, endless coconut groves, green-face-painted Kathakali dancers and seafood define the region.

In Chakala (Andheri), a restaurant with an unassuming appearance attempts to bring the flavours of Kerala into Amchi Mumbai. ‘Just Kerala’ is located close to the Bisleri Factory, inside Hotel Samraj and serves delectable, vibrant south Indian fare.

AMBIENCE
just kerala restaurant

While it doesn’t appear so at first glance, the hotel has valet parking with cordial staff out front. Once in the lobby, make your way to the restaurant on the 2nd floor. On entering, you’ll find that the restrained white décor is refreshingly different. Floor to ceiling windows with strategically placed potted palms give the place an instant bright appeal. The décor is coherrent – having a large, polished bar with a textured white finish and matching white chairs, table runners and ivory sofas. A traditional lamp somewhere in the centre is the only stand-alone object you will find.

SERVICE

I was very impressed with the service at Just Kerala. The waiters were knowledgable, courteous and well spoken. They recited complicated dish names like Lobia Ulathiyathu and mezhukkupuratti with ease, as I struggled to get the spelling right on my notepad. Food, not only on my table, but also on tables surrounding mine came promptly and they were attentive to even guests sitting in the corners of the restaurant.

FOOD

For me, an unfamiliar menu is great fun as I love to figure out what’s what. This one was well written and while the names of the dishes are long and complicated, the descriptions are well written providing enough explanation yet leaving a little for guesswork. Also, it is worth mentioning that this is the only restaurant serving Kerala cuisine and possessing a liquor license.

Parippu Vada

There’s nothing sadder than soggy vadas! And this one set the tone absolutely right for the rest of the meal! Super crunchy on the outside and soft + tasty on the inside, they are made with a coarse paste of soaked chana dal, onions, ginger-garlic and spices! These once used to be my morning snack before work, since there used to be a seller just outside my office – and I could never resist that rustic texture and hearty flavour, especially on rainy days!

parippu vada just kerala

Surmai Fish Fry

Being Goan, fried fish is something that swims in my blood. Surmai, being a flavourful fish doesn’t need much added to it to make it a knock-out side-dish. While in Goa, we like it crumb fried, Just Kerala fried it after coating it with some awesome traditional spices and chillies, ginger-garlic and showered it with ground pepper. The red masala infused right through the fish and it was deliciously tangy and delicate!

surmai fish fry just kerala

Chicken Malabar Curry

The thing about the coastal area is that even though all communities use the same ingredients, the style of cooking and spices used give it a while new dimension. This vivacious spicy chicken curry was finger-licking good and had that typical South Indian flavour thanks to the addition of luscious coconut milk and complex spice mix. I enjoyed it with some traditional rice chapatis, called appams!

malabar chicken curry just kerala

Coconut chicken

This was my favourite of the lot. I love coconut in everything and the coconut here was so strong that I just couldn’t stop eating it! It was a semi dry dish packed with spices that were softened with the gentle touch of coconut. It was a little too oily for my liking, and if it wasn’t for that, the dish would have been heavenly!

coconut chicken just kerala

Long pieces of fresh coconut was amply added in with small chunks of chicken. The meat was so juicy and coconut flavour was so intense, it made me feel like I was on a tropical vacation to Kerala! And the best part is that it wasn’t sweet – like most coconut based dishes are – but had the powerful backing of ground spices. Don’t miss this addictive dish for sure!

Thali /Sadhya

You can’t go to a Kerala restaurant and not order a traditional thali served on a banana leaf! The amount of food on these always leaves me overwhelmed – but it’s more to do with the variety than than the quantity. Just Kerala is the only restaurant to serve Sadhya and it is interesting to note that they even deliver Sadhya to offices nearby for lunch – however, not with all 13-15 items – but with 5.

Just kerala chakala andheri

You can opt for an unlimited vegetarian Sadhya or go for the non-veg one, which is basically the same thing substituted with chicken or fish curry instead of veg curry. A jaw-dropping amount of Kerala boiled rice was served with Sambar Rasam, a watery, tangy-sour curry of sorts made using tamarind, tomato and pieces of drumsticks.

sadhya thali just kerala

A Sadhya isn’t complete without the quintessential Kerala classic, avial, or mixed vegetable seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. And apart from that, it also featured a veg dish made of suran (yams), Thoran (vegetable stir-fry), mezhukkupuratti (long beans), travancore chicken curry, a dish made of roasted black beans (lobia ulathiyathu), a delicious raw banana-curd side dish, ghee, banana chips, papad, pickle and buttermilk. A small bowl of vermicelli sevaiyan was served too. Like normal thalis, the items served differ everyday, however, the plethora of items, each with its own distinct taste, keeps it interesting.

To say this was filling would be an understatement. But Sadhya is an all-round healthy meal and although it leaves you stuffed at first, it gets digested pretty quickly and doesn’t leave you feeling sluggish.

Asda Payassam

The dessert menu comprised of a fair amount of Indian desserts such as Rasgulla and Gulab Jamun. In terms of authentic Kerala desserts, there were only Seviyan Payassam and Ada Payassam. I had already tried the former when it came as a part of the thali, so I ordered for the Ada Payassam – comprised of jaggery and flat rice in sweetened milk. I’m not a fan of jaggery so I wasn’t raving about this. I wish the menu had a bit more variety like maybe Unniyapam, Chatti Pathiri and Bonda.

asda payassam

Just Kerala so far hasn’t got the attention it deserves and except from the office-goes around it and the mallu community. If you’re wondering whether they serve the meat that must not be named, not exactly, but they do serve meat from other members of the bovine family.

Here’s where you can find them:

Address – Hotel Samraj, Chakala Road, Chakala, Mumbai

Cost for 2 – Rs. 900 for 2 (excluding drinks)

Get a true taste of God’s Own Country at Just Kerala and if you do happen to go, let me know what you think by dropping me a line on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Bye!

Note – I was invited to review Just Kerala, and my meal was sponsored. However, views, as always, are my own.

A great thing about living in Mumbai is the fact that you’re 600 kms away from Goa, which means you can get there in 10-11 hours, depending on how many stops you take. The bad news is that the horrendous state of roads in our country make driving as pleasant as getting a root canal.

MUMBAI TO GOA

Sukhjeet and I departed from Mumbai by road at around 5:30 am one rainy morning on our maiden roadtrip from Mumbai to Goa. Our goal was to take advantage of the open roads in our otherwise choc-a-bloc city traffic and get out of Mumbai by 7 am. We had the option of two routes:

NH 4 – This route takes you through Pune and Kolhapur

NH 66 – Formerly known as NH 17, this route takes you through Ratnagiri and the Western Ghats.

For our drive from Mumbai to Goa, we opted for the NH4 Route for 2-3 reasons. The roads are wide and straight, fit for fast driving. Until you reach the border of Goa, the highway has 3-4 lanes. They have proper dividers and lane markings, making it more comfortable for the driver.

And thirdly, but most importantly, this route allowed us to skip the winding roads of the Western Ghats. The Western Ghat roads are steep, narrow and at a high altitude with no barricades on the sides in most places. As it was our first drive and we weren’t a 100% confident we could tackle it, we decided not to risk it. However, most Volvo buses take this route.

road goa to mumbai

The downside of this route though, are the numerous toll booths you will come across, 1 in almost every 100 km stretch. You will need to shell out at least Rs. 500-600, but it is still better than other options, as you will see later in this post.

We zipped through the city while it was still dark and reached Lonavala just as the sun began to rise. At 7 am, we were already in Pune and made our first stop for a breakfast of pancakes and coffee at McDonalds, just off the highway. I always prefer stopping at McDonalds because the food is safe and restrooms, clean, both important aspects to consider on a road trip. We were thrilled at having covered so much distance in just two hours and hoped that this head start would see us in Goa by 5 pm.

roadtrip mumbai to goa

Once we crossed Pune, we clocked in our kms with no hassles whatsoever. The surroundings were scenic and there was very little traffic.  At one point, we saw the road in front of us gently slope upwards and on looking up, saw cars winding their way around a hill ahead. That did cause a little panic, but turns out, we shouldn’t have worried because on climbing that hill, the road sloped back down again and it wasn’t the dreaded ghats we feared.

We stuck to NH4 and zipped passed Satara, Kolhapur and finally, Belgaum at around 1 pm quite uneventfully. It was here that we took one wrong turn that caused us to drive nearly 2 hours more. While we should have taken a left and stayed on the Belgaum Highway, we saw a giant board saying ‘Welcome to Goa’ right in front of us. Naturally, we carried on straight and into that narrow, but very scenic lane. A couple of kms in, we saw a darling little restaurant with seating in the verandah and a lawn out in front and that was where we took our second stop for lunch.

An hour later, we got back into the car and carried on straight. The scenic beauty here was absolutely stunning and I definitely want to go back and explore. On following the road further, it led up, higher and higher until – you guessed it, GHATS!  Thankfully, it was a short stretch, but thick with fog and rain pouring down. We were caught between two trucks for over half an hour and didn’t dare overtake as there was no barricade and a sheer drop down.  On finally finding our way back at ground level, the road worsened and GPS led us through the most narrow pathways. Some stretches were mud-roads riddled with potholes. At 5 pm, we emerged on a decent road somewhere in Pernem but were so exhausted and disheartened that our incredible roadtrip turned into a disaster. Not to mention, Sukhjeet’s knees began to hurt terribly with the constant brake-clutch-accelerator pedal-pushing on these terrible roads. An hour later, we entered Mapusa and by 6:30, I was home.

The bottom line is: Blindly opt to drive on NH4 on a roadtrip from Mumbai to Goa  and carry on the Belgaum Highway until you find yourself at Panjim. It is quite a painless journey if done right. You will need two tanks of petrol for the entire journey (and there are ample fuel pumps to fill up). I won’t mention the cost of fuel because we all know how uncertain that is.

GOA TO MUMBAI

For the way back, I decided to try out Route 66. From my home in Saligao, I headed towards Pernem and further on towards Sawantwadi – Kudal – Kankavli – Rajapur – Ratnagiri. If you’ve travelled by train, you’ll probably realize that all these are Konkan Kanya train stops! It was a two-sided road, 4 lanes and beautiful scenery. There were minor slopes and the journey took me around 5 hours. It would have been shorter, but this time, I was on a motorcycle and the freqent rain spells made me seek shelter every now and again.

roadtrip goa to mumbai

I spent the evening at Ratnagiri and checked out the beautiful Mandvi Beach. I stayed at a very comfortable 3-star hotel, Sangam Residency, just minutes away from Ratnagiri Station (more on that in my next post)

We left Ratnagiri at 10 am the next morning and continued on NH66, passing through Hathkamba, Navadi, Dhamani, Khamathe, Chiplun and Khed. On craving some of my morning caffeine, we stopped for some fabulous coffee (about the best I’ve had on the road) at this little restaurant in Chiplun at around noon. Sadly, I don’t remember its name.

coffee road trip goa to mumbai

Lunch was above average as well, and I relished some dal, tandoori roti and bhindi fry (ladyfingers) at Hotel Annapurna in Poladpur. Both places had lovely views and were extremely hygienic. I was able to work for about half an hour on my laptop as network was strong. Sigh.. the life of a digital nomad!

hotel annapurna NH66

hotel annapurna poladpur

Until here, we were driving in the wilderness amongst hills and fields, but in about an hour, we passed through dozens of villages. These busy, narrow roads, traffic and pedestrians slowed us down to a great extent. While that was completely manageable for the next 3-4 hours, at around 7:30 pm, it all went downhill! The last 100 kms, the roads were nothing short of a nightmare. The road was unpaved, there were trucks crawling along by the dozen and the dust in the air was so thick, it was difficult to see 100 meters in front of us. In fact, we could taste the dust at the back of our mouths and the journey was nowhere near complete.

It is for this reason that I’d advise you to completely stay clear of this route. There were no toll booths whatsoever, which is probably why the roads are neglected and can’t even be compared to the roads in Rural India, let alone be fit enough to lead to the financial capital of the country. Entering Mumbai saw us amidst insane traffic and in order to dodge it, we took every in-road we could find. Our long, looong journey finally ended at 11:30 pm.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Got questions or comments, leave me a line below and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Bye!

How are you doing, guys?

After a quiet monsoon season of catching up on work and building my marketing agency, I’ve suddenly found myself drowning in blog posts. Just two months ago, things seemed to have stagnated and this blog, That Goan Girl, seemed to have plateaued. But post my trip home to Goa, where I reviewed at least half a dozen restaurants, I’m back in Mumbai and it’s literally raining collaborations and feature requests again. While my pickiness about who I feature here and talk to you about does filter a lot of brands/restaurants out, there are quite a few that are worth talking about.

Pa Pa Ya is one of them! Casual, yet fine-dining, luxurious, yet edgy, Zorawar Kalra’s restaurant has been on my radar for the longest time. His other restaurants, Masala Library and Farzi Cafe are both mighty impressive, and employ the concept of molecular gastronomy, of which, he is the master.

pa pa ya ambience

AMBIENCE

I’ve peeked in at Pa Pa Ya’s Lower Parel outlet as I’ve walked past on many occasions and boy, does it ooze glamour! My review was held at the Colaba outlet and it was just as chic! This dimly lit modern Asian bistro had touches of crimson and an ample amount of their hexagon motifs everywhere. While downstairs is much more spacious, especially with the high ceiling, it is not quite the case upstairs.

pa pa ya ambience colaba

SERVICE

The service was quick, the staff was knowledgeable, but for the life of me, I couldn’t understand a word my waiter said. He literally spoke so fast that after a couple of dishes arrived, whenever I saw him approach with something new, I kept the menu ready for him to simply point out what the dish was. Anyway, I can’t deny that the knowledge was all there, because whenever I asked him what seasoning was used, he would rattle off without any hesitation.

FOOD

What makes Zorawar Kalra’s many restaurants stand out is that for the longest time, he’s been redefining what it means to cook ‘authentic’ food. Not quite traditional, not quite modern, most of the food plays with flavors from other cultures, creating an entirely new take on cuisines that have long remained the same. His brilliant knowledge of molecular gastronomy and one look at the menu confirms that here too, it’s all about experimentation. Here’s what I tried from the long and confusing 16-page menu.

Crispy Lotus Root – We were first brought the Amuse Bouche – a basil compressed watermelon in lemongrass and chilly foam served on a seashell with some smoking dry ice below. It popped like a bubble bursting in my mouth and released all its delicious flavour, making way for the Lotus Root that was brought quickly after.

crispy lotus roots

Sticky, sweet, slightly caramelized and just a slight hint of spice! The crispy lotus root from Pa Pa Ya is so crispy, you can break it with a satisfying *snap*

I’m so addicted to crispy starters, and this one was no exception! It came with a cool, creamy avocado dip for balance.

Sushi Tree – Sushi lovers like myself have often wished that this Japanese staple would grow on trees, and at Pa Pa Ya, they do! Various types of colourful nigiri are placed on the branches of this wooden tree and at the base are pickled ginger and wasabi. Apart from the traditional tuna and salmon sushi with caviar on top, there were two interesting nigiri as well. I particularly liked the ‘carbon sushi with rice balls’ which are coloured jet black with squid ink and had rice-crispy-balls on top for crunch. Another great ‘fruit’ of the tree was spicy tuna roll with seaweed that had a 7 powdered-spice mix coated on the sides. Loved every bite!

sushi tree pa pa ya colaba

sushi tree pa pa ya

Lamb and Mandarin Bee Hun – This looked like a piece of art! Translucent steamed potato and rice wrappers stuffed with mandarin flavoured lamb was cooked to perfection. It was served with a tiny bit of black bean sauce which worked wonders in elevating the dish.

lamb mandarin bee hun

Kale and Pakchoy Gaozi – This may be a hit with the vegetarians, but I wasn’t a fan. The delicate mushroom parcels were served with a crispy-starchy potato shell. Presentation wise it was quite messy – random splotches of sauce on the plate with microgreens strewn around carelessly. The waiter suggested rolling the mushroom in the papad-like coverings and while that added texture, it was pretty strange, I must admit.

Beet Infused Dim Sum – A colourful twist to dimsum, Pa Pa Ya kept it natural with bright pink beet infused wrappers stuffed with sautéed leeks, chestnuts, celery and spring onions. It was served with yuzu soya foam on top as garnish and looked refreshingly different. The flavours here seemed very Indian and it could be the use of spices. It was good, but not wow. What saved it for me was that texture wise, silken wrappers paired with the crispy filling was interesting.

beet infused dimsum pa pa ya

Pla Samrot Gung – I looove sweet-and-sour flavour profiles so the Pla Samrot Gung was a hit in my books. You may find the flavour here overlapping with many of the dishes on the menu though. Plump tiger prawns were coated in piquant Thai sauce, served on a bed of pea sauce with a beautiful dehydrated slice of pineapple for garnish which was dry and chewy at the same time. Ah-mazing!

pla samrot gung pa pa ya

Pork Belly Skewers – Again, mildly sweet but oh, how buttery!! This is Pa Pa Ya’s version of Japanese Pork Belly Skewers and it is glazed with mirin and soy sauce. Chargrilled, slightly sticky and utterly melt-in-your-mouth good, this was simply irresistible. Check out the presentation!

pork skewers papaya

pork skewers pa pa ya

Wasabi Rice – Not something I’d ordinarily order, but I’ve had some good luck going with the staff’s suggestions and once again, this one was a win! Don’t let the name scare you away, this dish won’t set your nostrils aflame. The rice is slightly sticky, fragrant and with an ever-so-slight tinge of wasabi. The tiny diced bell peppers added colour and bite to it.

wasabi rice pa pa ya

Lamb Rendang Curry – Its hard picking a favourite dish here, but this one came out tops. To call the meat ‘tender’ would be an understatement – it literally fell off the bone at the slightest touch. That gravy, guys!! Mind blowing! Infused with strong spices with a dash of coconut cream, it was irresistible I didn’t like the lachha paratha it was served with, but then I like my rotis fully cooked – so it comes down to personal taste on that front. Definitely don’t leave Pa Pa Ya without digging into this one.

lamb rendang pa pa ya

Pad Thai Noodles – Unlike the other items that were either sweet-ish or rich, this one was quite basic in comparison. Tossed noodles with scrambled egg, peanuts and capsicum and slightly on the oily side.

pad thai noodles pa pa ya

Braised Sliced Chicken in Chilly Sauce – As I write this, around a fortnight after visiting Pa Pa Ya, nothing about this dish stands out. I’d definitely skip this on the next visit because there are stellar items on the menu and this one doesn’t quite match up.

chicken chilly sauce pa pa ya

Flaming Chocolate Ball – Pa Pa Ya’s signature dessert has very ordinary elements put together to form a whimsical creation. Scoops of ice cream inside a chocolate ball, some cookie crumble, nuts, whipped cream, orange liqueur, chunks of chocolate brownie and a bit of chocolate ganache. It is set ablaze with 15 mls of alcohol and the blue flames slowly reveal the ice cream within. Taste-wise it wasn’t Pa Pa Ya worthy, but it did add some theatre! The video of its sapphire blue flames are on my Instagram page.

flaming chocolate ball pa pa ya

At Pa Pa Ya, the food speaks, and how! It is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. The restaurant takes any notions you have of Asian Food and turns it around, giving you an experience you’ll never forget.

Address: Hotel Diplomat, Whitehouse Building, 24-26, B. K. Boman Behram Marg, Apollo, Bund, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001

Cost for 2: Rs. 3000/-

See you next time! Until then, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and check out my last posts on The Oak Barrel and Caravela Cafe

xoxo

P.S.- I was invited to review Pa Pa Ya, and my meal was sponsored. However, views, as always, are my own.

It’s easy for a tiny country to be lost among two giants, each with a rich and diverse culture and cuisine of their own. That’s Nepal for you. With India and China, two culinary greats by its side, Nepalese cuisine seems almost lost, forgotten. The cuisine itself isn’t one that fights for attention, but is mild and restrained, with simple flavours that wow the palate in a way that Indian and Chinese explosions of flavour cannot.

Nepalese cuisine made a quiet entrance into Mumbai’s competitive food industry just a few weeks ago, off the boisterous Link Road in Andheri. Mumbai’s first Nepali restaurant, called Yomari, is named after the traditional dessert of the land. Not only was it my first time trying the cuisine, but also, the first time I was the only blogger called to review it! Double win!

AMBIENCE

Yomari is a tiny 4-table restaurant in Andheri West, Mumbai and a few steps will take you from the main entrance to the kitchen. A tiled, covered patio in the front suggest that a couple of more tables will be added for outdoor seating. Inside, it is minimally decorated with Nepalese trinkets, a statue of an elephant and over the kitchen door, a wall to wall back-lit image of the Himalayas.

SERVICE

The restaurant being so new, there were no servers been hired yet. I’ll update this section on the service when I visit again.

yomari mumbai

FOOD

The menu features traditional Nepali staples such as Jhol (soups), Khaja Ghor (snacks), salads, ‘tummy full meals’ which comprise of various proteins over rice, Momos (of course!), Sadeko (munchies), Sekuwas and Chhoilas (Grilled/BBQ styled appetizers).

Soya Sadeko – For starters, I was served a traditional cold dish called sadeko with puffed rice, bamboo shoot pickle, and a glass full of some epic chaas! Unlike other soya items that are eaten with rice or roti, you just pop these soya chunks into your mouth. Right from this starter onwards, the food at Yomari kept me guessing what spices and techniques were at work!

soya sadeko yomari mumbai

Chicken Sadeko – While this chicken starter as well as the earlier soya one was novel, I liked this one slightly more than soya sadeko as it had more flavour and was so tempting! Chicken is shredded, tossed and further sautéed in spices and herbs to renew its rich flavour that appears almost like a salad. This was served with crunchy, beaten rice and tart radish pickle that I absolutely couldn’t get enough of!

chicken sadeko yomari mumbai

Shrimp Salad – Seafood in Nepal?? Hmm.. I’m not sure about that one, but I kid you not, these prawns were probably the best I’ve had in Mumbai, and they weren’t even ‘Goa-style’ spiced and fried like the way I usually like my prawns! Cooked to perfection and minimally spiced, the prawns were steamed and served with an assortment of spring veggies, sprinkled over with pepper and herbs and tossed in a delicious, zippy dressing. Bang on perfect!

shrimp salad yomari mumbai

Chicken Chop – I loved how light and delicious these starters were! They reminded me of the ones Mum makes at home, however the spices were much milder like Nepali food is supposed to be. These crumb fried minced chicken and mashed potato chops were served with a spicy chutney and salad and I could have easily eaten half a dozen.

chicken cutlets yomari mumbai

Chicken Momos – From high-end nibble restaurants to dingy bhattis, momos are ubiquitously popular everywhere, especially up north. Maybe I’ve eaten too many commercialized momos, but these seemed a tad too bland for my liking. Either way, the chilli dipping sauce gave it a boost.

chicken momos yomari mumbai

Mushroom and Cheese Momos – These were among the freshest mushroom momos I’ve eaten. They were sooo juicy and the chilli sauce paired well with them, too. Mushrooms being soggier than chicken, all the delicious flavour got infused in the translucent shells as well, making it even juicier!

mushroom cheese momos

Mutton Sekhwa – Sekhwa is a quintessential street food item which is sort of like satay or kebabs, but without the skewer. Like most of the dishes served, this one came with that scary-looking chilli on top, but it wasn’t spicy at all! What was intriguing was that it was neither saucy or dry, grilled or fried – the Sekhwa was just the right mix of everything with fragrant herbs and ground spices! I’ll even go out on a limb to say that kebab’s got nothing on the Sekhwa! It’s easy to see why this is a local favourite. It definitely was mine!

mutton sekuwa yomari mumbai

Mutton over Rice – Maybe I was just a little too stuffed at this point, but I felt that the flavours of the mutton sekhwa overlapped a lot with the mutton over rice. The meat, however, was much more tender as compared to the Sekhwa and the flavours were a lot milder. Served over steamed rice, this one is a meal in itself.

Yomari – Finally! I couldn’t wait to try these fish-shaped dessert dumplings after which the restaurant is named. Available with two filling choices – dried fruit and chocolate, it is prepared to worship the goddess of grain, Annapurna during the full moon after the harvest. I tried the dried fruit one which had a mix of coconut, jaggery, dried fruits and nuts served in a warm, thickened milk. This isn’t one of those indulgent desserts, and it’s mild sweetness didn’t send me on a guilt trip – so thumbs up!

yomari andheri

Food lovers who want to try something unconventional, yet traditional at the same time, round up your friends and head over to Yomari! It wont be long before you’ll have to wait for a table at this little gem of a place!

Meal for 2: Rs. 600

Address: Sterling CHS, Sundervan, Lokhandwala, Andheri West, Mumbai

Until next time!

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

I know I know…

Vasaiiiiiii…

How did I land up in this part of the world, you ask? Well, why not! If you’ve ever googled about restaurants in Vasai or cafes to visit in Vasai, you’ll find Google giving you a blank stare. So I decided to list down the options for those looking to grab a bite in this part of town. Apart from McDonalds, Dominos and Balaji, here’s where you can head:

Vasai East

East Side Café – Finding a proper sit-down gourmet restaurant in Vasai East is no easy task. Among the very few options available, this one is my personal favourite. This tiny restaurant has polished interiors and is a great place to grab a late night coffee (until 11 pm). The menu is limited but carefully curated and no dish you order will ever let you down. I tried the mocktails too and they were absolutely delicious. The drinks are crafted by the owner/manager himself, and with his background in the F&B industry, he takes it upon himself to make it perfectly!

Mad Over Fish – My joy at seeing a seafood restaurant in this part of town knew no bounds! Well, you know what they say about high expectations.. they always disappoint, just like Mad Over Fish did. The restaurant has a lovely, earthy ambiance but the food is pathetic and alcohol, highly priced. I ordered Goan prawn pulao – which, if you have eaten Goan food, know is nothing like this wet, gravy-topped, masala-rice dish in the image below. Goan fish curry, a dish supposed to be having a rich coconut base, had no coconut at all and the spice brought tears to my eyes. I’ve had better Koliwada prawns at the Koli festival in Juhu, cooked in an open stall. These prawns were hard, not too fresh, cooked in cheap oil and tasteless. You’ll have to fish for seafood dishes on the Mad Over Fish menu since they are pretty limited. If you do happen to go, I’d advise choosing off their Indo-Chinese menu – can’t go wrong with that!

mad over fish

Relish – Your go-to option when you’re home and don’t want to cook! Relish is your neighbourhood, no-frills-but-delicious food joint serving a mix of Indian food like butter chicken/kadhai paneer/dal makhni and naan, biryanis, pav bhaji and Indo-chinese staples like fried rice and Manchurian etc. Good food and value-for-money.

Hangout Cafe – From light bites like nachos and bruschetta to sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pizzas and pastas. Hangout Cafe is a fairly small eatery offering a wide variety of affordable continental fare. I only tried the Pizza which was decent for the price. It was loaded with toppings but I wish the base wasn’t so biscuit-like.

hangout vasai east

Vasai West

Pizzeria Fried Chicken (PFC) – Go here for the Twister Potato! Once you eat it, you’ll want to keep visiting the place every day, but it is a gamble since it is unavailable half the time! PFC is a small air conditioned restaurant with a huge, huuuge menu! Indo-chinese food, snacks, milkshakes and sandwiches feature on the menu. Skip the coffee – it’s terrible, but do try the bucket of chicken which has 10 pieces of super crispy pieces!

The Social Brew – “Eat here, or we’ll both starve” is the board that welcomes you as you enter The Social Brew. These folks really do have a sense of humour and besides serving up great food, they offer a good time too! Quirky seating options, a rack full of comics and books and the current playlist ensure you spend a decent amount of time at the restaurant. I happened to go there to satisfy a nacho craving and plan to go back to try the pizzas and pancakes!

Junkyard – While Junkyard is easy on the wallet, I wasn’t impressed by the food at all. The pasta sauce had a very glue-like texture, the pizzas were deep dish and hard, and their mocktails tasted worse than medicine. Definitely not going back until there’s a quality upgrade.

Papa’s Cafe – It’s hard to ignore Papa’s Cafe with their sunny yellow facade and glass windows through which you can see every table full, all the time! With a limited menu of flat bread, ciabatta, fries, pasta and dessert, everything here is in the range of 80-150, making it a popular hangout among college kids. The sriracha fried chicken ciabatta was exceptional and the piri piri fries were decent (although could have used some more sauce.) The desserts were a let down, with the red velvet item being served in a jar, looking like gloop and having chunks of chocolate inside, while the baked New York cheesecake had such a soggy base.

papas cafe vasai

papas cafe vasai

Frankie Corner – While the shawarma here is better than that at many other outlets, it can be a gamble going there. Sometimes, they run out of chicken at 8:30 PM, and at other times, they’re happily serving up roll after roll an hour later. You’ll find a lot of quick eats here such as the chicken cheese pav, chicken tikka and the like as well as cold coffee. The price is super reasonable and you won’t mind heading here for a quick evening snack.

frankie corner vasai west

Merwans – It takes every ounce of strength I have to not go into Merwans every time I pass by and to stuff myself silly with those delicious, flaky chicken patties! OMG, so good! Merwans is a cake shop that has numerous outlets across the city and is a good, super affordable place to stop for snacks. The patties are Rs. 14 and the subs and croissants aren’t much higher. Try the almond croissant and lemon pastry – you’ll love it!

mewans

Neopolitana Pizza – Neopolitana Pizza has a trendy set-up that’s hard to miss. They’ve got great music and is always buzzing with patrons. The menu has something for everyone, but the confused staff always mix up my orders and affably correct them. They have an all-you-can-eat buffet but the pizzas are nothing to complain about either.

neopolitana pizza

Andy’s – I really don’t know what to say about this place. I mean, it’s alright-ish. You’ll find minimal decor and most McDonald-style offerings here – burgers, nuggets, fries, coke, garlic bread, but I’d pick McDonalds over it because no one can beat their fries.

andys vasai

Pedal Power – This is SUCH a darling place and my new favourite in Vasai. The decor features various cycle paintings through the ages, there are cycles mounted up on brick walls, even the area where one would sit on high stools have a handlebar and pedals. The music is amazing, the menu is great and the decor makes you all happy! I tried the buttermilk fried chicken which was delicious however the home made nachos had an overdose of toppings on the top and absolutely nothing below. It would have done well with molten cheese instead of a layer of mozarella stuck together.

cycle cafe vasai

That’s about all for now! There’s still a lot more to explore, and I’ll keep updating this post with more places to eat at in Vasai as and when I try out the latest.

Got any tips on restaurants to visit in Vasai? Comment below!

See you soon!

As if on cue, the drizzle began to caress our cheeks as we rode over the threshold of Bhandardara, a rural village in Maharashtra. The days before all seemed to merge into one. That of power cuts, sweat-soaked clothes and laments over the sweltering Mumbai heat (and uncomfortable humidity).

road to bhandardara

Firefly sightings at Bhandardara were said to begin just before the first rain shower. But rain, as always, seemed to be nowhere in sight and just like the pigeons in our balcony, we yearned for grey clouds to darken the skies as May dragged on seemingly forever…

bhandardara roads

hotel deepak bhandardara

On one such unbearably humid night, we decided that, come rain or sunshine, we’d head out to Bhandardara the following day for a short weekend getaway from Mumbai. And at 10 am the next morning, we set off from Mumbai along NH3 to Igatpuri. After around 150 kms, we took a right turn towards Bhandardara and almost instantly, the scenery began to change as we rode along winding roads that led higher, the mercury drastically dropping. The panoramic views of nature, the lack of noise and traffic and the gentle drizzle lifted our spirits and enthusiasm!

bhandardara local

bhandardara views

jade bhandardara

that goan girl bhandardara

Over the next two days, we took in the mellow, picture-perfect village, nestled between the Sahyadri ranges. The air was fragrant with the smell of ripe mangoes that kids would collect and sell on the road, trying to stop bikes and cars as they drove past. The grassy plains rolled on for miles, dull and brown, separated in two by tiny streams. Some places had dry, wiry vegetation interspersed between rocks and at others, lush green forests that plunged into the valleys.

thatgoangirl bhandardara

TGG bhandardara

One of the must-see sights is Arthur Lake, a mesmerizing blue pool of water that is fed by the Pravara River. The shore of the Lake is an idyllic place to unwind and the continuous strong flow of cold wind makes you crave a cup of tea all the time! The spot is popular among campers who set up tents along the shoreline. It was quite dry as it was the end of summer, but the view is so much better during or just after the monsoons.

MTDC Bhandardara is a government guest house that boasts of the best spot from where you can have a fabulous view of the lake! Check out my hotel review of MTDC if you haven’t already.

Since I work remotely, I found that only one spot at the lake had full network and would head over there for a couple of times a day to catch up on emails. The rest of Bhandardara has negligible network and 3G data.

lake arthur

bhandardara winding roads

bhandardara dam

Apart from the restaurants at a handful of hotels in the area, Bhandardara has no other eating joints and food stalls. While scouting the area one afternoon, we climbed higher and higher, and ventured pretty far away from the hotel. Driving back for lunch would have taken more than an hour, and as we were wondering where to stop for lunch, we came across this tiny place with a board indicating that food was available here. It was run by a poor family who cooked in their kitchen and served it on a camping platform a 100 meters away.

restaurant bhandardara

restaurant bhandardara seating

On asking what was available, a man told us that he would make whatever we liked and suggested bajra roti (flat bread made of millet grains) and kadhi (chickpea flour based gravy with yogurt). The food took a good 30 minutes to arrive but the view of the hills and fields, the breeze and sight of naughty kids playing a little distance away more than made up for it. It was a simple meal and as the man said “Rs. 100 mein pet bharke khaana,” (all you can eat at Rs. 100). He meant it, and this is one lunch I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

P.S. You’ll also find spots like these raised platforms in certain locations where campers can set up their tents.

bajra roti and kadhi

We noticed scattered houses far away from each other, which was strange because in a remote village like this one, I’d think everyone would like a neighbour! Shops were a rare sight, and if we ever found one, it was either shut, or the owner was asleep on the floor, oblivious to a customer. We wondered where people shopped for groceries and quite by chance, we found our answer! A little weekly market in the middle of nowhere!

bhandardara market

houses bhandardara

Another spot on our to-do list was to visit the Ratangad Fort, a 2000 year old Fort located 4225 feet above sea level with stunning views of the lake and the highest of the Sahyadri mountains. There are two ways to get there – one by following the road and the other by off-roading through a river and mucky fields. I must admit, I had much more fun off-roading – with farmers, goats and cows walking alongside as the bike made its way through water, rocks and muck.

off road bhandardara

crossing the river bhandardara

bhandardara fields

The videos and pictures I’ve seen show the fort looking mystical – surrounded by mist, with clouds passing through. However on getting there I learnt that it was a 3 hour trek to reach there. Ain’t no way I’m trekking for three hours! So I settled for exploring the Amruteshwar Temple instead.

amruteshwar temple bhandardara

Those who were returning from the trek looked haggard, but swore that it was a sight to behold. A few people choose to camp at the fort overnight, which would be pretty amazing! Maybe I’ll attempt the trek another time, when it isn’t the fag end of the day.

Located at the base of the mountain, the Amruteshwar Temple was built in 900AD and like all Indian temples, the intricate stonework, wall and ceiling murals was incredible! There is a Shivalinga and statues that get submerged in water when it rains (I’ve heard that snakes live in the temple during the monsoons too!)

bhandardara locals

Beautiful vistas of nature await at Bhandardara. It’s an understatement to say that the village is beautiful. Ditch the city this weekend and surround yourself with splendid misty hills and more shades of green and blue than you can count.

Let me know if you enjoyed reading this travelogue! Comment below and keep in touch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

I have so many more adventures up my sleeve for now. Can’t wait to take you along!!

xoxo