Friday, 28 December 2012

10 Downing Street, Hyderabad

We were on the final day of our holiday at Hyderabad and after lazing around in the morning we drove down to 10 Downing Street for lunch. The plan to visit this resto-pub for lunch on a Sunday had always been on our radar since the time we decided upon going to Hyderabad. 10 Downing Street is a resto-pub/night club with its footprints spread across 10 cities of India. Does the expansion stop at the number 10? I hope not..

Sundays at 10 Downing Street are special. They have a special a la carte brunch menu which includes Indian, chinese, Italian and continental classics. What makes it special is what it has to offers – every main course dish ordered comes paired with a beverage of our choice and is also followed by a dessert of the day. Of course; the beverage selection offered as a part of this brunch combo is limited to a select few alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

What we ate:
My wife and I having arrived there early decided to get started with a drink. As we waited for the rest of the group to arrive, my wife sipped Cherry Martini and I settled for a pint of beer. 

Not too long later, the rest of our group arrived and with the order placed; we were on our way to a culinary feast. Drinks were served on our table. We sipped our drinks while conversing rather planning about where and when our next trip would be. 

‘Kung Pao vegetables with shezwan rice’ was the first to arrive; with the rest following in quick successions. The Kung Pao vegetables was delicious and was all cleaned up with the accompanying shezwan fried rice. 

The next two preferred dishes were Chinese too. One was shredded chicken in hot garlic sauce and the other was chicken in Hunan sauce with veg. fried rice and butter garlic noodles respectively. Both of these dishes tasted good.
Shredded Chicken in hot garlic sauce served with veg. fried rice
Chicken in Hunan sauce served with butter garlic noodles

Moving on from Chinese, we had fish & chips on our table. Fried fillets of fish came along with a slice of toasted garlic bread, tartar sauce, boiled vegetables and potato wedges. The fish tasted fresh and the batter coating on the fish was nice and crisp. 

Next arrived, a chicken steak drowned in mushroom sauce and garlic bread and boiled veggies on the side. The sauce was nice and flavorful and the chicken was succulent and tender. The bread was just toasted and had no hint of garlic flavor while the boiled veggies were fine.

The vegetarians on our table also called for an Italian dish, the name of which I do not seem to recollect. I did not try this either but the buzz on our table was this dish tasted heavenly. Heavenly; is what it seemed, going by the pace with which this dish was all cleaned up.

In desserts we were served a scoop of vanilla/strawberry ice cream each.

On the service front, there were both strengths and weak links visible. Their strength was in quick service. In spite of being full house, our order was brought to our table in about 15 minutes. The food was served hot and fresh. The biggest disappointment for us on the service front was being serving an incorrect dish in the name of another; yet not accepting this mistake. 

10 Downing Street had a nice ambiance, plush interiors, and lots of polished wood; giving its patrons a feel of an English pub. The bar counter looked elegant. There was a good mix of crowd which included groups of friends, families, couples and business associates. In all, we had a good time listening to some good English numbers, sipping the well made drinks and not going by authenticity, the good food that’s for sure to leave you satisfied. I definitely look forward to coming back here when in town again; not just for Sunday brunch but also for their weekend night events. 

Though located in a shopping complex, the restaurant provides for valet parking which can be availed by driving up to the valet counter placed by 10 Downing Street. 

We ate all this and paid just a little less than Rs. 2000 which is a steal for a place like 10 Downing Street. Bangalore... Take Note..

Address: 10, Ground Floor, My Home Tycoon, Lifestyle Building, Begumpet, Hyderabad
Phone Number: 040 - 66629323

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Copper Chimney, Bangalore

Right across our office campus, Copper Chimney - now a restaurant chain; launched another outlet on 15th August on the first floor of In Orbit mall. Having been present in Bangalore for close to a decade or may be more, Copper Chimney has won many patrons and is acknowledged for its North Indian /Punjabi food. Given its proximity from my office, 9 foodies (all colleagues) headed there for a lunch buffet. 

Copper Chimney mainly specializes in the food specialties of the northern part of India. Having decided to go in for their weekday lunch buffet, my focus in this review will revolve around the menu set for the lunch buffet. The spread was vast and comprised of vegetarian and non – vegetarian fare. It included a soup counter, a live chaat counter, a salad counter; a counter with a vast spread including starters and main course and no points for guessing, a dessert counter was included in the lunch buffet.

What we ate:
This might be the first time, I am writing down a food review as a vegetarian. The views on the non – vegetarian fare come from other foodies who like me love food and are passionate about the food they eat.

Soup of the day was tomato-coriander shorba. The soup tasted good and I must say the coriander flavor didn’t go unnoticed. The salad counter had a good spread of garden fresh vegetables, Russian salad, and more. This clearly for us was not a point of focus. 

I have always been amazed at this special attention chaat gets from the women folks (atleast in my set of female friends and relatives). It was no different here at Copper Chimney where the live chaat counter was quite popular among the women. Patrons could choose from multiple options like paani poori, dahi paapdi, sev puri etc. We tried the dahi paapdi and paani poori and both were quite nice. 

For the starters, there were 2 vegetarian and 2 non – vegetarian options. The vegetarian had tandoori gobi and aloo something while the non – vegetarians had murg sheek kabab and fish tikka. Between fish tikka and murgh sheek kabab, fish tikka was a clear winner on our table with chicken sheek kabab’s lack of sufficient flavoring cost it some points. On the vegetarian side; tandoori gobi was really nice but the potato starter was just about average. 

In main course, vegetarian food was a big disappointment with most of the items heading too far from good taste. The paneer makhanwala, mix vegetable and corn something were a disappointment. Paneer gravy seemed to be diluted with water while the corn had a prominent sour taste coming from tomatoes. On the other hand, a bitter gourd veggie and dal makhni were really nice.

Non – vegetarians too had mixed reviews with the chicken and fish dishes in main course. Chicken was well appreciated but the fish failed to win hearts. The restaurant served assorted Indian breads that were made to order and served hot on the table. On this day, there was a mutton keema biryani which failed to impress the biryani lovers.

Desserts included fresh fruits, a pastry, 2 Indian sweets and vanilla ice cream. Though the deserts tasted fine the variety on offer was a letdown.

We visited this restaurant in less than a fortnight of its opening and were unhappy with the service and hospitality. Considering that we were going on a Friday lunch; advance reservation was made by us. Having arrived there on time, in a few minutes as we waited to get our table we could see that the restaurant was not ready for the kind of foot fall it was receiving.  This view only got stronger when we experienced long waits for the plates to arrive at the buffet counter, missing spoons and forks, empty or nearly empty food containers. However, my prior visits to other outlets of Copper Chimney usually for a-la carte dinners have been quite nice.

No valet parking available as Copper Chimney is a part of In Orbit mall. 

The buffet at about Rs. 390 plus taxes and other charges is definitely one of the more economical buffets on offer in Whitefield but is still over priced for the quality of food served and also the variety on offer. 

Quick Tips:
The buffet is disappointing. Lunches are usually crowded for buffets; I’d recommend going to Copper Chimney go for a-la Carte dinners instead.

Address: 1st Floor, In Orbit Mall, EPIP Industrial Area, Whitefield , Bangalore - 560066
Phone Number: 080 - 28029600

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Teppan, Bangalore

‘Teppan’ happens to be the most recent offering from Oriental Cuisines Pvt. Ltd to Bangalore’s food scene. It is a Japanese restaurant specializing in serving food off the Teppanyaki grill. With just a couple of other Japanese restaurants in Bangalore, Teppan has been on my list of restaurants to visit since its launch in Bangalore which is not quite long ago. Who knew; my visit to this restaurant would be by invitation from Burrp who had organized a chef’s table dinner at ‘Teppan’. Having reached a little in advance (as intended), I was able to capture the beautiful table setting around the Teppanyaki grill which instantly succeeded in setting the mood for the rest of the evening. 

It was not long before the rest of the diners arrived and Teppan set the ball rolling with an introduction to the menu cards. Specifically made for this dinner were 2 leaflets rolled up, tied with ribbons and placed before us. Yellow ribbon was the vegetarian menu listing the 5 courses that would be served and red ribbon listed the 5 course meal designed for the non-vegetarians. We were 9 diners seated around the Teppanyaki counter and un/fortunately not one of us opted for a vegetarian meal. On second thoughts, it is hard to imagine vegetarian; rather only vegetarian food in Japanese cuisine. 

What we ate:
Our 5 course meal began with a welcome drink which was an orange and pineapple based mocktail. It was nice and quite refreshing. As we sipped through our drink and indulged in a conversation with each other; our first course arrived and Tori salad it was. This salad was made with finely shredded chicken, iceberg lettuce, Miso – Mayo dressing and a topping off crushed tempura batter. The salad got its creaminess and mild flavoring from the Miso-Mayo dressing and the freshness and crunchiness coming from both the lettuce and the tempura batter. Must say, we started off on a good note and only looked forward for more that was to come.

The next to arrive were starters, Yaki Tori – Grilled Chicken on skewers and soon followed by sushi. Yaki Tori coming off the grill was served hot, well cooked and flavorful with sweetness hitting the palate first followed by the mild flavoring from soy sauce and other seasonings. This dish had a wonderful glaze and was very easy on the palate.

The other starter was sushi - Tuna Buttera Maki – layers of sushi, sea weed and Tuna fish. This came along with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger on the side. Before digging into the sushi; wasabi was further broken down into really small pieces and mixed with the soy sauce. Caution! Wasabi gives a very strong flavor. Use desired amounts that suit your palate. Now that I was all set; without wasting any time, I devoured the bite sized pieces by dipping it in the wasabi-soy sauce mixture. To a lot of people; eating sushi might seem like an adventure – an adventure of supposedly eating raw sea food. It is exactly how I felt when I tried Sushi for the first time and took a couple of attempts to be really adapted to the taste. 

In time for the main course, we were joined by Chef June who stood behind the teppanyaki grill and sharpened his knife as he introduced himself. “Hello everyone, you know the month that comes before July? Exactly, June – that’s my name.” Our main course included assorted grilled veggies in oriental sauce, sea bass fish, chicken teriyaki and chicken and egg fried rice. This was also the order in which Chef June prepared the dishes live and served it piping hot right off the teppanyaki grill.

As we were served grilled veggies in oriental sauce, Miso soup arrived. Yes, apparently the soup was served along with the main course. It for sure was not meant to be this way. Miso soup; had a strong flavor of soy beans and it personally did not appeal to me, I have never been able to build a taste soya beans in particular. Apparently, it did not appeal to anyone on our table.  Assorted grilled veggies in oriental sauce were just fine but didn’t excite my taste bud. 

I’d heard Japanese cooking methods are very different from most other cuisines in terms of marinating the meats. At this dinner, I got to see it for myself; thanks to Teppanyaki – Japanese style of live cooking. While in most other cuisines, the meat is marinated both before and/or while cooking. Here, the meat was almost cooked and then married with the sauces and seasoning before being allowed to cook a little further. 

That’s exactly how the sea bass and Chicken Teriyaki were prepared. Sea bass was pan fried in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, cooking sake, lemon-butter-garlic sauce and seasoning while chicken Teriyaki involved the use of Soy sauce, mirin and sugar as some of the ingredients. Sea bass was too pungent in flavor due to an overdose of soy sauce. This not only made the dish pungent but also killed the flavor of the sea bass and made the dish taste too salty. If I had to describe this dish in the words of Chef June, it would be - ‘A Japanese Mistake’.

Chicken Teriyaki had a very mild sweet flavor. The dish had the right balance of flavors with a nice glaze of the sauce on the chicken. After serving this, Chef June got busy entertaining us with his cooking maneuvers in the process of getting the Chicken and egg fried rice ready for us. This was prepared with sticky rice and was downed to the last morsel in the company of chicken Teriyaki.

Green tea was served towards the end of our main course and soon followed by desserts. Desserts included fruit tart, vanilla ice cream and brownie. None of these were Japanese desserts. A Japanese touch could have been introduced by just serving a green tea or wasabi flavored ice cream instead of the vanilla flavor. In all, this final course was a disappointment for the lack of authenticity.

Chef’s cooking maneuvers were a treat to the eyes. Right from the fire flare to start with to the pumping heart beat made from chicken fried rice to finish. In between filled with juggling acts with eggs, cracking it in the air with a knife, drawing a heart on the Teppanyaki, painting it yellow with the egg yolks to connecting with the diners by writing the name of one of the diners with the egg.  The service was otherwise fine. Feedback on the food was warranted and well received by both the chef and the restaurant management. 

Japanese cuisine as a whole is very mild in its flavoring and this comes from the use of soy sauce, cooking sake or mirin. The food does not really involve the use of spices and can taste bland at most instances. Given this, I must say my dining experience was a mixed bag for; miso soup was personally something I did not like due to my non-preference for soya beans while the sea bass fish was a misbalance in flavoring due to excessive use of soy sauce. The desserts were just quite ordinary and lacked authenticity. Apart from this, the salad, yaki tori, chicken teriyaki and chicken and egg fried rice were quite nice but for me; it was sushi that stole the show. 

In all, in spite of its own hits and misses, I had a good time devouring the Japanese fare and I definitely recommend this Japanese restaurant. 

Quick Tips:
Do not get too experimental with Japanese food the very first time. I recommend you try out some standard fare like yaki tori, tempura prawns, chicken teriyaki, fried rice,  or noodles (udon) to name a few. 

Japanese cuisine as a whole is very mild in its flavoring and this comes from the use of soy sauce, cooking sake or mirin. Most of the times, one tends to gradually develop a taste for Japanese food. 

Sushi refers to a form of vinegar rice. Sushi is not all about raw fish. In fact, raw fish is an ingredient only in certain types of sushi.

Teppan serves both a la carte and set menus. A la carte can be enjoyed at regular tables while, set menus are usually served around the teppanyaki grill.

Go for: Authentic Japanese food, a teppanyaki experience, sushi and sashimi.

Address: 3rd Floor, 1/3, Ulsoor Road, Bangalore
Phone Number: 080 - 32569029