Friday, 22 August 2014

Youngest of the Aloft in Bangalore - Aloft Bengaluru CBP

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A little over a month ago, I was invited to a launch party of a new and vibrant hotel property. With a couple of properties already to their name in Bangalore, this brand was all set to launch yet another property in the very hub of Bangalore's IT corridor.

It was a long drive for me to the venue which is well nestled inside Cessna Business Park (CBP) which is at the heart of Marathalli - Bellandur ring road. On arriving; the very instance I realize - how wonderfully this hotel has secluded itself from the hustle-bustle of the business park and the surrounding IT hub.

As I moved further to the entrance, I knew this was one fabulous launch party that had been organized and it set the complete tempo on for the rest of the evening. I was welcomed to this wonderfully done lobby which doubles up as a lobby cum lounge. 'How Cool! A lobby that doubles up as a lounge' was the thought running in my mind. The place seemed quite vibrant and tech savvy with Re:Mix Lounge integrated as a part of the lobby, ticker boards displaying news and social media updates of #AloftBengaluruCBP. The bar was wonderfully set up and had an over head stage set for live performances. Walk in after a hectic day, grab a drink,  lounge at the lobby and call it a day.
Photo Credit: Aloft Hotels
Photo Credit: Aloft Hotels
The party does not stop here, I headed to level 2 which houses a wonderful pool open to the sky. The DJ kept churning out music while there were fire and water acrobats at play. Thinking beyond the party, the pool was fabulous and also makes for a perfect stress buster at the end of the day or a refreshing start to any working day of the week.
Photo Credit: Aloft Hotels
Photo Credit: Aloft Hotels
Playing perfect host to its guests, Aloft offers various amenities which include hotel wide free wifi and wired internet access, well equipped rooms to retire for the day, gym to Re:Charge, W XYZ Lounge for a couple of drinks, various dining options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and any meals in between, speedy checkout terminals; the list goes on. 
Photo Credit: Aloft Hotels
The ambiance is vibrant at the same time welcoming. With all of this and the proximity to the IT hub around Aloft Bengaluru CBP makes for an ideal stay in that part of the city. A weekend at Aloft is surely on my list of things to do and when I do, I promise to post a detailed review of the hotel, the amenities and the experience of staying over.


Address: Cessna Business Park, Sarjapur–Marathahalli Outer Ring Road, Kadubeesanahalli, Bellandur Post, Bengaluru - 560103
Phone Number: +91 80 4510 1010
Website: Aloft Bengaluru CBP

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

An unforgettable evening with the inimitable Grand Masterchef Imtiaz Qureshi

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This legend strongly believes in his preaching – ‘Dil Se, Dimag Se and Mehnat Se’ and that’s exactly how he dishes out the food from his kitchen. He has singularly been responsible for reviving and gifting us the privilege of savoring the lost ancient cuisine of Dum Pukth. He has a rich history in the form of ancestors who have been Khansama’s or chefs to the nawabs of Lucknow. 

He has cooked for eminent personalities like Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Morarji Desai, Indira Gandhi, APJ Abdul Kalam and the list goes on.. He has also been responsible for leaving Bill Clinton and Queen Elizabeth in absolute love for Indian Kababs and food. An 85 year old legendary chef who Gordon Ramsay wishes lived in UK to change the perspective of Indian cuisine in all of United Kingdom. Gordon has been his humble student and has learnt the art of making a delicious Goat Biryani.   To no surprise, this man has an even interesting life history that he is ever willing to share. 

The numerous Indian restaurants that you dine at across ITC Hotel properties are a creation of this very man; the most famous being ‘Dum Pukth’. A man who has a reason and an inspiration behind each ingredient he uses or a recipe he creates; holds the same enthusiasm, eagerness and willingness to innovate and perfect in his cuisine. Books can be written about him yet words may not be enough to do full justice in introducing and describing this legend. Yes, I’m writing about none other than Grand Masterchef Imtiaz Qureshi.

August 9th, 2014 is a date I will remember forever. On this day, I got an opportunity to dine with this legend at the very restaurant ‘Dum Pukth Jolly Nabobs’ at ITC Windsor, Bangalore. Here, I not only got to savor the food he is famous for but also to interact with him and hear stories of his life and experiences for the rest of the evening. One thing I know for sure, while other Prime Minister’s have dined on the table of Chef Imtiaz Qureshi before me, “I have dined on his table before our current PM Sri Narendra Modiji.” ;) 

Again words cannot speak enough and his food is best experienced firsthand. My idea of sharing this post with you is to tempt and urge you to not miss this opportunity of dining at the table of the legendary Chef Imtiaz Qureshi. In Bangalore till 17th August at Dum Pukth Jolly Nabobs, ITC Windsor; here’s what you will get to indulge in – 
(Disclaimer: No words or image can do any justice to the food served on this table)

Badam Ki Galouti (Vegetarian) - A dish that has full potential to deceive the best of non-vegetarian. Even a hardcore non-vegetarian must eat this dish.

Murgh Zaffrani - Tender, succulent, simple ingredients and preparation with saffron and elaichi heading the fragrance and taste department.

Jhinga Qureshi - Succulent jumbo prawns stuffed with feta cheese and spinach; wrapped in a pastry casing. 

Raan-E-Huzoor - An exquisite preparation and marriage of Indian spices and dates with fall of bone tender meat of a whole leg of lamb. I can eat this dish each and everyday of my life with Sheermal.

Paneer Kundan Qaliya - In vegetarian, I love a dish that contains paneer and this one was very light bodied and went perfectly with Indian bread.

Anjeeri Aloo - Anjeer sandwiched slices of aloo in  a rich gravy packed with flavor. 

A dish that I do not have the photograph of but I absolutely loved was a 'crab meat dumpling in a methi (Fenugreek)  flavored gravy. The gravy was silken smooth, exuded the wonderful flavor of methi yet paired very well with the crab dumpling which equally exuded freshness and sweetness of the crab. I had it all by itself such was its flavor. 

We also had biryani on our table. This was quite innovative and different but really rich in flavor. Served stuffed in a whole chicken skin, it was great to be eaten standalone but Chef Imtiaz insisted on pairing it with an unusual but a fabulous preparation of ajwaini aloo. Trust me the flavors are inimitable. 

Though no space for dessert, I couldn't resist but ask for Begum's Pudding a signature dessert at Dum Pukth Jolly Nabobs.

I will just sign off with a reminder - 

The event on till 17th at Dum Pukth Jolly Nabobs - ITC Windsor is aptly called 'Inimitable Imtiaz'. In all true sense, this legend is inimitable and so is his cuisine and flavors. An event that cannot be missed is on for dinner with just 5 more days. 

Words cannot speak enough and his food is best experienced firsthand. Don't think twice, reschedule your calender and fit this dinner in....

Address: ITC Windsor, 25 Windsor Square, Golf Course Road, Near Sankey Road, Bangalore

Phone Number: +91 80 2226 9898

Friday, 8 August 2014

Asian Rooftop Bar - The Fatty Bao, Bangalore

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Be it 'Eggs in a Blanket with Mutton Keema' for breakfast at Monkey Bar, 'Ginger Roger' and 'Sloppy Joe' for lunch; again at Monkey Bar or 'The Bath Tub Special', 'Spicy Lamb Bao' and 'Sushi' at the erstwhile LikeThatOnly..... 

...... I have been a great fan of both the innovative food and drinks that get churned out from the kitchen and bar of Chef Manu Chandra and team. With Olive Beach and Monkey Bar to their credit, I was looking forward to the opening of this new Asian Gastro Bar - The Fatty Bao. It is a fun place which occupies 2 storeys above Monkey Bar in Indiranagar. I like this concept of 3rd floor offering an ambiance of a new Asian-Style dining and the 4th presenting itself as the super cool Asian rooftop bar. 

Finally the past week, I decided to head there with a cousin of mine for some drinks and short eats. This worked for us perfectly as the weather in Bangalore has been really nice and what better than a Rooftop bar to add to the experience!

The menu be it of beverages or the food is quite extensive. The signature cocktails have quirky names and even fascinating concoctions which in no time succeeded in grabbing my attention. There are also the classics, bottled beverages, interesting shots and a lot more on offer. 

On the food side, the menu is outright delicious and each page of the menu has the potential to stop you from progressing further. They have dim sums, Sushi, the signature open-faced bao, a diverse selection of short plates (this is the hardest section on the menu for a food lover), of course the famous Fatty Bao Ramen and the list goes on.

What We Ate:
We settled in quite early in the evening and spent the rest of our evening indulging in some sinfully delicious drinks and short eats. No... We did not eat Ramen. I've heard it's something that cannot be missed but if you read on, you'll soon know why we didn't; rather couldn't get into that territory.

I told you it was hard to go through the initial pages of the menu itself. We had 'Char Sui Bao', 'The Fatty Bao PB&J', 'Kam Heong Calamari' and California roll coming to our table and we had not even gone past Page 3/4 of the food menu. The portions are fabulous and each plate was shared between the two of us.

For drinks, it was 'Mandalay Bay' - a very Asian drink that came from the bar counter as a concoction of Jasmine Tea infused Vodka based drink which came shaken with lime juice, Orange slices and topped with Ginger Beer. Subtle flavours are the rules of the game here. The Jasmine tea infusion was delicate enough to leave lingering mild taste on the palate. The lime juice, orange slices and chilled ginger beer only make it more refreshing and a light and easy going drink.
Left: Mandalay Bay; Photo Credit: Kunal Chandra

'The Fatty Sour' is 'The Fatty Bao' twist to the classic 'Whiskey Sour'. Everything remains common except for the inclusion of a blend of raspberries. This drink is available in two forms - with or without egg white. I went with the egg white and it tasted fabulous. For those who are wondering and having second thought about the egg white - "'No' you don't smell nor taste the egg; instead it gives the drink a fabulous silky smooth texture and the froth to top it all." The Jameson Whiskey was definitely present in good measure and you know it in every sip as you enjoy the smokiness of the whiskey. A perfectly balanced drink, with the flavors complementing each other beautifully.
Photo Credit: Kunal Chandra

It was en evening where pork ruled in the food department. We had 2 pork dishes on the table and each contending really hard to take the top spot, there sure was a party going on in our heart, stomach and mind. 'The Fatty Bao PB&J' was outright delicious and succulent. The Mustard-Miso JAM exuded flavor from the very moment it got into the mouth, soon to be followed by the awesomeness of the pork itself. The two of my memorable moments of having wonderful pork belly are both at different restaurants of Chef Manu Chandra - erstwhile LikeThatOnly and now The Fatty Bao.

'Char Sui Bao' was just out of this world. It had all the right ingredients, the perfect proportion of the bun, the smokiness and sweetness of the sauce, the crunch from scallions and generous portions of delicious pork belly. The best way to enjoy this dish is to down all the goodness of the bao, shredded pork belly and all the works in not more than 3 bites. Yes, not more than 3 bites and you experience the magic of flavors and textures happen in your mouth. My cousin who had also been here for dinner the previous night of our visit absolutely loved the 'Char Sui Bao' for its multitude of flavors. 

The next plate had us addicted to it for the rest of the evening. It worked really well with the drinks. It was full of flavor from the coconut milk, chili and curry leaves, freshness of the squid rings was clearly evident and the portion lasted for most of the evening. The only example of a dish being cooked to perfection that I can think of is this -  'Kam Heong Calamari'. Having a tendency to get really chewy with the slightest of overcooking, this calamari melted in mouth effortlessly even after an hour of sitting on our table. Do I even need to say more?

Sushi rolls are generally what I love to eat on most occasions but this time it probably was the day of delicious pork and calamari. Yes, one dish that didn't excite me much was the 'California Roll'. Though nothing wrong with the taste and flavor, I did find the roll thinner than my liking. They would have made for an enjoyable eat if they were more fuller than the actual serving. 

With all of these small plates keeping us great company and our sweet tooth demanding attention, we decided to try out a dessert each and call it a day. One was the signature 'The Fatty Hill' - a mint centered chocolate pyramid which came covered with praline and rice crispies with vanilla gelato on the side and the other was a 'Lemon Tart'. Choosing between the two, we enjoyed the former better.
Photo Credit: Kunal Chandra

The elegant bar with tall bar chairs, the table set up for people who'd like enjoy a dining style experience, the not so loud music and the lovely Bangalore weather enhance the ambiance and set the mood for a lovely Asian rooftop bar experience. A perfect balance has been created between various elements like casual setting, comfort and privacy. 

As for the food and drinks, it was 2 wonderfully concocted cocktails, a whole lot of short eats and dessert to finish off. It sure was an evening that I look forward to having again. Apart from what we ate, the menu has a lot more interesting stuff. I know for sure that, "I'm going back here to enjoy some favorites and also explore the other interesting offerings on their menu." 

An evening for 2 with about 4 short eats, 2 desserts and 2 drink in all will cost around Rs. 2000 plus taxes and charges. 

Valet parking is available which makes it easy for diners who otherwise would have to go through the hassle of finding parking in the bylanes around 'The Fatty Bao'.

Quick Tips:
Make a reservation, choose your experience - dining or rooftop bar, go really hungry and in a group to enjoy the multitude of offering.

You've got to have the Bao, calamari, and pork belly when you are here. 

Address: #610, 3rd Floor, 12th Main Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Opp. State Bank of India, Indiranagar, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 4411 4499