Monday, 24 November 2014

Mamagoto - The Fun Asian Dining

Twitter: @nkandhari     Facebook: Review Of Restaurants     Instagram: Review Of Restaurants 

Mamagoto is a Japanese term that essentially translates into 'to play with food'. It is a chain of restaurants spread across many major cities of India. While the food is clearly a success story, the very first thing to grab your attention is the famous yellow door which is a trademark of sorts at Mamagoto. I was recently invited to dine here and I gladly accepted.

At most restaurant (including Mamagoto) a guest is greeted by the staff but here, you are welcomed with the lingering aroma of the Asian herbs which are key ingredients to the Asian Cuisine. This aroma that fills up the air; in no time has you lost to the food fantasy land. With the aroma spread around, it's hard waiting for the food. 

I was recently invited to dine at Mamagoto to experience a wide range of delicacies that are dished out from the 'Fun Asian Kitchen' and also the innovative infused cocktails which again have a lovely Asian touch. We were provided with the menu cards which made one thing clear right away - the food (veg and non-veg) and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) offering seemed really extensive. Having recently traveled to Thailand and Indonesia, my expectations were high and the flavors and tastes from the trip still lingered in the back of my mind.

With the help of the restaurant staff and our choices too, we started our food-trip which involved a round of Mamagoto special infused cocktails and starters. As we dined, what really worked well was my companion was a hardcore vegetarian and I was all into non-vegetarian. Okay I agree; 'hardcore vegetarian' is an oxymoron. :)

In non-vegetarian it was honey chicken with bell pepper and mild shezwan pepper, hot basil chicken cups and rock shrimp tempura. For me, honey chicken dish was a highlight in the starters and I could stop myself from polishing off the plate. Rock shrimp tempura is a simple preparation and came a close second in terms of the light batter, fresh and perfectly cooked shrimp. I generally like lettuce cups but in this case, I'd have preferred more flavoring in the chicken considering chicken doesn't really have a flavor of its own and usually adapts the flavors of the ingredients.  
Honey Chicken with Bell Peppers & Mild Shezwan Pepper
Rock Shrimp Tempura
Hot Basil Cups (Chicken)
My vegetarian friend called for vegetable basil cups, mixed veg tempura and Makati city discovery. He absolutely loved the light and crunchy mix veg tempura, vegetable basil cups followed and while the rice paper rolls served with a pineapple salsa was nice it was a little too bland for his liking. I didn't get to try the veg basil cups but personally liked the crunchy tempura vegetables and also the rice paper rolls stuffed with veggies.
Vegetable Tempura
Makati City Discovery
We surely needed drinks and decided to call for a couple of infused and signature Mamagoto cocktails. In the drinks what clearly stole the show for us was a Jack Daniel based cocktail called 'Cinnamon Whiskey Story' and two of house infused cocktails; 'Mexican Confusion' - a tequila based drink infused with Kaffir lime leaves and 'Thyme and elder-flower martini' thyme infused gin with an elder flower essence. What really surprised me with Mexican Confusion; and in a good way was though it contained lychee juice the drink was not overridden by the sweetness that lychee normally brings in. As for the martini, it was really smooth and went down the throat really well.
Cinnamon Whiskey Story
Mexican Confusion
Thyme & Elder-flower Martini
For the mains I was pre-decided on 'java grilled fish in red hot sambal salsa' and 'the laksa tribute - prawns' and my dining companion zeroed in on tofu teriyaki meal in a bowl and coal fired egg plant. First the non-vegetarian mains; the fish was a nice big and long fillet coated with the red hot sambal salsa and came wrapped in banana leaf. Steamed to perfection, the fish was soft, flaky and got a nice zing from the sambal salsa. This came portioned with a small mold of sticky rice. Overall the portion was quite generous and good to make for a main course.

There are no two ways - a noodle soup made with coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, red chillis, prawns and more can have me slurping it off the bowl directly. That's 'the laksa tribute'. Had it not been for the enormous portion, I'd have swept it clean. Yes, even without the fish dish, I'd have easily split this laksa by two and walked out with a filled stomach; happy and content.

In the vegetarian territory, both dishes scored good points but off the two my friend loved the teriyaki meal in a bowl which again was a portion fit for two (not so very hungry souls). It didn't have meat but I still loved the flavors of this dish. It was a bowl full of sticky rice, veggies and teriyaki tofu. A perfect meal in a bowl with equally hearty portion.

With most of the dishes hitting the palate in the right way, we surely had a wonderful lunch and sipped some really good and not so good cocktails. The restaurant is well spread but gets really crowded. Like I mentioned earlier, please do make a reservation before you head here for a meal.

An average meal for two with food and a cocktail each at Mamagoto will cost around Rs. 2500 for plus taxes and charges. The pricing is pretty much standard and you surely will walk out happy and content with the food with out really making a hole in your pocket.

Address: 949, 12th Main HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore - 560038
Phone Number: +91 80 4093 7237

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Day Out @ Monkey Bar - New Introductions

Twitter: @nkandhari     Facebook: Review Of Restaurants     Instagram: Review Of Restaurants 

Needless to say, I have loved their drinks, the vibe, the food; especially the breakfast which I absolutely adore. It's a place I usually love to hang out in a group or just with a companion. I frequent Monkey Bar on weekends and that's quiet evident from my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Very recently I was invited to review the new introductions on Monkey Bar's all day dining menu. Sunday lunch being the most convenient, I headed down to Monkey Bar with a dining companion. A lazy Sunday lunch is my idea of an ideal Sunday and the moment I entered Monkey Bar, I knew this was it. The music was soft, the place was not packed to the doors, the lighting was bright, families, friends and couples sat relaxed sipping on a few drinks, eating and having a good time among themselves.

My companion and I glanced through the 'New' all day dining menu to find an inclusion of both food and drinks. We began with an order of 'Reddy's Chicken, Devil Fries and Tempura Calamari for starters and 2 drinks to go with it.

The devil fries made for a great bar snack to go with the drinks and for a more fulfilling companion it surely had to be the calamari and Reddy's Chicken. What clearly stole the show so far was Reddy's Chicken which was packed with flavor and was down right succulent - a first taste and you know this is the very dish I want to go along with some drinks.
Devil Fries
Reddy's Chicken
Tempura Calamari - a preparation I first tasted in Monkey Bar, Indiranagar has made its way into the Monkey Bar, Wood Street menu as well. It's in fact been on their menu for some time and purely out of love, I called for this dish. It just seems like nothing can go wrong with this preparation. The Calamari was fresh, perfectly cooked and wonderfully flavored.
Tempura Calamari
As for the drinks, we had Mandarin Blast; a vodka based cocktail and Kiss-ky Whiskey; a whiskey based cocktail. Mandarin Blast was a very fresh and fruity drink apt for a lovely day with the sun out at its peak. If you love fruity drinks, this has got to be on your table.
Mandarin Blast
What's trending in my human system is a strong liking for Whiskey based cocktails and Kiss-Ky Whiskey is clearly the most recent entrant on my top favorite whiskey based cocktails. It's a drink that's got fantastic flavors coming from Irish whiskey, triple sec and again my favorite Ginger Ale. In the form of 'Kiss-Ky Whiskey'; Copper Monkey has competition!
Kiss-Ky Whiskey
We were quite stuffed with starters and thought of taking a break, meaning head down underground for some fun time playing pool and Foosball. We surely needed more drinks and the next round was a Bull Frog and Monkey Cup. Bull frog has been on the menu and is quite a potent drink with a mix of multiple white spirits to give you the kicks and Monkey Cup is quite an innovative drink of never ending white rum, pineapple, orange, amaretto, cinnamon and a pint of beer overturned. I love this drink and have had this on multiple visits now.
Bull Frog
Monkey Cup
We continued to sip drinks as we played pool and soon followed the mains which included our very own chicken tikka masala with a serving of rice (optional rice / pita bread), chicken katsu burger and banh mi. Chicken tikka with rice made for a really good meal and surely will be a popular hit among those looking for a very Indian and satisfying meal.
Chicken Tikka
Burgers have always been outstanding at Monkey Bar and hence, I did look forward to the arrival of this baby. It came as chicken sandwiched between the softest in-house baked bun and a side serving of delicious slaw, pickled cucumber and a paper cone full of french fries. What more can I ask for? With a lot of starters and drinks flowing through all afternoon, I'll admit sharing the burger between the two of us was also a Hercules task. At the end, deliciousness won and we did take the burger down to the last bite.
Chicken Katsu Burger
We assumed to have had the top picks from the new menu not knowing the dessert would have us floored. It's called 'I Scream Sliders'; a trio of 3 delicious flavors of ice cream - classic vanilla, salted caramel and coffee ice cream; all of them plated as sliders and served along with gooey hot chocolate sauce. I'm sure the picture speaks it all and I highly recommend you leave some space in your tummy for this decadent dessert.
I Scream Slider
A Sunday flew by really fast, yes it did. We nearly spent most of our afternoon at Monkey Bar playing games of pool and Foosball with other guests and savoring food and sipping drinks; lots of them. What ticks with me about Monkey Bar is, while the menu has been seeing new introduction and changes, it has the same old charm and vibrancy which it has retained to this day since it came into being. 

Without writing more, everything else remains the same except for the new menu which offers more reasons to go back to Monkey Bar!

'Old Monkey, New Tricks'

Address: Woods Street, Ashok Nagar, Bangalore
Phone Number: +91 80 4111 6878 / 79 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Tangra Food Festival @ JW Kitchen, JW Marriott, Bangalore

Twitter: @nkandhari     Facebook: Review Of Restaurants     Instagram: Review Of Restaurants 

The past two weeks have been nostalgic with memories of the Chinatown in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Purely from the perspective of experiencing food and culture, I wish such towns / communities did exist in Bangalore too. On this note, a cuisine that is probably the most popular cuisine in India after Indian cuisine itself is the Chinese Cuisine; well actually 'Indian-Chinese Cuisine'. Like many of you, I love Chinese food; be it in its most authentic form or the famous Indian-Chinese form which to me is, "comfort food at its best". 

While we love this cuisine, what we may not know or tend to ignore is that this very familiar Indian style Chinese cuisine is actually an adaption and a result of the Kolkata Chinese Cuisine which was introduced to India in the year 1780. It all began with the immigration of Chinese residents from the Hakka region to settle down in Calcutta now to be known as Tangra Community / Kolkata Chinatown. A result of changing laws and its impact to their Tannery business led to the setting up of restaurants serving food that prevailed in the Hakka region back then. 

Sighting business needs and preference to the local Indian palate, this community began tweaking and improvising on their food to appeal the Indian Palate in order to attract more business. In no time, 'Kolkata Chinese' gained popularity and spread across the country like a wild fire; the result of which we get to see and experience today. Speaking of Kolkata Chinese, the best way to experience it is to visit the Kolkata Chinatown itself which houses over 40 Tangra restaurants with some like 'Golden Joy Restaurant' being the most popular. 

The next best way to experience it is even simpler for us foodies in Bangalore - drive down straight to JW Marriott Bengaluru where Chef Jolly aka @JollyGoodChef and team present to us 'Tangra Food Festival' at JW Kitchen till the 9th of November. Going by their motto of serving not just healthy but honest and authentic dining experience, Chef Jolly and JW Marriott have flown down Chef Edwin of Golden Joy restaurant himself to take charge of Tangra Food Festival.
Chef Edwin (L) of Golden Joy Restaurant, Kolkata; Chef Jolly (R) - Needs no introduction
Enough reasons to visit, I obediently drove down along with my wife to JW Marriott on Saturday to experience the food first hand. Over the course of the evening, I not only got to savor some delicious Kolkata Chinese food but also got to watch Chef Edwin cook-up some signature dishes like threaded paneer - a vegetarian variation to the otherwise non-vegetarian delicacy, Hakka style chili chicken, golden fried prawns and Tangra stir fried golden prawns
Threaded Paneer
Each of these preparations demonstrated were really simple and would take under 20 minutes of preparation and cooking time put together. In it's simplicity lays the deliciousness of each of these dishes. The threaded paneer and golden fried prawns were served with Chef Edwin's special chutney / sauce which had a nice sweet touch along with primary flavors of mint and coriander. The paneer, prawns or the chutney were exquisite and each could have been eaten independently.
Golden Fried Prawns
The chili chicken was moist, succulent and exuded wonderful flavors to denote the love with which it had been prepared. What takes each of these preparations a notch higher is that none of these dishes involved the use of MSG/Ajinomoto as an ingredient. 
Chili Chicken
The stir fried golden prawns were out of the world. The flavors of the green chili, soy sauce, coriander, ginger-garlic were clearly felt on the palate yet beautifully married with the prawns whose original flavor was something that just could not have missed the palate. I couldn't get my hands off them all evening.
Stir Fried Golden Prawns
In addition to the above, the Tangra section of the buffet spread also offered the lovely golden fried fish and delicious Pork Sui Mai dim-sums for starters. In the mains, we non-vegetarians relished egg fried rice and egg hakka noodles which were enjoyed thoroughly with pork in hot garlic sauce and fish in oyster sauce. For the vegetarians, there were veg dim sums and 'golden fried baby corn  in starters; veg fried rice and veg Hakka noodles along with chili paneer and assorted vegetables with tofu, mushrooms and babycorn in the mains.

To give food company were a whole range of 'Tangra special cocktails and mocktails which were concocted in-house by Akshar and team. The cocktails like Shandong Mary, Beijing Bellini, Wild Liquid - both alcoholic and non-alcoholic were a big hit on our table.
Shandong Mary
Wild Liquid
Food festivals are a real treat to attend as they are always around cuisines that are not locally available at large and bring in a lot of authenticity and diversity to the table. At this food festival being hosted at JW Marriott Bangalore, each dish on the buffet stood out really well. It was one such evening when I ate like a Gourmand and did not take a glance of the diverse buffet spread that offers cuisines from across the globe. When such is the experience; one thing's for sure, "a 'Tangra Food Festival' in Bangalore can't get any better." 

This diverse buffet spread of Tangra food, other global cuisines and lavish spread of desserts at JW Kitchen comes at a price of 1599 ++ and promises an evening of superlative dining. 

Quick Tips:
While the buffet at JW Kitchen is on offer always, the Special 'Tangra Food Festival' part of the buffet is available only till the 9th of November. 

Don't think twice, just drive down is what I'd recommend.

Bon Appetit! 

Address: 24/1, Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore - 560001
Phone Number: +91 80671 89999