Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Dho Dala!

I was on the lookout for a home cleaning service.  I checked out a lot of companies and finally went with ‘Tidy Cleanerz Housekeeping and Deep Cleaning Services; who came highly recommended by a trustworthy friend.

I called the proprietor, Burzin Mistry, who came over and checked out the house. A day and time was fixed and voila! I was all set to have the house sparkling clean. On the stipulated day Burzin and his team came over but… not at the stipulated time. They came in 10 minutes early. The Bawi in me was so darn pleased as I hate to be kept waiting, then again, it was something I should have expected. After all, Burzin is a Bawa too. :) (No, this is not a 'Bawa to Bawa' community review because I can be a major pest if I'm unhappy with the work done)

At the onset of the meeting I had mentioned to Burzin that I did not want people all over the house, all at the same time; I had requested they clean one room at a time as I have elderly folk at home. I had also mentioned that I did not wish to be hassled for buckets, rags, soap, ladders etc as the reason I was giving out this cleaning contract was because I did not want hassles. They stuck to the brief given and it was a hassle free clean-up of the entire house. Not for a minute were mum or dad hassled while they worked. They were kind enough to help me put up new curtains and put up bathroom meshes to perfection; the Bawi kind of perfection. *sheepish grin*

The kitchen is one room I spend a lot of time in. The maids do keep it clean but to have it sparkling clean, I did need Burzin and his team. These days, I walk into my kitchen with a beaming grin. To see it sparkle is sheer joy! That is precise why I decided to post this review at my food blog. My kitchen is my place of joy and they got it gleaming. Surely, they deserve a place at my blog!

I’m hard to please. I’m finicky about how I want things done. I’m not perfect but I strive for perfection in all things which means I usually drive people like Burzin and his team up the eff’in wall, but the way the team performed that day was exceptionally good and this Bawi was one happy puppy! The kind of clean up I saw them do was so good that come March 2018 I begin an AMC (Annual Maintenance Contract) to have my house ‘chamkao’d’ (cleaned :D ) every three months.

Would I recommend them to anyone?? In a jiffy! I’ve already recommended them to friends who want to have their homes deep cleaned and I believe, there too, they will do a stellar job!

Team Tidy Cleanerz, please do not change the professional approach and efficiency with which you work. That is precisely what sets you apart from other home cleaning/housekeeping services. Once again, Burzin Mistry and Team Tidy Cleanerz, heartfelt thanks for the work done and for tolerating my idiosyncrasies!

P.S: I wish I had taken a few photographs while the team worked at my home. May be I will when they come in next time… For now please make do with the visiting card photograph. 

Friday, 8 December 2017

Sara Soda – Bhari Jevan Ashile

I have been a regular patron of Marrakesh for quite a many years and when its owner Gaurav invited me to visit his new baby, Sara Soda, I happily accepted. We were greeted by Chef-Manager Dhanesh at the restaurant who informed us that they would be serving Goan fare that afternoon.

The restaurant is nicely done up in bright hues, typical of Goan houses; the décor is an eclectic mix of classy and quirky. Something about the decor simply appeals at first glance and then has you wanting to explore the quirkiness. 

Prawn Balachao with Sannas was the first dish served and it was finger lickin’ good! We used the leftover Sannas to wipe the platter clean. 

The Shack Style Beef Chili served with Poi (typical Goan bread) was a tad spicy but the beef was beautifully cooked. The poi was a good accompaniment as it helped tone down the spice level on the palate. 

The Surmai in Rechardo Sauce fell off in luscious pieces at the slightest poke of the fork and the spicy-tangy Rechardo sauce complemented it perfectly.

The mutton from the Mutton Vindaloo served as one of the mains could, ideally, have been more succulent but we did like the robust flavour of the gravy. 

The Chicken Xacuti gravy was very toothsome and the chicken was tender and succulent. (The individual photograph I clicked of the Xacuti was a blurred one hence haven't put it up. It would belittle the dish and my blog.)

What I loved best of the three mains, though, was the Prawn Curry. The prawns were cooked to what I term as ‘spot on’ texture. The curry had a lovely hint of coconut milk and slivers of green chili in the curry lent a fabulous hit of heat to the palate. 

They served us a small bowl of tendli (Ivy Gourd) pickle which I apprehensively tasted. It turned out to be delicious!

Sizzling Bibinca with Ice cream was sent over as dessert. I’m not a big fan of Bibinca and I have no clue where they source this one from, but it was superb. 

We live in an era where fusion food is the in thing and not many variations work but this one did.

I made a second visit to Sara Soda with mum. We began our meal with a delicious Tomato Soup. I love tomato soup and this is one of the best I have tasted. They served croutons on the side to ensure they don't go soggy. I so appreciated that!

I loved this bowl of goodness so much that I had a portion packed for dad as Tomato soup is his all time favourite. If you happen to visit Sara Soda do not miss out on this piping hot bowl of deliciousness! Sigh!

Our choice of mocktail was Smokey Tangerine! It looked gorgeous when it was brought to our table and tasted just as superb as it looked. If you like your drinks sweet and tangy then don't miss out on this one.

The Chicken Piri Piri Roll is another ‘must-try’ dish on their menu. Only when you bite into the crisp papad and the yummy moist chicken filling within will you understand why I say it’s a ‘must-try’. 

The Bombay Duck Fingers were a nice change from the regular fish fingers that most restaurants serve. The only suggestion I would make is that they avoid the use of medium or large Bombay Ducks. Small sized Bombay Ducks would be ideal so as to avoid the fine hair-like bones that irritate the palate when one uses medium or large ones. 

The Crispy Honey Chili Chicken needs refinement in terms of flavour and texture. The chicken pieces could have been crisper and the dish lacked honey in totality. I am someone who has quite a high tolerance for spice and in spite of that, my mouth was on fire and my ears weren’t merely ringing, there were bells clanging loudly in there. This dish definitely needs adjustment so as to be in sync with its name.

Sara Soda specializes in sizzlers hence I asked for a recommendation and was advised to give the Tea Smoked Roast Chicken a try. I went with the recommendation and was immensely pleased with the flavours. They gave me an option of noodles or rice as accompaniment and I chose rice. 

I requested them to add a sunny side up to my sizzler and they happily obliged. The chicken emanated a gentle aroma of tea which was subtle enough to not overpower the palate. The sizzler was one of the best I’ve had in a long, long time.

I wanted mum to try the awesome Sizzling Bibinca with Ice cream that I’d had on my last visit hence that was what we ordered. It was just as good as it was the first time. 

They were kind enough to send us a portion of Carrot Stuffed Gulam Jamun with Lemon Grass Rabdi but we found it to be a tad too sweet in entirety. They need to go easy on the sweetness for this dessert. We did give them honest feedback and they took it very gracefully. 

Both afternoons spent at Sara Soda were lovely. Why wouldn’t they be? I had a friend accompany me for the invite and mum for company at the second visit… but, of course, what matters most when one eats out is food and the food at Sara Soda shines. They have quite an extensive menu and I cannot wait to go back and try out more dishes.

Heartfelt thanks Gaurav, Madhuri Jadhav, Chef-Manager Dhanesh and Team Sara Soda for the invite. I was already hooked on Marrakesh; now you have me hooked on Sara Soda too.

Food: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 5/5

- The first visit was an invite but the second visit, with mum, was as a regular paying patron of the establishment. 
- 'Bhari Jevan Ashile' translates in Konkani to ' The food was very good!'

Some more photographs:

Sara Soda Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Malaka Spice: Friends, Food and Fun!

A couple of days back a few foodie fellows, yours truly included, who had gotten to be online friends decided to get together for lunch at Malaka Spice. We were meeting for the very first time. We were friends in the virtual world but strangers to each other in the real one. What connected us, though, was our love of food or more specifically, “good food”. We all met up at Malaka Spice and soon settled down to an afternoon of  ‘gup-shup’ and deliciousness.

I’ve been to Malaka Spice countless of times in the past few years and it was the same for the others at the table hence we knew exactly what we wanted to order. Our starters comprised of Top Hats, an all time favourite and a dish that the chefs at Malaka Spice have mastered. The crunchy outer casing with its delicious filling topped with spouts have always been a winning combination. The other starters for the afternoon were Randang Fish Satay, Thai Mutton Chops, Lotus Stem Tango and Nan Thod Potatoes.

The fish used for Randang Fish Satay was Basa. It was well marinated and cooked to perfect texture. 

While I’m not generally a fan of Lotus Stem, give it to me fried, crisp and tossed in a sweet chili sauce and see me polish it off. *greedy grin* The Lotus Stem dish was exactly that. We all loved it! 

The Thai Mutton Chops were peppery and succulent as always. It’s another dish they never get wrong and is a must try if you’re as much a carnivore as I am. 

The Nan Thod Potatoes was a new dish for me. These were baby potatoes stir-fried and tossed in a tangy tamarind-chili sauce. What I truly appreciated, though, was that the potatoes were cooked through. Each and every potato was tender. It was a vegetarian dish that had all the makings of getting on to this carnivore’s ‘must-have at Malaka Spice’ list.

We also opted for a couple of stir-fry dishes: Sambal Crunchy Veg and Green Pepper Chicken. We were well advised by our server to pair it with Phad Thai Noodles. 

While the Sambal Crunchy Veg was very nice, I preferred the green pepper chicken. The flavour of the greens, mainly mint and coriander came through beautifully and yes, as recommended to us, both stir-fry dishes paired perfectly with Phad Thai Noodles.

Instead of trying out a new curry we decided to stick to our tried-and-tested Malaka Kari Kapitan Chicken for our main course. We chose Roti Kanai and Steamed Rice as accompaniments for this dish. 

The gravy was creamy and silken. Roti Kanai is a soft and yummy multi-layered roti and you simply cannot eat just one. That is precisely why we ordered an extra helping. The Malaka Kari Kapitan also paired well with steamed rice but we did prefer it with those hot, fluffy rotis.

We ended our meal on a sweet note: Malaka Magic Choco Lava. This was a brownie covered with a sheet of chocolate over which the server poured hot chocolate. It was served with vanilla ice cream. We were all stuffed to the gills but couldn’t help dig into this plate of molten delight.

It was an afternoon well spent at a place where the food never disappoints; with people who understand and appreciate good food. It was a meal shared with people who have gone on to become foodie friends in the real world. A lunch doesn’t get any better than this!! 

A few more pics.. 

Malaka Spice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Gong : Wonderfully Asian – Wonderfully Modern!

Bright interiors done up with a unique lattice of wood work, tables set with crisp monogrammed napkins and cutlery that included chopsticks; my attention was drawn to all these as soon as I walked into Gong, a modern Asian restaurant at Balewadi High Street. 

I had been reading about this restaurant for a while but as it is situated at the other end of town (a side I rarely venture to), it remained on my ‘to-visit’ list… until now. 

At the onset of the meal, a refreshingly delicious cranberry sphere was served as amuse bouche. 

Our first course was a Green Papaya Salad which I did not eat as I am “allergic” to salads but everyone at the table found the salad to be fresh, albeit a tad spicy. 

For the second course we were served Asparagus Tempura and Ebi Tempura Roll (Prawn), both of which were absolutely gorgeous in flavour and texture. 

I am a very big fan of Cheung Fan and I was ecstatic when I saw it on the tasting menu. 

They served us two varieties: Crisp Vegetable Cheung Fan and Crispy Prawn Cheung Fan. As these were the Zhaliang (also written as Zha Leung) variety of Cheung Fan it had a light and crisp inner layer with a silken outer covering; they were perfect and a delight to bite into!

Next, we were served Edamame & Truffle Dumplings. These were steamed to perfection and the dumpling wrapper was beautifully thin. The filling of Edamame & Truffle was smooth and lush on the palate without being pasty. We all loved it!

The Asian Cottage Cheese Ravioli and the Asian Crab Ravioli were served in a very unique way; in stem glasses. Both the raviolis were lovely but of course the carnivore in me preferred the one filled with crab. 

I’m not a big fan of lotus stem but my palate declared the Crisp Lotus Stem to be a winner among the vegetarian items served. Crisp, sweet and spicy; the chefs had turned a humble vegetable into a delicious preparation. 

The Vietnamese Fish Parma Fingers were also nicely done. The fish was batter fried to a lovely crunch and served with crisp lettuce, sauces, kimchi and grated Parmesan.

For the next course we were supposed to be served a Mushroom Cappuccino and a Chicken-Asparagus & Lebanese Cucumber soup but that never made its way to our table. As this was a tasting invite, we decided not to question our host about the same.

For the mains there were two vegetarian dishes which I avoided as tofu and greens are not things I relish. I thought it would be unfair to review something my taste buds cannot handle. As for the non-vegetarian mains, the lamb shanks were delish but they would’ve been better had they had more meat on them. 

The Burnt Garlic Fried Rice and the Soba Yaki Noodles were an excellent accompaniment to the flavourful Chicken Pixian which was cooked in special Chinkiang vinegar. The crisp tuile served with the chicken gave a dish a very classy look.


The first dessert they served was the Chocolate Dome and the only thing I can say about it is, ‘wow-wow-wow!’. (Do check out the uploaded video)

The chocolate log filled with mousse was also quite nice. The only drawback was the chocolate log had a very thick covering of chocolate which made the dish a bit clumsy. A thinner, more delicate covering of chocolate would’ve worked better. 

The mango pudding wasn’t enjoyable. It was made of canned mango pulp which lent an unappealing aftertaste to the palate; I’d give this a miss and exchange it for that decadent Chocolate Dome on any given day. ;)

All in all, the chefs at Gong Modern Asian sure know their food and that knowledge clearly reflects in the flavours and textures they serve their patrons. I will definitely go back and try some more non-vegetarian dishes from their menu as the ones they served were very good.

This was a food tasting invite via team #FoodProwl who also happened to be celebrating their 100th food tasting event that day. *a loud happy shout out to the entire team for being as awesome as it is*

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this review are solely my own based on the food served and they are also based on how my palate handled the food. Your views of the place and the food may differ depending on your experience and I will respect them; please respect mine!

Link to.... Chocolate Dome Video