Showing posts with label pan asian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pan asian. Show all posts

Jan 3, 2014

Christmas in the Air!

My family lives in Kuwait and they usually visit this time of the year. They don't usually stay till Christmas but we have spent many a Christmas together in one of the two country's. The one thing they always notice is how well decked the city is for Christmas, from malls to restaurants, there is a definitive Christmas spirit in the air. This year like last, we had Andy here for the month and we were out every day, just enjoying the weather, the food and the ambient cheer of the season. We went for a tree lighting ceremony at Shangri-La's Eros Hotel, they lit up a lovely tree made of pine cones, quite the change from the usual, though honestly, I love myself a big green, furry tree. Our tree is about 6 years old but it's holding up well, I don't know why it looks so narrow in the pic though :(. Some of the ornaments are from my mother in law and she's had them since A was a baby. We get a few new ones every year, just to reinforce the feeling! This year we got golden snowflakes!

Back to our evening at Shangri-La, Santa came and gave Ally a little stocking of gifts, she was thrilled because she knew we were off to Sevilla at the Claridges for dinner and she wasn't keen on the cuisine. The tree at Claridges was made with potted poinsettia's and it was gorgeous, they had dressed the outside of the 'Ye Old Bakery' with gingerbread and the whole place looked like a Christmas card! We were due to meet Chef Andreu Genestra from Mallorca. The food at Sevilla that night was in one sense cooked just for me, both A and Ally are meat and potatoes kinda folk, A more than Ally, she at least tried and loved the coconut risotto with king prawns. Andy preferred to stick with a hand tossed, wood fired oven pepperoni pizza! Andy finds foods like these pretentious in one sense but then again he has a palate that's refined enough to love beef tongue curry, copious amounts of chorizo and egg roe cutlets but not French, French-Italian or German either. He did love the setting and the ambiance, we had a little fireplace going and big bay windows overlooking the stone oven. I was hoping the gnocchi stuffed with chorizo would work but he found the chorizo too little to really form a dish. It's good to have perspective I suppose, because I liked almost everything.

Then of course we had to go see the tree at Select Citywalk, they always do a fantastic job and since Krispy Kreme had opened next door, there was inspiration enough. Lunch plans were supposed to be at the Dhaba but were dropped for the Teppanyaki meal at WelcomHotel, Saket. I'm glad we did that! The Teppanyaki was worked by Chef Nakamura himself and we sat at the grill to eat. The sashimi that came as a starter was so fresh, it felt like we were eating by sea. Ally only liked Salmon sashimi, A doesn't care for it at all, so we just had to do prawn tempura California sushi rolls. Isn't it amazing how America fries a little of something in a dish to make the dish all together better. The Teppanyaki was a combination of seafood and a marbled slab of beef steak, both of which were fantastic. I loved the salmon the most, A loved the prawns and little Ally couldn't get enough of the calamari, she ate from our portions too! Then came the tree, which was fantastic, it shone like moon, Ally said. We completed the day with Krispy Kreme donuts and Starbucks coffee, bliss!

We had some truly memorable meals this season as well. December is the only month of the year I truly let go, we eat to celebrate! We had a fantastic meal at the Canton Food Company, an adorable Cantina style Chinese place at Cyberhub. Lovely Bao's and excellent duck. Food like this always makes A and I nostalgic, we ate a lot of Asian food when we first started dating, 18 years back! I'm personally very thrilled about Cyrberhub, some of the best restaurants of Gurgaon and a lovely cove nestled in the centre of looming corporate buildings. Can't wait to go back to check out California Pizza Kitchen next. Spaghetti Kitchen a couple of days later was slightly ordinary, we liked the ambiance but we could have done with a much better meal. On the other hand, Zura, a standalone cafe/bistro/diner really outdid themselves, A actually had soup there! We had a fantastic time taking pics with our phones, true 'Instagrammer' style! A's compositions were amazing, he asked me to specifically mention that these were all 'phone' pics, but I have to show you the most iconic ones. Foods getting better in the city and the season was great! We got a lot of the spirit still around us, a bottle or two of leftover mulled rum and the tree of course!

Bratwurst sausages at Zura, with a lovely assorted platter of chicken money bags, tomato parmesan bruschetta and chicken skewers, unassuming food is sometimes so comforting! The steak could have been done some more since I asked for well done, but then sadly, buff is buff and there's only so much you can do with it!

News Flash: Turquoise Cottage has surprisingly good sushi! We were so reluctant to try it, mainly because more than the presentation, it really is all about freshness. But then the menu was so damn evolved, we just had to have a go!

As we start the year 2014, we at The Shirazine Kitchen hope for changes. We need them, good ones, blessed one, happy ones and we wish the same for all of you... much love!

Jan 24, 2013

A Royal Blue

The weather in my city had turned to a listless grey. It reminded me of gruel, how London would be and black and white pictures. A part of me finds this dreariness quite romantic so I was glad to be heading to an afternoon with my beloved blogger buddies and Vietnamese food. I have tasted Vietnam from Anthony Bourdain's perspective, he is so lyrical about the cuisine of this quaint, struggling, ex-French colony, that it makes you wonder how fish can be sweet from sea water and how herbs mimic the potency of spices, beautiful! With an introduction like that, a few dishes at Pan Asian restaurants and a few experiments at home, I was ready for a full on Vietnam experience at Blue Ginger, Taj Palace Hotel (New Delhi).

The Taj group has marveled Delhi for decades, three of which I have vivid memories of. Taj Palace in particular was quite the hangout when we were young adults. Coming back here always induces a sense of nostalgia and warmth. Blue Ginger is their Vietnamese Restaurant, beautifully done with dramatic waterfall chandelairs and a cozy private dining room, I was happy to be in a place where everything is opulent and well, heavy,  the chairs, the silverware....!

The menu was wonderful, mainly because I would love to try some of those things but never really travel far enough (not in the near future!) or conjure them in my kitchen! Having said that, have a look for yourself -

Curried rice cakes with scallion oil & Sriraja panich
Non Vegetarian
Cuu bam xúc sàlách
Stir fried minced lamb with fried onions and scallions served with lettuce
Goi Cuô´n Tôm Gà
Fresh summer rolls with shrimp & chicken
Goi Xòai
Raw mango salad

Dâu Hu Sóc Muôí
Tofu rock salt
Goi Cuô´n Cha
                                                           Fresh summer rolls with vegetables
Goi Xòai
Raw mango salad

Súp Gà Mang Tây
Chicken and asparagus soup
Súp Nâm Chay
Shiitake, ceps, homishimeji and enoki mushrooms soup

Tôm Nuong Muôi Biên
Peppered prawns with sea salt
Gà Nuong Ot lá Chanh
Grilled chicken with lime leaf and chilli

Dâu hu Nuong Kiêu HUÊ
Tofu in lemon grass and chilli marinade
Muop, Dâu Bap, Nâm Nuong Kiêu Hà Tiên
Grilled zucchini, okra and mushroom Ha tien

Sweet tamarind sorbet


Tôm Hùm Xàò Muôi Tiêu
Stir fried lobster with garlic, salt and pepper
Bap Cuu Nâu Dâu Haò
Lemon grass scented braised lamb shanks in caramel chilli oyster sauce
Gà Xàò Sa Ot
Stir fried chicken supreme with lemongrass garlic chilli sauce
 Cu Sen Dôn Rau Chiên Giòn Sôt Me
Crispy lotus root and vegetable delicacy served with tamarind sauce
Dâu xào bach qua
Hue style edamame and broad beans with ginko nuts
Càri Chay
Spicy vegetable red cari
 Xôi Chay Trong Thô
Sticky rice with vegetable topping in clay pot
Mi Xào Mêm Chay
Stir fried soft noodles with vegetables


Bánh Flan Dac Biêt
Ginger coconut caramel custard
Socôla Boc Kem Voí Ruou Amaretto
Chocolate bombe with coffee mousse and amaretto chocolate sauce
Kem Huong Sa
                                                        Lemongrass Ice cream

How intriguing isn't it? For someone like me just the words are music to my ears so the food has to match up and match up it did! I discovered a whole new array of flavours, some I had imagined and some I had forgotten, Vietnamese is that kind of blended cuisine where you are bound to find something you love. And so many surprises, just like Anthony said. In this menu, the Amuse bouche stood out for its spectacular 'hot' zing, from the starters, the Stir fried minced lamb with fried onions and scallions served with lettuce was so pleasantly good that I plan to try it at home. I have tried many a Mango Salad in Pan Asian restaurants but this one was one of best, raw mango is a flavour from my childhood, if you do it well, you will strike a chord! I am not much of a soup person unless its going to be my meal but give me anything with Shiitake and I will love it. The prawns were unforgettable and surprisingly (coming from me), the same can be said of the Grilled okra, so familiar, yet so new. Unmatchable stars of the Main Course have to be - Bap Cuu Nâu Dâu Haò (Lemon grass scented braised lamb shanks in caramel chilli oyster sauce), this has to be eaten to be believed, I would go back just for this, hats off Chef's! The Cu Sen Dôn Rau Chiên Giòn Sôt Me (Crispy lotus root and vegetable delicacy served with tamarind sauce) is something all vegetarians need to try, it is such a richly flavoured dish that not once did we need to add a condiment or seasoning! And for me the biggest surprise, the Dâu xào bach qua (Hue style edamame and broad beans with ginko nuts), which I tasted separately since I was mainly keen on the meats, but this would be one place I could go veggie, seriously!A super special mention of the palate cleanser, the Tamarin Sorbet, never had anything like it before and I simply loved it ... damn it was like a whole different take on a 'kala khatta gola', if you ever had those!

Picture this - Crisp, chilled Chardonnay, still cold from the cosy afternoon and another glass, a warmer, more inviting glass, of a full bodied and heavy Cabernet Shiraz, while we chat and banter. Completely unaware of how wonderfully complimentary the dessert platter will be and then it comes, complete silence! From the three showstoppers - Bánh Flan Dac Biêt (Ginger coconut caramel custard, oh so French!!), the Socôla Boc Kem Voí Ruou Amaretto (Chocolate bombe with coffee mousse and amaretto chocolate sauce) and the Matcha infused, Kem Huong Sa (Lemongrass Ice cream, my favourite!), I was equally awed by all by I am a sucker for anything with lemongrass, so I came out a very satisfied soul!

I say, slow down, take an afternoon off and do something truly special. Life is all about ebb and flow, flow a little, enjoy the ride and do it with a belly full of Vietnamese at Blue Ginger, The Taj Palace Hotel. Thank you for the experience.

I enjoyed this afternoon with - 

Himanshu - The White Ramekins
Mukta - Bake a Mania
Sangeeta - Banaras Ka Khana
Charis - Culinary Storm
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