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A Culinary Omnium Gatherum

May 21, 2010 2 comments

Last weekend, driven by the relentless summer heat, we sought refuge in various restaurants and food courts. There wasn’t much else we could do. Movies? well, there weren’t many we cared to watch. Travelling was out of question. Half the population of Delhi was making a beeline for the mountains during weekends. Flight tickets were expensive. Reservation was not available in trains. Hotel rooms were at a premium. Stranded in the city, all we could think as a means of entertainment was eating.

Driving you crazy with their noodles

Crazy Noodles at the Galleria was the first on our circuit. The shapeless and squiggly structure of the restaurant seemed inspired by an amoeba. Its funky, ultra modern interior was done up in pale pink, pastel green and pitch black. Splodgy tables, chairs and sofas followed the amorphous contours of the transparent plexiglass wall through which outside world gaped at the dining chatterati.

The weirdness of the restaurant was not limited to the facade or flashy ambience. It was manifest in the waiter’s attire, the service and the cutlery. The moment we were seated, our waiter tossed two convex bottomed glasses on the table filling water in them with dramatic flourish. The pendular motion of the glasses kept us in perpetual suspense of a spill for the rest of the dinner. Later he brought two tablets inscribed “CRAZY” in a small bowl asking us to dip them in water. Before our astounded eyes the tablets pulled themselves erect into wet wipes. The erotic symbolism of this phallic miracle was not entirely lost on us as we shyly unfurled the wipe and applied it to our face and hands.  A circular menu exhibiting some measure of order and symmetry succeeded the wipe episode announcing temporary respite from miracles.

After painstaking debate and some enlightening (and pricey) suggestions from our table attendant we chose

1. Vietnamese Paper Rolls (Veg)
2. Veg Thukpa
3. Mint Caprioska
4. Lychee Chill

Our post order vigil and covert surveillance of other patrons was interrupted by the waiter who didn’t want to stop at indulging our taste buds; he intended to provide us some intellectual nourishment as well. We were enticed into grappling with a puzzle by the promise of an extra drink if we solved it. Meanwhile the paper rolls and the drinks made their appearance. Despite a surfeit of crushed ice, the Mint Caprioska retained the taste of mint, basil and lemon. Lychee Chill was sugary sweet and not quite appealing. The rolls, glass noodles, peanuts and basil leaves wrapped in thin rice paper, tasted delicate.

We declined the promised drink and asked for more puzzles and ended up solving all four they had while distractedly supping delicious Thukpa from voluminous bowls. We went on to order a plate of vegetable Dimsum and the signature dessert of the restaurant – chocolate money bags. The Dimsum was okay while the dessert was more memorable for the ice-cream scoops than the miniscule chocolate bags.

Personally I prefer quiet dining environs devoid of razzmatazz and gimmickry. But, I wouldn’t mind a rerun of this joint for the wonderful food they serve. The drinks and the money bag dessert are, in my opinion, dough down the drain. But the rest are definitely worth it, for the taste and the enormous proportions as well.

CRAZY NOODLES
TRAK SERVICES PVT. LTD.
R-003, GALLERIA, DLF PHASE IV
GURGAON
Contact: 0124-4255758

Gastronomics
Vietnamese Paper Rolls (Veg) – Rs.125.00
Veg Thukpa – Rs.150.00
Mint Caprioska – Rs.85.00
Lychee Chill – Rs.85.00
Veg Dimsum – Rs.95.00
Chocolate Money Bags – Rs.125.00
The Detestables – VAT 12.5%, Service Charge – 7.5%, VAT Surcharge

Opinion: Avoid the drinks. They are expensive. Besides, most of them are piles of crushed ice topped with the flavouring concoction. I have been told that the banana milk shake is the only good drink.

Crazy Noodles menu at Foodiebay: Not available at the time of writing this post

Ikays – Buffet Ambush

This was a golden honey trap. The Rs.225.00 + taxes buffet was the lure. And we fell for it.

Inside the restaurant it was green and gloom all over. Monster.com green, tropical rain forest green, Greenpeace green. Chairs, sofas, walls, pillars, uniforms of the staff – green, green, green. Jewel studded imitation Mughal jugs and bowls mocked us from wall niches. Feng Shui bamboo vases and laughing monks lend much needed astrological support to this tardy restaurant.

The buffet? well, I have seen much better buffets. It was not totally hopeless as far as a vegetarian was concerned. My non-vegetarian soul sank to the deepest depths of misery at the sight of the sole unappetizing bowl of butter chicken. To give the restaurant its due, I should admit that they had a reasonable array of standard salad items and some vegetarian dishes were tasty. But somehow, with such minimal non vegetarian fare and with just one dessert, it didn’t seem quite worth it. For another 30 bucks, Bawarchi offered a far better deal.

What surprised us most was a rave review of the restaurant being telecast on TV – on CNEB Channel – while we were dining. The restaurant staff (including the distinguished chef whose culinary expertise on Mushroom Kurkure was being showcased) were all busy watching and recording the show on their mobile phones. That was not all. A large framed certificate from TIMES Research (????!!!!!!!) rating Ikays as the best multi-cuisine restaurant in Gurgaon hung prominently on the wall. If the buffet was any indication, the quality of food that come out of the kitchen was no great shakes, mediocre at best. Same for the service. TIMES Research seems to have done a pretty shoddy business of their researching as far as I could tell.

My sincerest advice to prospective patrons of Ikays is to give it a skip and try the DLF Mega Mall food court instead, if you really care for the “Joy of Eating”.

IKAYS (“Misery of Eating”)
Multi-cuisine Restaurant & Bar
2nd Floor, DT Mega Mall, Gurgaon
Contact: 0124-4278640, 9971695958

Ikays menu and reviews at Foodiebay: Click Here

DLF Megamall Foodcourt – 3rd Floor

Mann Salva – Excellent Kebabs.
I have tried the Boti Kebab (6 pieces of boneless mutton) with a Rumali Roti. Rs.176.00 including taxes. Worth every rupee. Mann Salva is one of the surviving members of the original cast of counters that made up this food court.

Contact: 0124-4051200 for delivery

Mann Salva menu at Foodiebay: Click Here

There is of course McDonalds and Subway and homely food at Sip n Bite. Bamboo Dynasty has some okay soups. The Excess Chocolate Cake at Lavazza is worth trying. It is not too sweet. (Rs.84.00 inclusive of taxes)

Bamboo Dynasty
Contact: 0124-4114163

Categories: Gastronomique

Love in times of Gastronomique

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I recently attended a two day corporate training program at Park Premier, Gurgaon. After 4 hours of leadership spiel, the lunch break acquired an almost desperate charm. Down Town Cafe, the hotel restaurant with an alabaster finish had a bright earthen coloured mural adorning the rear wall. Sun light filtering through brown curtains with large polka dots lit sofa backs and cast elliptical shadows on tables. The restaurant overlooked the hotel atrium where executives leafed through papers or clobbered at laptops. Behind the buffet counter chefs turned chicken fillets on the grill. An enormous vase of artificial flowers spread like a banyan tree over the salad counter.

Our 45 minute lunch break was much too small to plunder the vast array of dishes on offer. So, with uncanny intuition, I decided to limit the intake of flora to desserts and fruits and concentrate on fauna for the main course.  On day one, a cursory flirt between grilled chicken in pepper sauce and parantha was followed by an earnest courtship of sliced fish in hot ‘n sour sauce and steamed rice. My brief dalliance with baby corn in mustard sauce was delightful. Day two, sliced lamb with black bean sauce and parantha surpassed expectations while grilled fish with Veronique didn’t quite scale the benchmark. On both days, desserts outshone each another in sweetness and appeal, be it blueberry or pineapple gateaux, strawberry soufflé, kiwi mousse or banana pudding.

The food at Down Town Cafe is fantastic, the ambience pleasing and service outstanding. This temple to gastronomy is worth all the devotion it deserves. My only prayer at its altar is for slightly more reasonable rates. Amen.

Park Premier
353-357, Sector 29
Gurgaon, Haryana 122001, India
0124 4604616
Website:
http://www.parkpremierhotels.com/

Foodienomics
Lunch Buffet – Rs.549.00 + taxes 
Dinner Buffet – Rs.699.00 + taxes 

Overheard:
“Our normal rate is Rs.850.00 + taxes, but we have special rates these days”
Please take note of this cryptic message. Don’t blame me if your eyes pop out on seeing the bill.

Rating
Food – 9/10
Ambience – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Overall – 8/10

 

Categories: Gastronomique

An expensive flavour of Mughals

December 15, 2009 2 comments

We generally eat out on weekends. After a week’s drudgery at the office, the only weekend succour available for Gurgaon residents who doesn’t want to stay at home is exploration of shopping malls and sampling the gazillion restaurants dotting the landscape. But, a weekend food spree could easily drain your pocket, so the dilemma is to find a place that provides the best wallet-to-palate balance.

This weekend, our exploit lead us to “Flavor of Mughals”, the Mughlai cuisine and Lounge Bar at Central Arcade, opposite Sahara Mall. Apart from an old Punjabi couple, the restaurant was empty. The staff, dressed in pale grey Mughal style silk kurtas ushered us to a comfortable corner table. It was late afternoon and we were quite hungry. The unwieldy long wooden menu tablets featured an ample bouquet of Masahari(Non-Vegetarian) and Shakahari(Vegetarian) fare.

Our choice of starter was Bhutta Seekh Kebab (grilled skewer of assorted vegetables and corn). For main course we chose Chooza-E-Changezi (boneless tender chicken in a thick tomato gravy cooked in Tawa) and Makai Hara Bagh (dense aromatic mixture of spinach, corn, onions and green chilly) to go with plain Naan.

Soon immaculate white plates were laid out and water was poured into clean glasses. Before long, succulent, tasty Kebabs made the entrance followed by main course served in heavy steel bowls. The Makai Hara Bagh was exceptional, delicately flavoured, mouth watering and went well with the crisp Naan. Chicken Changezi was ordinary. Portions were sizeable, sufficient for three. Finger bowls of fragrant rose water over, we asked for the Cheque.

Initial estimates went for a toss as we glared at the bill. The 12.5% percent VAT (officially sanctioned rip off) was augmented with a 10% service charge. The bill came to a whopping Rs.1262.00 out of which Rs.230.00 had nothing to do with food.

Bhutta Seekh Kebab (Four 7″ pieces) – Rs.220.00
Chooza-E-Changezi – Rs.325.00
Makai Hara Bagh – Rs.260.00
Plain Naan – Rs.45.00 each

Apart from à la carte, the restaurant also offered several buffet options like unlimited starters + Biriyani for Rs.555.00, unlimited drinks for an additional Rs.299.00 etc. VAT and 10% service taxes were extra.

Blue chairs, brown tables, heavy steel cutlery, pleasant ambience, deferential waiters, prompt service, hot food – a good overall dining experience. But the relative high rates upset the yin-yang balance of eating out which is the only reason why this restaurant, to me, does not merit a revisit.

Rating:
Food Quality – 8/10
Service – 7/10
Cleanliness – 9/10
Price – 6/10
Verdict: Not value for money

Flavor of Mughals
120-121-122-123, Central Arcade, DLF Phase-II
Opp. Sahara Mall, MG Road, Gurgaon – 122002
Tel: 0124-4290000, Mobile: 9717970000
www.flavorofmughals.com
info@flavorofmughals.com
Total Seating Capacity: 84
Restaurant Menu from Foodiebay available here – Link

Categories: Gastronomique