Friday, December 23, 2011


1701, Stockton St.,
San Francisco, CA
Phone: (415) 362 6421

Food: 4/5
Ambience: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Meal for 2: $$

Thanks to a 'continental drift', we have been MIA on the blog for a long long while. Yes, we are now on the other side of the Pacific ocean - which does not bode too well for our waistlines (you must see the portion sizes here - HUGE!) but yayy to new foodie adventures!!!

Mandatory pic of the Golden gate bridge - check.

The San Francisco Bay Area, where we now live, is like an 'amreekan' version of Bangalore - there's the Silicon Valley, there are the desi geeks and there are the restaurants - oh! the restaurants - of all shapes and sizes, from every corner of the world, where one can savour a different cuisine for every day of the month. No wonder we are so tummy-happy with the move!

A frantic google search on an empty stomach in San Francisco pointed us to Mama's, located in North Beach, the Italian quarter of sunny SF. Online reviews warned of a looong wait for a table and boy- where they right or what! We waited a good 40 minutes outside on a Saturday mid-morning - our hungry tummies growling from bass to baritone. Not to mention the tempting menu on the window (torture- I tell you) and the smell of toast and eggs and other good things wafting out - I was wiping off my drool from the sidewalk .


...and some more

The iss-speshals!

The tiny but cosy restaurant was done up in cheery colours to match the holiday season and was full of happy, chattering folks (must be the food - always a good sign!). The orders are taken at the cash register but making up our minds on what to eat was no easy task - everything sounded yummy! M'omelettes (short for Mama's omelettes) or benedicts? French toast or pancakes? How about one of each? Thankfully this foolishly sanguine idea was promptly dismissed in the interest of, shall we say?

'Tis the season to be jolly

So we waited for our order to arrive over coffee and a mug of hot chocolate. My omelette arrived - fluffy and light, folded over minced Dungeness crab, sliced avocado and havarti cheese. My choice was driven by my love for the crustacean (of course as food!!!) and also to make the most of the Dungeness crab season that had just begun. There was a lot of crab inside the omelette - soft and fleshy - needing just a hint of salt and pepper to enjoy the fresh and flavorful meat. The cheesy avocado elevated this simple breakfast into a hearty meal. (Excuse me, while I salivate on the memory.)

Dungeness crab omelette

The chocolate cinnamon french toast for Balaji came with heaps of berries and bananas and gooey chocolate syrup drizzled on top. Soaked in eggy goodness and dusted with sugar, it looked like it would send one into a sugar rush lasting for days. Surprisingly, it wasn't overpoweringly sweet- just the right degree of sinful goodness.

Chocolate cinnamon French toast

Being the inquisitive Indians that we are, we could not help but unabashedly look at tables around us to 'check out' what others were having. We learnt that the Monte Cristo (turkey breast and baked ham sandwich, in cheddar and havarti cheese bread dipped in egg, grilled and served with homemade jam) is a popular lunch option here (Mama's is open for breakfast and lunch only). We also heard of (and promptly noted down) some other popular restaurant haunts in the city. What a wealth of info some discreet eavesdropping can get you! Warning - This stunt to be performed only by experts.

A fresh batch of Monte Cristo's being made in the tiny and busy kitchen

Despite being packed, service at Mama's is prompt and quick. The waiters are well-informed and courteous and the ambiance, warm and welcoming.

Mama's is a lovely nook of North Beach to refuel after a jaunt in the city. There's always the longish but pleasant walk all the way to Fisherman's Wharf to work off all those calories later!

Did you know......................
........................................that the Dungeness crab is named after Dungeness, Washington where the US West Coast's first commercial fishery, mainly producing these crabs, was built in 1848?

.......................................that French toast is supposed to taste best when made from day-old or leftover bread? In fact, French toast is called pain perdu which means "lost bread" in French.

Friday, February 11, 2011

City buzzin'

A lot has been happening in our corner of the world so just popped in to tell you that some the reviews on this blog have been published in City Buzz - a new neighbourhood newspaper for South Bangalore. Yayy to us!

Bada Bing

Bada Bing Bang!


Seeing my byline gives me a huge kick! Goes without saying- thank you dear readers for sticking by us and this blog!

The newspaper is available at newstands all over JP Nagar and Jayanagar. You can see an online version of the newspaper
here, though all the articles (including our reviews) aren't up yet.

Monday, December 27, 2010


74, 15th Main,
3rd Phase JP Nagar,
Bangalore 560078
Phone: 080 4093 9311

Food: 3.5/5
Ambience: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Meal for 2: Rs1600

JP Nagar gets hip! Forgotten by the biggies in the hospitality business for long, this suburb now boasts of a true blue Thai restaurant, nestled in lush greenery. Aroy, meaning 'delightful' in Thai, opened a few months back and has managed to elicit a similar response from residents of JP Nagar and the surrounding areas (us! us! us!).

Situated on a rooftop, next to the Sarakki mini forest, its the perfect ambience for a leisurely meal (ambitious plans if you are adventurous parents with a pint sized brat in tow). The breeze swishing through the trees as you indulge in some wholesome and delicious South East Asian cuisine under the open sky, drowns out all the din from the traffic below. There is also an indoor seating arrangement if al-fresco isn't your cup of tea (or, if like us, you are caught unawares by a sudden downpour :((( )
The banana blossom cakes came with a lot of recommendation from other reviews and did meet expectations. A crisp crust with a soft inside of shredded banana flower, served with pickled cucumber, the cakes built us a nice appetite.

Banana blossom cakes

The hot and sour Tom Yum soup gets a thumbs up too. Bursting with tangy flavours of lemongrass, in harmony with fresh galangal and aromatic fish sauce, this hearty soup is just what the doctor ordered to beat the winter blues. The kaffir lime leaves added a distinctive zing to the stock. The fish soup with prawn head paste didn't disappont either- delicate chunks of fish in a pungent broth, good for the nasal passages!
The twice cooked chicken wings were full of greasy goodness and best eaten hot. The prawn satay could have been better though; it was quite insipid.
We attacked the burnt garlic chicken noodles with gusto. The shitake mushrooms and pokchoy gave a nice bite and the smoky flavour of the dish was given good company by the chicken krapow (Thai basil chicken stirfried with long beans and red chillies).

Burnt garlic noodles

Thai basil chicken

Aroy also has a limited menu of Burmese and Chinese so we gave Ong Noh - Khao Swte (pronounced -Ono cow soy; also spelt khao sway, khauk swe, khaot swe, Khao Swea etc) a try. Noodles with curried chicken in coconut milk, it is a meal by itself. It came with a host of condiments like peanuts, slices of boiled eggs, slivers of red chillies, sliced onions, quarters of lemon and the like. Being a spice junkie (blame my South Indian genes!), I was disappointed by the (coconut)milky flavour but I hear that this is how the Burmese broth is supposed to taste like.

Khao Swey

And now for my favourite part of the meal- dessert! Do not give the lemongrass icecream a miss even if you are bursting out of your pants after the meal (very likely- did I mention that the portions are very generous?). I fell in love with the nuances of citrusy taste that came through. The zesty flavour of lemongrass made my tastebuds tingle in Hallelujah.

Oooohh..lemongrass icecream

Actually, I am a sucker for anything citrusy so if you aren't, please ignore my ridiculously wordy exaltation and try something else- water chestnuts in coconut milk maybe? Which, by the way, is good too. Crunchy, cold and sweet.

Crunchy waterchestnuts in coconut milk

( ICECREAM!!!!!!!!)

Did you know.......
...............................that citral, the oil from lemongrass, is used as a mosquito repellent (citronella)around the world?
...............................that galangal is considered an aphrodisiac, and acts as a stimulant and has been said to cause mild hallucinations?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Kaveri Complex, Nungambakkam High Road,
Chennai 600034.
Phone: 044-28265240

Food: 4/5
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 3/5
Meal for 2: Rs 1500

A Japanese establishment that has managed to survive in filter-kaapi land for over a decade definitely deserves a dekko, especially for poor us who had to settle for the ubiquitous Saravana Bhavan (miniscule helpings with decimally challenging prices - mini coffee for Rs 10.45!!) almost every time we dared to venture out in the Chennai heat.
We did spend some time trying to locate the restaurant, hidden as it is in a nook of an old building (which led me to wonder if all Japanese restaurants are housed this way - check our review of Harima). The neat interiors are done up sparsely with Japanese lanterns, a shelf full of Japanese DVDs and books (for rent, I presumed), a small TV tuned into a Japanese channel, traditional Japanese seating as well as conventional tables and chairs.
We were given cold towels and refreshing chilled wheat tea (ocha in Japanese) upon arrival. Perfect to go with the icy hostess and co-owner, Revathi who was reticent, almost to the extent of being rude to us throughout our meal. We did notice that she seemed courteous to the Japanese patrons present there though. Hmphf!!!

They close early (2:30pm and 9:30pm are the last orders for lunch and dinner)

Being cold shouldered by the hostess, we had no option but to take menu suggestions from a kind looking Japanese gentleman who was seated at the next table, Mr. Toshi. He was not only good company; he also recommended some pretty interesting Japanese staples and accompaniments which we enjoyed.

Mr.Toshiyuki Nakagome

Japanese food is supposed to taste natural with almost no spice added. Soya sauce, ginger, wasabi, seaweed etc are used on the side to add some flavour during meals. We started off with simple and crisp Ebi Tempura (batter fried prawn) with a soya sauce dipping. Dahlia has an impressive variety of fish and other seafood on its menu so an order of mixed maki sushi made its way to our table. The fish was extremely fresh and the sushi rolls get top rating for their subtle flavour. We enjoyed it so much that we almost didn't realize that the fish was raw....not something we get to eat everyday ;) Not to forget a rehash of the mind-numbing wasabi experience!

Ebi tempura

Maki Sushi

Next was the Teishoku or the Japanese set meal which is a portion of rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables and a vegetable or meat dish- in our case, roasted pork with ginger. The pork is spooned over the rice (the accomplished ones use chopsticks!) and eaten, with a bit of the accompaniments in between. The tender strips of pork, mildly sweet and cooked to perfection were outrageously tasty. The miso soup tasted watered down but we were told by our Japanese friend that it is how it should be.


To quote Lonely Planet, it’s hard to imagine how Tokyo could function without noodles. Fittingly, the menu at Dahlia offers staples such as soba (brown buckwheat noodles) and udon (white wheat noodles) served hot or cold, in a range of styles. Our serving of Zaru soba (cold noodles) came in a bamboo plate with slivers of seaweed on top, along with some broth, wasabi and chopped spring onions. The wasabi and spring onions are mixed a little at a time in the broth, the noodles are then dipped into it and eaten. Despite not being richly flavoured, the dish was very satisfying.

Zaru Soba

There are no desserts on Dahlia's menu but what we had was filling enough. The portions are good enough for two and the flavours are appetising without leaving an aftertaste for the rest of the day (which means no going burrrrp and smelling of onions or fried chicken later :D).

Revathis ill-mannered behaviour (seems to be a common sore point across many reviews we came across) would have dampened our experience if not for Mr Toshi who helped us pick from the menu as well as surprised us with useful nuggets of information on Japan and its food. Thank you for letting us know that our babys name means 'happiness' in Japanese!!! Yes, we have a daughter, A DAUGHTER, WORLD!

Edited to add: Dahlia has a branch in Bangalore as well. Church Street is the place to go if you are craving some Japanese chow.

Did you know.......
...............................that maki means 'roll' and refers to any type of sushi which is made in a roll with sushi rice, toasted seaweed and various fillings?
...............................that although it’s highly rude in the West, in Japan it is customary to slurp your noodles, both to cool them (when hot) and to enhance the flavour?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh Ghee....!!!!

I found this list of 43 most mispronounced food words and it was quite an eye-opener. Some samplers...

Bruschetta (broo-SKEH-tah)
Guacamole (wah-cah-moe-lay)
Ghee (ghee, not jee) - muhawhawhawhaw!
Turmeric (ter-me-rick)- never thought anyone needed to be told that, eh?

Now you know how to sound like a food snob :D !!!

Did you know...........
.....................................that crêpe is pronounced by the English as 'crape' and by the French as 'krep' (e is pronounced same as in the e in 'wet')?
Cartoon courtesy

Monday, August 31, 2009

Coorg Calling

What we devoured on a weekend break in Coorg Valley. Drool on keyboard guaranteed with this read.

What do you do when you are up to your ears with news about pigs that fly? Escape to Coorg and hog (pun unintended) on pork, like we did. And to our pleasant surprise, we also discovered that there's more to Kodava cuisine than just porcine delicacies, all thanks to our lovely hosts -Dilip and Vidya - at Kabbe Holidays.
The homestay offers atleast one authentic Coorg dish in every meal which meant that we ended up sampling a whole lot of awesome food during our stay, carefully prepared under Vidya's supervision.
If it was steaming upma and kaipuli pajji (chutney made from marmalade oranges) for breakfast one day, it was hot akki otti (roti made of rice) with nutty yell pajji (sesame seed chutney), served with honey and ghee the next. The otti, I've enjoyed earlier too, but the upma was a revelation. It made me, a champion upma detester, a convert for life!

Kabbe Holidays on NDTV - watch the anchor savour yell pajji and akki otti

Akki otti and yell pajji, Coorg honey and ghee

Lunch and dinner threw up many more lip-smacking delights, both from Coorg and beyond the border- spicy Kerala kadala curry (black chick pea curry), kootu curry, bollari fry (a delicious traditional dish with a tinge of sweetness, made from Mangalore cucumber), fried balekai (raw banana), steaming paputtu (rice cakes) with koli curry (chicken) and chaat kuru curry (made from black eyed beans). Vidya's mouth watering mushroom pickle (another Coorg speciality) was the perfect accompaniment to the meals.

(From L to R) bollari fry, poori, pork fry, kadala curry, balekai, chicken

Paputtu with koli curry

And the piece de resistance - pandi fry. Chewy chunks of pork, abundantly peppered, flavoured with kachipuli (also known as Malabar Tamarind or cambogia - the souring agent in Coorg food) and fried with crunchy onions - best enjoyed with chilled beer, friendly banter, gorgeous weather and a crackling bonfire. The fieriness of the dish left me disorientated after just one bite, but I was back for more after dousing my tongue with lots of water. Oh, and pork is prepared at Kabbe homestay by request only so Vidya needs to be informed in advance if guests would like to have it.

Simple but gutsy pandi fry

A special mention to the luscious desserts served by Vidya - kheer, bread pudding, caramel custard and the guilt-flavored, totally addictive chocolate cake that she baked for Balaji as soon as she got to know that his birthday fell on one of the days we were there!

Calorie rich! Saddle bags guaranteed

Due to favourable rain and climate conditions in the valley, fresh vegetables, fruits and spices are in abundant supply. We made the best use of our visit by stocking up on pepper and fragrant cardamom from Dilip's plantations, as well as the popular Coorg honey. Luckily for us, they had enough stock of home-made squashes of bitter sweet pomelo (chakota in Kannada) and tangy passion fruit, for us to take away a bottle each. By the way, these squashes make for great cocktails with vodka - as Balaji discovered, thanks to Dilip.

Bounties of Kodagu - that's kachipuli in the bottle on the left, followed by honey, pomelo squash, coffee and spices

On our way back to Bangalore, we picked up some of the famed coffee from Coorg Coffee Works, which is close to the clock tower at Virajpet. The Nilgiris outlet in Gonikoppa is a good place to pick up locally made squashes and fruit wines (pomegranate, star apple, fig - sounds deliciously exotic, right?). We also found kachipuli, pork masala and tender bamboo pickle (a Kodagu speciality again) here. Both towns have streetside vendors selling native fruits and vegetables for a fraction of the city prices- we found fresh avocados for Rs 20 a kilo (yes, read it again - Rs 20 a KILO).

And the air smelling of the freshness of spring? Priceless!

Did you know........
................................that pork is the most widely eaten meat in the world, accounting for about 38 percent of meat production worldwide?
................................that the pomelo is also called the shaddock, after an English sea captain who introduced them to the West Indies?
...............................that natives of Coorg are NOT called Coorgis? The correct term is Coorgs or Kodavas and the language spoken by them is also called Coorg.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sri Shankarnarayana Refreshments

10, 12th Cross,
JP Nagar 2nd Phase ,
Phone : 080 42456060

Food: 3/5
Ambience: 1.5/5
Self service
Meal for 2: Rs 50-75

We heard of this very well-kept-secret of a brekkie joint only recently, though it has been around for the past 18 years or so. Methinks its one of the perils of a small establishment which does not rely on accolades of idli/dosa-kaapi contests, content with only word of mouth publicity.
So we hunted down this place on a hungry Sunday. Yes, actually hunted it down - it's in an obscure street in the belly of JP Nagar - and to avoid going round in circles like we did, here is a 3 step plan:
1] Go to Rangashankara
2] Ask for directions to Ambarish's house (you don't know Ambarish? the red-eyed-'rebal'-star?)

3] Once you are done trying to peek into his compound, ask any passerby for SN Refreshments (or bhattru's votlu - as known in those parts) and there you are!

Ramachandra Bhat and staff

And what did we find here? One of the best idli-vada combos this side of town, swimming in a puddle of lipsmacking, spicy coconut chutney. Crispy, perfectly done vada and sambar. Hot masala dosas straight off the griddle, giving out sibilant sizzles. Pongal, khara bath and all other tiffan items too. Strong coffee to down it all with. And if you can manage to stuff yourself some more, don't leave without giving the kesaribath a try. One spoonful of saffron sweetness is enough to make you weep with joy...ok maybe I'm getting a bit dramatic here....but you get the drift, dontcha?

Fluffy idlis with the best vadas in town

Nutty coffee

The pièce de résistance

And if you are left licking your lips throughout the day, did I mention that bhattru's place is open in the evenings too? ( 7am to 1pm and 3.30pm to 7.30pm on weekdays, 7am to 1am on Sundays) Mast majaa maadi!
P.S - You still don't know who Ambarish is? Seriously??

Did you know................
........................that the bath (or bhaat or baath) in "kesaribath" means "steamed rice" in Marathi? Though popular versions of this dessert use rava or semolina, the rice preparation is similar to "sakkare pongal" minus the dal.
.......................that the good old vada has a hole in the middle for even cooking? Since the batter is thick, the hole allows the vada to be cooked from the inside as well.