Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Tao Terraces

A perfect date it was! Asian food, romantic restaurant and my 4-month old fast asleep. 

Tao Terraces would not have happened, had it not been for a meal voucher we got for that place. Considering my little one can’t be out all day, we do not travel far when we want to have a good meal.
The craving for Asian food had been there for very long but I had to avoid it to stay healthy for the baby. This was like a major indulgence in many ways for me.
Tao Terraces is a great place for a fine dining experience. With a water body right in the middle and several Buddha statues adorning the walls, the place warms the heart. Their menu spans across Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines. The place also offers a buffet which we chose in order to make sure we tried a whole lot of stuff.
The buffet per say is not a spread. Each dish is brought to you when you pick it from the menu. I missed peeping through multiple dishes. With the little one sleeping on the couch until mid-way through our main course, Vinod and I did manage to enjoy our food and our time together.
So here’s what we sampled through the afternoon. And yes the pics are bad! With diapers, water bottle, rattle, change clothes, umbrella, hand towels, wallet and wet wipes, I totally forgot to carry a camera. So we had to make do with a mobile camera in low light.
Soups : We tried both the Veg Tom Yum and the Chicken Hot and Sour Soup. Both had sharp tastes but nothing out of the ordinary. Vinod said they were both great for his stuffy nose on a rainy afternoon.

Veg Tom Yum Soup

Chicken Hot & Sour Soup
 Starters : On offer were three veg and three non veg starters.
Chicken Dimsums which were like comfort food for us were great with the honey chilli sauce. The diced chicken with ginger and red chilli was superb with tender pieces of chicken well marinated and cooked. 
Chicken Dimsums

Diced chicken with ginger and red chilli (fish in the background)
The wok tossed fish in fermented black bean and peanut sauce was good but not better than the chicken.
And then we decided we wanted to taste the veg spring rolls. I wonder why I did that. The after taste of flour in the rolls remained until main course arrived.
For main course, there was the quintessential Thai Red Curry and Green Curry. My meal was done with this. I cleared went in for the buffet for these two items and I made sure I had my fill. 

Thai Green Curry

Thai Red Curry
The green curry is usually my favourite but somehow there the red curry took over. It was creamier and perfectly spiced. My mouth is still watering as I write about it. Loved it! I missed the plain rice here. We were served Szechwan fried rice and Hakka noodles, both of which were good.

Szechwan fried rice
Vegetable Hakka Noodles
Somewhere in between we had a mixed vegetable and tofu with bamboo shoots in a black bean sauce. Decent, but again not out of this world. Another dish worthy of mention is the Wok tossed fish in a Chinese Parsley sauce. This was mildly spiced and went well with both the rice and the noodles.
Mixed vegetables in black bean sauce

Fish in Chinese Parsley Sauce
 The buffet also came with a drink. I picked a Fresh Lime soda and Vinod picked a pint of beer.

Fresh Lime Soda
For the dessert, we were served a platter of fresh fruit, banana toffee, Darsan with vanilla ice cream. The Darsan was good but the ice cream was sadly below average. 
The desserts
While this meal was not very different from any of the regular Asian food joints, the ambience gives it those extra points and for me it was clearly the red curry.
Will I go back there? May be, if someone treats me again J
Pay by : Cash and cards
Average meal for two : Rs 1500
Mel’s overall rating : 2.5 out of 5
Location: 5th Floor, 1 MG Mall, Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Halasuru, Bangalore, Karnataka 560008. Phone: 098 86 640445

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shivaji Military Hotel

At the place I work, the food courts are filled beyond capacity during the lunch hours. You have to make a couple of rounds staring into plates to see who is about to finish. Then you quietly stand behind them to politely remind them that it is time they vacated the place. And as they are almost done, you begin to make your way into their chair ensuring nobody gets there before you.
Well, that was the scene at Shivaji Military Hotel when we went there for lunch one Sunday. Our fault, we picked the busiest day and the busiest time (1 PM). But no complaints on that because we expected the rush.
The restaurant is in a narrow lane very close to the Banashankari Bus stand. Ask for directions if needed. This humble eatery has won several coveted awards and you have to visit it in case you are in Bangalore. Like Koshy's, this one is a big checklist item in the 'must-dos' while in Bangalore.

The humble entrance
With our 3-month old baby, we stepped foot into this legendary place known for its biryani. We waited a bit and strategically placed ourselves in such a way that we got to sit as soon as a table was emptied.
Amidst the huge crowds there is not much of the ambiance that could be seen. Maintaining hygiene could be a constant challenge here but it did not bother us much.
While there was a menu, at peak hour, you have to go with what is available. So Chicken Biryani and Mutton Dry was the only thing available and we went with that. The food is served on Eco-friendly leaf plates and the service is fast. While the place can seat about 150 people, the same number were standing around waiting for their 'parcels'.

Chicken Biryani

Mutton Dry
The biryani is great, unique in taste and perfectly spiced. The green masala was evident in this one. I personally like biryanis where the rice and meat is cooked together as compared to the 'assembled' ones. With tender pieces of chicken thrown in, this biryani scored high with raitha and a spicy gravy to go with it.
The mutton was a pepper fry. The right amount of pepper and well cooked meat qualifies itself to a  second helping. The quantity was a little below average but the taste of the biryani left no space for complains.
Vinod particularly mentioned that he liked the food. A big win in itself. We'd love to go back there again on a day when its less crowded.
The pricing is average. However please note that the place is open only from 8 AM to 3 PM and closed on Mondays. Parking could be an issue.
Address: 780, 1st C Main, 45th Cross, 8th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore
Ph no : +91 9845149217
Rating : 4 out of 5
Pay : By cash. Could not check for credit card
Meal for 2 : Rs 450                        

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Fort Cochin

If Kerala is God’s own country, then their cuisine should definitely be heavenly. I couldn’t agree more after I visited The Fort Kochi Connection (FKC) a great addition to restaurants in Koramangala. Situated on the Jyoti Nivas College Road, a basement provides ample parking for two and four wheelers.

I had heard great reviews of the food here especially the buffet. While we could not make it for the lunch buffet, we decided try the place for dinner. A group of friends meeting after long and FKC seemed like the perfect place.

With Mals and half-mals in the group….there was no reason to complain of the choice of cuisine. The ambience is mixed. One section had red lighting making it look like a lounge bar. We skipped that owing to a birthday party that was happening there. We chose the normal seating area. Bright yellow walls and photoframes of the typical Kerala landscape made a decent ambience.

The menu was vast with several cuisine options spanning across food from Kochi, Syrian Christian, Malabar, Chinese, British, Portuguese and Dutch. I am yet to decide if that was a good idea but yes, if you had an idea of the history or Kerala and the influence of various cultures, this would probably make sense. I was there for the food so totally counted on the waiter to recommend the different courses of our meal. 

We had a vegetarian among us who chose the must-try kappa (steamed tapioca) with kadala curry (a traditional favourite made of black chickpeas and served with a red chutney. All three were very good. I made sure I had a bite of each before I lost myself to the meat.
Kadala Curry
This place serves great seafood, chicken and beef. I will be telling you what we ordered through the evening. Get ready for a crash course in Malayalam. Our first choice for starter was Achayan Pothularth which were beef cubes sautéed in spices. Reminds one of the typical Kerala beef fry and make sure you don’t miss this if beef is your thing.
Achayan Pothularth
On the recommendation of the waiter, next on our plates was the Chemmeen Ularthu – a delectable dish of fresh prawn in a semi-spicy mix. The non-Keralites and non-beef eaters seemed to like this one. For me it didn’t score that well, as it was close to what we made at home. To keep the egg lovers happy, we picked the Mutta Chikkiyathu – a variation of egg burji with coconut and mild spices. What I likes about this one was that there were onions or tomatoes to adulterate the taste of eggs and the coconut added a special flavoring.
Chemmeen Ularthu
Mutta Chikkiyathu
So many starters and no chicken. That’s not possible. Again on the waiter’s recommendation, we went for the Dak Bungalow Chicken Fry. The name had a history to it. The taste was good with boneless chicken cooked to perfection in homemade spices. This one was a good choice again though the beef still is my favourite.
Dak Bungalow Chicken Fry
When you have many girls at the table, you end up being full mid-way through the starters. Well, counting on the two boys who were with us, I went ahead and ordered an elaborate main course. We ordered many gravies and to go with it the Kerala staples of appam and iddiyappam (string hoppers). 


The Pachakkari Istew (veg stew) for the vegetarian was a good one with rich coconut milk added to it. To ensure we tried more seafood, we opted for the Neimeen Moilee, seer fish cooked in a coconut based gravy. I liked this one. A little extra tanginess and this would have scored a 10 on 10. The gravy was little on the salty side as well but that could be ignored.

Pachakkari Istew

Neimeen Moilee
We even tried the Syrian Christian Prawn Curry. This was a good choice as well. All the gravies went very well with the appam and idiyappams and a safe bet considering the spice levels are suitable for all palettes.
Syrian Christian Prawn Curry

One of the other must-try items here is the Kappa Biryani which was a great mix of mashed tapioca and spiced beef. This was a first time for me and I loved every bit of it. I wonder why I hadn’t tried this earlier.
Kappa Biryani

The place offers some mocktails as well, but I really missed out on taking down names. So here is one of the pictures. 

Overall, I think the Fort Kochi Connection has done a fabulous job with their food. All that we had had authentic flavours and a home made comforting taste. We decided to give one dessert a try at the end of a sumptuous meal and picked the Vattelappam. This pudding of coconut and jagggery was so good, that I will start my course with it the next time around. A dessert to die for.

Pay by : Cash and cards

Average meal for two : Rs 1000 (including mocktails). For 5 of us, it worked up to close to Rs 3000

Mel’s overall rating : 4 out of 5

Location: Ground Floor, 77/A, Cygnus Chambers, Jyothi Nivas College Road, Koramangala, Bangalore

Ph:  080 67947389 ext:253

Friday, May 30, 2014

Halli Mane

I am not usually a fan of South Indian fare and breakfast is a meal I rarely venture out to try. But a visit to Halli Mane definitely changed that for me. We ended up at Halli Mane as we were on that side of town and needed to finish our breakfast quota for the day.
The name is derived from Kannada where ‘Halli’ means village and ‘Mane’ means house. The ambience is therefore is very much like a village house (a little fancy of course!). The Warli paintings on the walls, some cut tiles turned into splendid art definitely impress a first-timer. The cleanliness and hygiene surely meets the eye. The menu is straight and simple – Karnataka ‘tiffin’ varieties. We definitely feasted on a lot that day leaving no space for lunch.
The humble entrance
Sunlight making its way through the roof
On our plates that day:
Idli Vada

 The nothing-can-go-wrong idli vada. This is a dish that is not just filling but is a must have in any Karnataka breakfast.
Rave idli
Rave idli – Soft, mildly spiced yet really high on taste.
Poori Saagu
Poori Saagu - Soft, non-oily pooris complimented with a mixed vegetable curry. The pooris can tell you if the oil the restaurant uses is clean. This place definitely was!
Masala Dosa
Masala Dosa – another staple among South Indians. The dosa here was impressive – crispy, generous on ghee, ‘bhaji’ tasted great. So that’s a ten on ten right away.
If that was the spicy side of breakfast, there the sweet side.
First up – Chiroti. This is a fluffy  and flaky ghee baked pastry that is eaten with milk. The milk here had a badam flavor and took the chiroti several notches higher in taste.

Coconut Holige

Coconut Holige. We usually buy holige (a sweet roti) from the bakery. But its completely different to taste something that’s so fresh and just out of the pan.

Kesari Bhath

Kesari bhath or Ksheera. Not one of my favourites on a regular day. This one was irresistible though with loads of ghee and dry fruits. Literally a moment on the lips, forever on the hips.

Mangalore Buns

Mangalore Buns – Vinod would have died if we hadn’t ordered this. This sweet bun was better that the ones I tasted in Mangalore as well.
With a fresh lime soda and some teas and coffees, it was tata time for the Halli Mane. Cant wait to go back again.
While at the Halli Mane, expect crowds and a little waiting. Explore the area for safe and hassle free parking. The food is simply superb and the prices are very affordable. We recommend a fast the previous night.
Pay by : Cash
Restroom : Decent
Average meal for two : Rs 250 (for a lot of food)
Mel’s overall rating : 4.5 out of 5
Location: 3rd Cross, Sampige Road, Malleshwaram, Bangalore. Ph: 080 65611222

Friday, March 14, 2014

Carnival de Goa

Carnival de Goa has been on the list for so long now. Either it was the distance or the timing, we never made it here earlier. But this time, when hubby and I had to meet a friend for lunch, we decided that Carnival de Goa it was going to be. With mommy time around the corner, I was not sure when I would find the next opportunity to travel for a nice meal considering I don’t stay anywhere close to the city.
At the entrance - the welcoming Goan tiles
Goan food has been a favourite for several years now, but I had not really found that one place that sold that authentic taste one finds in Goa. My search ended here. Carnival de Goa brought that exact Goan taste to Bangalore. To say that I loved the place is an understatement.

Situated close to the Gurudwara near Ulsoor lake and above Grill House, parking is not a hassle. Entering the place on the second floor, a tiled board welcomes you reminding you of old Goan homes. There is a choice of indoor or outdoor seating. Considering the busy street downstairs, we picked the indoor seating. A good choice considering there was a ‘one-man band’ singing there. With all the old English folk and country songs, the experience was definitely Goan. The ambience is good and the famous Mario Miranda- like caricature art work adorns one large wall.
Ginger Fizz

I liked the menu. It wasn’t cluttered with non-Goan options. Clearly this place means serious business. The bar menu had a good choice of mocktails and cocktails. It was a day of ordering all the old favourites. We went in for a Virgin Mary, Ginger Fizz from the mocktails and a Margarita for a cocktail. The mocktails were great. You can judge a good bartender by the Virgin/Bloody Mary he makes and this one was definitely very good. If not for the pregnancy I would have gone for a second and third helping.
Virgin Mary

The Ginger Fizz had a good pungent punch to it with mint and lime, a good one if you like the flavor of ginger. The Margarita was a good and lemony mix of tequila and some fruit flavours.

The Goan Sausage Chilli Fry

I dived in for starters. The first one to go was The Goan Sausage Chilli Fry. Perfect in every way…I could cry thinking of Goa. Spicy, tangy, meaty……a total gastronomical seduction if you know what I mean. Beef Rissoles were next in line. Goans are good at cutlets and this was one of them. Though made of beef, this one had a strong smell and taste of mutton. The taste was good and can be ordered as a checklist item.

Beef Rissoles

When it comes to Goan food, I am not a sucker for seafood. But at a place like Carnival de Goa, it would be unfair to leave this out. So next in line, Squid fry it was. A plateful of rava fried squids arrived. The quantity was good but what stood out was the quality. 9 out of 10 times, you get rubbery squids that you have to chew on for long. These were so fresh and absolutely soft yet crispy. Could go in for second round of this but had to hold on for the main course.

Pork Vidaloo


My friends let me choose the main course, so I was a little selfish and ordered all my favourites. We treated ourselves to much more food than we could handle.  Pork Vidaloo with sannas (puffy idlis famous in the west coast) was first to arrive. The sannas were soft, but being a Mangalorean, I think we score higher on this. The vindaloo was extremely high on flavor and spice. With generous quantities of gravy, this dish could burn your guts if you didn’t have it with loads of sannas on rice to combat the red chilli. Two favourites in succession – Prawn Pulao and Goan Saugage Pulao. Both were great in taste and fairly good in quantity.
Prawn Pulao
Sausage Pulao

The only dish I had not tried that day was the Chicken Cafreal. Another dish I could travel to Goa for. Carnival de Goa had Cafreal Wings and I had to try them. An easy dish that never goes wrong. But for some reason, this was a big let down at CdG. I really wish I hadn’t ordered for it.
Cafreal Wings

With a  couple of lime sodas to wash down the food and fight the spice, we were through with our Goan lunch party.
Fresh Lime Soda

The bill worked up to a little over Rs 2000 making it completely worth it. A mention of the restrooms here. The ladies restroom had two frames photos of men in their underwear. Wonder what that was supposed to mean. But yes, the loo was clean.

Pay by : Cash and cards

Average meal for two : Rs 1000-1500 (including drinks)

Mel’s overall rating : 4.5 out of 5

Location: 8/6, II floor, Kensington Point, Ulsoor Road, Ulsoor, Bangalore

Ph:  +91 7676767620