Monday 30 November 2015

Lighthouse Cafe - Khar, Mumbai

It was a dark misty night and the seas were rough. These conditions be treacherous for any ship at the high seas. The crew was extra alert, not a lad out of place. Suddenly out of the dark mists, a brief flash of light caught our attention. I immediately changed course towards the light. As we moved into the unknown, the flashes grew brighter and brighter. Any experienced man at sea knew what this meant. There was a lighthouse nearby. 

As me ship pushed though the mists, the view became clearer. There was a small island in front of us with a lighthouse in the middle. The lookout sounded confused when he claimed that there was a tavern right inside that light house. This was enough to arouse me curiosity as I asked the fellas to look for a good spot to dock at while the landing party prepared to explore the island. Tavern inside the lighthouse? Fascinating.

The nice folks at Zomato remembered good ol' me when they were organizing a meet up for epicures at Light house Cafe. This cafe is more of a pub or a tavern if one has to strictly go by the appearance. The most prominent part of this small sized restaurant is the bar. But a small obscure counter adjacent to the bar with a loud signboard saying FOOD reassures that there is plenty of grub too. The dim lit appearance is perfect for a sinful weekend binge.
And if that wasn't good enough - There is live Music(Wednesdays) and a DJ too. So much in a little cafe is worth every moment spent here. The vibe is similar to that in a club. Food, drinks, frolic and music to go with that.

The party started with a bunch of house special cocktails. This was a part of their special Beer and Burger's menu. Some of these cocktails were made by the fellas at the meet up themselves. Fun for us to be honorary bartenders(though lousy), I reckon.

Caribbean Mix was undoubtedly my first choice. If you have to ask why then you are not reading enough of my works mate. This was a beer cocktail mixed with Vodka, Malibu, Coconut water, pineapple and some Tabasco. The flavor was sweet to start with. As the tongue bathed in the drink, the flavor of the coconut which was somewhat similar to that in Bounty Chocolates emerged. And as the drink went down me passages, a strong tangy-spicy aftertaste could be felt. This definitely got my spirits up.

Crewmate : Any Pirate gags coming Cappy?

Captain : No, let me enjoy me drink.

Crewmate : oh...ok.

The Paneer Kebabs and Murg Alishan were savory snacks that went well as bar nibbles. The chicken in the latter was a tad bit rare but the taste was great.

The mains were greasy, messy and scrumptious burgers. These felt very much like real burgers as opposed to the basic dumbed down burgers sold in most run of the mill places like the ones by a clown and a king. And as this was a Beer and Burger festival, I was told that the line up was a special edition menu. These huge burgers were quite heavy so I could not taste em' all but I did enjoy what I could grab. The place would make a great spot for a burger lover.

Bengal Fata Fati was a messy burger which tasted much like homemade Tariwala Chicken. I suppose Bengali homemade chicken and Punjabi homemade chicken have a similar flavor. The mayo in the burger was mixed with a Bengal mustard chili paste and added a twisty zing to the familiar flavor. The wedges were coated with Panchphoran masala which is a blend of spices used in Bengali cuisine. A welcome change as opposed to the overused and over done piri piri mixes.

Jerk Chicken Stoner was definitely the best of the burger lot. A spicy and potent Jamaican jerk mix applied to roasted chicken and draped with lots of mayo makes a great burger. It had a great aroma too. This burger was quite messy but if it ain't messy then it ain't fun at all. To play around with names a bit, Jerk Chicken Rocker would have been more apt.

Captain : This burger gave me a high. 

Crewmate : Thats why this is called a stoner.

Captain : Good food fixes anything eh?

Crewmate : I wouldn't know, you usually eat mine too.

Fiery Punjabin is strangely a pure veggie burger. For folks like me, Punjabi food symbolizes meat and spiciness so this was definitely something, different. This monster was primarily made of a cottage cheese(Paneer) patty with pickled vegetables. The Yoghurt used is billed to be Bondi Yoghurt(Aussie) which I am not sure about. Appears to be a corruption of Boondi Yoghurt ha.

Eggless Hazelnut mousse was average. The liquor was rich but not very dense. It was quite airy from appearance. The major problem with this dessert was the unwelcome addition of hazelnut flakes. This felt like a last minute post work addition and felt very annoying as far as taste goes. I ended up flipping the mousse and slicing a layer off which contained the flakes.

The pricing seems fair for the generous portion sizes served. Most burgers are between 400 to 500 INR which feels fine. The drinks have variable prices. Some feel like a good deal while some feel on the higher side. In totality, the menu is well priced for a burger lover.

The service can be a little slow but the place was crowded beyond belief so its pardonable. The staff was professional in conduct. The bartender was extra polite as he walked us through making drinks and tolerating our sacrilegious mistakes ha. I remember not shaking the drink hard enough.

The evening was great and I can say that the complete package was well worth the trip. The Beer and Burger festival is a limited affair so the reader should make haste.

The Captain's Score : 8/10

"Best lighthouse ever, eh lads?"

Map Co-Ordinates
Lighthouse Cafe
3rd Road, Khar West,
Khar, Mumbai. 

-The event was part of a Zomato meetup. Food and drinks were on the house.-

Light House Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday 20 November 2015

Grandmama's Cafe - Dadar East, Mumbai

We had drifted quite far from civilization and into strange seas. But being the explorers that we are, we decide to ride these seas and find the lands hidden in them. Sailing through the tranquil oceanscape, me eyes spotted a huge temple in the horizon. The temple must be on an island of course so we set out towards that temple and lo behold soon enough me lookout announced the approaching land. 

This island be a strange sight and I don't mean that in the flora and fauna way. There were rarely any restaurants here. After walking a bit, I spotted a small tavern called Grandmama's Cafe. There was something about this place, it was calling out to me. So it was decided, me and the lads will eat our lunch at this Nana's grub house.

Captains Note : This is a long post me readers but its also me favorite one. I poured me blood and sweat into it. Possibly some coffee too. I would love it if ye read it till the end. Thank ya.

The entrance looked quite idiosyncratic. I mean how often does one see an actual bicycle pinned on the signboard. Was it because the kid in the ET Movie somehow ran into the board while flying? Regardless of the mystery, it certainly was eye catching. Grandmama's Cafe's entrance reflected a mix of Victorian era, 60's India and a modern cafe culture.  As obvious from the pictures, the place has both an Al Fresco and an indoor dining. Not wanting to be the dense adventurous bloke who wants to sweat it out on a hot day, I went inside.

The indoor ambiance gives a very comforting and a warm feeling. It reminded me of my time at Ville Vandre but GM Cafe is much larger and comfortable. The music is subtle, no in your ear pop music. The walls are adorned with artifacts which are personal possessions of the owners, some of them literally being family heirlooms. The personal touch is strong on this one. The cafe is managed by the latest generation of the family behind well known Pritam group of hotels.

The owners have lovingly decorated the cafe and its visible on the walls, the ceiling and even the door. And they are personally present on the premises at most times. Unlike most cafes now days which follow a standard cookie cutter model, GM has actually taken a different route and offered something unique. Dadar East isn't as famous as the west side but this place definitely is a highlight of this district. In fact going by all my food experiences so far, I'd say Grandmama's Cafe was among my top five experiences in India.

The service was ample and professional. The Cafe was quite crowded when I had come and yet the service was sufficient, no table without a Captain. It was expected from a hospitality group that has been around for more than sixty years. What was unexpected was that the Cafe was doing such brisk business on only its tenth day. My expectations were growing larger by the minute.

Country Lemonade was a mixture of lemon and sweet orange juice. Unlike regular lemonades, this was sweet with very little acidity. It acted as both a refreshing drink and a nice palate cleanser in between different dishes. The taste was pleasant and subtle. No high notes of sweetness or tartness anywhere. Though a good drink, it does run the risk of facing criticism from normal diners who associate any term with the word lemonade as a sour desi shikanji.

Grandmama's Homemade Ravioli was a dish made from the owner's Grandmama's personal recipe. It was love at first bite for me. The dish can easily make a Le Cordon Bleu graduate jealous. The flavor was soulful with a mix of pumpkin gravy and a dill cream cheesy broth with a touch of sage. This spicy liquid was quite the aromatic elixir and the ravioli was one with the liquid.

The dish was vegetarian but easily one of the best preparations that I have ever had, in my life. I scraped the vessel clean, if that is any indicator of how much I savored this. The dish was a house specialty made with a family recipe thus it cannot be found anywhere else.

Captain : My head is shaking from the explosion of vibrant flavors in this dish.

Crewmate : If that actually happens, can I be the Captain?

BBQ Chicken Pizza - I love how GM manages to pull off a diverse menu without any flaws. This tasted much similar to BBQ pizza at any decent pizzeria. Large chunks of barbecued chicken with an adequate drizzling of BBQ sauce and a generous amount of cheese on a flat base made this a sumptuous pizza. It was quite light as well. Though not the best variant of a BBQ pizza, it was a steal for being a nine inch pizza at only INR 210. There are places that sell just one slice of bad quality pizza for that amount.

Keema Pav was said to be a house specialty if Twitter was anything to go by. I am extra skeptical about frenzied folks on twitter using phrases like mind blowing, awesome and spot on. However try as much as I did, this dish had no flaw in it. It was a delectable lamb curry with just the right amount of onion, tomato and it was embellished with masala.

The fries added a crunch element, one has to mix the fries in the curry before eating. I think I will have to agree with the social media folks on this one. This was the most perfect Keema pav I have had. It wasn't mind blowing, it was mind warping. It would take you to the land of fine food in an emotional ecstasy or should I say ecs-tasty.

Captain : The Grandma who made this must be the Grand Master of cooks worldwide.

Crewmate : Maybe we can enlist our hack of a ship cook in her class.

Captain : He won't probably come back after he starts cooking that good.

Chicken Tariwala. Coming from a North Indian household where Punjabi home cuisine was used quite a bit, this flavor felt very familiar to me. Indeed, it was the same thing I last had fifteen years ago at home. With the advent of fast food and dining out culture, this old home favorite was forgotten in the pages of time. It almost made my eyes moist upon tasting what I had left behind and the beauty of things from the past.

This coriander chicken curry with North Indian spices felt very home made but light and whole compared to things like Chicken Makhani or Shalimar. Again at 180 INR, it was quite a steal.

Bibji Ki Achari Khichdi was a mix of the classic homemade Khichdi rice with pickles at the bottom. The treasure trove of spices and the buried pickle boosted the flavor of the legume rice to a different level altogether. The tanginess from the pickles was quite addicting. My spoon kept diving to eat more grub from the bottom, until I realized that I had completely devoured everything. The restaurant's Grandma theme was playing quite well as far as food was concerned.

Done with the mains, I sampled some of Cafe GM's fine desserts. There were a lot of choices so my four were a small sample. And to note, all desserts were of high quality. Identical to what I find in patisseries inside five star hotels.

Blueberry Cheesecake was an unbaked eggless variant similar to that found in most pastry shops across Mumbai. But GM had used a superior biscuit base and the pastry had a much better flavor than the run of the mill blueberry cheesecakes. For one, the blueberry actually tasted like real blueberry and compote rather than the syrupy flavor I feel elsewhere including at places like Indigo.

Caramel and Chocolate Mousse was one of the newer additions to the menu. It definitely was artistically presented looking at its shape and chocolate sauce graffiti. The mousse was quite airy with a soft base. This was a milk chocolate mousse which was sweet and creamy. There was a hint of caramel in the undertones. Not that I didn't like it, I still felt that this could do much better with either more salted caramel or Toffee sauce and a little less milk chocolate sweetness.

Grandmama's Biscuit Cake was very humbly named for the absolute delight that it was. This was a crunchy biscuit sandwich filled and topped with rich, creamy and dense Chocolate ganache. The popcorn at the top added extra crunchiness. The ganache was made out of dark chocolate and felt of premium quality. Each bite into the pastry would make the ganache bleed out like a never ending waterfall or Chocofall. Richly sweet, mildly bitter and a whole lot of crunchy - This was easily my favorite dessert at GM cafe. I am salivating as I write about it, maybe I should have toned down on the detail ha.

Captain : This cake be like Beethoven's melody.

Crewmate : Pray tell how Captain?

Captain : The balanced rich flavor, the creaminess and the crunchiness are all in sweet harmony.

Crewmate : That makes no sense apart from the sweet part.

Captain : Ah! perfido – Per pietà, non dirmi addio.

Crewmate : Neither does that.

Baked Philadelphia Cheesecake was a good quality Cheesecake. It tasted quite similar to Starbucks now discontinued Lemon Jazz cheesecake which was my favorite dessert at Starbucks. This was a true baked cheesecake made with cream cheese and eggs. The glazing at the top provides the lemon undertones which again was a welcome addition.

Mandarin orange and Jasmine Green Tea. I was rather full by this time feeling quite heavy and sluggish. I may have had food equal to a small army's rations and lunch time had become tea time. Drinking green tea was an ideal way to beat sluggishness. This tea takes five minutes to reach its ideal flavor and to make sure that you don't mess it up with your smartphone stop timers, they even provide you this little trio of sand glasses.

After the five minutes pass, one can use the piston in the serving jar to re mix the ingredients and push out more flavors from the leaves. Then one can serve themselves a fine cup of tea on a lazy afternoon. This brew had an almost magical flavor of floral senses. There was an undertone of Mandarin but the flavor was dominated by Jasmine.

I have had green tea before but never have I found such a perfect infusion of floral themes in tea. So there indeed is a difference between real green tea and conveyor belt green tea. GM's Green tea carried a mesmerizing enchantment of some sort. My sluggishness was gone and I could easily march a dozen miles.

Captain : This easily beats Earl grey in the afternoon lad.

Crewmate : Woah, you are starting to sound like a Navy Admiral Cappy.

Captain : This tea is for refined palates lad. Its incomprehensible for most scallywags such as yourself.

Crewmate : Aww, that hurts Cappy. 

Captain : Worry not lad. I will make it up to ya. You are in charge of hull and deck sanitation services next week.

Crewmate : That sounds fancy :)....hey wait...isn't that a clever way to say deck sweeping ?

The pricing at Grandmama's cafe is quite light. I mean its cheaper than a meal for two at McDonalds while offering far better quality, portion sizes and Grandmama's love. Its perhaps the best priced restaurant I have found in Mumbai.

This was quite a long post but I usually let the inspiration from an experience dictate my writing. Grandmama's Cafe was perhaps one of the best Cafe experiences that I have ever had. The food was excellent, flavorsome, well priced. The ambiance was comforting and inspiring. The service was excellent and the menu had diverse options. The special Grandmama's recipes are heart warming and soul touching. Whether you are a vegetarian or a non vegetarian. Indian or a Non Indian. This place is for everyone. I sense that great things will come from this place in the future.

This place was amazing. Great experience and I will come back again and again. My only anxious thought is whether my words did justice to this place. The food was that amazing.

The Captain's Score : 9/10

"The voyage of paradise is over lads. Its the end to our reverie. Now back to the rough seas for us. This place be legendary and we WILL be here again someday."

Map Co-Ordinates
Grandmama's Cafe
Shop 5, Near Swaminarayan Mandir,
Pritam Estate,
Dadar East, Mumbai

-I was invited by the restaurant to sample grub hence it was on the house. I have fallen in love with the food though and this place is definitely among my top five experiences in Mumbai-

Monday 16 November 2015

Sky View Cafe - Lower Parel, Mumbai

This was a clustered little island and there were more ships docked here than the fish in sea. All right, maybe I am blowing me tales a bit out of proportion but this seemed like a really crowded part of the sea. I held in me hand a little prize of a document. This document was given to me by some folks that I had ferried across the oceans. The document granted me free passage in a place called Sky cafe. As me lookout surveyed the place, he disappointingly admitted that he cannot spot Sky Cafe. I gently tapped his daft head and told him to look up because its a Sky cafe. Finally we found our destination. Sky Cafe was located on top of an old industrial tower

Vegetarian and Continental are two words that do not usually belong together and for a long time restaurants have fed us with Indianized Veggie versions of European delicacies. Being the naive bunch that we are, we immediately proclaim that as amazing food. However in recent times, a few restaurants have done extensive research and groundwork to create vegetarian food that actually tastes European. Sky View happens to be among those chosen few.

Sky View Cafe resembles a small sized casual diner with its family themed tables. The lighting colors the ambiance golden and the place resembles an aristocratic club. It is the kind of place that makes one feel comfortable and one could eat for hours to come.

I was greeted by the friendly manager Frankie who gave me the best seats in the house.

It was a hot day and I was quite thirsty. Pesca Blast was quite a relief. The flavor was dominated by Pineapple with a strong aftertaste of peach. Cranberry's tart flavor was a bit overshadowed by the pineapple. There was a hint of lime as well.

I started my meal with The Real Mushroom soup. It visually appears very ordinary and would disappoint all those colorful folks who swear by foodporn. But its taste is another story. There is a beautiful and a flavorsome depth beneath that surface. The flavor is salty with an intense taste of cream. Mushroom pieces add a bit of depth with their naturally earthy sensation. The aroma is heavenly and appetizing. I lapped up this soup faster than a hungry cat on a bowl of milk.

Captain : This Zuppe feels like the ocean. 

Crewmate : Souper.

Captain : Zupper.

One has to admire a restaurant when it goes beyond the same old Onion rings and Garlic bread as appetizers. The Zucchini feta bites were made out feta cooked with bits of Zucchini in a Canape cup. It was topped with cherry tomatoes, spices and some home made salsa. The flavor was quite snacky and I could easily down a few plates of this without noticing.

Mini Mexican Tostados were colorful nibbles with an intriguing mix of flavors. The Corn Tortillas below were laced with a bit of powdered cheese and had a savory flavor. The Mexican beans and greens provided a slightly salty and savory taste. The Mexican spices were subtle adding a hot undertone to it. The plating was also executed in an enticing manner.

Squash Roulade was perhaps the best item on the appetizer's menu. This was a paradigm of a Western delicacy being transformed into a fully vegetarian counterpart. In fact, I will go as far as saying that this was better than all the Chicken Roulades that I have had so far. The stuffing was made of ricotta, broccoli and baby corn in a cigar like roll made out of grilled Zucchini. The bath below was made of Ricotta and herbs and added a pleasantly salty and a cheesy flavor. The liquid's taste mimicked that of the cheese used in Cheetos. This was quite an amazing dish and everyone should give this a try unless if you are vegan.

Captain : Squash Cigars with cheesy stuffing and cheesy broth. Thats fine food fer ya lad.

Crewmate : Are you slowly going vegetarian Captain?

Captain : Barnacles, I am just enjoying me adventure on the other side.

Vegetarian Lasagna followed the theory of constructing a multi layered lasagna to the book. There were several pasta sheets as required. The cheese felt nice and the chef had even mimicked the color of its meaty sibling. I would also say that it tasted remarkably better than the vegetarian Lasagna variants that I have had elsewhere but this paled in front of the other offerings at Sky View. It felt a bit unauthentic as far as traditional lasagna goes. The taste was very much Indian and similar to baked vegetable layered between Lasagna sheets.

Gnocchi with lemon butter sauce was a visual treat though it may initially be slightly unsettling to a devout vegetarian. The dish was a simple craft of high grade Gnocchi dumplings tossed in a lemon and butter sauce. The dumplings melt in the mouth and taste excellent with the butter sauce. However, the critical error with this dish was the lack of tarty acidity. Lemon was used but its effect was far too subtle to be enjoyed and as a result the sauce felt to be mostly molten butter.

Square sheet pizzas are a new trend now days. And this pizza certainly offered a visual uniqueness from the circular delights that I have grown up with.

Mac and Cheese Pizza on the right was a flavorsome pizza though could have used more cheese.

The Veg Pesto Pizza was a delightful pizza flavored with basil and pesto. There was Broccoli, Sun dried tomatoes, Bell peppers, Zucchini and more Broccoli.

Chocolate Mousse. I am not a big fan of Eggless Chocolate mousses. They feel a bit chalky and require a lot of effort by chefs to cover up for the obvious lack of eggy richness. But hold the presses, this one is remarkably different. It is a rich mousse with a dense consistency. The chalkiness is at a bare minimum and is mostly patched over by the gooey Chocolatey goodness.

The Chocolate sauce's drizzle added a slightly bitter undertone which aided in its emulation of a true mousse. This mousse was also loaded with Kitkat bars which I admit looked pretty, just that I think these should not have been used in the center as well. Kitkat's flavor clashes with the mousse's inherent flavor.

But I'd still score this a eight on ten. It was a great dessert. A perfect vegetarian mousse.

Captain : The legends of the deep have it that beneath all that sea of chocolate lies a treasure of kitkat. 

Crewmate : But Captain, I see a kitkat sticking out at the top too.

Captain : Lad, that be just the tip of the ice berg.

Crewmate : Dun dun dunnnn.

The service is excellent as most of the servers are well versed with the menu and extremely professional. They also entertained all of my quirky requests sportingly.

The pricing is tilted on the higher side of the scales but the quality mostly is worth it. The portion sizes are decent and the quality of ingredients is great. Thus good price for good quality.

I think all grub lovers should give this place a chance. If you are a vegetarian then this place should definitely be on your road map. They have created near perfect emulations of continental grub that is traditionally made out of meat. If they can please a carnivore like me, then I am pretty sure that they will please vegetarians.

The Captain's Score : 8/10

"Oi, you greedy urchins better be done lickin' your Moussey fingers. Its time to leave for our next destination. And our Voyage is only getting started."

Map Co-Ordinates
Sky View Cafe
3rd Floor, Trade View Building,
Gate 4, Kamla Mills,
Lower Parel, Mumbai.

-I was invited by the restaurant to sample a special menu.-

Sky View Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday 9 November 2015

Loco Chino - Fort, Mumbai

My ship was sailing in me favorite sea lane in these parts of the ocean. In fact it was a canal where there were grub installations on both sides. Taverns, Cafes , Restaurants and water holes. Half of me crew members were on the starboard side staring at places with hungry eyes and the other half on the port side swooning about the cookhouses. And I was pretty sure that the look out was asleep, like always.

Suddenly me eyes spotted a Chinese lad in an old wild west attire shouting random Spanish phrases. "Was he crazy?", I wondered or perhaps this was part of something more subtle. I looked at a signboard above that lad and it said "Loco Chino" which finally made sense. I made up my mind, we were going to dock near the canal walls and have our grub at Loco Chino.

Loco Chino or Crazy Chinese in English is a Chinese-Mexican restaurant chain that has been around for a while. I have always associated it with the suburbs so it was pleasantly surprising to find a recently opened outlet in downtown. It is slightly away from the mainstream of the Kala Ghoda scene, located opposite the One Forbes building. But it should be easy to find as one cannot miss the huge building unless dead drunk.

The interiors of the restaurant are quite reminiscent of cafes or bistro sized pizzerias. The place seems to target a young audience with its casual and playful design. Apart from the humorous mustached mirrors and hat shaped hanging lights there was no other Chinese or Mexican feel to the ambiance.

Since the place is new, they had sent a bunch of invites to food bloggers and reviewers. One of those invites managed to land in my mailbox. Thus the staff had served a special food set to me.

The day was hot and the Mexican Twist untwisted my thirst. Made with a mixture of Cranberry juice and non alcoholic Triple sec, this was a tangy, zingy and a refreshing drink. I quite liked it. There was just one problem with it. As the drink crossed the half way mark, it started tasting watery. This was a bit of a put off to the initial experience. This bit needs to addressed.

Black Pepper Chicken was a scrumptious appetizer. The sauce supplied ample savory and spice to the dish while the greens providing a depth to the flavor. The chicken pieces were tender and juicy. The preparation had a lovely aroma too. The serving in my picture is only half of what they serve. I had requested the staff to downsize the portions so I could sample more grub.

Captain : I like anything with Black Pepper sauce. 

Crewmate : Yes, I can see that. You almost ate yer cutlery Captain.

Veg Fiesta Nachos were average. The Sour cream had a salty flavor to it making it feel a bit odd. The tortilla chips were close to genuine but I suppose that I have grown to expect a little cheese powder on my Nachos Tortilla chips.

Spicy Smoked Chicken dimsum may not have tasted authentically Chinese but it was aromatic and quite delectable. It was the tallest among the dimsums served.

Presenting the Three Dimsum Amigos. Yes I can use a Spanish term for Chinese food at Loco Chino.
Look at the basket from right to left. Though their color and texture appears to be the same, they are shaped differently.

The Crescent shaped dumpling is the Kaffir lime coriander chicken dimsum. It was quite an amazing experience since the flavor was predominantly Kaffir lime with the subtle meatiness of Chicken. It did feel though that the Lime was applied after the chicken's cooking rather than with it, but I am not complaining. This was quite an unique dimsum, one that I can have a whole platter of.

The next one is Siu mai as you can guess by its shape. I wasn't that happy with this since I believe Chicken does not work well in Siu Mai and the traditional pork Siu mai is the best.

And the last one was Chicken and Prawns Xo. Xo is a sauce that adds a bit of spice and and a whole lot of depth. This dumpling felt a bit tangy as well. The flavors of Chicken and Prawns had fused to form a single composite flavor thus the proteins had been married properly. Its taste stood out and kept me intrigued.

Captain : Three Dimsums and two of us. How do we divide the booty?

Crewmate : Well you gobbled the smoked chicken dimsum so I should get two from the platter.

Captain : Fine you can keep the Siu mai.

Crewmate : I said two Cappy.

Captain : Well, Siu Mai are two words.

Chili Con Carne Chicken Quesadilla was not the best Quesadilla that I have had but its spice and tanginess gave it a very interesting and an "active" flavor. I think the best way to describe this would be to compare it with a superstar actor who hogs most of the screen time. There wasn't a single moment when the flavor wasn't keeping my taste buds entertained. The only improvement I can suggest for this is a slight addition of cheese.

Grilled Serrano Chicken Taco was a contrast to the Quesadilla. If the above was a Rajnikanth or a Stallone then this was more of a Irrfan Khan or Michael Douglas. The flavor was passive which felt a bit strange for Serrano chicken which is supposed to be based of chili, cilantro and lemon. The greens also felt excessive for a chicken taco and perhaps they offset the flavor that the Serrano chicken may have contained.

Walk to Wok is a special make it yourself Wok option where you fill in a sheet with what you want in your noodles. Loco Chino's wok noodles stand above most Make it yourself Wok installations. I made a wokwork of Udon noodles, Prawns, Hot Garlic etc. The noodles felt quite fulfilling and rich. The serving size was proper in this case and it was more than generous. At INR 250 The seafood wok seems to be aptly priced. The flavor was strong on garlic and it seemed to sync well with prawns and udon.

Captain : This is too much.

Crewmate : I agree, we could have invited a few more mates to finish this with us. 

Churros were a downright disappointment. The flavor felt quite lacking. These were a bit crumbly inside too breaking very fast when dipped in the chocolate sauce. This made it hard to dip them in the chocolate without the need of Churro fishing in a chocolate pond.

The service at Loco Chino is ample and decent for now. They are professional, groomed and well informed on the menu. They have a large crew and constantly take care of you. Would be nice if they maintain this standard.

The pricing at Loco Chino is a bit of here and there. Some items feel like a steal, while some feel pricey. While most food is well worth the moolah given the generous portion sizes, I do feel that veggie folks may find their prices a tad bit on the higher side.

Loco Chino makes a fine choice if you have a Mexican craving or the fast food type of Chinese needs. Its also a good place to dine with friends and office mates. But being located in the Kala Ghoda area, it certainly needs to tighten all screws to stay competitive with the other grub zones in the area.

The Captain's Score : 7/10

"Yer bellies suggest that ye lads had yer fill. Better not be sleepy though, we have a long voyage ahead of us. Until next time. Cheers."

Map Co-Ordinates
Loco Chino
27-29, Gayatri Chamber,
Opposite OneForbes, Kala Ghoda
Fort, Mumbai

-I was invited by the restaurant's PR to sample the grub.-

Loco Chino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday 6 November 2015

Living Liquids - Lower Parel, Mumbai

Me ship had been docked for the whole day at the port. The lads were enjoying their time on the shore and I was roaming the streets of these festive lands. I chanced upon a wine festival as I randomly wandered in the area. "What self respecting sailor would pass up good grog", I thought as I decided to taste fine wine from across the land. 

I was in Delhi when I received a mail from my good friend Chandni Tolani. And Chandni always sends me good mails. She mentioned a Wine and Beer fest being organized at the High Street Phoenix courtyard and sent over an invite. Now I must admit, that I am ignorant in the matters of most wines. I am quite the opposite of a sommelier. I prefer some brews over some others and often white over red.

So this invite offered me three opportunities, meet people, have fun and learn something new. Mumbai, here I come.

The Wine scene is on a roll in India and Nashik is quickly becoming a premier wine destination. But before mundane pictures of B listed celebs foot crushing grapes were a trend and before local brews became a famous thing, there was a Mr. Sani who set up a single wine store in the 70s. Present day, that brand is known by the name of Living Liquidz and has become Mumbai's numero uno liquor chain. They were the organizers and the principal sponsors of this event.

The event had an entry fee of INR 500 and one could have has much as two glasses of brews from every stall. I think that there were about a dozen stalls so that was a lot of good wine. A good steal of a deal for those lads and lasses who made it.

Captain: Quite a great deal eh lads?

Captain : Oops forgot, I be all alone today. Oh well more Grog for me. :D

 The event had all the right vibes, sommeliers, and even some lounge singing on the stage.

There was quite a lot of wine, some artisan beer and vodka too. Apart from that, there were also some games which won people even more drinks. If you are a wine lover, its easy to get lost in here. The festival had some fine brews though most of them were young wines.

Here are the few brews that I tried.

Reveilo's Chenin Blanc was slightly sweet and candied wine with high acidity and mild potency. Shame there were no proteins as the wine would have gone great with those.

Merlots are always a safe bet anywhere. This brew had a strong aroma of plum and a pleasant acidity. It was quite tangy to be honest. It also had a strong potency and a bit of a drying sensation(Moderate Tannins). Easily one of the best offerings of the fest.

Syrah was a potent red wine with a higher concentration of tannins(thus more drying sensations) and high acidity. From Crackers to meat, the high acidity of Syrah blesses it with a versatility that allows one to pair it with almost all food.

Captain : Some meat could have surely been good with this grog. What do you think lad?

Stray Cat: (Stares)

Captain : But what wud ya know, you are just a cat. 

Stray Cat: Talking to a cat..tssk tssk..You are tipsy sailor boy.

Captain : Hey! Did that cat just talk?

Chandon was a premium sparkling wine which initially felt like a soda but its after taste hid its true power. It was one of the most potent sparkling wines that I have had. The kick was quite strong and it seemed to pair well with cheese. Although I do feel Feta would have been a better partner than the available cheddar.

Fratelli's Sette tasted like the Red wine that I am used to having in Fine dines across Mumbai. This was a fifteen month aged wine made with premium grapes. It had a mild kick and a very luxurious feel to it. The taste and the mild acidity suggest that its a pre-meal wine.

And then there were non wine options available as well. These Vodka mixes were mildly potent and tasted very much like soft drinks. A good break for me since the wines were making me a bit tipsy.

After my time at the event, I dropped by the Living Liquidz store. As evident from my pictures, this small store had a very enchanting feel to it or maybe that was the wine talking(Guess we will never know). But one must admit that the shop looks remarkably different from a standard issue spirits shop. There is quite a bit of creativity inside the shop. The store had a soul of spirits to it which co incidentally happens to the brand's own catchphrase.

Being a market leader, Living Liquidz has presence all over Mumbai. From posh Sobo to the suburbs. From the metropolitan areas to Thane. They even deliver wines directly to your doorstep.

I enjoyed the evening, met a few friends, took some crazy pictures (No I am not sharing those here but you can find those on my twitter) and enjoyed wines by Living Liquidz and other associated brands. If Wine is your poison, drop by your nearest Living Liquidz shop. The diversity and the number of choices is amazing.

I felt a bit tipsy as I wandered my way back to me ship. This was a fun evening and me mates were surely going to be quite envious about it.

-The event was hosted by Living Liquidz and partners. I was invited to try the event by my good friend Chandni Tolani hence my pass was taken care of.-