Restaurant Reviews

Things To Do In Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

If you plan to be in Punta Cana for more than 5 days, it would make sense to rent a car. This would enable you to spend time outside of your resort. There are good restaurants, beaches and other spots out there for you to explore.

Playa Macao

Playa Macao isn’t very far from where all the resorts are located. You need to keep going straight on Road 3 and you will come to an intersection that will indicate that Macao is on the road that goes right. The narrow road will lead you straight to the beach. This beach gets high tide making it popular for surfing. Make sure you are strong and brave enough to go into these waters because the waves can be really high and strong. The sands are pure white and soft and the water is really clear. There are patches of seaweed but lots of clean areas. There are a few snack shacks there which will sell beer, water, chips and provide lounge chairs for rent. Outside the beach, the other activities I noticed were horse rides and ATV rides.

The waves were too strong for me. So I just sat at the edge of the wet sand and waited for the mellowed down waves to reach me. This was one of the best times I had during this trip. The water temperature and color was just right and it was an amazing feeling.

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Source: Pinterest

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And that’s me

Bavaro Village

This is the closest downtown area. If you are bored of being stuck in the resort and want to walk around a bit, you should go to Bavaro city. It has 2 malls (one high end and one local), lots of resorts and restaurants, shops and a beach. We went there multiple times to eat and for rescue shopping at the mall (did I mention I simply LOVED shopping at their fashion accessories store called KB?). I am going to talk about some of their good restaurants soon.

Bavaro also has some good accommodation options. If you are going to be in Punta Cana for more than 5 days, then it would be a good idea to stay in a resort for some days and stay in one of Bavaro’s hostels or apartments for some time (Check out Whala). This way, you would be in the heart of the city and be surrounded by a lot of energy. On the couple of times we went there for dinner, I found that the energy of the young tourists was contagious.

La Casita De Yeya Restaurant, Downtown Punta Cana

This restaurant is located right at the intersection of Road 3 and the road that leads to Bavaro village. It is a popular joint for local Dominican food. In a tourist heavy place like Punta Cana, we had a hard time finding anything authentic and this discovery was heartening. We were sick of having pasta and sushi and breads at the resort and really, we did not fly here all the way from California to have pasta!

The interior of the restaurant is simple, cozy and traditional. The place was full of tourists and locals. We ordered for fresh pineapple juice, chicken stew and Fajitas. The pineapple juice was A+ class – huge serving, really fresh and pleasant. The chicken stew, served in their typical metal bowl (I wish I knew what the bowl is called and I wish even more that I could buy some for myself) was very authentic, with a mild flavor but something that grows on you. It was great for my pregnant state that is off spicy and alien food. My husband said the fajitas were the best he has ever had.

The staff has problem with English but they do have an English menu. Do ask for it if you have a hard time communicating in Spanish.

Their menu is full of traditional dishes like Mofongos, Sancochos, etc. If you are a foodie and love tasting local flavors, you must visit this restaurant and let your taste buds go wild.

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Source: Tripadvisor

Pranama Restaurant, Bavaro

After having said that we enjoy local food, we do crave for Indian food once in a while and don’t miss an opportunity to hit a good Indian restaurant, if available. Pranama had got rave reviews online – listed in the top 5 restaurants in Punta Cana by Tripadvisor and we went there drooling.

The restaurant opened not long ago in August 2015 and looks like they are still trying to get a hold of things. They are clearly understaffed (probably even in the kitchen). On top of that, Dec – Jan was peak season for the town. We had a total wait time of 2 hours there. I am sure it was only due to the peak season.  We had Rose Mojitos (virgin for me) in the meantime and they were delicious.  You must try them. For main course we ordered for Madras Chicken Curry, Goat Masala, Rotis and Mango Rice. Because the owner was Indian too, we asked him to make the curries spicy. The food was great. We managed to finish everything.

They have lot of Indian dessert options but we went in for their homemade Chocolate Mousse and it was one of the best I have ever had!

If there isn’t much rush in the restaurant, try talking to the owner, Krishna. He truly embodies the famous Indian hospitality and is very warm, helpful and friendly.

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Source: Pranama Facebook Page

2-day Trip to Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is the capital city of Dominican Republic. I did not see a lot of tourists there and I wonder why. The city has several historic architecture and places. Apart from that, if you want to enjoy Domincan Republic like a local, this is the city to be in. You can roam around Zona Colonial (a historic neighborhood in the city) and enjoy local flavors, sights and architecture. The neighborhood has a ton of colonial style architecture and bigger structures like Fortaleza Ozama and Cathedral Santa Maria La Menor. The Cathedral is majestic and the entry fee is pretty minimal.

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The beautiful cathedral

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The streets of Zona Colonial

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Some fun sights at Zona Colonial

We were in Santo Domingo for barely 2 days and I feel those weren’t enough. There is so much to see around the city. Sit on one of the benches at Parque Colon (a central square facing the Cathedral) and look at locals passing by. Eat Chicken Stew and Papaya Juice with Milk at El Conde Restaurant and look at the group of men who always hangout under the tree opposite the restaurant. Walk along Calle del Conde (a pedestrian only street lined with street vendors, shops and cafes) and buy fresh coconut water along the way. If you are courageous enough, go to D’Comer Colonial, a basic dining place on one end of the area and have really local Dominican food.

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The typical chicken stew bowls

This area is super fun.

We had rented a car and drove around the city. You need to be brave to drive around the city but that’s the only way you get around. Moreover, the drive along Road 2 is pretty as you drive along the ocean. We never stop and go near the water but we could see that the waves were wild.

Another restaurant I want to talk about is Cappuccino, an Italian café. There are two restaurants of a similar name beside each other. One is a fine dining restaurant whereas the other is a café-cum-restaurant. We went to the latter and had one of our best meals in the Dominican. We ordered for a simple Veggie pizza, some wine and fruit juice and ended with ice cream. The staff was pleasant, the décor was very elegant and pretty and food was A-class. I am very glad we stumbled upon the place.

There are lots of hotels in the city around Zona Colonial but we stayed in a rented apartment in Jardines Del Sur, which is right by the ocean. It is a quiet locality and isn’t very far from Zona Colonial.

One general tip I will give all travelers is that you must know basic Spanish to manage in Dominican. English is quite rare there. Carry a translator or a book of basic Spanish so you can converse easily.

Anyone other there who’s been to Santo Domingo or Punta Cana? Do share your experiences.

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Categories: Dominican Republic, Photography, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver

Did you know that the city of Vancouver was once known as Granville?

Later, when the city was renamed, the name Granville Island was given to an industrial area that spanned across a small inlet. It used to house lots of sawmills, factories and plants. After the Great Depression, Pear Harbor bombing and other events of the Forties, businesses started closing down. Government then decided to look at rehabilitation of the area and then converted it into a ‘people friendly’ place.

Granville Island is now a major family entertainment district and a popular tourist destination. It houses colleges, hotels, theatres, shops and restaurants. I had the opportunity of visiting there when I was in Canada two months back. Except for the rain, it was a wonderful experience. Rains prevented us from walking around outside. So we ended up spending a couple of hours inside the public market.

Not a bad idea at all!

We looked wide-eyed at all the food items and wonderful variety of fresh farm foods. The interiors are very industrial – high wooden ceiling, metal chains and pulleys, chunky lights are some typical elements. The place was swarming with tourists and regulars stuffing bags with fresh produce. Seafood, fruits, spices, cheese, flowers, coffee, meat, honey, breads – you name it and it was there.

Sigh, I wish I was a local and could shop my heart out there!

For now, I just look at the million pictures I took there and feel the delight inside my heart.

Here are some for you.

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Categories: Canada, Photography, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Big Sur Food

I do not expect exceptional food when I go to a place merely 2 hours away from SJ. I mean, how different can things be?

Boy, I was so wrong!

We drove down to Big Sur during the 4th July extended weekend. As usual, the trip was about lot of hiking. But unlike typical touristy spots, where food options are limited and expensive, Big Sur had a lot to offer. Big Sur has wonderful restaurants offering all kinds of cuisines along PCH 1. It is a tourist place that has some worthwhile stuff to offer to tourists. Restaurants are done up thoughtfully, interiors are artistic and food is top of the line. Along with restaurants, you will see art galleries. Sometimes, art galleries and restaurants are combined. Imagine the combination?

We tried 4 restaurants in our 3 day stay and were completely blown away by what we got. Here is an account of my experiences and my recommendations.

Big Sur Coast Gallery & Cafe

You cannot miss it. It is strategically located right on the coast on a curve of the road. Ample parking and brilliant views of the ocean, not to mention the pleasure of looking at artsy stuff, makes this a must-stop place. We were tired after a tough hike (Ewoldsen) and wanted something to cheer us up. Coffee and a turkey sandwich, each exceeding our expectations, did the trick. Yummiest cafe-stop in recent times. We managed to get a place with a good view on the deck and then, we were in no hurry to get up!

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The exterior

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The view!

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Turkey Sandwich

Big Sur Roadhouse

Another place where art and food come together. Tastefully done in wood, abstract art and greenery, the mid-priced restaurant is also located right on Highway 1. We went there for dinner and it was a good thing we reached early because soon this place was packed with couples, families and groups. Roadhouse offers local Californian cuisine with some Cajun flavours and Louisiana / Traditional Southern American dishes thrown in to create an interesting mix. Everything about this place was delightful – the servers, the interiors, the food, its presentation. Here are some appetizing pictures. Apart from all this, we also ordered a bowl of Gumbo, which was near perfection. My sweet white wine was a great accompaniment.

I wonder how their coffee must be.

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Southern Chicken Drumsticks

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Blackened Catch of the Day

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They don’t have this on the menu anymore but it was chocolate cake, chocolate and vanilla icre-cream with custard. Interestingly, their dessert menus keep changing according to the season.

Big Sur Lodge Dining

I usually do not eat at the place where I stay. Stay and food are two different things. Never ever have I had great food at the very place I stayed – until the breakfast at Big Sur Lodge. Amazing ambience (patio surrounded by trees and slight sound of water flowing in the stream below) and fantastic food. We went for Eggs Florentine and French Toast. The eggs were one of the best I have ever had. Breakfast is highly recommended here!

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Eggs Florentine

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Steller’s Jays regularly haunt the patio and they don’t seem to be afraid of humans.

Nepenthe

I do not have to sing praises about Nepenthe. It is one of the oldest and probably the best restaurant in Big Sur. Might be a little pricey, but you pay for the view here. So, it is best to come here during day time or in the evening to watch the sun set. We did not have a complete meal here; just a cocktail (which was wonderful, by the way). Being a busy long weekend, the place was packed. Servers scurrying around, barely managing to answer questions, people sitting inches away from each other and a never ending stream of waiting crowd. I wouldn’t want to dine in this situation but otherwise, when crowds are low, this would be a delightful choice.

Do you have any other recommendations for Big Sur food? It is close to SJ, so I may end up visiting again and food is always a highlight for me during travels!

Categories: Bay Area, California, Photography, Restaurant Reviews, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Egg Discoveries

This time, in Surat, I ended up trying a lot of new restaurants. I had a list of my favourite places I wanted to revisit but a busy schedule promoted me (and E) to choose restaurants based on convenience. Apart from the usual fast food, continental and beverage stuff, I had a lot of egg. And this happened to be the highlight of the Surat food expedition. I discovered some good egg dishes.

Egg lovers, read these reviews and head to these joints to gratify your egg cravings.

Mr. Egg

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Australian Egg

I visited Mr. Egg at Adajan at lunchtime on a weekday and ordered Australian Egg just as E suggested. I decided not to get confused by the wide variety of items on the menu and simply order what E suggested. Turns out, good choice. This dish, served with buttery pavs, contains a lot of cooked eggs soaked in yellow creamy, mildly spicy, highly flavourful gravy. It was love at first bite. Amazing preparation. It was pretty heavy but could be easily finished by me alone.

Prices are moderate and the variety is huge. Everything from Indian street flavours to world flavours to Mughlai flavours. All dishes seemed worth trying.

Just a word of caution. When I was there, I happened to be the only female in the whole restaurant. The rest were groups of men taking a break during their lunch hour. That was very awkward. I wasn’t comfortable at all. So girls, go there in groups.

Eggetarian Cafe

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Iranian Egg

Located on Bhatar Road opposite University, it is easy to miss this one. It is an average dhaaba style restaurant with its name very simply written on the top. It is a part of a small complex of 4-5 shops that stands in isolation. It is often frequented by college crowd.

They have a huge, simply huge, menu of whole bunch of dishes – omelettes, Chinese, main course. You name it and its there. We ordered an Italian Omelette and Iranian Egg. The omelette was amazing. Very cheesy and flavourful. Iranian Egg was bland with a lot of vegetables. You will like it if you love the flavour of egg on its own. These 2 dishes were easily shared by 3 of us.

The staff is really good – polite and courteous. The prices are quite low. They have a lot of variety. Every time you visit, you can line up your choices for next time.

Don’t forget to pair your food with Masala Soda. Damn good.

Categories: Gujarat Diaries, Restaurant Reviews, Surat, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Baroda Food Favourites

I spent hardly 11 months in Baroda but within a month, it had become my favourite city. It has so much to offer. I barely settled there (took a week to settle down the house) and I was engaging myself in various activities and hitting new restaurants. It’s been 1.5 years since I left the big, little city and my mind (my taste buds, actually) still keeps going back to its food fare.

Picking a few was very difficult. But I managed to list down my absolute favourites.

Upma at Canara Coffee house

Canara Coffee House

Canara Coffee House

Never EVER have I had better upma. And will never. Unless I go back to India and reach CCH at 7 am. Reach there at 8 am and the upma is over. Upma is served with coconut chutney. It is neither plain salty not overly sweet. It is the right mixture of savoury, sweet and spicy. It is unmatched. M took me and E to CCH for breakfast before we headed for our first girls’ trip way back in January 2012. M, a big thank you for this amazing discovery.

CCH is also famous for its Poona Misal. I love their coffee too.

CCH is a very old restaurant. it has served several generations and is said to have maintained a consistent taste. It is a legend in Baroda.

Poona Misal

Gangaur Pyaz Kachori

Another reason to be grateful to M for. She told me once – What? You have never had pyaz kachori before? Babe, head to Gangaur. So one fine Sunday, I rushed there and got a couple of them for lunch. And I was floored. For life.

Gangaur is a Rajasthani sweet shop located on Jetalpur Road.

Mirch Masala Bhel & Jalebi

Mirch Masala Baroda

Mirch Masala Baroda

Loud colors. Kitchy walls. Truck decor. Outdoor bench seating. Flashy slogans. Filmstar faces. All MM outlets look the same. Except the Race Course circle one. Their outdoor snacks area is not only fun but also a haven for delicious Indian junk food. Chaat, Paranthas, Rabdi, Ragda Patties – you cannot choose just one. Believe me, you need to choose only one since the serving is so huge. I love their bhel. It is generously dosed with coriander-mint chutney and imli chutney (that’s the way I like it). It is pretty spicy and one bowl is probably enough for two. I like to smother the spicy taste with their hot crispy jalebis. One bowl (priced at Rs. 80 till last year) contains four large jalebis.

They hold food festivals regularly. I attended their Parantha Festival way back in December 2011. Yummy thick paranthas floating in white butter. Yummm. Must visit if you are looking for hygienic street food.

Danny’s Cold Coffee

Danny's coffee baroda

I wrote about them 2 years ago. Their cold coffee is the best. Period. They started in Ahmedabad more than 2 decades ago, serving as a favorite college hangout place, and are spreading their wings to different cities. Their decor is ordinary and the shop is tucked away in a corner of a complex on the busy Jetalpur Road. I am sure, 2 years after their opening, they must be receiving heavier crowds. I believe their Maggie is great too. Try it out.

Girls, just be wary of going there after dark. Danny’s sometimes witnesses rowdy men (they are sometimes friend of staff or staff themselves). Once, M was followed by some goons from Danny’s.

Mandap Thaali

Mandap Express Gujarati thaali

Express Hotel has existed in Baroda since forever. It is a part of my childhood. We lived there for a couple of days when my father visited Baroda for official work. My sister and I sat on their sankheda hichko wearing identical dresses. Later, we visited Baroda regularly for shopping and had evening snacks there. Every time my father visited Baroda for work, he would come back with Jam Cookies and ‘Melting Moments’ from Express. Now, I make it a point to have thaali at Mandap every time I visit home. When I lived in Maharashtra (between 2000 – 2008), I used to come home for holidays deprived of and craving for Gujarati food and my parents would take me to Mandap. Unlike most thaali restaurants, Mandap is calm, sophisticated and classy. Waiters will not crowd around you. They will not messily drop food onto your plate. They will not hover around you making you uncomfortable. They will let you in peace and nicely, peacefully ask you if you need something. The food is simply enchanting. Their Moong Dal halwa is to die for. You are lucky if they have it on their menu the day you go there.

Millennium Biryani

It’s easy to miss this one. It is located in Fatehgunj, opposite Cenetary Methodist church and above Rangoli restaurant. It is an average looking place with an entrance from behind the building. This entrance may often be blocked by buffaloes or a puddle of sewage water. Dare if you may and skip these obstacles. Go up the narrow, dirty staircase, order a Chicken Biryani (with extra masala) and be instantly transported to heaven. This biryani can be matched only by Hyderabad Paradise biryani. No other.

I have fond memories of Millennium sneaking out with my work colleagues for lunch (Guys, I really miss you). We would hog on Chicken Biryani, Mutton Curry and Kheema Masala. Incredible food.

Frigtemp Kheema Frankie

Frigtemp frankie

Earlier known as Hot Dog, they are pioneers of original Indian fast food like hot dogs, frankies and burgers in Baroda. They are in existence since 1977. Egg tikka hot dog and Kheema Frankie are innovations you don’t usually find elsewhere. Even if you do, they won’t be as good as theirs. During school, I have had loads of Kheema Frankies, oil dripping all over the place due to my inexperienced grip. They also have ‘English’ flavours like Egg & Ham, Egg & Cheese (Amul cheese, of course) and Pork Salami Chicken Sausage Egg Cheese hot dog.

Give McD a pass and head to Frigtemp, Fatehgunj. Check out their FB page for more luscious photos.

Salsa Habanero Burrito

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Chef Prakash grew up in SFO California, eating vegetarian Mexican food and developed a penchant for not just eating but cooking Mexican food too. He went back to India and opened Salsa Habanero out of passion. He lovingly cooks and serves authentic Mexican food to Barodians on weekends (take away only). I loved the food the first time I had it. I love it even after spending a year in a country where there is a Mexican food joint after every 5 miles. I have had Mexican food at chains and Mom-n-Pop shops. SH is better than most of them.

Their taste and quality is consistent. The food will never disappoint.

Pop in on weekends between 6 pm to 10 pm for yummy Mexican food. Your visit will feel more fulfilling if you chat up with Prakash and Rita.

Payal Sev Khamani

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chinese samosa payal baroda

 

Gujarati cuisine has extravagant variety that one can never have enough of – Nasta, Farsan, Shaak, Sweets, Athanu. Even after living there all my life, I haven’t tasted everything. i have lived in Maharashtra for a long time and travelled to different cities of the world but what drives me home is Gujarati food. So, like having a thaali at Mandap is mandatory for me, picking up some farsan from Payal is a must too. I invariably go there for Sev Khamani. I like their Chinese Samosa too but somehow I never get them. They are probably too much in demand.

Payal is a very old, renowned shop. They started in 1986 and have become a favourite farsan shop today. They closed down their old shop and opened a new one a couple of years back. I personally liked the older one and miss it. Of course, their taste remains the same.

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There are many more legendary food options in Baroda that can satiate your palate – Mahakali Sev Usal, Raju Omlette, Vishal Samosa Sandwich, Manmohan Bhajiya, Paras Pan, Shreenath Cold Cocoa. I hope to try them on my next visit to India. They would then become my Favourite Baroda Foods II post.

Categories: Gujarat Diaries, India, Restaurant Reviews, Travel, Vadodara | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Bangalore’s Culinary Treats

Five days in Bangalore has added some inches to my waist. Being a foodie, it is difficult for me to refuse food, especially when I am in a new city and I know I may not be visiting that place again. I tend to eat greedily like there’s no tomorrow. And this is exactly what happened in Bangalore. M, the perfect host, took advantage of my weakness and stuffed me with lots of wonderful food.

I experienced quite a many restaurants and cafes during this time but the following 4 are my favourites for their uniqueness and history.

Koshy’s, Bangalore

Koshy's Bangalore

 Koshy's Bangalore

 Koshys Bangalore

Koshy’s was founded in 1940. It has retained its old world charm. As such it is a very ordinary place but it is popular because it is more of an institution and a legend than a restaurant. The waiters dress in traditional white uniform to add to the aura. Koshy’s is known to have served Prime Minister J Nehru, Soviet Union dignitary Nikita Khrushchev and Queen Elizabeth II. It is a very laid-back place and I read in reviews that service is usually slow. We went there on Makar Sankranti day for breakfast. We landed there at 9 am sharp when the restaurant just opened and 4-5 tables got occupied quickly. Our waiter moved really slowly and I was half afraid we would miss our flight.

This place is not to be visited in a hurry. You don’t go to this restaurant to eat. You go there to relax, think, ponder, converse and absorb the charming aged air.

They have a huge menu, which makes it difficult to make a decision. Our Veg Spanish Omelet was stuffed with loads of vegetables and cheese giving a very happy feeling. The Chicken Liver Toast was yummy too. I have never had such delicious chicken liver ever. Incidentally, Chicken Liver in various forms is their specialty. Their toasts and omelets have also got good reviews. Complete your meal with their hot or cold coffee (a tad expensive but in Bangalore every meal MUST end with coffee).

CTR, Bangalore

CTR Bangalore

 Benne Dosa CTR

CTR or Central Tiffin Room (erstwhile Shree Sagar) is a very old restaurant located in Malleswaram. The hotel was originally established in 1920s by a family. It passed several hands and changed names several times before being rechristened CTR. It is a small, ordinary place often crowded and messy. The reason why one goes to CTR is their superbly delicious food. Their specialty is the award winning Benne (Butter) Masala Dosa. This thick dosa is crunchy and soft at the same time. One side is crispy and the other is soft, which makes it so unique. I had taken one bite of this heavenly butter laden dosa and then eaten the rest of it in complete blissful silence. Have their Benne Dosa before trying out other dishes for that must not be missed. Their coffee is one of the best I have ever had. Other dishes worth trying are Kharabhath and Mangalore Bhajji.

Our Native Village, Hessaraghatta

Ragi Roti Our Native Village

Our Native Village (ONV) is an eco resort located in the secluded flatland of Hessaraghatta. People primarily go there to spend a quiet weekend with basic forms of living away from all modern interruptions. We ended up at ONV to have lunch after visiting Nrityagram. We were starving by the time we were looking at the menus and hoped the food would do justice to our hunger.

It did. We ordered simple wholesome food like Ragi Roti, Akki Roti with Tomata Palaya & Cabbage Gojju. The Tomato Palya was exceptionally tasty. We were told that the restaurant grinds their own masala (spices) and grows their own vegetables. We also had the option of plucking vegetables ourselves. We were too famished to do that. Lately, they have started serving non vegetarian food but otherwise, their vegetarian food is cooked using less or no oil and feels very light on the stomach.

Their filter coffee was a letdown.

They have a buffet option too. Food is amazing. The ambience is good. They also have some books you can read while waiting around. It was totally worth going there instead of Taj Kuteeram, which is right opposite the dance school.

Kamat Lokaruchi, Mysore Road

Moode Idly Kamat

 Sugarcane Appams Kamat

If you are travelling towards Mysore, you cannot not stop at Kamat. It is located 70 kilometers away from Bangalore and is a perfect lunch / breakfast destination for travelers. Done up simply yet tastefully in traditional ‘hut’ style, the ambience is really cozy. They have lots of seating, most of it is outside. They serve buffet on weekends and holidays. Otherwise, you need to battle your gluttony and order something from their vast menu. They have lot of popular and traditional dishes that are served with very little wait time. Try their Moode Idli (Steamed cylindrical idli wrapped in banana leaf) served with wada, sambhar and coconut chutney, Ghee Rava Dosa, Sugarcane Appams or Ragi Dosa. Dosas are often served with Tomato chutney and Veg Korma. Do not forget their memorable filter coffee in the end. I chose to have a glass of refreshing sugarcane juice. I was denied this tempting drink throughout my India trip for the fear of falling sick. But the Kamat sugarcane juice did me no harm.

For adventurous foodies, there are more ethnic dishes like Akki Rotis, Jawar Rotis and Ragi Mudde meals. Such meals are usually consumed by farmers and locals in interiors of the state.

Kamat concluded my tryst with ethnic South Indian food. And it was totally unforgettable.

These were some memorable food moments of my Bangalore trip. It could not have been better devoured than with M & E.

Any more food recommendations from you hardcore Bangalore foodies?

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Categories: India, Photography, Restaurant Reviews, South India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Sushi Boulevard, Sunnyvale – Restaurant Review

I read about sushi first in movie magazines like Filmfare during school. In interviews, celebrities would quote sushi as their favourite food. I was so curious. Then I got the idea from somewhere that sushi meant squids and eels. Eek!

I have become a fan of sushi (and this restaurant) in the last 2 months. I have visited Sushi Boulevard (SB) thrice in 1.5 months. I am that crazy. It has become comfort food, anytime food and an ideal meal after a long tiring day.

This little, basic restaurant is located in Sunnyvale. They often offer Groupon deals. If you miss that, you can always visit them during their Happy Hour (3 pm to 7 pm). They offer 20% discount on the total bill during these 4 hours.

The service is pretty quick unless crowded. It is unpredictable, actually. Sometimes, the place is almost empty and yet food takes a little while to arrive. And given that I always go there from college, starved and deprived of good food, the wait seems a tad longer than usual. Well, sometimes they just have one cook. That could be the reason.

Their menu is elaborate and like most sushi bars, many items are presented with pictures on the menu card. Believe me, that is pretty helpful! Not to mention, the items are listed in alphabetical order. How convenient!

I usually go in for their rolls. Gordon & Spider Roll are my favourites. You cannot miss Gordon. It is marked with a red chilli, indicating that it is the spiciest roll. As per my tolerance level, it is not really spicy but yes, spicier than others and extremely flavourful. This has to be my favourite dish. It is made of up tako, scallop, shrimp, cucumber and jalapeno. Slurp!

The second is Spider Roll. The pieces are large and filling made of crab, avocado, cucumber and tobiko.

I have tried other rolls like Miss Netscreen (Tuna, Salmon, Hirame, Shrimp, Cucumber) which was a little bland, Hamachi Roll & Jackson Roll (Spicy tuna roll with seaweed). There are numerous options to try out and because I am still not bored of sushi or SB, I will be trying out more items of their menu.

Visit their website which has the detailed menu with pictures and descriptions to help you choose better. They also have some vegetarian rolls and a lunch menu.

It is a wrong idea that sushi is raw food. Indeed, the seafood portion is often raw (I am sure it is treated in some way and is not totally raw) but some sushi rolls are steamed or deep fried. There are many rolls that contain vegetables in larger quantities, suppressing the raw taste of seafood. And then you have the very spicy Wasabi sauce and Soy to pique up the flavour. Undeniably, sushi is an acquired taste. It took me 3 attempts to get hooked on to it. But do try it. Like me, you may get addicted and it may soon become your drug (yes, in my case It’s that bad. During my upcoming India visit, I am going to miss sushi like crazy).

And if you are near San Jose, visit Sushi Boulevard so that you get a great first time experience!

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Miso soup served at the beginning. It is yummy.

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Don’t remember the name but it was pretty raw and mild

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Spider Roll. Yummylicious!

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Jackson Roll. It was pretty good.

Categories: Bay Area, California, Restaurant Reviews, San Jose, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Isabella’s Restaurant, San Jose

Isabella’s is a Peruvian food restaurant at Winchester Boulevard (near Santana Row). I was excited to have a look at the restaurant interiors menu because this was my first experience with South American cuisine. I had no clue what kind of flavour this fare has.

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The interiors are done simply with some wall art and some artefacts, probably depicting SA cultures. The place was full even on a Tuesday evening. We were lucky enough to find a corner table.

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Our server quickly asked us for drinks. They have some speciality regional drinks also on the menu. You can try those if you feel adventurous.

They are more known for their seafood. They had the best dishes to offer in seafood. Chicken dishes did not seem special. So, we went in for 2 seafood dishes – Fresh Fish Cebiche and Arroz con Mariscos (sautéed seafood with fried rice).

We had to impatiently wait for a while before the dishes arrived. And the seafood-rice dish looked amazing! We barely took a few compulsive photos for this post and divulged! And the taste was heavenly. The seafood (shrimp, mussels, clams) was absolutely fresh. The rice was pleasantly sautéed in peas and light spices (pretty similar to Indian preparation). We stared with remorse at the empty dish after 5 minutes.

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Next arrived the Cebiche. This cold dish was served with corn, onions and yam. As many reviews mentioned, it was more lime-y. It was sourer than necessary. If you really like Cebiche and want to order it here, do inform them to make it less sour.

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For dessert, we ordered Peruvian Banana Sundae. They did not have Peruvian ice cream and used ice cream. The ice cream (orange and strawberry) was as such good but I did not like the fried banana much. Some people may really like the taste and maybe this dish would actually be nice.

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Green sauce served to spice up your meal. Mind you, this sauce is very very spicy

My conclusion is that this place is known for its warm seafood dishes. Their flavoured rice, sautéed seafood and speciality sauces are your best bet. I would love to try the other dishes mentioned under ‘Seafood’ in their menu. The photos look so attractive (check out pictures on their Facebook page). I wish we had not ordered the Cebiche and ordered another rice dish instead.

They are a tad expensive (each main dish costing 15 to 17 bucks). Hence, one can make use of the discount coupons they offer on their website.

I would love to visit them again. The memory of soft, juicy and flavoursome shrimps with delicious rice is still fresh on my taste buds.

Categories: Bay Area, Restaurant Reviews, San Jose, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Kashi Art Cafe, Fort Kochi

We were really excited to go to Kashi Art Gallery & Cafe. Every time we looked up for good places to go to in Fort Kochi, this name popped up. There were rave reviews everywhere and what wonderful photos of this recently renovated cafe! This was the place to go, for sure.

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We headed here for a late lunch. Indeed, the place, located at Burgher Street, is beautiful. There is a front gallery that showcases work of local artists.

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The rest of the cafe is also done tastefully. This is a perfect place for enjoying a quiet meal. This is where one can relax and have good conversations with friends. This is one good place where you can study maps and chalk out an itinerary.

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Their menu is pretty small but from what I have read their breakfast dishes is pretty good. That is what this place is known for. Their French Toast-n- Honey and Omelette is supposed to be good. So is their coffee.

I was sadly let down by their food. I found the food very mediocre. Their Homemade Chocolate Cake, which is another speciality, was so sweet it made me giddy. This place may be just a bit overrated.

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No doubt, the ambience is amazing. Totally my kinda place! Kashi Art Cafe is made to suit foreigners and hip, arty people visiting Fort Kochi. It is worth visiting for a small snack and to enjoy the beautiful interiors.

Moreover, it’s fun wandering in Fort Kochi streets to reach this place.

Categories: India, Photography, Restaurant Reviews, South India, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

Scrambl’z, San Jose–Restaurant Review

Of all the places we stumbled across using Groupons, Scrambl’z has to be the clear winner. We have been visiting this ‘fun place to eat’ every other month, especially with guests visiting us from out of SJ. It is just our excuse to go there again and again.

Scrambl’z is a breakfast and brunch place. Essentially, breakfast. It is open from 7 am till 2 pm every day (oh yes. Please remember this lest you want to land up there at 7 pm and be disappointed, like us). They have a huge menu with a huge variety of eggs, omelettes, pancakes, waffles, juices, crepes and sandwiches. Many of their main dishes (like omelettes and benedicts) come with one or more sides. And you won’t believe it, the side is as big and heavy as a main dish. Greed will naturally overcome you; you will order a lot of food and struggle to finish it.

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Lot of yummy food along with Hazelnut Coffee. I never give this one a miss

Their menu is overwhelming. First they astonish you with statistics like the number of eggs broken each week (18000), number of oranges squeezed each week (10000) and amount of flour used (1 ton). And then confuse you with the vast array of breakfast dishes.

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Chocolate Crepes

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Bread Pudding French Toast

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Whole Grain Waffle

Rarely have we been disappointed there.

Our personal favourites there are Whole Grain Waffle, San Francisco Omelette, Florentine Eggs Benedict, Bread Pudding French Toast and Biscuits. Of course, we are yet to try many, many other dishes.

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Florentine Eggs Benedict

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San Francisco Omelette

For 3 people, choice of one main dish and 2 side dishes would be perfect (along with some coffee and / or juice). An omelette, for example, comes with 2 sides you can choose. That would be perfect.

Their interior is worth mentioning. They have a very American feel. Lot of B&W photographs of stars, witty signboards and vintage posters crowd all the walls. You can easily spend the wait time gazing across these. Scrambl’z can be crowded in mornings and you can expect a 15 minutes wait.

It’s going to be a while before I get bored of this place. I am already looking forward to my fourth visit there.

Breakfast happens to be my favourite meal of the day. I have a seed of thought growing in my head. Maybe I should try out all Breakfast / Brunch places in SJ???

Categories: Bay Area, Restaurant Reviews, San Jose, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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