Tangerine - Alwarpet

Chennai's first stand alone Sizzler restaurant

Spectra - Leela Palace Hotel

An Exquisite all day dining restaurant with best Sushi's in Chennai

Beyond Indus - Taj Club House

For best dishes from the Indus region, this is where you should head

Anise - Taj Coromandel

The coffee shop at the luxurious Taj Coromandel, the Gilli Biryani is a must have

Coffe Bean and Tea Leaf - Phoenix Market City

The ideal coffee shop for both beverages and short eats

Friday, 27 March 2015

The first thing that hits you at the thought of dining in a Japanese restaurant is the thought of Sushi and raw a.k.a cured meat. But on the contrary there also exists a different avatar of the Japanese cuisine namely the “Teppanyaki” which will suit the Indian palate more. This style involves using a girdle to cook the food. Wiki says that “The word teppanyaki is derived from teppan (鉄板), which means iron plate, and yaki (焼き), which means grilled, broiled, or pan-fried”. Folks in Chennai are lucky in a way as India’s first stand-alone Teppanyaki grill restaurant opened here. Named “Teppan”, they have been catering to Chennaities teppanyaki needs over the last couple of years.

Having had my first teppanyaki experience in the middle east many years ago, was truly excited on hearing about Teppan opening and visited them on their first week itself for a truly fabulous experience. Was surprised when I learned that they were having a “Makizushi” festival. One thought that ran through my mind was that how can restaurant that is already well renowned for Japanese cuisine have a dedicated festival for a staple dish. This intriguing thought was set aside the moment we saw the menu as the amount of research that has gone in to designing this festival was clearly evident from the offerings that were as part of this “Makizushi” festival.

The menu was clearly divided into three sections, namely ‘Gunkan Maki’, ‘Te Maki’ & ‘Maki’.If you are wondering what these are then to put them in perspective the ‘Gunkan Maki’ is a variant of sushi that comes in big portions such that two pieces can satisfy even the biggest appetite while the ‘Te Maki’ is a cone shaped sushi equally big in portions. The ‘Maki’ is your regular sushi roll. 
(Tempura Wasabi Mayo salad)
(Palate Cleanser drink)
(Gunkan Maki)
For the evening we ordered the ‘Tori Soboro’ and ‘Kanishake’ from the Gunkan Maki section. The ‘Tori Soboro’ was a Chicken version of sushi that was seasoned with tongarashi and wrapped with sushi vinegar rice and nori. Being my first chicken sushi, I somehow felt that it did not do justice as there were confusing flavours that did not pair with each other. This re-instated my belief that sushi should never be made with anything other than seafood. The ‘Kanishake’ on the other hand was one of the best sushi’s of the evening. It was made of tempura fried crab stick tossed with spices and wrapped with sushi vinegar rice and sliced salmon. This was just mind boggling.
(Te Maki)
(Te Maki)
(Maki)
The next up was ‘Shake Sarada’ and ‘Karai ebi’ from the Te Maki section. These were humongous cone shaped sushi. ‘Shake Sarada’ was a marinated salmon wrapped in nori with avocado, lettuce, cucumber and vinegar rice while ‘Karai ebi’ was a prawn sushi seasoned with mild spicy mayo and tongarashi, spring onion, tobiko and again hand rolled with sushi vinegar rice and nori. Both of them were equally good with a subtle flavour of the meat owing to the enormous proportions of the accompaniments. From the Maki section, we ordered for some ‘Furai maguro Maki’ and ‘Takayama Maki’. The former was a seasoned tuna sushi with cream cheese, avocado then rolled with sushi vinegar rice and nori and finally deep fried with breadcrumb. This was truly outstanding as one can feel the heat of the deep fry yet savour the freshness of the sushi all at one go. The ‘Takayama Maki’ was a tempura fried sea bass with carrot, avocado, spicy mayo, rolled with sushi vinegar rice and nori then topped with tuna, sea bass and spinach. This too was equally good but my bet is on the ‘Furai Maguro Maki’.
(Tempura Fried Prawns)
(Fried Rice)
With the heroes of the festival dealt with, we decided to order for another dish which was a hard recommendation from another foodie, the ‘Tempura fried prawns’. My oh my!!! Hands down, this is the best tempura fried prawns I’ve ever tasted. It was as light as it can get while being the crispiest it can get too. It is already in my must taste dishes in Chennai list. Just to bring closure to the evening’s meal, we had some sautéed vegetables, chicken and a fried rice that was prepared right in front of us in the teppanyaki style.
(Dessert Platter)
(Wasabi Ice Cream)
One we were done with the savouries it was time for the desserts. Having savoured fresh produce all through the evening, I really wasn’t in the mood for desserts even though I’m a dessert freak. But one stop at the dessert counter and it all changed. In a short while I found myself in the company of an amazingly silky coffee chocolate mousse, a soft and crunchy nutty brownie, a delectable pie and a well-balanced Wasabi ice cream. Glad I didn’t miss the desserts as they brought about a perfect curtain closure to the amazing evening of sushi.

Teppan is located on TTK Road above Benjarong and a meal for two should cost about ₹ 2500.

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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The word Chinese cuisine is so synonymous with dimsums & noodles. With the advent of the Chinese New Year, restaurants around the city celebrated the year of the Goat with much fanfare. However taking a cue apart, one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in Chennai, “Chinatown” decided to go a step further. Rather than opting for the regular Chinese celebratory menu, they dedicated their festival to the mighty noodles.  Some of the handmade noodles were also infused with different flavours to bring in the variety.
(Steamed Chicken Wonton with Hot Garlic sauce)
(Vietnamese Pho)
(Noodle wrapped Crispy Prawns with Spice Hoisin sauce)
The evening started with the arrival of the ‘Vietnamese Pho’, a noodle broth comprising of beef. This soup is supposedly a delicacy in Vietnam and had a strong domination of beef flavour. The noodles in the broth made the pho feel like a complete meal by itself. Following the broth, the appetizers that followed were ‘Steamed Chicken Wonton with Hot Garlic sauce’ and ‘Noodle wrapped Crispy Prawns with Spice Hoisin sauce’. Both the starters were excellent with the prawns taking an edge over the chicken wontons thanks to the crusty crispiness of the noodles that transformed as a batter followed by a very juicy prawn inside.
(Handmade Spinach Veg noodles)
(Thai flat noodles with beef in a black bean sauce)
(Prawn Mee Goreng)
(Chinatown Mee Hoon)
(Hunan Chicken)
With the starters done, the hero dishes of the evening were to make their grand appearance. The first of the lot to appear was the ‘Handmade Spinach Veg noodles’. This was a true hero as the spinach is pureed and mixed with the dough before the noodles is stretched giving a completely different taste and feel to the dish. This was followed by the ‘Thai flat noodles with beef in a black bean sauce’ which to me was a pale in comparison to the spinach noodles but nevertheless a yummy tasting dish considering the presence of basil in the black bean sauce which was complemented with the succulent pieces of minced beef. The next noodle dish of the evening was the ‘Chinatown Mee Hoon’ which is a vermicelli based dish. This felt very light in comparison to the earlier noodles and have loads of different veggies that packed the right amount of texture to the play in the mouth. The last noodle was the Indonesian classic ‘Prawn Mee Goreng’. One of my favourite far eastern dishes, the Goreng either Nasi or Mee always gets me excited. But unfortunately this one did not exceed the expectations maybe because I’ve probably had more flavour packed Goreng’s elsewhere. To accompany all the noodle dishes, ‘Hunan Chicken’ was served. This was another surprisingly amazing dish that gelled well with all the noodles that were served.
(Banana Wonton)
(Almond Darsan)
(Coconut Dimsum)
Once we completed our battle with the noodles, it was now time to indulge in some action packed desserts. The first to be savoured was the ‘Banana Wonton’ which was divine. The banana along with the crispy wonton wrapped infused with the honey just made it a wow dish. The next dish to wow was the ‘Coconut Dimsum’ which again was a surprise dish. The amount of coconut stuffing created the right magical balance that elevated the dimsum to a different level. The final lot of desserts was my all-time favourite in the Chinese cuisine, the ‘Almond Darsan’ served with a dollop of Ice Cream. How much can go wrong with a simple Darsan? The darsan was great with the right amount of caramelized honey to accompany it with the Ice cream. 

Chinatown is located on Cathedral Road with the Noodle festival scheduled to be on till the 8th of March. A meal for two should cost about ₹ 1200.

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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Over the years Chennai has been seeing a host of Food Festivals being organized by the numerous Food & Beverages outlets located here. Some of these festivals have been very unique while the remaining were often the regular Biryani, Kebabs or Regional cuisines. However, there is one chain of luxury hotels that does things differently, way different than all others. Yes, Park Hyatt part of the Hyatt group of hotels conducts a culinary festival across all their locations globally. Chefs across different Hyatt hotels will take their expertise and culinary wisdom to showcase it other Park Hyatt locations. This culinary festival is aptly titled “Masters of Food and Wine” and is a perfect showcase of brilliance in culinary and beverage experiences.
The Grand Opening of the 2015 edition of the “Masters of Food and Wine” at Park Hyatt Chennai was on the 21st of February with the theme for the current edition being ‘Korean Cuisine’. The participating hotel for the current edition is the Grand Hyatt Incheon in South Korea with Chefs Eunseok Yang and Kyuchon Lee leading the way. Throughout the week they will be serving amazing Korean specialities at the Park Hyatt Chennai’s signature restaurant, “The Flying Elephant”. In addition to the culinary experience, one can also participate on a hands on Masterclass with the Master Chefs themselves.
(Chef Introductions)
The Grand Opening started off with the introduction of the all Chefs who were to take us on this culinary adventure. With the bonhomies done, we were now being geared to face the barrage of exquisite foods that was to be presented. Being the grand opening, the menu for the evening comprised completely of live counters. As there was so much to explore, I kept on hopping from one station to the other wondering where to start and where to end.
(Cured Fish along with some Antipasti)
As I made my way across the room, the first thing that struck me was the enormous variety of food being showcased. I started the evening with some Antipasti comprising of Tomato, Mozzarella along with Basil Pesto. This was followed by ‘Cured Fish’ comprising of a cured Indian Basa wrapped over some orange flesh with acidic green apple and topped with micro greens. The basa was cured to perfection and the marriage of orange made it a lovely pair. Being an ardent fan of cheese, I moved on to make a small cheese platter for myself with some Parmesan, Goat Cheese (Similar to Feta but difference being the composition of goat milk being higher in goat cheese) and some Emmental. Apricots, Figs and some nuts made the perfect accompaniments.
(Kimchi Salad)
(Kimchi Pancake)
(Cinnamon Punch and Bibim Bab)
With the Cold counter done, I next moved on to the Korean speciality counter where a ‘Sweet Pumpkin Porridge’ awaited. I would rate it to be one of the finest porridges to be tasted in a restaurant. This was followed by a ‘Korean Pancake’ made using Kimchi. The next up I was told was a staple road side dish in Korea called the Bibim Bab. A fellow foodie who accompanied me was raving about the same and decided to have a go. The rice along with the veggies and the Chilli sauce made it amazing such that I had a second serving of the same. To soothen our throats, the Korean section had an uber cool drink called the ‘Cinnamon Punch’. It seemed to be a combination of Cinnamon, Sugar and water but the drink was too good that within a span of few minutes I had myself take down a couple of glasses of the same.
(Mexican Counter)
(Taco and Corn Tamales)
(Spiced Plantain and Green Onion Enchiladas)
After trying out the Korean specialities, I ventured into the land of Latin America. We were greeted with some fresh crispy taco filled with the traditional guacamole, red salsa, cheese and sour cream. Also part of the Mexican fare was the ‘Corn Meal and Cheese Tamales’ served with a choice of refried beans or chicken stew. As always the last dish was the best for we got to savour some ravishing ‘Spiced Plantain and Green Onion Enchiladas’.
(Indian Counter)
From Latin America my gaze took me to our very own subcontinent, yes I moved on to check the menu at the Indian counter. From first looks, I could make out an array of different Biryani pots accompanied with equivalent number of clay pots filled with aromatic gravies. The different biryani’s presented were ‘Banajar Biryani’, a take on Hyderabadi biryani made using lamb followed by ‘Kattal Biryani’, comprising of Baby Jackfruit and culminating with ‘Malabar Prawn Biryani’ made using prawns cooked in coconut milk to infuse the Malabar flavours. The starters counter had a very unique tikka being dished out. The ‘Bhatak aur Anjeer ki Tikki’ was a succulent cutlet made using Turkey and dry figs that was served on top of a huge saffron bread topped with some Brown Onion and Tomato curry. 
(Baked Brie)
(Baked Brie)
(Beef Bourguignon)
With the tummy already going on a gastronomical world tour, it was decided to try the French counter before calling it a night. The French counter was manned or rather wo-manned by Chef Megha, the frivolous and outspoken Chef de Cuisine of The Flying Elephant. On platter for us here was the ‘Baked Brie’ which is an all-time personal favourite and a ‘Nicoise salad’ platted with some seared tuna, quail eggs and an anchovy dressing. However, the hero of the evening was this next dish, as it was the softest piece of beef I’ve ever savoured. This was so soft that I definitely didn’t need a fork leave alone a knife. The ‘Beef Bourguignon’ was truly outstanding. It had a piece of beef accompanied with some Jerusalem artichoke foam along with Mandarin zest and confit pearl onions. 
(Park Hyatt Signature Chocolate Cake)
(French Macaroon)
(Chocolate Decadence)
(Bounty Cake)
(Mango Cremeux Coconut Parfait)
(Coffee Pavlova with Seasonal Fruits)
(Mandarin Tart)
With all the savouries sampled, it was time to hit the dessert counter. Having desserts spread across an entire room can make any dessert lover a kid. I was just too excited to try them all and had planned for this right from the beginning of my food adventure that evening. The first up on the platter was the ‘Chocolate Decadence’ followed by a cake which Chef Dinesh and Chef Prabhu revealed was a version of the famous chocolate ‘Bounty’. In between I sneaked a few French Macaroons while heading to the counter stacked with some ‘Mandarin Tart’. This was followed by the ‘Mango Cremeux Coconut Parfait’ which stood out as the best dessert of the evening and a close second by the ‘Coffee Pavlova’ adorned with seasonal fruits.

With the desserts coming to a close, we called end to the sumptuous conclusion of the Grand Opening of the “Masters of Food and Wine” at the Park Hyatt Chennai. For those who are intrigued by this magnanimous experience and are awaiting to taste some fine Korean specialities, head straight to ‘The Flying Elephant’ to have an experience of a lifetime.


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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Chennai being a city encompassing people from all across India, there is no void of any particular cuisine in the city. This provides visitors and Chennaities with a vast array of restaurants to choose from when it comes to dining. Although Chennai is home to numerous Kerala cuisine restaurants, it’s a rarity that I visit them as most of the Kerala delicacies are readily available at home for me, thanks to the influence of my extended family members.

One prominent restaurant that has established itself a name for the Kerala cuisine in Chennai has to be ‘Ente Keralam’, which is part of the Oriental Cuisines chain of restaurants. Oriental Cuisines has played an integral part in shaping up the restaurant scene in Chennai by bringing a host of varying cuisines and being consistent in their offerings. So when a fellow foodie asked me if I would be willing to try out the “Kuttanadan Food Festival”, I jumped in as I knew it would definitely be different to the regular fare.
(Tender Coconut Water)
(Kappa Cutlet)
Upon being seated, the very enthusiastic Chef Jayaprakash gave us a brief overview of the Kuttanadan specialities. He revealed that Tharavu aka Duck is the main protein next to fish in this region as it is surrounded on three sides by water bodies. With the pleasantries exchanged, we were served with the signature ‘Tender Coconut’ drink. This was followed by the ‘Kappa Cutlet’, which was the regular cutlet made entirely using Kappa aka Tapioca. I’ve had kappa in many forms including the famous ‘Kappa and Fish curry’ but this was completely different. I liked the way the cutlet had a very crispy coating while the tapioca inside retained its flavour. 

(Karimeen Polichathu)
(Konju Ularthiyathu)
The next up was the ‘Karimeen Polichathu’ which is a signature Kerala dish. The dish being cooked in a clay pot had all its flavour incorporated into the fish and the masala that accompanied it made it a stand out. The last of the starters was the ‘Konju Ularthiyathu’ which was basically jumbo prawns grilled in a stone pot that provides it with earthen flavours. Although mine was a little dry the flavours sure made up for it.

(Kuttanadan Tharavu Mappas)
(Kozhi Curry Kuttanandan Style)
(Pineapple Puttu & Parotta)

(Payasam)
With the starters all done, we ordered for two curries, the ‘Kozhi Curry Kuttanandan Style’ and ‘Kuttanadan Tharavu Mappas’. To go with the curries, the accompaniments were a ‘Pineapple Puttu’, ‘Malabar Parotta’ and ‘Appam’. The chicken curry was rightly spiced and also had the essence of the clay pot incorporated into the gravy and proved the perfect accompaniment for the Parotta while the Duck gravy was perfect for the Pineapple puttu. Puttu being a regular fare at home, the pineapple puttu was different in a way that the flavour of pineapple was completely infused into the puttu. The chef did reveal the secret but unfortunately it shall remain a secret as a mark of recognition to the hard work put in by the Chef and his team. The evening was brought to an end with two type of Payasam. These were from their regular menu as the Kuttanad cuisine provides more importance to the mains rather than desserts.

The Kuttanadan Food Festival is on at all Ente Keralam outlets across Chennai until the 15th of Feb. A meal for two should set you by ₹ 1200.

If this article interested you, please share it so others may be interested and benefited too!!! Request you to also visit our Facebook page Food In Chennai - Facebook and share the page with a Like amongst your friends and also follow us on our twitter handle at @FoodInChennai. You can also follow us on Google Plus at Food in Chennai-GooglePlus. Please also feel free to g+1 this post so others may be benefited too

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