Showing posts with label Adyar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adyar. Show all posts

Monday, 31 March 2014


“Fish??? Please no Fish for me”. Thanks to the Chefs at The Leela Palace, Chennai and the Master Chefs from Japan, this statement will no longer have any validity in my food blogging sphere. 

Being a foodie can be quite a task especially if you are into not just eating but also reviewing. The most significant is the ability to be willing to taste all type of foods. This is a department where I’ve always not been able to keep up as there two things that I have to avoid while considering food elements, Pork and Fish. The first due to religious beliefs while the second mainly because of personal choice. I love seafood though and can eat non fish ingredients such as prawns, lobster, crabs, and scallops. Very rarely do I consume fish and it is predominantly in the Asian form of cuisine as it masks out the complete whiff of the fish. Otherwise, it is a complete no-no and has often made me miss out dishes which I know would have tasted fantastic.

I’m sure you must be wondering, why I am talking so much about fish here. Well, beat the irony, a person who absolutely avoids cooked fish gets invited for an International Sushi Training Workshop. Yes, to be honest I was freaking out by the mere thought of Sushi. But being an invitation from one of the most prestigious hotels in the city, I made up my mind to honour the invitation and challenged myself to take it in my stride and try out the Sushi. But yet once again, the mere thought of a raw fish going down my throat was giving me the shudders.
(Sushi)

(Tuna)
The fear turned to excitement and anticipation when I attended the press meet for the workshop. The moment the Master Chefs were introduced, I was determined that if I was to ever taste Sushi then it better be from the professionals. Chef Masayoshi Kazato & Chef Hirotoshi Ogawa are from the “All Japan Sushi Association-World Sushi Skills Institute” and were here to train professional chefs on the art of crafting Sushi. Yes you heard it right the first time, to teach professional chefs. This new found interest was furthered during my post-meet conversation with Chef Dharmen Makawana, Executive Chef & Chef Avinash Mohan, Executive Sous Chef at “The Leela Palace, Chennai”. Chef Dharmen revealed what I felt was the most practical approach for those who are trying Sushi for the first time. It is always better to start with cooked Sushi before moving to cured Sushi and then taking the plunge into Sashimi. 
(Chef Masayoshi Kazato)
(Chef Hirotoshi Ogawa)
(Chef Dharmen Makawana)
(Chef Avinash Mohan)
The litmus test was during the luncheon hosted for us on the next day. After having been well informed by the Chef’s the previous day, I was looking forward to my first Sushi. The first thing I noticed on entering “Spectra”, Leela’s all day dining restaurant was their Sushi Bar which was right at the entrance and the two Master Chef’s handling the counters. Although the smell of fish was all around but it was not of the way that would put one off. Moving to the Sushi counter, I was shocked to see Chef Kazato using the arm of one of his assistants as a chopping board. This he says is a sign of confidence and control any Sushi Chef must possess. The way he chopped the vegetables on the arm, the vegies came out cleanly chopped with even a slight impression on the arm. It was nerve wrecking to see that as the knives used are razor sharp. 
(Nervous looking Human Chopping Board)
(Relieved looking Human Chopping Board)
(Assorted Plate)
(Beautiful Fish Cuts)
Chef Dharmen was very courteous enough and helped me plate my dish with a range of Sushi & Sashimi as I couldn’t wait getting into the action. I had an assortment of Salmon, Scallop, Squid & Tuna Sashimi along with some cooked Prawn Sushi and a single serving of a vegetarian Sushi just for the heck of trying it. For the first time in my life, a fish seemed tempting to me. The moment I picked up some Soy sauce along with Wasabi, I was all set to take the first Sushi bite. Everything around me became still for a second when the first Salmon Sashimi entered my mouth. I was shocked and surprised at how delicate and flavoured it was. My immediate reaction was, “How could I have committed such a grave mistake being a foodie?” Why did it take me so long to realize how amazing they tasted?
(My Plate)
One by one the other Sushi’s & Sashimi’s were being emptied of my plate with each providing a very unique flavour profile. My favourites of the afternoon were the Salmon Sashimi, Scallops Sashimi & the Cooked Prawn Sushi. Once I had the vegetarian sushi, I realized how there can never be a vegetarian sushi as it doesn’t do any justice to the authentic Sushi. One way I feel it was a blessing in disguise that I waited so long to venture into this unknown territory as now I’ve got the feel of what real and authentic Sushi is straight from the hands of world renowned Sushi Master Chefs. 
(Baked Yogurt)
As I wanted to relish the flavours of the Sushi, I just had a few dishes from their regular lunch buffet spread promising myself to return again soon to do full justice to their exhaustive lunch buffet. From the dishes I tried that afternoon, I loved their Hummus, Baba Ghanoush and the Pita. Their hummus is probably the only truly replicated hummus available in Chennai. How can a meal be complete without a dessert and to do justice I had a portion of the Baked Yoghurt with cracked French Macaroons on it. On our way back after the meal I bumped into Chef Dharmen & Chef Avinash who were very courteous in listening to my experience of Sushi and were glad to find out it was a memorable one. We ended up chatting for quite some time on various topics pertaining to food and the general restaurant scenario in Chennai. The Chefs were very down to earth and were open to giving culinary tips without any hesitation. The conversations really enlightened me on different aspects of food preparation, storage and cooking.

This amazing experience and training workshop was organized by The Indian Federation of Culinary Associations & JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) along with The Leela Palace Hotel, Chennai.
(The Team behind organizing the Workshop)
Whenever you feel the need for Sushi, hold no bar, head straight up to Spectra, the all-day dining restaurant at The Leela Palace Hotel, Chennai for a mind blowing experience.

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Tuesday, 2 April 2013


One of the finest dining experiences one can truly enjoy at most restaurants is the roof-top dining. With the increase in pollution in Chennai, there has been a dearth of such restaurants. Roof top dining is very often available only in hotels and as most of them are located in the heart of the city, it often doesn’t turns into a memorable experience owing the fast and vibrant traffic that is prevalent at such locations. This was the scenario until two years ago when one such restaurant decided to open its doors to roof-top dining lovers. 

Tucked away in a very silent part of Chennai is ‘Azzuri Bay’. A restaurant that not only provides an amazing roof-top experience but also provides a gleaming view of the Adyar River and the mighty Adyar Bridge. Taking inspiration from the Adyar River and the Bay of Bengal, the restaurant was aptly named Azzuri Bay. Azzuri in Italian represents a shade of blue commonly known as Azzure and being located close to the Bay, the name could get no better than this. 

Towering 3 floors, each unique in its own way, the restaurant offers a multi-cuisine spread ranging from Italian, Mediterranean, Pan-Asian and South Indian. With a seating capacity of 140 patrons, the floors can also be completely blocked in case you decide to host a party. The vision of the owners is straight forward. One of the partners Mr. Jai Punjabi told me that their motto is “Good D├ęcor with a Neat Ambiance serving Decent Food”. 

I am sure that by now, most of you would be wondering that Azzuri Bay is yet another multi-cuisine restaurant where justice will not be done to any particular cuisine. But your opinion will definitely change once you visit Azzuri Bay. They have indeed done more justice to the individual cuisines than most specialized restaurants do. Saying this, let me know give you a sneak peek into the amazing food that I devoured during my visit.

The first dish to be presented on the table was the ‘Rose Milk Popsicle’ & ‘Orange Popsicle’. I’m sure this would bring back old memories for most of us. Wanting to try all the cuisine, I was advised to go in for their Platters. Being an ardent foodie, I wouldn’t mind trying as many new dishes as possible but my only constraint is that food should never be wasted. Keeping this in mind, an order was placed for a Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian platter from both Italian + Mediterranean and Asian Cuisines. While I waited for the platters to pop in, I was given an assorted variety of drinks to sample. This included a common ‘Virgin Pina Colada’, an innovative ‘Thai Ice Tea’ & a refreshing ‘San Francisco Ice Tea’. The Thai ice tea was a combination of Lemongrass, Condensed Milk and the traditional ice tea while the San Francisco ice tea was more of a black berry infused ice tea. 
(Popsicle)
(Virgin Pina Colada)
(Thai Ice Tea)
(San Francisco Ice Tea)
The first among the platters to arrive on the table was the ‘Vegetarian Asian Platter’. This consisted of Tofu Satay, Thai Spring Rolls, Crispy Corn and Cheese Wontons. This followed by the ‘Non Vegetarian Platter”. This platter comprised of Double Cooked Pepper Chicken, Fish Satay, Thai Chicken Spring Rolls and Salt & Pepper Prawns. The Tofu satay and cheese wontons were truly amazing while the Spring Rolls on both platters had a good filling and was crispy even after a prolonged time being on the table. One of the speciality dishes at Azzuri Bay is the ‘Double Cooked Pepper Chicken’ which was just too good. The chicken strips were perfectly cooked while they retained their amazing flavour.
(Vegetarian Asian Platter)
(Tofu Satay)
(Non Vegetarian Asian Platter)
With a closure on the Asian cuisine, my complete focus now was on my favourite cuisines, Italian and Mediterranean. The ‘Vegetarian Platter’ consisted of Three Cheese Rolls, Stuffed Baked Mushrooms, Vegetable Crostini and Falafel with Pita Bread. The ‘Non Vegetarian Platter’ had some of my favourite dishes, namely Stir Fried Prawns, Calamari Fritta, Chicken Shawarma and Lamb Kebabs. There cannot be a single dish amongst these two platters that I would dare to say was good rather all the dishes were just outright excellent. The three cheese rolls just melt in your mouth while the falafel was one of the best I’ve tasted in Chennai while the Shawarmas was straight forward the closest one can get to the authentic Lebanese shawarmas. The calamari fritta, prawns, baked mushrooms and the lamb kebabs all were remarkable in their own ways. 
(Vegetarian Italian Platter)
(Falafel with Pita Bread)
(Non Vegetarian Italian Platter)
(Calamari Fritta)
Being stuffed with all the platters, the main course was a complete pass for me. But the foodie in me did not agree. So the next adventure was on a roll. With a soft corner for pizzas, I couldn’t resist having one. I was served with a ‘BBQ Chicken Sausage, Mushroom & Oregano’ pizza. The pizza was truly mind boggling. One of the crispiest crust I’ve ever had in my life time. The toppings were absolutely fresh and was perfectly balanced with all the flavours. I just can’t wait to visit again just for their pizzas. The pizza was followed by a very typical Burmese dish known as ‘Khow Suey’. The chicken version was served along with 7 condiments. The moment this dish arrived, it stroke a chord to me that I have had this same exact dish somewhere earlier and this wasn’t the first time. I was so engrossed that I had a complete flashback of my travel over the last 3 years figuring where I had this. I had to eventually give up as it just didn’t trigger. Later in the evening, when I returned home to talk about this dish, I was enlightened by folks at home that I had tasted this dish at a place called Home and it was cooked by none other my mom. I was taken aback with my forgetfulness and had to shower the formal apologies for my ignorance. 

(Pizza)
Coming back to the Khow Suey, it is basically noodles soup meal. It consists of Noodles, a chicken gravy prepared in coconut milk and range of condiments. The chicken gravy at Azzuri Bay is similar to the Thai Yellow Curry while the range of condiments included Fried Onions, Lemon, Chopped Spring Onions, Fried Garlic, Chopped Boiled Eggs, Chopped Coriander & Chilli Flakes. The dish is served in a bowl which is first filled with the noodle followed by the curry. The condiments are added according to one’s taste and is had like a soup. This would be a great experience for tasting a dish from one of our neighbouring countries.
(Noodles and Curry)
(Noodles)
(Condiments)
(Khow Suey - Ready to Eat)
With all the mains done and just a small amount of space left to savour some desserts, we quickly jumped to the desserts section. On offering today were the ‘Tiramisu’, ‘Mud Pie’ & ‘Tres Leche cake’. The tiramisu was nice and had a good balance of flavour. The mud pie was truly and outstanding creation as it had me scooping spoons and spoons of it. But the best of the lot and my personal favourite was the “Tres Leche Cake” which in Spanish means ‘Three Milks Cake’. Being soaked in three different types of milk, this cake was super soft and spongy and had an amazing assortment of fruits to top it off. It was a perfect finish to an otherwise amazing dinner experience. 
(Tiramisu)
(Mud Pie)
(Mud Pie)
(Tres Leche Cake)
A perfect setting for some great dining experiences, a meal for two at Azzuri Bay would cost you about INR 1200/-. But the good news is that they have an array of discounts for their patrons. If you are an American Express card holder you get 20% off, for a Gandhi Nagar Club member it is 10% off and for the Chennai Food Guide members a discount is on the offering shortly. For all the women out there, be all happy as Azzuri Bay offers a 15% off for an all women table. These discounts are available for both Lunch & Dinner. What is now keeping you all back, get set go and head to Azzuri Bay for an amazing gastronomic experience.

For an earlier experience of mine at Azzuri Bay please visit http://www.foodinchennai.com/2013/01/azzuri-bay-adyar.html

Azzuri Bay is located at 13, 1st Crescent Park Rd, Gandhi Nagar, Adyar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600020, India. For more on Azzuri Bay, follow their Facebook page at Azzuri Bay – Facebook.

This experience at Azzuri Bay was courtesy of Chennai Food Guide as part of their premium restaurant feature. For more on Chennai Food Guide, visit Azzuri Bay - Chennai Food Guide

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Saturday, 19 January 2013

(Bajji Shop)
Banging on the success of a wonderful and interesting food walk conducted in Mylapore by the Chennai Food Guide, another such food walk was planned to be held in the vicinity of Adyar and Thriuvanmiyur to explore the famous yet less-publicized eateries in this side of Chennai. The meet was planned for a Saturday and the entire fraternity was eagerly awaiting it. Being a Saturday, two of my cousins too chipped in for this. With a scheduled start at 4 pm, we were all asked to report at Adyar Bakery. Where else to start an Adyar Food Walk from!!!

Being a working day and having to pick up my cousins en-route, we were slightly delayed and caught with the rest of the team as they finished their endeavour at Adyar Bakery. The next stop was a small yet renowned Bajji shop next to the Adyar Bakery compound. This was no small Bajji shop the moment we noticed what all he had on his offering. The shop has both sweets and savouries. Right from Bajji to Boli to Pakodas and tens of other edibles. Apparently the Cutlets here are supposed to be one of the best in the area. True to the recommendation, we first tasted the cutlets. It was tightly packed and super crispy. The rest of the entourage were busy trying out the other snacks while I was munching in to their pakodas. The pakodas were very minimalistic in oil and had a good amount of crispiness to it.
(Cutlets)
(Pakodas)
(Pakodas)
Following the heavy intake of snacks and sweets, it was ideally desired to have something to quench our throats next. And voila, we landed up at “Coronet Cool Biz”, which is located right behind ‘Coronet’. We had a huge variety of drinks here including a few variants of Falooda’s and a new drink which I was hearing for the first time called ‘Sharjah’. As told by my cousin later, apparently this is a famous drink in Kerala and tends to give an instant brain freeze. No wonder the name of such a drink is Sharjah.
(Super Falooda)
Once we were all done with the clicks and drinks, our next stop was a small eatery tucked in a junction on the busy LB Road. Named “Sri Lakshmi Sagar”, a speciality here is the idly and Sambar. Unlike usual places where Sambar is used as an accompaniment, here the idly is brought to your table submerged in Sambar. Any request for additional Sambar and don’t be frightened with what you will witness. Sambar will be served not by the spoonful but rather by the mugful. Yes, they seriously serve Sambar in a mug. The Idly in Sambar was accompanied by a nice and strong Madras Filter Kaapi. Running short on time, it was decided to wind up the Adyar segment and head to the Thiruvanmiyur area. Now being a food walk, it is an implication that we must savour the different offerings by a walk but the distance from Sri Lakshmi Sagar to our next destination in Thiruvanmiyur was a bit too long for a walk. As the folks were busy getting their logistics sorted out, giving in to a sudden impulse, a bunch of us decided to take the bus. It has been ages since I travelled by a local bus and boy did I enjoy this short trip. It brought back my college memories.
(Sri Lakshmi Sagar)
(Idly in Sambar)
The first stop in Thiruvanmiyur was at “Sri Krishna Tiffin Centre”. Located in Chitrakulam Street, a few meters from the temple, we knew from the bustle around the centre that the food here should be fantastic. Our impressions were a 100% correct. Being a tiffin centre, we decided to start with a Kal Dosa and proceed accordingly. The Dosa was super soft and yummy. The next was time for some Chapatti. There was nothing great to talk about the Chapatti as I felt it to be the same almost everywhere. By now we were all crumpled up inside the tiffin centre, which can hardly accommodate 6 people comfortably yet we were close to double its capacity. Once as everyone were almost done, I offered to know if anyone would like to taste their parotta. Parotta being my favourite variety of Indian bread, it is a self-imposed compulsion whenever I see them on the menu. The moment the first Parotta arrived, I was mesmerized by it. Coming from a place where Parotta and Salna (Term used for only the gravy from a Mutton Curry) is like staple food, I was completely surprised by the parotta here. They were super soft and super fluffy that the moment folks saw me savouring it, I was suddenly swarmed by the entire lot and in a jiffy the Parotta disappeared from my plate. Another set of parotta were ordered and it too met with the same fate. The news slowly spread to the rest of the gang and the next point of attack was the parotta master himself. All of us just stood next to him and ate the parotta as they kept coming fresh from the hot plate. Truly, it was one of the best parotta I’ve had in my entire life. We were so busy attacking the plates on whichever a parotta was there that we even failed to take a single click. 
(Sri Krishna Tiffin Centre)
(Hot Chapatti)
(Kal Dosa)
(The inside of the Tiffin centre)
(The Parotta master with few CFGians)
With all our stomach’s filled with parotta, it was time for one more round of drinks. This time we headed to “Juicetree” which is located at Sannadi Street, a short walking distance from the Thiruvanmiyur temple. It is co-owned by a fellow CFGian and we were welcomed to try out some of their unique juices. Being already full with all the parotta, I decided to give it a skip. A couple of us were busy chatting sitting outside while the rest were quenching their thirst. Being well past our scheduled time of completion, we wrapped up the food walk.
(Juicetree)
This food walk was truly worth the time spent if not for other eateries but definitely for the Parotta at Sri Krishna Tiffin Centre. If you are a diehard parotta fan, then this place is a must visit. Eagerly looking forward to the next CFG food walk to discover some more new places and interesting stories.


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