Showing posts with label Singaporean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Singaporean. Show all posts

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Being a very cosmopolitan city, one thing that the food circuit in Chennai had been missing for a long time was the presence of an authentic pan Asian restaurant. We have some amazing Chinese, Thai, Korean & Japanese restaurants but no restaurant that serves all these cuisines without compromising on the authenticity But Chennaite’s the scenario has now changed. With the opening of ITC Grand Chola, there was great expectations in the food circuit about the amazing restaurants that were to be part of this luxurious hotel. One amongst them filled in the gap that we missed for so long. Yes the a pan Asian restaurant known by the same name as the cuisines it serves, “Pan Asian” in our own ITC Grand Chola.

Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing that hits you is the collection of Wines the restaurant boasts of. After being lead through some amazing shelves of Wines, the restaurant throws itself upon oneself with its rustic interiors and a fantastic open kitchen. Yes, the entire kitchen forms an integral part of the restaurant that provides a great experience seeing your order made almost in front of you. 

The menu was crafted keeping in mind the essence of the restaurant and true to its name had cuisines from three different provinces in China, a section dedicated to Thai and finally another dedicated to Japanese. The interesting aspect of the entire menu was the matrix arrangement of core ingredient against each cuisine. This I felt was quite innovative as one need not get confused with complex names but can rather select the core ingredient such as poultry, lamb, duck, seafood or vegetarian and then cross it with the cuisine to order your appetizers and mains. 
(Banana Blossom Salad)
(Steamed Duck Carpaccio)
(Pan Asian’s Som Tam)
The first to be served was the ‘Banana Blossom Salad’. The salad was served very aesthetically on a bowl made of banana fibres and had the right amount of crunchiness that a salad needs. This was followed by the ‘Steamed Duck Carpaccio’. I must admit that this was the first time I’d ventured out into unfamiliar territory of having a dish with duck as the core ingredient. Boy was I surprised, the duck was tender and at the right temperature being a cold dish. It was served along with some ponzu jelly and orange crushed ice which complemented the flavour well. Can’t wait to try another hot duck dish soon. The next to be served was the ‘Pan Asian’s Som Tam’ which was the restaurants own interpretation of the classic Thai salad. 
(Wok Tossed Chicken)

(Sichuan style Crispy Prawns)
(Stir Fried Squid)

(Californian Apple and Fresh Fennel Soup)

The ‘Wok Tossed Chicken’ was one of my favourites of the evening. The chicken was cooked perfectly with a sumptuous amount of nuts that truly elevated its flavours. The ‘Sichuan style Crispy Prawns’ was served next. The prawns were cooked in a succulent nut sauce that complemented the spice of the Sichuan style cooking. This was followed by the ‘Stir Fried Squid’, wherein the squid was crispy and coated in a nice chilli basil crumble. To end the array of appetizers, we were served with a ‘Californian Apple and Fresh Fennel Soup’. The soup served in Pan Asian has a twist to it. You are presented with a big bowl with the core ingredient and then provided the soup separately that can be poured in. This helps understand all the different flavours of the soup. The soup is so filling that it is a meal by itself. 
(Chicken Gaobao with Pixian Chilli)

(Phad Cha Talay)

(Asian Greens)
(Teppanyaki Fried Rice)

The mains started with the ‘Chicken Gaobao with Pixian Chilli’. The combination of leeks, nuts and peppercorns made the flavours stand out. The next was the ‘Phad Cha Talay’, which was basically an assortment of seafood cooked in turmeric and basil. This was followed by some Asian Greens in white garlic sauce. We were served with ‘Teppanyaki Fried Rice’ to go with the mains. The rice had a nice flavour of hotness in it while at the same time the hotness wasn’t too overpowering. 

(Serenity on Pebbled Path)

(Vahlrona Chocolate)

To sum up the evening, we were served with a ‘Serenity on Pebbled Path’ and a ‘Vahlrona Chocolate’. The pebbled path was indeed serene. It comprised of a nice pineapple orange pond with rock chocolates to make up the path. The chocolate on the other hand was exotic which went perfect with the dark cherry compote and spearmint ice cream that accompanied it. 

On the whole, my dining experience at ‘Pan Asian’ was truly Asian without any compromise on quality or taste and in my knowledge is the only authentic Asian restaurant existent as of now in Chennai. If you are a major lover of Asian food, then it definitely needs to be on the top of your must visit restaurant list.

Pan Asian is located at the ITC Grand Chola.

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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

If this article interested you, please share it so others may be interested 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

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Over the last couple of years, Chennai has witnessed the mushrooming of several new and innovative biryani places each with its own marketing technique using fancy names and associating themselves to different regions to convince their patrons on their authenticity. But none has been close to authentic in any manner. The variant belonging to the neighbouring state namely the Hyderabadi Biryani too has been in the offering for a long time yet none close to the original one's that can be savoured near the Charminar in Hyderabad. Those available in Chennai are either too spicy or too oily. They just don’t get the right combination. 

For the obvious it always seemed an illusion to authenticity whenever I see such places. My inclination was the same when I first noticed a new restaurant propping up on Lloyds Road named ‘Charminar’. I definitely believed this would be yet another marketing technique by some restaurant owners. Boy was I wrong till I met Ms. Vidya from Charminar. One of the partners of Charminar, Ms. Vidya has a professional experience of more than 5 years in the food industry spanning different categories. She believes in eating healthy so that you can enjoy your meal over and over again. According to Ms. Vidya, Hyderabadi cuisine is generally considered a healthy cuisines because of the ingredients and the way the food is processed for cooking. All the spices that are used in Hyderabadi cuisines have their own inherent goodwill. 

Noticing a dearth in authentic Hyderabadi cuisine in Chennai, Ms. Vidya took upon herself the responsibility of bringing the most authentic Hyderabadi dishes to Chennai. She revealed that they are able to replicate the same authentic taste as most of their spices are sourced from Hyderabad. Also the rice used for their signature Hyderabadi biryani is a specialized long grain rice developed by the Pusa Institute, Delhi (An agricultural research institute of the Government of India). This specialized rice when combined with their traditional method of cooking in an indirect heat, gives the authentic flavour to their biryani. As a matter of fact, the biryani is so healthy that they use only 2 table spoons of oil for every kilogram of biryani. That makes it much healthier in accordance with Ms. Vidya’s ideology.

(Pathar ka Gosht)
(Hyderabadi Chicken 65)
(Titanic Fish)
Charminar has an extensive menu that has both Hyderabadi dishes as well as a few crafted by Vidya and her team. Some of these dishes have really fancy and captivating names. The evening started with the first starters arriving on the table. The ‘Pathar ka Gosht’, a speciality at Charminar, consists of boneless slice of mutton marinated overnight and cooked on a stone tawa hence the name Pathar which means stone in Hindi. This was followed by the ‘Hyderabadi Chicken 65’, which is prepared using curd to ensure a tangy curd after taste. They were crispy and had very minimal amount of oil. The next dish had the most amusing name I’ve ever heard for a dish. The ‘Titanic Fish’ took me by a shock and created an inquisitiveness in me to try it out. Not a big fan of fish when it comes to seafood, I ventured to try the Titanic Fish and wasn’t I amused. Being the latest addition to their menu, it had a very crusty & crunchy batter coating with the fish being marinated in their signature Hyderabadi masala. 
(Loose Prawns)
(Apollo Fish)
(Banjara Kebab)
The Titanic fish was followed by yet another humorous named dish called ‘Loose Prawns’. The moment this dish arrived, I was in no mood to eat as the laughter and amusements had taken the better of me. Being yet another of their speciality dishes, the prawns are batter fried and have ingredients such as celery, garlic and oregano to give it a unique taste. The next up was the ‘Apollo Fish’ which is basically a King Mackerel a.k.a Vanjaram in Tamil, marinated with curd. With a closure on the sea food, the focus now shifted back to the ‘Banjara Kebab’ which is a mildly spiced chicken kebab that is juicy and enjoyable for those who prefer a low spice appetite. 
(Murg Hara Pathar)
(Paneer Sophiyan)
(Singapore Fried Chicken)
(Singapore Fried Chicken)
The next kebab on the table was the ‘Murg Hara Pathar’ which is a similar variant of Pathar ka Gosht excepting that it is the chicken version and the main marinade is based on palak. This was followed by the Sholay Murgh. Just like its name, the Sholay murgh had a tinge of spice yet a succulent base of mint to balance the spice. After a complete bombardment of meat it was time to take one last go at my favourite delicacy, Paneer.  The ‘Paneer Tikka Sophiyana’ was very soft and packed with aroma and flavours. It is quite similar to the Malai Tikka excepting that it had a bit more tinge of ginger. They just melted in your mouth. If I was served this first, then I’m sure I would have gorged an entire serving. The last to hit the table amongst the starters was the ‘Singapore Fried Chicken’ which is designed specifically with the kids in mind. The chicken is rolled in noodles and then marinated in their special sauce. This is then battered and deep fried. It was more of a fun food after the sampling of exotic dishes that was presented until now.
(Begum Nawab Curry)
(Kadai Paneer)
(Dal Fry)
With all the starters done, it was time to move to the next course. For the mains, a very unique dish was served as the non-vegetarian side. Called the ‘Begum Nawab Curry’ which means ‘Queen King Curry’, it was a combination of two sides in a single plate with a clear demarcation. This amazing dish can be ordered in a combination of your choice, be it chicken, mutton or vegetarian. The non-vegetarian dish is accompanied by a bed of sliced omelettes. The sample provided to us was a combination of Chicken and Minced Meat. From the vegetarian side, a portion of an excellent ‘Kadai Paneer’ was presented. Yet again the paneer was amazingly soft and succulent and the gravy had the right amount of spices to balance the taste buds. On a milder note, ‘Dal Fry’ was served in a very cute mini bucket. An assorted variety of breads is also available to pair with the mains.
(Hyderabadi biryani)
(Hyderabadi biryani)
(Lunch Take Away Combo)
A visit to any restaurant serving Hyderabadi cuisine is incomplete without savouring their biryani. As we waited for the grand finale to arrive, I was informed about a uniqueness in their offerings. Charminar is probably the only restaurant in Chennai where a mixture of Chicken and Mutton Biryani is served. No it is not a combination of the two biryanis after being cooked rather the biryani is itself cooked together with both meat from the initial phase. The biryani was as close to the authentic Hyderabadi biryani. This is probably because of their ingredients and the traditional method followed in preparing it. At the end of the day, there is finally a respite for some authentic cuisine here in Chennai. 

Charminar also offers interesting lunch combos in a take away plate. It is again offered in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Charminar is open from 12 pm to 3:30 pm for lunch and from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm for dinner. 

Charminar is located at 269, 1st Floor, Avvai Shanmugam Salai, Llyods Road. For more on Charminar, follow their Facebook page at Charminar – Facebook.

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

If this article interested you, please share it so others may be interested 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 - Google Plus. Please also feel free to g+1 this post so others may be benefited too.

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