Showing posts with label eateries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eateries. Show all posts

Saturday, 11 October 2014

When you hear the term infusion, the first thing that hits you would normally be a tea or drink which has been infused with something. This is quite normal but it does definitely become unique when a new restaurant pops up in town and claims to be the first do the same with chicken. We have heard of deep fried chicken, roasted chicken, grilled chicken and even our own famous tandoori chicken but what is this infused chicken. To be honest I was assuming that it would be something similar to roasting where some herbs and masala are used while the chicken is in the oven.

With all these assumptions and curiosity, we decided to visit this new resto called 'Tovo Infusions' as the second choice for the night having had a not so filling meal at an earlier restaurant the same evening. Albeit being located on the main road, they had plenty of parking space which is a boon as this is becoming a trouble at many new places. As we entered, we were seated promptly although we didn't have any reservations. The ambiance looks like a steakhouse but unfortunately no steaks here, just chicken. As we took our seats, the question in my mind about all the infusion was somewhat answered by looking at the plate mats on the table. They had a pictorial representation of their unique method of cooking which was the infusion method. 

The waiter who attended to us briefly explained the concept and from what I could gather was that the chicken is not cooked with any oil or water but is rather secretly injected/infused with the choice of our toppings and is cooked by the water content already in the chicken. This they claimed to be unique and to me was also quite unheard as even for grilling or roasting we use some oil/butter. The waiter also insisted we try their 'Chicken Gourmet Bun'. A friend of mine and myself kept asking him if it was a burger to which prompt came the reply that this is the original version and the burger was the shortened version. We couldn't keep the amuse to ourselves but still gave brownie points to the guy who convinced us to order the same.

The way you order your meal is what the infusion is all about here. So first you choose what Mains you prefer and then the original infusion sauce from a choice of Buttery, Chilli Peppery and Cheesy Herbs followed by the toppings from a choice of Chettinad, Kashmiri, Mogul & Hyderabadi spice. The next customization was on the level of seasoning and it varies from Low to Top Notch. With so much combinations available it was quite a task to do the order but eventually settled for a 'Chicken Gourmet Bun', 'Quarter Chicken' & 'Chilli Garlic Rice Crepes'. 

(Chilli Garlic Rice Crepe)
(Quarter Chicken)
The first on the table was the rice crepes, which we ordered on the advice of a fellow foodie who was here for the second time. This was sooper spicy and will hands down win any Andhra meal with loads to spare. In fact the other two of us were just gulping down water to cool the heat. The next up was the chicken of which the combination we had ordered was Buttery and Hyderabadi spices. For once we thought the chicken was not cooked well because we noticed a few pink spots but upon close inspection it was all ok. At most places the meat is white and dry inside void of any flavour but here it was the opposite. The insides were moist and flavoursome just as they claimed with credit to their unique concept. The chicken can be tricky at times so its best to check it twice and be assured that it is well cooked. And most importantly make your selection of toppings with care, as it can make or break your palate.This aspect has lead to a lot of mixed reviews about their chicken.
(Chicken Gourmet Bun)
Having tasted their core dish, we were looking forward to find out what the Gourmet Bun was all about. It indeed made a grand appearance as we could spot the burger leaving the kitchen from the far end of the restaurant. It was humongous, most probably the biggest, meanest and juiciest burger I've ever seen. I leave the picture to do all the talking. If getting dirty with your hands is your way of appreciating good food then this is all for you. It took me two full hands and a mouth opened as wide and as high as possible to take a bite of this yummylicious burger. Straight forward one of the best in the city today. Again it all depends on the combination of toppings but the chance of it going wrong is much less with the burger. The burger was so great that I made another visit to them before writing this review but unfortunately was slightly let down as they served it a bit cold. But the taste was the same and I brushed it off as an one off day for the folks at the kitchen.
(Praline and Butterscotch Smoothie)
With the mains down and the gulping of the enormous burger, we needed something sweet to wash down the guilt. What better way to kill guilt with another guilt and so we ordered for a Butterscotch and Praline Smoothie. Yes, a smoothie with loads of indulgence. The smoothie was precisely what we wanted as it had a delectable amount of praline that made it more like a divine butterscotch milk shake rather than a healthy smoothie *pun intended*.

This is definitely a place that I would visit again for their burgers and the smoothie but the chicken still gives me a scare that I may get a wrong combination and spoil the show. The total bill for the starter, two mains and dessert came to about ₹ 850/- inclusive of taxes. 

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Thursday, 17 July 2014

The last year or so has seen a rising number of coffee shops opening up in Chennai. A good majority of them International chains. While most of these international coffee shops were located in stand-alone locations, most mall goers had no options but to settle for either CCD or Barista. But one international brand did their homework correctly and saw the perfect opportunity of the mall going population and opened up their first outlet in a swanky mall. Known throughout the world for some of the best accompaniments served along with their Coffee & Tea, this was the need of the hour for most mall shoppers.

So when ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ opened up their outlet at Phoenix Mall, it proved to be a game changer for all those who frequented malls for shopping and were looking for a good place to relax along with some fine beverages. Unlike other places which serve different varieties of Coffee and a limited selection of Tea, ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ has numerous options in either category. Also part of their menu are sandwiches, short eats, breads, all-day breakfast menu and also good options of mains. With such a vast menu, it makes for the perfect ending to a shopping spree.

Coming to the dishes that I savoured that evening, wanting something chill to beat the summer heat, I went in for their speciality ice coffee which is called as ‘Ice Blended’. Curious to know what was so special in them, I enquired with a member of their staff who informed me that the Ice Blended coffees have no Ice Cream whatsoever in them. Thoughts started to run in my mind as to how good it was going to be and still decided to take the plunge. Being accompanied with another friend, we ordered for the ‘Dark Chocolate Ice Blended’ & ‘Hazelnut Ice Blended’. Usually not a big fan of dark chocolate but was just a bit curious as it was their flavour of the month. 
(Dark Chocolate Ice Blended)
(Hazelnut Ice Blended)
When the coffees were brought to our table, they looked ravishing. Was very impressed with the way the glass had a paper handle to ensure it wasn’t too cold to hold similar to the ones that is usually served with hot drinks. First sip of the dark chocolate and I was stunned. Had I not been informed that there weren’t any ice cream in it, I would have mistook it for being loaded with the same. The coffee was very rich and had a perfect balance of the bitterness of the dark chocolate and the creaminess of the milk. The hazelnut variant was also top notch with the right amount of flavouring, again extremely voluminous. On further enquiry, I was told that they use a special type of Ice that is patented by ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ which enables them to produce this creamy texture. The manager was courteous enough to show me a sample of the ice that is being used. The texture was so soft and fluffy unlike the ice that we all know.
(Oreo Mocha Cheesecake)
(Almond Biscotti)
(Blueberry Muffin)
To go along with the beverages, we had ordered for an ‘Oreo Mocha Cheesecake’, ‘Blueberry Muffin’ & an ‘Almond Biscotti’. Being a major dessert fan, I dived into the cheesecake while sipping onto my ice blended. The cheesecake amazed me as it was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve had in Chennai. Just like the popular saying, “First impression is the best impression”, the moment my cutlery sliced into the cake, and the result was out. The cake was perfect in texture, softness and the flavour above all. With the strong flavour of mocha complementing the cream cheese, it was part of heaven. I truly declare their cheesecake to be the best as of now in Chennai. I’ve heard about another of their cheesecake which is be renowned worldwide to be the best in their menu and it’s called the ‘Philadelphia Cheese Cake’. Unfortunately it was out of shelf the day I visited and just can’t wait to try it soon. Coming to the ‘Almond Biscotti’, this again was a clear winner. The texture provided the rugged look a biscotti deserves but once you take a bite you will realize that it isn’t that hard as you had imagined from the looks. The ‘Blueberry Muffin’ was gigantic and brings to memories all the muffins that we see on international culinary shows. These kind of muffins are the perfect accompaniments for hot teas and as we had ordered iced coffees that evening, we felt that the muffin was slightly out of place. But coming to the muffin itself, the blueberry filling was generous and the muffin screamed blueberry with every mouthful.
(Ice for the Ice Blended Beverages)
The accompaniments along with one beverage for each of us by itself were so filling that we realized that what started out as a casual visit to the coffee shop turned into a sort meal for the evening. The quality of the fare was outstanding and can’t wait to head back again to try the other dishes on the menu. While the Ice Blended coffee was priced around ₹ 180 each, the cheese cake was ₹ 175 and the biscotti & the muffin was priced about ₹ 80 each.

‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ is located at the First Floor of the Phoenix Market City in Velachery and will cost about ₹ 350 per person for a fulfilling beverage and a sumptuous accompaniment.

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Saturday, 30 November 2013

Pizza's have always been associated with the genome of fast food but in reality pizza's during it's inception era was indeed a single complete dish more often associated with healthy food. But over the years, thanks to the various marketing activities of international food giants the entire concept has changed. It has now become common to associate a pizza that is related anything to American as the fast food version of the well known pizza. These are often the ones topped with loads of toppings and cheese. But can you imagine a pizza chain that has a very American name yet the pizza's served there reflect the authentic Italian ones in nature. Yes, I'm talking about the famous "California Pizza Kitchen" which has its branches all across the globe.

CPK as it's commonly known is a well recognized american chain of restaurant that differs a lot from the regular pizzeria. CPK in addition to pizza's also serve up numerous other exotic dishes such as pastas, salads finger foods and so on. My first introduction to CPK was through a relative who used to tempt me with his experiences at CPK in the US. So when I knew CPK was launching in Chennai, I just couldn't wait to savour their offerings. Being in the now hip mall in Chennai, the Phoenix Market City, it was quite a drive from central Chennai during the bustling traffic. But from my experiences that evening, it was a drive quite worth it.

Tucked in a corner of the mall, the first thing that strikes you is the decor of the restaurant. It has a mix of traditional wooden feel coupled with a modern contemporary look. As we were being seated, I noticed that they has a semi-open kitchen that was constantly dishing out beautifully plated dishes. The first dish that made it to our tables was the 'Thai Crunch Salad'. This is an original creation of the CPK kitchen and consisted of crispy rice sticks, some crunchy wontons, roasted peanuts tossed in a overwhelming mixture of cabbage, carrots, cilantro, green chillies and chicken. The dressing for the salad was their in-house signature lime-cilantro along with some peanut dressing. The next up was the 'Mediterranean Salad' which was a pure veg salad comprising of a mixed leafy combination of cherry tomatoes, onions, kalamata and some olives. This was served with some pita breads on crumbled feta cheese topped hummus bed.
(Thai Crunch Salad)
(Mediterranean Salad)
This was followed up by the appetizers. The first of the lot was the 'Mediterranean Foccacia'. It is basically a pizza bread served with some flavoured olive oil and parmesan. The next was the 'Sonora Chicken'. The chicken was perfectly grilled with flavours of lime. It was accompanied with a salad and chipotle dipping sauce. This was followed by the 'Spicy Chicken Supreme and Slaw'. It consisted of boneless breast strips coated in a very crisp Panko breadcrumbs. It was served with a special coleslaw and a ranch dipping sauce. The last among the appetizers was the 'Lettuce Wraps'. This dish was unique in a way that the wok seared Shiitake mushrooms along with water chestnuts in soy ginger sauce needs to be mixed with the crispy rice noodles that it is served on and then this entirely needs to be wrapped in the provided iceberg lettuce cups. It was very refreshing and packed a punch.

(Mediterranean Foccacia)
(Sonora Chicken)

(Spicy Chicken Supreme and Slaw)
(Lettuce Wraps)
With the appetizers done, it was finally time for the pizzas. The first one up was the 'California Veggie'. The crust was a deep dish multi-grain crust with exotic toppings such as broccoli, grilled zucchini, grilled baby corn, sun dried tomatoes along with the regular vegetables. To be honest it was more like a salad pizza as barring the mozzarella, the pizza was a full fledged healthy affair. The next up was the 'Chicken Fajita Pizza'. First impression completely blew me out. The pizza was wafer thin but enormous in size. True to its name, the pizza had fajita written all over it. Spread with cilantro pesto, the pizza was topped with lime marinated onions, assorted peppers and shredded chicken with ample amount of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. This was of the most unique pizza's I've ever tasted and trust me it's a must try. This was followed by two different pastas. If you are wondering what pastas are doing in a place called pizza kitchen, don't be mistaken, their pastas are a fusion between the American and Italian flavours. The first pasta served was the 'California Putanesca', which was a penne served with imported Italian tomatoes, some basil, red hot peppers along with garlic and black olives. The non vegetarian version is served on a bed of grilled chicken breast. The next pasta was the 'Aglio E Olio'. This was a spaghetti literally on fire. Tossed with red chillies, garlic and olive oil, it was served with cubes of juicy chicken bites.
(California Veggie)
(Chicken Fajita Pizza)

(Really really thin!!!)

(Chicken Fajita Pizza)

(California Putanesca Penne)
(Aglio E Olio Spaghetti)
By the time the pasta's were done, we started getting signals that the tummy was reaching it's breaking point and it was time to wrap up. But then how can we miss out on the desserts. It was when this thought was running that we spotted on the menu a dessert that no one can say no to. There tucked in between few other desserts was the divine 'Tiramisu'. In all honesty the Tiramisu at CPK, was one of the finest I'd tasted in India. It is another of a their must have dishes.

Though Chennai has always been at the fag end when it came to international restaurants opening shop here, it is better late than never. The overall experience at CPK was very good and contrary to their brand name, this place has loads of non-pizza dishes that are truly worth a try. A meal for two should cost you anywhere between ₹1500 - ₹2000 depending on how big your appetite is.

California Pizza Kitchen in located on the ground floor of the swanky Phoenix Market City in Velachery.

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Thursday, 14 November 2013

For those of us who lived in the Europe, the concept of Pub food would bring in vivid memories of our experiences there. Personally for me, some of the great food memories of my time in the UK are characterized by the food that used to be part of our weekend feast. Often then ever, it evidently ends up in something that is available only in the Pubs. But be assured that food in British Pubs are one of the best pub foods you will ever get to savour.

Having been away from the pub food scene for quite a few years now, was uber excited when I came to know that Courtyard by Marriott was organizing a Pub Fest. When I was told that it is no ordinary pub food but instead a celebration of British Pub Food, I was determined to visit. The visit happened soon and was I not disappointed. The dishes were so authentic that it took me back to my old days in the British Land.
Upon taking our seats, we were met by Chef Sridhar, the Executive Chef at the Courtyard by Marriott. Having a great amount of culinary experience in the Europe, Chef Sridhar came about the pub food concept to showcase the same to the people of Chennai. My expectations were quite high especially on dishes like Chips and Pies. The first dish that was served to us was the 'Vegetable Burger with Hand Cut Chips'. The other vegetable loving friend savoured the burger while I was busy savouring the chips. They were one of the finest chips I've had especially being triple cooked. The advantage of being triple cooked is that the flavours are all preserved while the chips is still crunchy and wholesome. This was followed by the 'Vegetable Lasagna' accompanied with some Garlic Bread. I gave a miss to this dish as I was eagerly awaiting the dishes to follow.
(Vegetable Burger with Hand Cut Chips)
(Vegetable Lasagna with Garlic Bread)
Next up was one of my all time favourite pub food, the Cottage Pie. We were served a dual dish on a single platter with a sizeable portion of 'Cottage Pie and Mashed Potato' and 'Lamb Liver in an Onion Gravy'. The first mouthful of Cottage pie threw me instantly tumbling down the memory lane. It felt like I was dining in some restaurant in the UK. The blend of flavours and consistency were much much better than some of the best pubs there too. They meat was succulent and was filled with flavours and the mash topped it all. Being aversive to Offals, I generously donated my share of the liver to another friend of mine. But I did have a go at the gravy and the veggies. The gravy was again packed with flavours but my only regret was not being able to have the meat. The vegetarian version of the pie was a 'Onion, Cheese & Potato Pie'. Having tasted the Cottage Pie, I was in no mood to split the after taste and hence gave the veg pie a skip. Having thoroughly enjoyed the hand cut chips, we requested the chef if we can have another serving which was obliged in a grandiose manner. This was again a clean sweep.
(Cottage Pie & Lamb Liver)
(Onion, Cheese & Potato Pie)
(Hand Cut Chips)
(Hand Cut Chips)
With the mains done, the desserts were slowly reaching our table to our awe and wonder. The desserts arrived in style and by style, I mean real style. They were so creatively plated that we couldn't resist tasting all of them. The first dessert of the day was the 'Apple Crumble Pie'. This was a de-constructed version of the traditional apple pie. It resembled a lot like an apple muffin. This was followed by the a very unique yet weird named dish called 'Spotted Dick'. Yes that's why I mentioned weird. But trust me, this was the best dish of the evening. It is quite complicated to describe but imagine a dish that is a combination of a cupcake, muffin and a scone. This served with some thick custard made one helluva dessert. The next up was the 'Treacle Tart' topped with a cone shaped tuile. The last dessert and dish of the evening was a 'Chocolate Pudding' which was thick and chocolaty with some generous shaving of nuts. 
(Apple Crumble Pie)
(Spotted Dick with Custard)
(Treacle Tart)
(Chocolate Pudding)
Overall I had an amazing time tasting some of the traditional British Pub food that has been recreated true to the sense of the original ones. The British Pub Fest at Courtyard by Marriott is on till the end of November and is priced at ₹ 800 plus tax for Beer, Mains & Dessert.

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Thursday, 31 October 2013

For anyone across the globe familiar with Indian cuisine, the first thing that strikes their mind when you mention the word "Thali" is the large variety of dishes served on a single plate. This is different from a platter as the Thali is not shared amongst others on the table and is is usually ordered one per person and often forms a complete meal own its own. The usual components of an Indian Thali consists of 3-4 different currys, some short eats, Indian breads, rice and desserts. The Thali's do differ dramatically between North and South India and savouring one is an experience all by itself. 

Now, if the Thali's are so accustomed to Indian cuisine then take your imagination to the next level to what could be available at Tuscana on Chamiers, an Italian restaurant based in Chennai. I'm sure you might have guessed it by now. Yes for the first time in Chennai, we now have an Italian Thali. This innovate concept was the brain work of those behind Tuscana on Chamiers. In the right spirit of what a Thali should constitute, the Italian Thali available here have all the elements a conventional one would have such as salad, starters, mains & desserts. 

On offer are 5 different Thali menu with 2 options for the vegetable lovers and 3 for the carnivores out there. Being a group of three in which I was the only meat lover, I decided to go in for the Thali with Chicken as the main course while my peers decided to order both the vegetarian Thali so as to have a complete experience. While we were waiting for our Thali's to make their appearance in style, we were informed that Tuscana on Chamiers has also started catering to the Jain community by making Jain friendly pizzas. Now thats a big step for such a restaurant as it is quite challenging to dish out a Jain dish without losing the flavours that you would get in the regular version.
(Stuffed Capsicum - Jain Style)
(Another Jain dish)
(Jain Pizza)
(Jain Pizza)
After a few chit chats, the Thali's made their grand appearance. The moment I saw my Thali, I was taken back with the large portion sizes for each of the component. They were humongous and big a big eater, felt it would be too much even for me. My Thali had a 'Pan Seared Chicken Escalope' for mains and they were accompanied by a portion of garlic bread, salad, pasta and a dessert. The dessert was an 'Apple Pie with Vanilla Sauce'. Savouring the Thali was an wholesome experience in total as the different elements provided the right oomph factor for a complete meal. The vegetarian Thalis had Risotto Cakes & Crepes for their main dishes while the accompaniments were a soup of mushroom or tomato along with a portion of garlic bread. The other desserts that were part of the Thali options are the dense Chocolate Fudge cake and a walnut cake with honey syrup.
(Chicken Thali)
(Vegetarian Thali with Crepes)
(Vegetarian Thali with Risotto Cakes)
How can one visit Tuscana and not savour their amazing Tiramisu. And precisely for this reason even though we had reached our threshold, we went ahead and ordered for a portion of the yummylicious Tiramisu. As always it never disappointed us. Along with the Tiramisu we were also given another fantastic dessert available here, the Panacotta. To end up the evening, we were told we had a surprise dish. When it brought into the room, all of us had to heave a heavy sigh. It was a dessert pizza. The base was spread with Nutella topped with caramelized bananas and chocolate chips. With absolutely no more room for anything related food, we still couldn't give up the temptation and dived into it straight. It was just mind-blowing. If it was served earlier on during the evening, I'm sure I would have gorged upon two such pizzas. Just can't wait to go back for another one.
(Chocolate Pizza)
So if you need a twist to the contemporary Thali that you have been savouring for all these years, head straight to Tuscana on Chamiers to try their twist on Thalis. The Thalis are in the price range of ₹650 to ₹850 plus taxes. But mind you, it is a complete and filling meal so its worth every penny spent.

Tuscana on Chamiers is located on Chamiers Road opposite to Hotel Park Sheraton.

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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

 When I was made aware that a leading international brand of Ice-Cream is all set to open their lounge in Chennai, I was curious and started my guesses. We already have Baskin Robbins 31 and Movenpick. I was hoping that the new one should be one of favourites, either Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry's. When my guess was confirmed, I was ecstatic to know that my favorite premium brand, Haagen Dazs was opening shortly. Where else can such a brand make a forte, yes the luxury road of Chennai - Khader Nawaz Khan Road. 

More good news started to pour in as the opening date was announced. Being part of the Chennai Food Guide bloggers team, we were invited for the launch. I was joyous beyond control. Then came the big thud. I had a very important engagement that day. There was no way I could have skipped it to attend the launch. Neither could I attend both as, the programme I had to attend was close to Chengalpet. With a deep sense of sorrow, I had to wait for atleast 1 more day to savor their yummy sundaes. But as it always happens, this another day never came. Was held up with some thing or the other and the days constantly grew more and more. 

One fine evening, I was determined to go on a kind of shop hopping. With a restaurant showcase event planned in Velachery, I had to spend close to 2 hours without any work as Velachery was close to workplace and made no sense to go home and come back. An idea suddenly popped and I sent an invite to all those coming for the showcase, if they would be interested in coming to visit the Phoenix Mall. Aa & Av instantly agreed and the rest had some work. So Aa, Av and myself met at Phoenix Mall and looked around this massive place finally settling in for a cup of coffee. Post which we headed to the showcase. The showcase was kind of not out of the roof and some of our palates were not sufficed by the desserts that were offered. Instantly another devilish idea, why not head some place for dessert. As different people had different routes back home, Aa, Av and myself were all one after the other. So we instantly decided to go to Haagen Dazs as Av and myself were already craving. Having gone for the launch, Aa was already looking forward to the next time at Haagen Dazs. 

(No Ice cream for poor mosquito)
Bang in two different vehicles we promptly arrive at Haagen Dazs close to 11 pm and the place was buzzing with people even though it was a weekday. First impressions, the lounge was beautiful and gave you that instant elite factor. Going through their exhaustive menu while sampling some of the ice-creams, we decided to go for a selection of 3 sundaes that formed a unique family on their menu. If i'm correct we ordered for a Strawberry Sundae for Aa, Cookies & Cream Sundae for Av and Chocolate Chip Sundae with Chocolate Chip ice cream replaced with Creme Brulee for myself. While we were waiting for the sundaes to arrive, we had to keep a few mosquitoes to ourselves for company. Av had to swat a couple of them something which we least expected to do in a place such as a Haagen Dazs lounge. Anyways, our orders were brought to us in about 10-15 mins. They were a true visual treat. They were worth every penny spent. 
As we started digging into our sundaes, Aa and myself realized something a miss. Our sundaes had been mixed up, probably because I had requested for a change in the ice cream. Aa's Strawberry ice-cream came with a chocolate sauce while my Creme Brulee came with a strawberry sauce. We immediately brought it to the staff's attention and they were apologetic for the goof up and instantly replaced the sundaes. Hats off to their customer service. I guess credits goes to the owner as well as to their manager. The ice-creams tasted divine and the sundaes were frankly self sufficient for someone like me who has a big appetite. All of us thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Haagen Dazs excepting for the mosquito menance. At a later date, I had the opportunity to speak with their owner and had explained to him about the mosquitoes. He promised to look into it on a priority and eliminate the issue. 
(Creme Brulee Sundae)
(Strawberry Sundae)
(Cookies & Cream Ice Cream)
The total bill for 3 amazing and filling sundaes came to about INR 1100/-. Aa was very courteous to extend a INR 1000/- gift voucher she received during their launch and thereby giving us such a wonderful treat. Thanks Aa. 

Haagen Dazs is located at Khader Nawaz Khan Road on the same building as Manmandir and Cascade. 

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