Pizza Hut selling Biryani in Powai?

Really? Pizza Hut will now be selling Biryani? I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw these posters at the Pizza Hut, Powai outlet yesterday. When i asked, the guy explained that biryani will be ‘sandwiched’ between two tandoori rotis, thus making it the ‘Birizza’!!!

My thoughts ran from, “This proves that with so many more ‘authentic’ Italian joints coming up in the neighbourhood (such as Café Mangi, Mia Cucinia, Sphagetti Kitchen etc) not many people come to Pizza Hut for pizzas anymore, to, Are they so desperate to Indianize?”And so they are all out to woo the Indian patron with this crazy ‘biryani in a pizza’ strategy? Who is their target audience for God’s sake? Wouldn’t you go to a Biryani joint if you wanted to eat Biryani, and NOT a Pizza joint? Won’t this offer severely dilute Pizza Hut’s brand?

The food-lover and the marketer in me is bewildered!! Frankly, I would be curious to know the footfalls on account of this mind-boggling idea!

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Mumbai, Restaurants/Eateries ,

Restaurant Review: Le Mangii in Juhu, Mumbai

We are regulars at Café Mangii Khar and Versova and frankly a little tired of their menu which has been same for some time now. So when we decided to try out another option (after trying out most of the other options in the city), we ‘though’ Le Mangii will be … well … different. Had no clues that this is the same restaurant chain, same menu … just “a premium Café Mangii” as boasted by the manager there.  Claiming to be premium, but having the same menu just with higher price – am not sure how that works for regulars.A very nicely done up place though.


The main reason for disappointment was reservations. We had a booking for 10 pm and when we reached, we were made to wait at the bar area for 45 Minutes. The manager didn’t even bother to check till 10:45 pm if we had a booking though we clearly told the same to the staff there upon entry. He was actually surprised to see our name there when reminded AGAIN. We were constantly told a table will be made available in 5 mins and when we actually stood up to leave the place sick & tired, we were given one. Completely unprofessional and terrible service – especially when we had a 5 yr old sleepy kid with us. No apologies, NOTHING!

Where is Le Mangi (Juhu) located?  Cross Prithvi Theater, drive ahead and turn left towards Novotel. Keep driving straight ahead and Le Mangi is at the end of the AB Nair Road.

How is the food at Le Mangi, Juhu? Leaving that aside, the manager tried making is comfortable, ensuring that the table was available ONCE we were in. The place is very nice and a good crowd … food, as usual. We ordered our Gnocchi with Pesto sauce (much better than their Versova or Khar outlet), Fusilli Mama Rossa and Spaghetti Bolognese … the last item being a little undercooked but tasty. A Sangria and beer to go with it and we were just satisfied. Nothing special, nothing premium about the experience.

Final Verdict from WOOF: Don’t think we will be there again. Wish they behaved a little professionally when managing reservations. The Bar is nice though … recommend to couples looking for a quite experience.

Mumbai, Restaurants/Eateries ,

Photo Essay: Mumbai To Nashik Drive

In Mumbai, we keep eulogising about the rains and swear by its effect on the countryside. So many of my posts have rains/monsoons in center-stage — eg, Bhandardara, Matheran. And so, two weeks back when we were on our way to Shirdi via Nashik Expressway, I, honestly speaking, thought nothing about the impending 6 hours drive. Until I noticed the stark colours outside. The brown of the earth again the blue of the sky. And loved it so much!!

Here is what I saw. And realised that nature stays beautiful at all times.

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(Photos taken from a speeding bus with a Nokia Lumia 920 phone)

India, Maharashtra

Restaurant Review: Bhojohori Manna in Andheri, Mumbai

Shubho Nobo Borsho, Friends. Happy New Year.

Bengalis across the world are celebrating ‘Poila Boishak’ or ‘New Year’ today. The first day of Baisakh marks the beginning of the Bengali calendar.

I make sure I don’t cook lunch on this day. Here in Mumbai, we have been lining up at Oh Calcutta in Tardeo or Bijoli Grill in Powai for the ‘Nobo Borsho’ lunch. But today, being Tuesday and the accompanying work pressures, we shan’t be able to make it to the scrumptious spreads. And what is the point for thinking about it for dinner? We are small eaters and can’t see a big spread go by without being able to dig into it.

And so, decided to do the review of Bhojohori Manna where we had lunched 2 Sundays back.

Where is Bhojohori Manna? We are talking about the one in Jogeshwari West, opposite On Heera Panna Mall.

How is the ambience @Bhojohori Manna in Andheri? Very basic. At least they now serve in the ceramic plates instead of those white-going-yellow plastic plates! But guess, the ‘no frills’ ambience keeps them alive in Mumbai’s killing rental regime. The biggest plus point for Bhojohori Manna is their big courtyard. Yes, you read it right. They are a courtyard restaurant in Andheri, and grow veggies in the courtyard!! And we were just talking about Mumbai rentals, weren’t we? J I love to check out the chillies, papayas, lemons, every time I am there…

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How is the food @Bhojohori Manna in Andheri? Manna from the heavens! We went for Fish Fry, Luchi-Alur Dom, Kosha Mangsho-Pulao and loved them all except the Alur Dom. I have a special weakness for Kosha Mangsho and Pulao and Bhojohori Manna cooks both to perfection. Can completely floor a Bengali…

Whenever at Bhojohori Manna, do not forget to order their ‘Noren Gurer Ice Cream’. Unless you eat it, you wouldn’t know what you’d have been missing in life.


Mumbai, Restaurants/Eateries ,

Restaurant Review: Imbiss in Bandra, Mumbai

Meat Lovers in Mumbai, Here is paradise! Imbiss in Bandra!

For someone who craves for meat and more meat, there are very few options that offer excellent and reasonably priced beef and pork dishes in Mumbai. Until we discovered Imbiss this weekend.

What to order at Imbiss? The menu has Germany written all over it and we ordered Baby Back Spare Ribs (portion for two) which seemed to be on every table. Along with that a serving of Weiner Schnitzel (Vela fillet crumb fried). It was no surprise why the former was a specialty here — the pork was amazing – tender, succulent and just perfectly flavored with a smoky barbeque sauce. The serving is good and a total value for money.

The Schnitzel was good but a little stiff with too little meat and too much crumb. A little hard and not very succulent. Wish they had given some kind of dip to go with it. The restaurant doesn’t have liquor license and you have a choice of usual carbonated drinks on offer.

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Where is Imbiss and How is its ambience? Imbiss not an easy place to find. It is tucked away a little inside Hill Road in a road called Varoda Road.

A very small joint, Imbiss has about 4 tables in the ground floor, 2 at the mezzanine and a couple of small tables kept outside. We reached there Sunday afternoon and had to wait for more than 30 mins to get a table inside as it was ‘burning’ outside.

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Final word on Imbiss: The restaurant tag line says – ‘meat’ing point and it can’t describe it better. My daughter loved the stuff and commented that she wants to go back every 2 weeks!! Pretty strong opinion for a 6 year old! I, of course, seconded it!! It will be Danish Pork Chops or Smoked Pork next time.

Vegetarians please avoid this place as there is absolutely nothing for you here!

Mumbai, Restaurants/Eateries , ,

Eatery Review: Amar Juice Centre in Ville Parle, Mumbai

Where do you get the best Pav-Bhaji in Mumbai? The answer is almost a no-brainer – Amar Juice Centre in Ville Parle. Yes, they are the same joint who got into a lot of trouble with the authorities and the Juhu residents last year. The bone of contention was the fact that its flood of patrons would almost take over the entire street and the bye-lanes until midnight every day in order to have a quick bite. Police put their foot down and stationed one of its vans with its men near the eatery in order to ensure that no resident was inconvenienced due to diners parking their cars and bikes. Such is Amar Juice Center’s following!!!

Amar Juice Centre in Ville Parle, Mumbai

What to order @Amar Juice Centre Ville Parle? Their Pav Bhaji has been award-winning over the years. The Pavs (Mumbai’s version of dinner rolls) are soaked in butter, and the Bhaji (boiled and mashed veggies in a spicy gravy) is to die for. They put a generous dollop of butter in the Bhaji too. Forget those calories, and you are sure to enjoy a plateful any evening.

We also love their Grilled Vegetables & Cheese Mumbaiya Sandwich. Layered with boiled potatoes, raw cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, Mint-Coriander Chutney and Grated Cheese, one such sandwich can be a daunting challenge for one person’s appetite!!

Down it all with a glass of seasonal fruit juice or shake. Simple ask the waiters what juice/shake they have and order accordingly. Now that it is summers, their Mango Shake and Watermelon Juice are the biggest sellers.

Amar Juice Center also sells Idli, Dosa, Uttapams, but take our word, stick to what they sell best – Pav Bhaji, Mumbaiya Sandwich and Fruit Juices/Shakes

What Makes Amar Juice Center So Special? The fact that —

  • It’s a street eatery. There are very few chairs and tables. They mostly bring the food upto your car. This way, you can have it inside the AC comfort of your car.
  • It is extremely reasonably priced. Most often, a meal plus drinks don’t cost more than Rs 200 per person.
  • And it are the biggest leveller — We often see high end cars like BMWs, Audis parked alongside Scooters and Cycles.
  • It stays open until the wee hours of the morning. The best place to turn to after a late night movie in Juhu or a play at Prithvi.

Address/Location of Amar Juice Center: Amar Juice Centre is on the street adjacent the Cooper Hospital in Juhu/Ville Parle, Mumbai. With Mithibhai College on your right hand side, drive down up to the next big signal (Cooper Hospital Signal) and that’s where Amar Juice Centre is.

Mumbai, Restaurants/Eateries , ,

5 Basic Precautions Before Driving To Shirdi in Maharashtra

Shirdi, in Maharashtra, is one of the most popular religious tourist destinations in India, with devotees of Sai Baba from across the country and beyond thronging it throughout the year.

Just about 200 kms away from Mumbai, you will find most people opting to drive down to Shirdi.

The route from Mumbai to Shirdi is – Mumbai to Nasik via the Mumbai-Nasik Expressway (also called the National Highway 3) and then Nashik to Shirdi via the National Highway 50 and State Highway 59.

Mumbai to Shirdi takes just about 5 hours in a car/taxi and about 6 hours by bus. There are a whole bunch of taxi and bus companies that ply the Mumbai-Shirdi route throughout the day. However, make sure that you have taken some basic precautions before you board a bus to Shirdi bus or climb onto that taxi –

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  1. Make sure you have booked your tickets via the right guys. There are a whole bunch of operators, and not everybody have the basics in place. Using the most reputed operator will ensure that the vehicle is in good condition and serviced well.
  2.  Most of the bus/taxi operators run their vehicles both ways in a span of 24 hours. Neither the vehicle nor the driving staff gets adequate rest. On our way back from Shirdi, our bus had caught fire. That’s probably because it had already done the Mumbai to Shirdi trip in the morning and the afternoon drive plus the hot March sun had taken its toll on the vehicle.
  3. Ensure that the driver is driving within the speed limit and that too, in the right lane. The road from Nashik to Shirdi is a 2-lane road without a divider, and most vehicles drive pretty recklessly in this stretch. You will also find village folks riding their bikes, scooters and carts along the same so-called ‘highway’. It amazes me how people want to ‘get done with their Holy visit’. Cases of accidents abound in this stretch. Be careful.
  4. Try to ensure a day-time drive to Shirdi and back. If necessary, start early or stay back for a day so as to avoid driving by the night. Too many accidents at night.
  5. Keep a few emergency numbers handy, such as that of the police, ambulance, emergency services in the expressway. It is shocking to see that no vehicles stop and come to your help should your car break down in the middle of nowhere in the highway/expressway. When the Neeta Travels bus that we were travelling in caught fire 2 hours away from Mumbai, nobody stopped. After a 30 minute stressful wait, we could finally hail down a state transport bus that had seats to spare and accommodated 50 passengers.
India, Maharashtra, Travel ,

Bade Miyan in Colaba – Must-Eat at in Mumbai

Suhel Seth once famously said, “Mumbai believes Bade Mian makes the best kababs: in Delhi, Bade Mian would not even be hired to operate a school canteen.”

And more recently, a friend wrote in to say that Bade Miyan is all hype and not worth the high rates they charge!

:-) That got me thinking. When we moved from Delhi to Mumbai 7 years ago, we too had made a beeline for Mumbai night-life’s famous institution, Bade Miyan in Colaba, but drove out disappointed. Kothay Karims (in Delhi), and kothay Bade Miyan, we sneered. Destined to be Mumbaikars though, we soon converted. And became Bade Miyan lovers. This is how –

Bade Miyan in Colaba (2)

So what’s special about Bade Miyan? The air about it! Truly. You may find food that it better than this place in many other joints. But in which street eatery will you find the waiters come up to your car, ask you to open its bonnet, stick in an empty bottle of coke to make the bonnet stand, spread newspapers on it and make a table out of it in the middle of a busy street with 20 other cars ‘decked up’ in similar fashion? Our bewilderment had given way to complete amusement the first time we see them do this.

Plus, you can tell you are approaching Bade Miyan from two streets away — first, owing to the line of cars quietly queuing up for it. And second? The aroma, of course!!

What to order at Bade Miyan, Colaba? Well, that’s they key. To order right at Bade Miyan. Just shot off a mail to the friend who had complained that food wasn’t good. Told him to order Mutton Bhuna Gosht with Roomali Roti or Baida Roti the next time he is there. And also take Chicken Tengri as snacks. My daughter would love the Chichen Tengri from the age she was 3. Yeah, we started her early with street food. And no, she never got a bad stomach.

Bade Miyan in Colaba (1)

You can also ask them to make a Roll of the Mutton Bhuna Gosht. And ask for extra lemon pieces. Squeeze them into the roll and you would be rolling in the gourmet heaven!!

As I sign off, I find, my mouth is watering. Its mid-week and I live in Powai. No way can I get near the famous South Mumbai street before weekend!! Sigh!!!

Bade Miyan Address/Location: Simply head for the lane behind Taj Hotel in Colaba and you will be at Bade Miyan!

Mumbai, Restaurants/Eateries , ,

Our First-Ever Airbus 380 Flight

Today’s news about Singapore Airlines starting the A380 service from/to India made me smile first thing this morning. Long overdue, I thought!!!

And got me thinking when I took the Airbus 380 from Dubai to Paris and back last year during our France-UK trip. Haha….It wasn’t only me who was brimming with excitement to board the largest passenger plane in the world. The Emirates agent in India who booked my ticket was excited too, exclaiming, “You will be flying the 380 Sir!!!” :-)

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Have been an aviation enthusiast since childhood, and have, over the years, ensured that I experience most, if not all the Boeing and Airbus planes in the world. A380, needless to say, was a dream then.

When I first sighted the A380.  Boy! Was I IMPRESSED! And there were dozens of them in Dubai Airport. The A380 is huge even from a distance — most of us shamelessly clicking it before & after our flights.

How is the A380 experience? An early check-in and we had the 2nd row in front. The A380 is like no other plane in service (probably closest is the 747 Jumbos) – it has a staircase going up to the business/first-class. No, you can’t take a peek of the first-class until you have the tickets — the stewards ensure compliance with a  ‘velvet rope’ stopper.

With a 3-4-3 seating, ample space in the alley, comfortable seats, enough baggage space and cabin height, you love the spacious feel of A380 immediately. The TV console in Emirates has always been ‘best-in-class’ and the additional mobile calls during flight & WiFi feature was a pleasant surprise.

The take-off felt slower and smoother than other planes. In fact, you almost feel that the engines are struggling to take the huge beast to the air. Similarly for the landing, it seems like ages that the plane is hovering over the runway and even after the rear wheels touch, it seems to take a lot of time for the front wheel to touch. Am sure that the visibility from the cockpit is severely limited and it takes lot of experience to land this beast without hitting the rear section on the ground. The size of the plane probably helps managing the turbulence better as well.

The number of passengers, though, seem to create issues for the flight staff as they seemed severely understaffed for the requirement. Calls went unanswered and rounds of water/ drinks in long flights were far spread and few. The washrooms soon had long queues and started stinking after 4 hours or so and a couple of them were closed making the situation worse. The check-in queues are also much longer as expected. Clearly, different infrastructure is required to manage these planes than the standard 757 & 767s.

And now the wishlist has just got bigger. The A380 can change the dynamics and profitability of airlines in busy routes and I only wish one of the airlines in India will soon start internal services within India.


Travel , , , ,

Ever Had Paan @Muchhaad Paanwalla, Breach Candy (Mumbai)?

Muchhaad Paanwalla at Breach Candy in Mumbai. Oh, haven’t you heard about them? They are famous all over Mumbai and outside for doling out some unimaginable types of Paan – Chocolate Paan, Strawberry Paan, Rasberry Paan (spelt Rashbhari in their menu!)!!! It appears to me, they make a Paan of whatever catches their fancy – strawberries, pineapples, raspberries and even chocolates.

Muchhaad Paanwalla at Breach Candy , Mumbai (3)

And they are famous for one more reason – for sporting the queerest moustaches!! And that’s why the name ‘Muchhaad’, meaning moustache!

Muchhaad Paanwalla at Breach Candy , Mumbai (4)

We normally go there for their more ‘normal’ offering – the Jodi Paan, a Paan that comes in a tiny pair, filled with cherries, dates and chilled. The other normal ‘Mitha Paan’ is also good. But be warned, their ‘mitha’ is really mitha (sweet). You’d be forgiven if you go for it as a desserts option!! People with high blood sugar levels, please avoid them!!

Muchhaad Paanwalla started some 3-4 decades ago by Jaishankar Tiwari, and has grown to be Mumbai’s most famous Paan address. Not too long ago, they even had a website that took orders of Paans from its loyal patrons. The website is now defunct. Perhaps owing to a bitter, ongoing family feud.

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Where is Mucchaad Paanwalla located? Take the right turn from Mahalakshmi Temple to enter the Breach Candy Road. Drive about a kilometre or so and you will find the Paan shop to your left.

PS: Don’t bother to ask about the price of a Paan. They defy Breach Candy rentals!

Mumbai, Restaurants/Eateries , ,