When Fashion Befriended Food: AKA Bistro

A long year of seemingly never-ending examinations, assignments, and hectic schedules had finally reached its end. I craved for an outing. So, what better way to go about with it than to dine at a new restaurant with my family.

Amidst the tortuous and cobbled lanes of Fort, stood a newly set-up restaurant called “AKA Bistro”.  Upon our arrival, I couldn’t help but notice how spacious and airy the property was. In a city like Mumbai, acquiring such properties is a rare feat. I could only imagine how bright and well-lit the restaurant would be in the morning. (P.S: My hunch proved to be right when I checked out the photos on Zomato!)

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Space: A big deal in Mumbai.

The first word that came to mind when I soaked in the ambiance, was “quirky”. Why so?

On closer inspection, one would notice that the objet d’art, displayed proudly against an elegant backdrop of sky blue, were mannequins.

That’s right, mannequins.

So you can see where the fashion part comes in play. In fact, situated right next to our table was this particular relic.

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Do you see it?

Seems like an ordinary dress to you, doesn’t it? Other than the eccentricity of displaying dresses on hangers, nothing comes across as unusual, no? Well, I beg to differ.

Let’s take a closer look.

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Now, you do.

You’d have probably figured out by now that the aforementioned dress is made out of pasta. To be specific, conchiglie or shaped pasta.

And it doesn’t stop there. I came across other wonderful curios as well, some of them being:

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A fashion magazine hanging from a night-lamp. (Hi, Lisa Haydon!)
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A unique take on a chandelier (minus the lighting).

Okay, I’ve talked quite a bit regarding the decor and feel. We need to get down to the real deal, food.

We commenced dinner with the “Soup of the day”, which was Cauliflower & Sage. The mildness of the cauliflower complemented the peppery hit of the garden sage perfectly. A side of toasted bread served as the final touch. Needless to say, a lovely way to start off our meal.

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Cauliflower & Sage Soup

The quantity may seem rather measly by the looks of it. However, take my word for this. It was enough. Not too much, not too less. Just the way I like it.

Alongside the soup, we placed an order for a salad as well. Yes, a salad! My taste buds were feeling quite adventurous that evening. Or maybe the recent health fad rampant among my peers finally got to me.

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Duo of Quinoa & Cauliflower Cous Cous

Our salad for the evening was a “Duo of Quinoa and Cauliflower Cous Cous”. Apart from the glaringly obvious ingredients, added to mix were baby spinach. feta, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds. The cauliflower was crisp and well-seasoned.  The feta and pine nuts added some great depth in terms of texture. The quinoa was well cooked. The pomegranate seeds added a much-needed pop of flavour to the dish. Overall, a really refreshing dish.

For the main course, we decided to go with two dishes which followed two different routes. The first being Spanish and the second, Italian. We placed an order for some “Vegetable Paella” (Spanish) and some “Aglio Olio Pepperoncino” (Italian).

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Vegetable Paella

The Vegetable Paella is typically rice cooked with saffron which gives it a vivid colour. Very reminiscent of the colours of a typical biryani, but a few shades darker. Various bell peppers and other vegetables are also added. To top it off, a dash of aioli. Aioli is basically a sauce of Mediterranean origin, which is a mix of garlic and olive oil. The dish was very well cooked, spicy and flavoursome. The vegetables added some crunch and the aioli, an unusual but very welcome hit.

The Aglio Olio Pepperoncino is a spaghetti pasta dish drizzled with some olive oil.

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Aglio Olio Pepperoncino

Various vegetables are mixed with the pasta. It was like a breath of fresh air when we tried out a pasta which was not soaked in any type of sauce, whatsoever. The focus was solely on the quality of pasta, and it delivered. The pasta was al dente i.e. it had a bite to it. However, I felt that the olive oil drizzled was a tad too much, which made the dish a lot more oily. Nevertheless, a really tasty dish on the whole.

To end our dinner on a sweet note, we ordered for some dessert. Who doesn’t make room for this part of the meal?

The restaurant has a mini-confectionery stand with various delectable treats on display. Apart from this, there are some desserts on the regular menu too. I think it’s safe to say that the customer is spoiled for choice as far as desserts are concerned.

I decided to go with the Cream Cheese Brownie. It reminded me of cheesecake, which is my favourite dessert. That, in itself pretty much sealed the deal. Anything involving cheesecake, and I’m in.

 

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Cream Cheese Brownie with Vanilla Ice-Cream

The brownie was served with a scoop of Vanilla ice-cream garnished with a basil leaf. The warmth of the brownie against the cold of the ice-cream made a really interesting case of hot & cold, which worked very well. The brownie had some gooey chocolate in it but also a good amount of cream cheese, which did not make it overpoweringly sweet. The ice-cream was smooth, creamy and delicious which is exactly what you expect from a good ice-cream.

My experience at AKA Bistro was a good one, and I definitely plan to drop by again. Soon.

For more details on AKA Bistro, go on:

https://www.zomato.com/mumbai/aka-bistro-fort

Copyright © 2017 by Shamika Lal,  all rights reserved.

Unapologetically Bawa: SodaBottleOpenerWala

Before I go ahead and give you my review, we really need to get a few things cleared up.

You must be wondering about two words in the title.

If they’re “Bawa” and “SodaBottleOpenerWala”, then I have guessed rightly.

Allow me to familiarise you with these terms.

The word “Bawa” is an Indian synonym for members of the Parsi Community. Now although this word has, at times, been used in a rather mocking way for these members of the Zoroastrian community, people don’t care to find out its actual meaning. Which just shows the extent of ignorance present among our generation today.

So all jokes aside, the word “Bawa” actually means “old gentleman”.

And I firmly stand by this meaning whenever I state the term “Bawa”.

Now, “SodaBottleOpenerWala” is actually a surname. Don’t be too surprised, there are lots of surnames like these in the Parsi community. I actually know quite a few people with the surnames “Soonawalla”, “Daruwalla” etc. Quite often their surnames end with “walla”.  It is how it is.

“SodaBottleOpenerWala” is located in the swanky locality of Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). Its ambience stems from Iranian and Parsi influences. There are a lot of things to take notice of while you’re dining here. There’s definitely no monotony when it comes to aesthetics. It is unmistakably Bawa and wholeheartedly embraces it.

 

A lot of things will definitely catch your eye. Right from the ancestral portraits and various other paintings (this includes a faux Mona Lisa!) haphazardly arranged on the walls, to the hilarious list of Bawa resolutions for the year. A special mention goes out to the mini toy train running around the whole time and the Jukebox!

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Take a closer look at the resolutions, you won’t be disappointed!

Jokes on the Bawa culture prove to be a running gag here. They’re present everywhere: the menus, the tables and even the walls!

For example:

It’s not potato.

It’s not batata.

It’s pateta!

120,000 Bawas agree with this, don’t tell me they are wrong!

This just goes on to show that it never hurts to laugh at yourself!

Heading straight for the kill, I’ll talk about dinner now.

Firstly we placed an order for some drinks, namely Raspberry Soda and Sekanjabin. The former (Raspberry Soda) was fruity and refreshing. Not too much soda was added to the pulpy raspberry juice, which gave it the right amount of fizz. The latter (Sekanjabin) is actually an ancient Iranian drink which comprises of vinegar and honey. It is a summer drink, which is at times seasoned with mint and served with some chopped up lettuce. The drink intrigued me in terms of taste and presentation. It’s very different from the other mock tails that I’ve had before. It was minty, with the perfect balance of sweet and sour.

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Raspberry Soda
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Sekanjabin

Soon after, we placed an order for a few starters. All of them were delicious and memorable in their own way.

The first of these starters would be Aloo Aunty’s Vegetable Cutlet. To clarify, there’s no person called “Aloo Aunty” in this world. At least, to my knowledge that is! The Hindi word “Aloo” means potato.

Aloo Aunty's Vegetable Cutlets
Aloo Aunty’s Vegetable Cutlet

This starter comprises of vegetable cutlets with a hearty filling mainly composed of potatoes and spices. These deep fried cutlets appear as rounded spheres with a golden batter. The cutlets are served with some onions and meethi (sweet) chutney. The cutlets by themselves are so tasty with the right hint of potato.The chutney is mainly tamarind sweet chutney which works so well with the cutlets. This chutney is what helps the dish become right on the money. No wonder it’s a hit amongst the diners!

In quick succession, two other starters followed suit. They were Spicy Mushroom on Khari and Kolmi Fry.

The former was a delectable appetizer. It had sauteed mushrooms with a coat of melted cheese placed on light khari biscuits. Khari biscuits are savoury Indian biscuits which are neither sweet nor salty. The mushrooms were well cooked and blend very well with melted cheese and biscuits.

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Spicy Mushroom on Khari

However, my favourite appetizer of the day was Kolmi Fry. It was a combination of two of my favourite things: deep fried prawns & onion rings. At first, its appearance surprised me because it definitely seemed like deep fried onion rings to me. Only after taking the first bite did I realize that it is stuffed with some juicy well cooked prawns too. And boy, does it pack a punch! The mint chutney served alongside is tasty too. The dish had the right amount of heat and did not go overboard on the spices. Highly recommend this one.

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Kolmi Fry

For the main course, we chose Vegetable Berry Pulao and Bheeda Par Eeda.

The pulao was brilliant! Well cooked vegetable rice topped off with dates, berries, nuts and green chillies makes for a very memorable dish. I scraped every morsel from my plate.

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Vegetable Berry Pulao

The other dish  Bheeda Par Eeda  is mainly Parsi style baked eggs with spicy okra. This was equally good too. What makes the dish work is when the egg yolk is mixed with the okra which gives it the right blend of sweet and spicy.

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Bheeda Par Eeda

Although these two are separate main course dishes, we decided to have them together. And guess what? It worked out really well for us! Having a scoop of rice alongside baked eggs gave us some astonishing results. Either ways, stand alone or with a combination of the two, these dishes are a must try.

Lastly, we ordered for dessert which was some good old Parsi Dairy Farm Kulfi. Creamy, milky and firm, it’s everything you’d expect from a product of Parsi Dairy Farm. Thus, dinner ended on a sweet note.

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Parsi Dairy Farm Kulfi

Do take note that all the desserts and confectionary items are provided by the restaurant’s bakery counter called “The Irani Bakery”. There are a lot of delicious treats to check out. There’s a well equipped bar as well. The service is quick and efficient & the staff is courteous.

Other notable dishes, popular amongst the frequent diners would be Eggs Kejriwal Breach Candy Awesome Okra. Do check them out.

Overall, my time at SodaBottleOpenerWala’s was a cheerful and memorable experience. Their modern take on Irani cuisine makes me want to go back for more.

I can assure you that this is not the last of my visits to this diner and I eagerly look forward to my future visits.

For more details on SodaBottleOpenerWala, you can go on:

https://www.zomato.com/mumbai/sodabottleopenerwala-bandra-kurla-complex

Copyright © 2016 by Shamika Lal,  all rights reserved.

 

 

 

That Ongoing 40s Show: Café Mondegar

I had mentioned earlier in my previous post that I would begin a new section of food reviews soon. Here’s the first post of the many that are to come! I know that this is based in Mumbai for now. So to my friends from the other side of the pond, if you ever decide to visit Mumbai (which you should!) and want to find good places to eat lip smacking food, here’s a mini guide for you.

When you’re roaming the aisles of Colaba in the sweltering heat and helping your friends search for midi rings and jhumkaas (a traditional Indian earring), time doesn’t seem to pass by. However, your hunger builds up rather quickly. With the situation of limited cash to be faced along with the aforementioned, we knew that we had to find a place within short distance to eat reasonably priced food. And voila, Mondy’s it was!

Mondegar has been one of the iconic attractions of this locality, for various reasons. From the wall and cutlery adorned lively cartoons created by the legendary Mario Miranda, to the old jukebox playing in the corner, Mondy’s (as it is so affectionately called) remains a crowd puller till today. Ideally, it’s a place where tourists and locals prefer to unwind with a cool refreshing drink, after calling it a day.  The ambience has a casual vintage vibe to it. The seating is rather congested, but the atmosphere is very lively.

The vivid imagination of Mario Miranda
The vivid imagination of Mario Miranda
Jukebox (it still works)
Jukebox (it still works)

Let’s get down to business, shall we?

The three of us desperately needed some drinks to quench our thirst, which is why milkshakes and juice were the top preferences. We placed an order for the Banana Milkshake, the Mango Pulp Milkshake and some Watermelon Juice.

The Banana Milkshake was just what I needed. It wasn’t overly sweet and had the right amount of frothiness to it. The hit of banana right at the end totally did the trick. The Mango Pulp Milkshake was very refreshing.  It had just the right balance between fruitiness and creaminess. The milkshakes were served chilled which worked well in our favour. The Watermelon juice was exactly how a thirst quencher should be served: cool, healthy and vibrant.

Cool Watermelon Juice
Cool Watermelon Juice
Frothy Banana Milkshake
Frothy Banana Milkshake
Fruity Mango Pulp Milkshake!
Fruity Mango Pulp Milkshake!

Speaking of drinks, one must take note of the fact that this café provides a range of beers and other alcoholic drinks. In fact there’s a certain wall section inscribed with a rather apt quote, solely dedicated to beer! This more than assures that beer lovers are in for a treat.

Well, this is apt.
Well, this is apt.

Now for the food.

How yummy is that!
How yummy is that!

We placed an order for some Sautéed Chicken with Mushrooms. The chicken and mushrooms were nicely browned. The chicken was moist, well-cooked and not too chewy. The mushrooms were very well cooked, and had a hint of garlic. The spring onions and green chilli added to this dish, elevated it to a whole new level. The only thing that disappointed us, was the quantity. But since it was a starter, I feel that the intention behind the quantity was to keep the diners wanting more. And that’s exactly what it did.

I'm drooling!
I’m drooling!

For the main course, we ordered some Alfredo Pasta. The type of pasta we asked for was penne as it serves to be the most convenient to eat quickly, without making a mess. The pasta is served with creamy golden cheese sauce along with some chunks of chicken & bell peppers. Here, the quantity is sufficient to be shared among a group of three. The cheese sauce is very good and not too heavy. The pasta is well cooked and not too thick. The moist chunks of chicken and the crispy bell peppers complement the dish perfectly. I suggest you to add a little bit of chilli flakes if you like some heat in your pasta.

Overall, Mondegar’s was a pleasant experience. It’s best suited for anyone, whether young or old, who wishes to relax in a lively environment in the evening. I look forward to my future visits here.

Enter a whole new world
Enter a whole new world

For more details about Mondegar you can visit: https://www.zomato.com/mumbai/cafe-mondegar-colaba

Copyright © 2015 by Shamika Lal, all rights reserved.