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!)

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.

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.

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:

A fashion magazine hanging from a night-lamp. (Hi, Lisa Haydon!)
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.

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.

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).

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.

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.


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:


Copyright © 2017 by Shamika Lal,  all rights reserved.

The Quintessential Travel Junkie-cum-Foodie’s Survival Guide

I’ve been applying to various firms for some writing internships lately. And luckily enough, I did get positive responses from some to send a few articles as per their requirements. This happens to be one of those submissions, and I thought that it’s only fair to share it with you guys. As I’ve been getting responses from travel based firms, this is my first post solely related to travel. Hope you guys like it!

12 years old. That’s how young I was when I went overseas for the first time. The destination was South East Asia, and my first stop was Thailand.

You’d probably laugh and say, “Jeez, what could a kid tell me about Thailand? She’d barely remember anything!

Turns out, I can tell you quite a bit. I can ramble on about the adventures I had while out there. The memories I made whilst vacationing, range from a scale of amazing to mortifying.

Of course, I remember the latter, all too well.

A downright embarrassing memory of mine includes not being able to hold my breath underwater whereas everybody else (including a 71-year-old grandma) managed to do it. Meanwhile, I panicked and got my face splattered with seaweed.

Ah, good times I tell you.

But all jokes and umm, mortifying memories aside, I had a ball of a time in Thailand!

However, one thing bothered me.

As a kid on a group tour, various families along with mine had to visit a slew of landmarks as per the schedule for a number of days. The day always started with a rushed breakfast, and we’d simply make a dash for the attraction. On reaching there, the routine was pretty much the same: take in the sights, click tons of pictures and get out. Soon after, we’d head out to a restaurant and eat.

Sounds alright, doesn’t it?

But, what if I told you that after visiting the tourist attraction, we’d head out to a restaurant which was way too far off or totally off course? So much so that it would end up being a complete waste of time? Not to mention that we’d end up scarfing down non-authentic food. Our time for exploration was cut short in a jiffy and there was no good food to even give us an ounce of comfort.

I can assure you that it ends up being nothing short of a total bummer. Nobody would like their mood to be ruined this way. I would not wish this upon anybody, even my worst enemy. And that’s saying something.

But that’s where my guide comes in handy: to save you from ghastly situations like these!

After a lot of careful thought, I’ve actually compiled a list of places perfect for travel junkies. But it doesn’t just stop there! To save your time, energy and palette, I’ve also suggested notable restaurants near the concerned attractions so that your experience becomes all the more memorable. Moreover, these restaurants serve authentic & delicious Thai cuisine!

Now that’s what I call killing two birds with one stone.

So without further ado, here are my top 5 suggestions:

When the Emerald Buddha had Green Curry 

Wat Phra Kaew: Temple of the Emerald Buddha

The name Wat Phra Kaew is rather difficult to remember let alone even pronounce. But the sights it offers are far from forgettable. It is the most sacred Buddhist temple (wat) in Thailand, but is famous for being the home of the Emerald Buddha. Located within the provinces of the Grand Palace, this site appeals to one, aesthetically. And why wouldn’t it? It has so much to offer: elephant statues, a library, ornate carvings and sculptures, Cambodian temples, lively yakshis and more! A must visit for every travel junkie to get an insight into this nation’s history. Don’t forget to take note of the various rules and regulations involving dress code before dropping by!


Thai Green Curry: An instant hit!

Once you’ve satisfied your thirst for knowledge, you can always head over to Jin Chieng Seng by Inn A Day. A cosy restaurant with a hip décor, this restaurant is located merely 0.7 km away from the Grand Palace. And it guarantees you a sumptuous meal, most notably  Thai Green Curry. Thus you get your share of delicious local cuisine.



Modernism befriends Unconventionality

Before you start grumbling as to why I’ve suggested you another temple, allow me to explain. This is not an ordinary temple. Rather, it’s an unconventional one. Have you ever come across a temple which has its entrance surrounded by a sea of hands wanting to grasp and touch you? Or one where predators emerge from the grass? Or one where heads hang from trees? Clearly not.

Ethereal Vision: The White Temple

Wat Rong Khun, otherwise known as The White Temple, owned & built by the artist Kositpipat was opened in 1997. It is actually an art exhibit designed in the form of a Buddhist temple. The intricate designs and outlandish concepts are reasons enough to convince you to visit this temple/exhibition.

Now, this site doesn’t have notable restaurants nearby. So I suggest you go to Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House which is one of the best in the Chiang Rai region. Located 13.8 km away, this coffeehouse not only serves European and Thai cuisine but also puts a modern spin on it, a great example being Tofu Steak!

Thai Tofu Steak: Surprisingly satisfying!


Walk the Line

Sunday Night Walking Street: Let’s bargain!

Indians are known for a lot of their mannerisms, the most notorious of them being bargaining. Which is why Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Walking Street is bound to be a hit amongst all of us. Chiang Mai (Rose of the North) is well known for its laid back culture, numerous restaurants, Buddhist temples and an active nightlife. Sunday evenings often see several people, citizens, and visitors alike, giving the street market a visit. Everything you could possibly think of : jewelry, clothing, Thai silk, shoes, DVDs, arts, crafts and so on, are available at dirt cheap prices. So if you’d like to collect some souvenirs for yourself and your family, this is the place to be!

Khao Suey: Never gets old!

The evening market also marks the arrival of various street food stalls offering varieties of Asian cuisines. Notable street food dishes would be Suki Yaki, Khao Suey, Som Tam and so on.

Under my Umbrella

Umbrella-ella-ella eh eh eh eh eh

I hope you read the title in Rihanna’s voice. Anyway all jokes aside, the Bo Sang village is a must visit for those interested in arts and crafts. This village, situated a 30-minute drive away from the east of Chiang Mai, is known for its handmade bamboo umbrellas. Aptly nicknamed as the Umbrella Village, visitors get the chance to observe the entire process of production and choose the designs as per their choice.

Look at the glaze on that Pork Knuckle!

Located just 0.9 km away from Bo Sang is Aroy Garden, a restaurant which specializes in Thai and German cuisine. Along with its hearty portions, it is well known for its Pork Knuckle.

Right Back in the Water

Phang Nga Bay: I saw this in a James Bond movie!

No, your eyes do not deceive you. As unfamiliar and strange as the name Phang Nga Bay sounds, you’ve seen this place before. Thanks to many films of Bollywood (Kaho Na Pyaar Hai) and Hollywood (Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Beach”) being shot here. And who could blame them? With its lush beaches, sparkling waters and peculiar limestone rock formations, it never fails to catch your attention. It also proves to be a perfect atmosphere for a boat tour. And why wouldn’t it? This bay has so much to offer in terms of lagoons, deep blue waters, and seaweed laden hidden coves.

It’s also good for swimming conditions all round the year!

The best way to explore this place would undoubtedly be a boat tour. This serene atmosphere leaves you calm and at ease, at the end of the day.

Prawns: Ultimate guilty pleasure

The boat tour I’d recommend you would be Captain Mark’s Alternative Tours. Mainly because they make a stop at Koh Panyi fishing village where the tourists get treated to a walking tour and a lip smacking seafood lunch!

Hopefully, my guide ends up working in your favour and ensures that you make some lasting memories with your loved ones in Thailand.

And lastly, Bon Voyage.


If you have other suggestions, then do mention them in the comments section below!


Copyright © 2016 by Shamika Lal, all rights reserved.