As a food enthusiast and a perennial diner I come across many restaurants and several dishes. Some are old favourites and some new. I find that it’s sometimes difficult to write a review because most places are very inconsistent. Some dishes are rave worthy and most fall flat on their face. I have to balance it out and make sure that I write a fair review. Along the way I’ve made a list of some dishes which have made such an impression that I’m happy to go back and eat it again and again till I’m sick in the stomach. Here’s presenting The Tiny Taster’s Top Tasty Treats –
This isn’t in any particular order or ranking but the list must start with an all time favourite. Anyone who knows me well knows my great love for the Chinese restaurant Ling’s Pavilion. I’m a fan and staunch loyalist and they never disappoint. Any meal at Lings is memorable but when I stumbled upon this particular dish, it was love at first bite.
My ever famous “Beef Pan Fried Noodles” you may laugh and you may roll your eyes but I can assure you this is one of the yummiest things I’ve eaten. Even the waiters know what I’m going to order and laugh at me. The reason they laugh is because I am very particular about what goes into the noodles. It will be Beef, Mushrooms, Baby corn, Broccoli or Pak choy (usually pakchoy) and water chestnuts ONLY. Not a thing more or less. This is my own concoction and I make sure they note it all down. They are happy to indulge even though they are now convinced I’m nuts. I love the two textured noodles and the flavour of the beef soaked into it. The veggies add a crunch and over all just suits my taste buds.
Beef Pan Fried Noodles – Ling’s Pavilion
Back in the day when Chin-dian food was the only Chinese food we were exposed to in the city, Chinese Palace in Tardeo Mumbai offered one dish which was slightly different. Times have changed, flavours changed but this one dish has stood the test of time. The Yong Chow Noodle Soup is definitely worth mentioning. This isn’t a soup as much as it is a meal. With clear broth this soup has noodles, chicken, prawns, mushrooms, greens, and is served with a fried egg on top. It’s perfect for one of those sick sniffle filled days where you need a good soup to clear you up or even a light meal. I’ve been yong chow-ing for years and I still enjoy it.
Yong Chow Noodle Soup
Gallops at the Mahalaxmi race course is known for its Indian and Continental food. After eating the usual chicken a la kiev and achari chicken, I stumbled upon a very different dish. Cheese smoked mousse served with crackers. It’s a starter and so unlike anything on their menu, in fact it’s such an odd ball between the staple continental fare and the heavy robust Indian. Its heavy and you will need another round of crackers but smoked cheese in a mousse is just delicious. I’m so glad I found this because it really was a find. I would go to Gallops just for this one. Sadly I haven’t taken any picture to show.
Sizzlers traditionally are beef based and to be honest the best ones are. Or so I thought. I’m the first one to scoff at a chicken sizzler and laugh at a vegetarian one because if there is no beef it ain’t a sizzler! I have to swallow my words because one of my all time favourite things to eat is a PRAWN sizzler. Yep, not beef but prawn. Most sizzler joints have options with prawn sizzlers but the best one is served up at Yoko’s in Fort. Its Prawn sizzler (no rice, like the shashlik) and a sauce of your choice with the veggies n fries. I always opt for the garlic sauce because it’s well flavoured and thick and I like my prawns doused in sauce. It’s an impressive sizzler as they serve almost 10 well sized big prawns and ample sauce along with vegetables and fries or mash potatoes depending on what you asked for. Once again I tailor make it and ask for it with fries, caramelised onions or sautéed onions as they like to call them and cabbage. If I ask for anything more it’s a waste as it is anyway a herculean task to finish this sizzler. Prawns with garlic sauce have my vote anytime!
Prawn Sizzler – Yoko’s
I hate it when you have a favourite dish in a restaurant and then the fools knock it off the menu !! Once I have my heart set on a particular dish then I get very stubborn and want only that. A few places are kind enough to oblige and will serve you what you want despite it not being on the menu. Cafe Royale at Regal does that. Their Beef Hedlock is no longer on the menu but if you describe it and request politely enough they will serve it to you. You can substitute the beef with chicken but according to me that’s no fun. This dish is beef is a fiery spicy orange-ish sauce served with cilantro rice and strips of bell pepper. I need a tall glass of iced water to accompany this dish but oh lord is it worth the spice trauma. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten this and after writing this you can be assured I’m going to go get some!
Beef Headlock – Cafe Royale
Chinese restaurants serve great food but the most hopeless desserts. The usual suspects are around like the lychee toffees banana toffees and crispy honey noodles with ice cream and the pancakes. I have no affection for any but all that changed when I was served a coconut pancake at Ling’s. Good ol Ling’s really never ceases to amaze me. Every restaurant serves the pancakes with coconut fried so it becomes hard and flaky and I find it unappetising. This pancake is soft and almost crepe like stuffed with grated coconut and a few raisins served with vanilla ice cream. I LOVE crepes so maybe that’s why I love this so much. It actually reminds me of this Parsi dish called “chapat” which is a thin sweet crepe. The coconut stuffing is a bit much but so I open it up and scoop some out. Either ways its soft warm and delicious!
Coconut Pancake – Ling’s Pavilion
I’m a soup person and sometimes the simplest soups are the best. Yet most places manage to mess it up. A simple well made tomato soup is really hard to find. A trip to the relatively new Cafe Sundance and my prayers have been answered. The soup there is fresh mildly creamy with a hint of basil. It managed to convert a non soup lover as she sipped on it and asked for seconds. Simple food but in my opinion the most satisfying.
Tomato Soup – Sundance
What was considered “exotic” once upon a time has now because a regular on any South East Asian menu. The Burmese Khowsuey is an old favourite. In fact, we love it so much that we have khow suey dinner nights at a close friend’s house as often as we can. A khow suey is typically ramen noodles with a thick almost Thai curry or laksa curry like gravy with either chicken/ prawns/ vegetables and presented with a number of condiments like fried onions, garlic, chopped coriander etc. The fun in eating this is in making the meal so you can add as much or as little as you like. My favourite khow suey is with prawn ( very obvious) but I’d eat it any which way.Busaba serves up a mean Khow Suey.
Khow Suey – Busaba
Alcohol is a great ingredient for desserts. I’m use to brandy and baileys in cakes but this was my first alcohol infused ice cream. The Jack Daniel’s Ice cream at Bungalow 9 in Bandra sounds and tastes too good to be true. One would imagine a mild whiff of alcohol but what you get is a heavy load of that wonderful whiskey. Served in a lovely crisp biscuit basket with crushed biscuit sprinkled on top this is an ice cream lover’s dream.
J.D. Ice Cream – Bungalow 9
As every good meal ends with a dessert its only right that I should conclude my list with a drool worthy dessert. This one might seem very unlike me but I have nothing but praise for the Chocolate Brandy Surprise at Cafe Mocambo in Fort. I’m not a chocolate lover and given the choice will NEVER order a chocolate anything! I had a bite from my cousin when he ordered this once and there has been no turning back. This pastry has a dense outer covering of chocolate which is probably the highlight for most of you but does nothing for me. The best part for me is the middle where there is this creamy mousse like filling drenched in brandy and a thin base of brandy soaked sponge cake. Each bite has three very different layers of texture and flavour rolling through your mouth. Somehow I’ve managed to not take a picture again but if you manage to find your self at Mocambo try it.For me this was really memorable and I felt worth a mention on my top treats list.