Shiro’s – not your regular brunch place

Brunch at Shiro is a pan-asian experience and a sushi lovers delight. Shiro is located in Bombay’s old mill district. With high ceilings, no windows and an imposing statue – Shiro transports you away from the din of Bombay. As always we were the first to arrive (we like to maximize our brunch time). With rising temperatures we had to cool off inside. So we could not wait to get started. I called for the lemon-drop martini which was refreshing, followed by a caprioska, an apple martini. Slowly and gradually the brigade started to arrive.

The first to get there was Susan, which was no surprise and it also happened to be her first week in Bombay.  The brigade made sure that she received a bag full of survival tips and how to be safe during the monsoons.

We requested our server to keep bringing appetizers till we asked him to stop. They had a variety of sushi; the spicy tuna wrapped in cucumber was my favourite – with the right texture and complimenting spice and herbs. Vietnamese prawns were delightful. The chicken tarts were bland and disappointing.

We soon realized that we were the only ones – which meant no random conversations or stories. Next I tried the sangria and followed it up with a bloody mary, then the green apple martini and  lemon drop martini. Yes, I was thirsty.

Besides the appetizers they also had a soup and salad bar. I tried the lemon chili soup that was fresh and light. For mains we called for beef basil and Thai green curry. The beef was tender and well spiced. The Thai green curry with chunks of tender chicken was wholesome.

For dessert we had molten chocolate with generous scoops of ice cream. Since we were the only ones there the service was great. The place has a mysterious vibe. I have never been to Shiros at night but with no daylight brunch might as well could have been dinner. The place has great potential and I hope more people would show up for brunch at Shiros.

After brunch we joined Phil, Stu, Alan and Doug in Thailand for Stu’s wedding. Hangover Pat 2, the  movie was plain bad.

Bombay Brunch Brigade meets once a month. The purpose of this group is to meet  – have fun, find a travel partner, a date(may be), share brain farts and savour brunches. We will be exploring different brunch places all over Bombay. Join our Facebook group for the next brunch date and location information.

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Taste of Malaysia

This past weekend was mum and dad’s thirtieth anniversary. I decided to treat them to a wholesome lunch. Also it had been a while since I had cooked and since I was craving something flavourful so I thought it would be a good idea to make a Malaysian Laska. I still remember the Malaysian Laska that I had in New York at Cafetasia – it’s akin to a party of flavours.

My sister and mom both went to Crawford Market a day before and helped me acquire the ingredients.

I improvised on the recipe that I found on rasamalaysia.com. The recipe asked to add a shrimp paste – which gave off a foul smell at first. On further stirring the spices that foul smell subsided and therapeutic aroma of lemon grass arose.

Homemade Malaysian Laska

As I was cooking my mom peered over my shoulder and read that a key ingredient mentioned was pig’s blood. Pork and or consumption of pig in any other form is taboo in my family so that certainly gave her a scare. We made our Laska devoid of pig’s blood and therefore you can see the difference in colour. In taste the Laksa was pretty close to the one in New York but the curried soup was thicker than it should have been.

This time around unlike the Rendang there was plenty of Laska left over for dinner the next night!

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Sunday brunch at Salt Water Cafe leaves a lot to be desired

Bombay Brunch Brigade at Salt Water Cafe

Last month the brigade went to Salt Water Cafe in Bandra for brunch. It was a pleasant summer afternoon and happened to be Easter Sunday. Unfortunately there were no Easter specials. We could not wait to get started and called for a plate of cheese, a plate of deli meats and a basket of bread from their bakery.

To quench our thirst we called for pitchers of flavoured sangria. The drinks were refreshing but weak. We then followed up the sangria with some margaritas. The Kiwi margarita was unlike any other margarita I have had but still light on the tequila.

We had a couple of newbies join us this time and one of them happened to be a filmmaker. Having learnt that one of the pretty ladies in the group expressed her desire to be an actress and tried auditioning for a non-existent role. The topics of discussion ranged from boredom of work to cyber comic strips such as the sexcapades of Savita Bhabhi’s.

This time we spotted model turned actor Milind Soman, who certainly had the attention of the manager and seemed a regular.

For our main course we mostly called for sandwiches. I had the roasted lamb sandwich. The quantity and quality of food is good at Salt Water Cafe as I had mentioned in my previous post when I had visited the cafe for dinner. However this time around the service was sluggish and most of us seemed unhappy with our drinks.

I religiously go for brunch once a month with the brigade. I am always on a quest looking for the best brunch spot in the city. There are many options for food in Bombay but places serving an all-inclusive brunch are limited. Looking forward to a fierce and fabulous brunch scene in Bombay!

Brunch Brigade meets once a month. The purpose of this group is to meet  – have fun, find a travel partner, a date (may be), share brain farts and savour brunches. We will be exploring different brunch places all over Bombay. Join our Facebook group for the next brunch date and location information.


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Let down by LPQ!

After reading recently that Suzette a French creperie has opened up at Nariman Point I was looking forward to going there for breakfast on mother’s day. Unfortunately Suzette’s is closed on Sundays so I will have to visit it on another day. So instead we went for breakfast to Le Pain Quotidien, the Belgian chain’s first outlet that has opened up in Colaba. Strategically located near the Taj Hotel across from Indigo Deli and Moshe’s this joint is one of Bombay’s recent imports.

Bakery at Le Pain Quotidien

With a rustic charm and relaxed atmosphere one is transported to a Belgian countryside. Pinewood tables, walls finished in a rustic paint and an in-house bakery the space is inviting.

They have a breakfast menu that is served daily till 11am and about 3pm on the weekends.

We called for the Mediterranean platter which came with some cottage cheese, creamy humus and slices of fresh bread smeared with sun-dried tomatoes and black olives. The platter was delightful.

My mom called for the waffles with fresh fruit which was accompanied by some chocolate sauce. My sisters called for the French toast and crepes with a fruit compote both of which were good. My brother and I had the three egg omelette with tomato and basil. Before we ordered we were warned that the waffles would take 20mins. We said we do not mind – surprisingly the waffles arrived first. Then the rest of the orders arrived in a span of twenty minutes. Our servers did not seem to care that everyone’s orders arrived separately.

Since it is the mango season they are serving some specials with mangoes. We could not resist ordering the mango tart and the mango cheesecake. Both of which were really good. The tart had a creamy mango filling and was piled generously with fresh mango pieces and the mango cheese cake was evenly textured and fluffy. The desserts were the saving grace.

I am willing to give LPQ a second chance for it’s ambience and to experience the communal table. Barring the mango specials the food was ok but the management really needs to get their act together.

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Immeasurable Moments

Flaming Silhouettes. Courtesy Huzefa Rangwala

After traveling to various places around the world, Huzefa Rangwala will open his photography show at Pradarshak Gallery from 25 April to 07 May 2011.

Most travel photographers hope to document the landscape in a way so that the viewer is transported on the same journey that the photographer took. Rangwala for his debut show at Pradarshak gallery captures various moments from his travels and each piece tells a story. The captured moments reflect various emotions ranging from joy to true delight and the viewer is transported on to an emotional journey irrespective of the destination.

These moments move from personal space to urbanscape. A piece entitled Solitude is deeply moving as it captures a state of happiness that is controlled. This state of happiness is achieved consciously in solitude and if one were to lose control this solitude can become loneliness. From Solitude Rangwala transports us to Celebration, which is more involved and the feeling of joy and happiness is shared.

The prints included in the show are a good representation of Rangwala’s technique and skills. His photographs celebrate travel and they do not only give an insight into the psyche of a place but remind us to let go as well.

In conversation with Huzefa Rangwala. 

ae: Who is Huzefa Rangwala?

hr: Jack of all

ae: Where are you from?

hr: I could be from Mexico, Java, Borneo or India. Let them natives decide.

ae: When did you first discover your creative talents?

hr: 29 years after I was born. Yep, I am old.

ae: What motivates you?

hr: Redundancy at my current workplace.

ae: Describe your style

hr: Impulsive

ae: Share a funny incident while capturing a moment.

hr: Year: 2008, Place: Bayous of Louisiana, Incident: I was shooting gators with my Nikon D60 and tamron 18-250mm. Two African-American women shooting gators with their Motorola Razors and asking the ‘crocs’ to smile.

ae: Describe yourself in five words.

hr: Confused. Spendthrift. Insomniac. Facebookworm. Creative.

ae: One thing besides your camera that you carry on your trips?

hr: Myself – to carry the camera.

ae: Your next destination?

hr: Tibet? You bet! 🙂

Pradarshak Gallery, 100, Kalpana Bldg, Plot No 338, 12th Road, Khar (W), Mumbai (Diagonally behind Citibank on Linking Rd at the Citibank-Louis Phillipe Signal). The gallery is open from 11am-7pm except on Sundays and public holidays.

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Britannia, a Bombay gem

Britannia, located in the landmark Ballard Estate building in the business district and is nearly a 90 year-old establishment. This restaurant is one of the few remaining in the city that serves Parsi food. Parsi food is an Indian way of cooking Persian food – lots of nuts and dried fruits with Indian spices.

Britannia at Ballard Estate

This past Saturday my friends took off from work and I was fortunate to have the day off so we decided to go to Britannia for lunch. The restaurant is open only during lunch hours from Monday through Saturday and caters to the business crowd, regulars and tourists. The space is simple with a dash of nostalgia – with the chipping paint, old furniture and checkered table-cloth. Read more about the history of Britannia and other Irani Cafes at the Irani Chai Mumbai, blog.

My friends and I shamelessly ordered their most popular dish the mutton Berry Pulao, a rice pilaf made with crunchy fried onions, almonds, berries (tart berries imported from Iran) and spices. We also tried their patra ni machichi, pomfret covered in chutney made with cilantro, coconut and coriander. Traditionally it is steamed in a banana leaf ours was served to us in a foil. Our server deboned the fish as he served us and the fish came of the bone quite easily. Then we had the mutton Sali Boti, a tender cooked mutton gravy served with potato straws. I also had their raspberry soda to help me wash all this down.

We were not done yet, we also ended up calling for the mutton dhansak. The dhansak is a thick dal in which the mutton is cooked and served with brown rice. I was reminded of the dhansak that mom makes at home. It is pretty close to the one that I had at Britannia.

We could not resist calling for a caramel custard which had the perfect consistency and was delightfully sweet. The experience at Britannia was blissful and every bit gratifying just as their slogan – “there is no love greater than the love of eating.”

P.S. To get to the restroom you have to go through the kitchen, totally worth it. Reminded me of the Won Dee Siam (which is an amazingly good Thai restaurant in New York on 52nd St – this is a hole in the wall byob kinda place but the food is authentic. There are 3 locations but only one is good – 9th Ave and 53rd St corner). 

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Brunch at Blue Frog – a wholesome experience

Blue Frog by Serie architects is located in Bombay’s old mills district. It is housed in a warehouse that has been transformed into an acoustic lounge that also serves as a restaurant, bar and live music venue. Staggered booths carved from an undulating surface at various levels provide privacy as well as uninterrupted views of the stage. At night the translucent surface is illuminated from beneath with LED’s.

During the day the space is in stark contrast to what it looks and feels like at night. The industrial roof allows for plenty of natural light to penetrate the space and set the stage for an exciting brunch. I had been longing for brunch at Blue Frog for a long time now and was glad that we finally went there on the last Sunday of last month.

 

Bombay Brunch Brigade at Blue Frog

This time we had friends from Bangalore and Dubai joining the Bombay Brunch Brigade. We missed a few regulars but I am sure after they read this review they will realize that they missed something really good. I started off with the Cucumber and Mint cocktail, followed it up with The Musky Melon.

 

We could not wait to eat – we made our way to the bar where a spread of salads and cold cuts awaited us. The jerked potato wedges, a beef salad and the cold green gazpacho was refreshing with the freshness of spinach, parsley and mint. Then the friendly and attentive staff asked us for our eggs, pancakes and waffles order. I tried the waffles after they had gone cold so they were not as crispy but I had the pancakes with a berry compote and it was nice and fluffy. Then I shared a made to order omelet and it was good as well but the egg benedict that a friend ordered looked more exciting.

 

Grooving to Hit Me Baby one more time...with Neil Gomes on stage....

Around this time the live music had begun. I was looking forward to some foot thumping music so that we could dance as well but the music was more in tune with what brunch music should be. It took us some time to warm up to Neil Gomes who is also a singer-song writer. We were entertained by his take on the Nirma washing powder and saridon ads of the 90’s. Later in the afternoon he delighted us by playing Britney Spear’s, “Baby Hit Me One More Time.” Gomes is also multi talented he played the violin, saxophone and the flute exceptionally.

 

The drinks and food continued, for the main entrée I had called for the charred chicken with peppers from the grill which was smokey and well spiced. By now I am informed that we have run them dry on their melon cocktails so I switched to the dawn (orange and vodka).

 

Jenga!

Somewhere between all this excitement we started playing Jenga. and that turned out to be a lot of fun. We played a twisted version of Jenga and while many revelations were made some members of the brigade shied away.

 

There was an array of desserts but the bite sized marble cheesecake was the winner for me. This was a much-needed elaborate brunch. The service again here is excellent. I made sure to go talk to Neil and thank him for entertaining us – he was kind enough to come by our pod and meet us all.

This is what I call a perfect brunch in the company of good friends, food and booze!

A special thank you to friends that joined us from Bangalore and Dubai you will be dearly missed at the next one. Bombay Brunch Brigade meets once a month. The purpose of this group is to meet  – have fun, find a travel partner, a date (may be), share brain farts and savour brunches. We will be exploring different brunch places all over Bombay. Join our Facebook group for the next brunch date and location information.


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Why Loiter? Is Mumbai an ideal city to loiter in?

Image courtesy Penguin India

Studio X in Mumbai last month hosted the launch of a book that highlights women’s access to public space. Titled, “Why Loiter?” The book is an effort of three women; Sameera Khan a Mumbai based journalist and writer, Shilpa Phadke an assistant professor at the Centre for Media and Cultural Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Shilpa Ranade architect and partner at DCOOP in Mumbai.

It chronicles years of meticulous research that attempts to understand how women from different communities, classes and minority groups in Mumbai have limited access to public space and often do not feel safe or comfortable in the public realm. The three women wonder why in a city where men wandering alone or in groups is acceptable but if a woman is on a leisurely stroll then it is assumed that she is up to no good. Loitering is purposeless occupation of space and defiling of public space is not acceptable.

Read the full article here Why Loiter? Is Mumbai an ideal city to loiter in?

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Busaba Beckoned

Busaba Beckoned

This post has been long overdue. Last month Bombay Brunch Brigade went to Busaba. I was looking forward to this brunch all month long as we had planned on going to Busaba in January but ended up skipping as  most members of the brigade had their social calendar crowded with weddings to attend.

My friend; the loitering lamb and I arrived on time at Busaba. Busaba is located besides Indigo behind the Taj hotel. We tried entering through what we thought was the entrance only to realize that it was the service entrance and as we stepped up to it the guard rolled up the shutters to reveal the main entrance.

The place was deserted and we were escorted upstairs and our table was set up in an enclosed verandah at the back. My friend and I decided not to wait and make the most of brunch time so we went ahead and called for a busaba mary and a watermelon caprioshca. We also called for some grilled salmon sushi, mango sushi and some chicken momos. Soon enough the rest of the brigade began to trickle in.

Bombay Brunch Brigade at Busaba

We ordered nearly the entire appetizer menu which included sushi, Korean pancakes, spring roles, satay, Momo’s and Banh Xeo. My personal favourite was the Banh Xeo, the Vietnamese pancakes, a rice pancake stuffed with bean sprouts, chicken and shrimp. Rohini was disappointed to learn that they did not have the BBQ spare ribs.

We kept ordering drinks, we had the fresh orange and mint martini, pinacoladas and finally settled for some green apple margaritas. We also called for some shooters. They were not as much fun as the shot of buckets that we had at Indigo.

It was time to call for the main course. Busaba is known to have brought the Burmese kaukswe(that is how they spell it) to Bombay. Amrita and I had to try the kaukswe as we both love the khause our mom’s make so we had to compare. The kaukswe was mild compared to the khause that my mom makes, Amrita felt the same as well.

For desert we called for the Chocloate Fondant(Rohini skipped her main course and had two of these instead). I decided to get a lemon tart and it was not as zesty as a lemon tart should be.

Despite slow service and not as attentive service we had a blast. We got pretty loud and at one point I did notice someone sitting right outside the enclosed verandah walk over and shut the door. Oops!

After brunch we walked over to the promenade across from the Taj and enjoyed the cool sea breeze and the view of the Gateway and the ocean all around.

Busaba has a new location that recently opened in Lower Parel across from Blue Frog. They do not have a brunch menu.

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Studio X arrives in Bombay!

Studio X, a global network initiative by Columbia University had an opening reception on Feb 10th to announce it’s arrival in Bombay. After New York, Beijing, Rio and Jordan; Bombay is the fifth city to join this growing network of planners, architects, interior designers, engineers and all habitants of the city to help improve the social and cultural fabric of a city.

The space at Kitab Mahal across from the historic Victoria Terminus station or Chatrapatti Shivaji Terminus as it is known today is a well-preserved space. The space is inspiring and  apt for engaging in dialogues that will only enhance the growth of the city. The opening event was attended by Rajeev Thakker, director of Studio X,

'Architecture of Consequence' at Studio X - Kitab Mahal, Image courtesy Studio X

Mark Wigley, the dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Also in attendance were members of NAi (Netherlands Architecture Institute). According to Wigley, Studio X will be a dedicated space for people to camp out in this maximum city – and enable research on the future of cities.

NAi also has an exhibit on display titled, ‘Architecture of Consequence.’ Through the exhibit NAi is sharing and showcasing ideas and highlighting solutions for problems faced in urban centers. The exhibit demonstrates that architecture will play a vital role in addressing the issues faced in cities and how it will be an agent for social transformation.

Opening Night at Studio X, Image courtesy Studio X

My only grouse with the exhibit was that there was too much to read and absorb and the visuals were weak. A friend of mine who also happens to be an amazing graphic designer felt the same.

The gathering at the reception and the free-flowing wine created a very New York like atmosphere – this is the closest I came to New York in the last six months.

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