Sushi Unrolled at The Fatty Bao

The Fatty Bao has brought us eighteen days, fourteen varieties, and some new flavor combos, textures, and tastes of sushi. This is sushi like you’ve never seen it before thanks to the ‘Sushi Unrolled’ food festival that has taken the traditional roll and unraveled it to reveal hitherto unknown depths (sushi as taco, sushi as pizza, sushi as sandwich, sushi as pita). This is not the delicate sushi one usually gets, either. These are heartier portions and pieces, and in shapes and dimensions that don’t require or actually, allow, for a pair of chopsticks to be pressed into service. Using one’s fingers would really be the best, so you can pick up that slice of tuna sushi pizza, or the sushi pita pocket, and pop it into your mouth! And of course, there’s the delectable Edamame and Fatty’s range of cocktails to go along with the meal.

The fest, which started a few days ago at Fatty outlets in Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata, runs through the 8th of April, which means you have two full weeks to visit (and revisit) the special menu. And now, here’s a look at some of the delights…talking about my favs here, but there were more like the Smoked Mackerel Compound Sandwich and yes, sushi rolls like the Spicy Tempura Fried Prawns, that we tried.

The Liberal Tobimayo Pita Pocket Sushi & The Progressive Vegetarian Pita Pocket The tuna pita pocket was my favorite dish from the ‘Sushi Unrolled’ menu – a must try!

Cross Bred Tuna Pizza
I was excited to see a cold pizza aka sushi pizza, and enjoyed the flavors and textures. It had a crispy sushi rice cracker base (although we felt it tasted more of other grains) and was liberally topped with tuna, cream cheese mayo, jalapenos, tobiko, capers, and mustard cress. There’s a veg version too.
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Cross Bred Salmon Taco
Fancy a sushi taco anyone? Not words I ever thought I would be writing, that’s for sure! I really enjoyed the crispy shell with sushi fillings. Crunchy outside with a nice tangy filling of Sriracha mayo, spicy salmon, avocado, yuzu and tobiko. There’s also a vegetarian version, and a fried fish one (that sounds pretty darn close to a Baja Fish Taco with an Asian twist!).
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We, being a largish table, also got a tasty peek into a couple of dishes off their new menu, including a brilliant Cold Green Tea Noodle Salad and the always delightful Fatty Bao desserts, which never disappoint! A special shout out to the Wild Apricot Salad dessert, which had that combo of tart and sweet that makes my tastebuds happy. The festival offerings are priced between INR 395 and INR 645, and the portions are good for sharing. A meal for two will run around INR 2000 plus taxes.

Sea Rock: A Golden Oldie

I have developed quite the love for Mangalorean food over the last few years. This was a cuisine I had never tried until moving to Bangalore, and my first introduction was via the delectable neer dosa. A Mangalorean best friend, visits to Mangalore, and a growing appreciation of seafood means that today, this cuisine is one of my go-to choices when I want Indian food. I have eaten home style Mangalorean as well as at a range of restaurants across the city, and a good neer dosa and ghee roast make me a very contented gal.

My new favored spot in town is a golden oldie, if you will – Sea Rock, which bills itself as a family restaurant and bar. The restaurant has changed venue a few times in the thirty plus years of its existence, and has undergone transformations. But one thing it has always been known for, is its great seafood, especially Mangalore preps. And I have friends who have eaten here as kids and now are rediscovering its goodness as adults. The menu shows Chinese, North and South Indian dishes in addition to the Mangalorean delicacies, but those in the know come here especially for the seafood, and indeed, the regulars don’t even bother to glance at a menu, just reeling off their favorites. As will I, in the future!

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Clams Sukka

The choices are many, from shellfish to fish to chicken and mutton, as well as plenty for vegetarian diners. But, well, seafood is really what you should be ordering, unless you don’t eat it! The Mangalore Sukka Marwai (clams) is what I would recommend starting off with for the shellfish lovers. Sukka, which features grated coconut in addition to a blend of spices, is a very Mangy, very delicious preparation! Follow this up with the Squid (Bondas) Masala Fry, or if you’re not into squid, try another fish, but definitely do NOT miss out on the Masala Fry at Sea Rock. Silken, coconutty (thanks to being fried up in coconut oil), and just a little spicy – this will, if you’re anything like me, induce yummy sounds from within.

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Masala Fry Squid

Now, the larger the group you’re with, the more you can order, and since I’ve been with 6 or so people each time, we have been lavish. For the fish fans, Pomfret (Maanji) in Tandoori masala and Anjal (Seer Fish) Tawa Fry will leave you very happy. And for the hardcore fish fans, both the Rava Fry for Kane (Lady Fish) and Silver Fish are great. The Silver Fish, which can be crunched up whole, bones and all, goes really well with beer, and after the fiery masala dishes, it is both taste and texture wise, a change of scene. I can personally eat a half a dozen of these babies easily, and devour an entire slice of Anjal as well, and more of Pomfret than I usually eat, because well, those masalas! I’ll just let the pictures do the talking!

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Anjal Masala Fry

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Pomfret Tandoori Masala

If you’ve left space for main course, then Mangalorean staples like Kori Rotti, Chicken or Fish Pullimunchi, Mangalore Fish Curry, Gassi, Sukka, Ghee Roast et all await. Kori Rotti, which is country chicken curry with a crisp papad-like roti accompanying it, is usually a must-order, as there will always be that one soul at the table who has heart emojis when they hear the name! For me however, there is only one thing that will make the meal complete, as I said right at the beginning – Ghee Roast! Sea Rock does a killer Prawn Ghee Roast, a portion of which I am one day going to order and refuse to share! That, along with a plate or two of neer dosa, and happiness has been achieved.

Sea Rock tends to get quite packed on weekdays for lunch especially, as a lot of people from the high courts and other offices nearby come to eat there. But the service will be impeccable, however busy they are, and the beer chilled. And of course, a more family crowd will be seen on weekends. A lovely meal in old school surroundings and service are what await, and a very full belly!

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Kane Rava Fry

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Silver Fish Fry

Details: Sea Rock, Seshadripuram (Above Shivananda Stores); Open for Lunch and Dinner; INR 1000 plus taxes for a meal for two.

The Big Fat Mango Harvest at Fatty

A whole month since I posted – oh dear! Time to make amends, and I can’t think of a better way to than writing about The Fatty Bao’s on-going Big Fat Mango Harvest festival, featuring both mango laced cocktails and delicious mango infused food, including, but of course, sushi! The festival menu from Chef Prashanth is on until the 28th of this month, and I am plotting to make it back there so I can have another go at my favorites from the menu. I like but don’t love mango by itself – you won’t find me eating mango after mango during the season. But I do love the flavor of mango and an Asian menu like this, which incorporates both green and ripe mango into dishes and drinks, is right up my street.

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The Sushi was, but of course, the first offering of the afternoon. Mango and Avocado Sushi was a delightful flavor combo and Fatty’s sushi is always perfectly rolled. What came next was a fantastic summery, ceviche-esque Green Mango and Prawn Salad, with green mango and a tender coconut gel acting as the base on which perfectly poached prawns, cilantro and a black sesame brittle were artfully arranged. This was so good that we asked for a second round at the table, knowing full well there was a lot more food to come.

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Pork lovers – the Stir-Fried Pork Tenderloin with mango, chillies, and peppers is a delicious mouthful, particularly with a mango-licious cocktail to wash it down. The Sriracha Glazed Chicken Wings are another great finger (and finger licking good) food that pairs well with a mango cocktail. Of the drinks, the one that I loved was the Smokey Joe, which pairs whiskey, Lapsang souchong tea, and smoked raw mango. The combination of the smoky flavors of the tea and whiskey worked oh so well. The Asian Beet, with gin, mango pulp, beetroot juice and lemongrass was the drink I started the afternoon with, and the other popular ones at our table were the vodka, raw mango, dill leaves, mango syrup and lime concoction named By the Bay, and the Hula Coolah, also vodka based.

IMG_20170513_145436The next dish was another stunner – a tray appeared bearing Thai Mango and Seafood Curry with Jasmine Rice – squid, fish, prawn in a silky coconut gravy and the accompaniments of peanuts, rice crackers, fried onions on the side in little bowls so you can doctor the dish to suit your taste. This is a must order, and pair it with the Smokey Joe for a real party of flavors on the palate! Fatty’s desserts are always art on a plate, and this time was no exception – the two mango desserts were outstanding. Order both the Mango Pannacotta and the Mango and Yuzu Meringue and share with your mates. The latter is served in a scooped out half of a mango’s skin, with a collection of mango bites (someone had fun with the melon baller/scooper in the kitchen!) and some tart raspberry jelly – you’re unlikely to stop until the mango skin is staring back up at you! The rectangle set Pannacotta, with basil seeds, mango, caramel is prettier to look at but my vote goes to the Meringue this time. Fatty’s festival is on for a full week more, so get thee to my favorite of all the mango festivals of the summer 2017 lineup!

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A festival of Sushi at Zen, The Leela Palace

Sushi? Anytime! A sushi festival, with over 25 types of sushi on offer? Oh yes please! Zen, at The Leela Palace, just started the From the Land of the Rising Sun promotion, and a bunch of us were invited to a preview to check out the offerings. Chef Panchai, the man behind the festival, has put together an extensive feast of rolls, from his favorites to the most popular ones at Zen. We ate so many varieties that day, there’s no way I can do justice and name them all. So, sharing some photos of what we ate and naming a few favorites from the afternoon. The festival is on until the 21st of March and the special menu will be available for both lunch and dinner.

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First on the table was this light and crisp daikon, carrot, cabbage shreds salad. The toasted sesame and garlic slices made this a delectable start!

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Many oohs and aahs greeted the appearance of this Sashimi platter. Gorgeous presentation, but we felt the slices were on the thicker side. But the freshness and range of the seafood – Octopus, Habachi, Tuna, Salmon, Scallops – was impressive

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This Ebi Tempura roll, with tempura battered prawns giving it a crisp center and the outer covering offering softness, along with the flying fish roe on top adding even more texture, was a delight. The soy and Yuzu sauce offered beautiful flavors

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Probably the biggest hit of the afternoon, this Spicy Crispy Avocado roll had us all going back for seconds – so vegetarians, here’s the sushi to order!

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Salmon roll, with Salmon roe

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Seared Tuna and Salmon roll was gorgeous – flavor and looks wise!

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On the left was another much favored roll that day, the Unagi Ninniku roll, and why not, with its combination of freshwater eel, avocado, and a generous topping of crisp garlic! Definitely order this one! On the right was another lovely vegetarian sushi, a maki roll of braised Shiitake mushrooms and avocado – the crisp seaweed wrapping contrasted well with the soft avocado and meaty Shiitake textures

Return of Aquafest at Karavalli

Aquafest has been an annual event at Karavalli, The Gateway Hotel, for as many years as the restaurant has been in existence – namely: 26. It is no mean feat that so many years down the line, this once a year food festival is still eagerly anticipated, looked forward to, and visited by seafood lovers. What’s so special, you ask? Well, how about a mix of well-loved Karavalli specials (check out the West Coast Seafood Grill section of the menu), alongside dishes that are curated just for Aquafest, for the run of the 2 week festival? We’re talking the best of seafood, from clams and mussels, to scampi and crab, and fish galore! Chef Naren, whose presence and influence are very much part and parcel of Karavalli’s fame and charm, and his team dig out home style and family favorite recipes they’ve come across over the years, to create a menu that features the treasures of the ocean, from Mangalore, Kerala, Goa (aka the Malabar and Konkan coast).

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Scampi Tawa Fry

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Ari Kadukka – the innovative mussel dish

I visited on day 2 of the festival (yes I was that eager, plus traveling soon thereafter means it was my only chance!) and we got to taste 8 of the starters, 2 curries, and 2 desserts off the Aquafest menu. Scampi Tawa Fry (fresh Scampi grilled in spicy Mangalorean masala)  was the first shellfish to make an appearance, and was eaten with the alacrity that such deliciousness demanded. Karuapila Konju (Tiger Prawns pan fried with onions, tomatoes and fresh curry leaves), was another delectable morsel. One dish that was different, and which I found rather innovative, was the Ari Kadakku (spiced rice dough stuffed mussels, tossed with local spices) – basically, mussel shells were filled with an idly-like batter that had been infused with mussel meat, and then steamed. Another different dish was the Yettida Biscuit Rotti, which was Mangalorean spiced pooris infused with minced shrimp, spiced copra, and semolina. I also loved the Goan Cafreal King Fish – the tangy, green masala and the beautifully cooked fish made me eat every bite!

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Yettida Biscuit Rotti

Now amidst all this goodness, two dishes really blew us away. The first was the Bombil Rawa Fry (Bombay duck marinated with spicy chilly masala, coated with semolina and fried). I like my fish mild and Bombay duck has a reputation for being anything but. However, this prep, with the perfectly crisp coating and a liberal squeeze of lemon on it – oh! The second was the Neitha Denji (sea crab fried with Kundapur spice mix and ghee), a Kundapur masala crab ghee roast that had me diving in with both hands, fingers covered in that luscious ghee roast masala, cracking at the crab claws and shell to get to the sweet meat within. I am one of those finicky seafood eaters, and the fact that I went all out to get every last morsel is testament to my love for this dish! I was tired and looked like I’d done battle by the end of it, much to the amusement of my dining companion and Chef, but it was well worth it!

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Bombil Rawa Fry

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The divine Sea Crab Ghee roast

Meen Moiley, a Kerala style fish curry, and Marwai Pundi, a clam and rice dumplings gravy dish, were our two mains – accompanied by Neer Dosa and as anyone who has ever dined at Karavalli knows, the most out of the world Appams. For dessert, Chef served us Raagi Manni (a fascinating, Dodol-like dessert of raagi flour, jaggery and coconut milk mixed, set, and cut into pieces) that my dining companion loved, and the Mangalorean specialty of Kashi Halwa, a grated white pumpkin sweet that I was happy to round out my meal with. Aquafest is on until the 30th of November, so make sure you drop in for some sumptuous seafood! And umm, Chef, could you please put the Neitha Denji on your regular menu? 🙂

Details: Karavalli, The Gateway Hotel; INR 2500 plus taxes for two

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King Fish Cafreal

 

Mangalore on my Mind (And Plate!)

Mangalorean cuisine is something I got introduced to rather late in my life – only in the last four years of living in Bangalore and having some very good Mangalorean friends, and spending one Christmas in Mangalore at a friend’s parents’, has the cuisine and culture become a part of my life. And I do love it! Whether it’s the simple Neer Dosa or the delectable Chicken Ghee Roast or anything in Sukka prep, or the Sannas, which, while bearing a passing resemblance to the Idli, are much more to my liking than the latter, which I’ve never been a fan of – I heart the cuisine. Now, I am not a big fish eater, especially the more pungent varieties, but fried Kane (Lady Fish) is something I’ve taken a shine to, and learned to eat quite well too, cleaning it to its entire internal structure without any difficulty.

IMG_20160823_235536The current Mangalorean Food Festival at Shangri-La Hotel’s b Café, was another perfect opportunity to indulge in my love for the coastal cuisine, and it is a giant spread indeed that Chef Rounak Kinger and his team have put together. It’s quite the food trail, with four distinct sections of the expansive buffet being taken over by Mangaluru dishes (at dinner time; during lunch it will be a more circumspect spread), featuring appetizers, snacks, mains, desserts, and definitely not to be missed, specially concocted drinks!

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Korean Flavors with Food for Seoul Festival

I got my first taste of Korean food at the age of 10. Chennai had a South Korean expat population and thus I had a 6th grade classmate whose lunch box was like a never ending source of treats for me. Pork, beef, tangy flavors and noodles and sticky rice – thinking back, I guess I was an adventurous eater even at 10! Anywho, fast forward about 25 years, and to the life that now is. A visit to the on-going Food for Seoul festival at Novotel Bengaluru Techpark’s The Square restaurant last week had me indulging in some Bibimbap, grilled meats and seafood, various vegetable Kimchi (they had at least half a dozen types – contrary to popular belief, Kimchi is not just cabbage, but rather references the “pickling” technique that creates the pungent side) and Namul (sauteed vegetarian sides) galore. Chefs Hee-Jin Park and Jong-Man Kim are here from Seoul, part of an exchange program with Chefs from sister Accor hotels that Novotel Bengaluru has in place.

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The visiting Chefs sweetly posed for pictures

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Monkey’s Coastal Adventures

There was Monkey, swinging on the branches of his favored tree that leaned into the river, thinking of what mischief to make next (for it had been awhile and the time for a food festival was anon). As he looked down at the water flowing along, inspiration struck. Why not take a stab at making some Coastal delicacies from the two southern states of Kerala and Karnataka, with his own very monkey twist? And so he went to his kitchen to muse, muddle, meddle – finally presenting to the world (well, Bangalore and Delhi): Coastal Adventures, a two-week long promotion featuring 15 fiery, tangy and rather delicious dishes.

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