Review: The Imperial Spice

Review: The Imperial Spice

The Imperial Spice has a vast menu with Indian, Oriental and Continental delicacies, a range of wines from around the globe, and opulent décor to add to the charm.tis1We started our meal here with the non-veg platter which had Spicy Thai Basil Chicken, Chili Chicken, Sarson Mahi Tikka, Kesari Murg Malai Tikka and Imperial Signature Galouti Kebab. The platter was served very nicely with two dips. The chili chicken was fiery and tangy, while the kesari murg tikka was delicately seasoned. The fish tikka had been flavored with mustard and carom seeds, and the galouti, served atop mini ulte tawe ka paranthas had a melt-in-the-mouth texture. But our favorite of the lot was the spicy Thai basil chicken which had balanced flavors coating juicy chicken pieces that were grilled to perfection.tis3We also had some innovative dishes like Quinoa Broccoli ki Shaami, which had a shallow-fried tikki made with broccoli and green peas and crusted with quinoa for crunch. The Wild Mushroom Cigars with Sundried Tomato Pesto had a crispy covering and were filled with finely diced mushrooms and gooey cheese. And the Duck Khurchan Tacos were simply amazing- crunchy, thin tacos flavored with Indian spices, and filled with spiced, roasted duck and lots of cheese. They were quite generous with the duck pieces, and we simply loved the taste of this dish.

Along with these starters, we enjoyed some nice drinks as well- the classic Mint Julep was made well, but the Whisky Chuski, which was a bourbon-based drink with a flavoring of kala khatta not only tasted great, it was presented in a very interesting manner as well. As the name suggests, they had a bowl with the drink, and an ice-lolly or chuski along with it that you could dip in the drink. The non-alcoholic drinks- Italian Smooch and Tropical Fruit Punch were nicely made as well, but the cocktails here are definitely a notch better.tis2For mains, we went with the Chicken and Asparagus Involtini, which had chicken breast stuffed chicken mince, served in a robust, flavorsome red wine and thyme sauce, along with fluffy mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables.

We also tried the Imperial Dal, which was cooked overnight and enhanced with cream and butter for richness, and the Kesari Paneer Roll, which had pieces of paneer with a saffron-flavored stuffing, grilled and then coated in a rick tomato and cashewnut gravy.tis4We ended the meal with two very different desserts- their Signature Lehsun ki Kheer and Sundried Tomato Ice Cream. The kheer had a slight whiff of garlic in its aftertaste and was quite intriguing, while the ice-cream had scoops of vanilla ice-cream topped with honey-dipped sundried tomato pieces, which somehow really worked.tis5Overall, we had a great meal, but the service could have been slightly more prompt.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Location: M Block, 89/90, Outer Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi
Phone No.: +91 98117 77468

Review: The Trial Box

Review: The Trial Box

The Trial Box is not just another delivery outlet- it is part of an innovative concept called The Trial, brought to us by Mr. Gaurav Mehta, which consists of three offerings- The Trial Box, The Trial Kitchen, and The Trial Show. While the other two are yet to be launched, The Trial Box is here with a bang. Their focus is on two things- hassle-free boxed meals for home or office, and gourmet party boxes. The dishes are all gourmet, made with the best of ingredients, and curated by some of the best in the industry- Chef Adam Simmonds, Chef Hari Nayak and Chef Arun Tyagi. And they are packed in really sophisticated, high-quality boxes that are specially designed so you can eat straight out of the box. And all this, at very competitive prices.

Their menu is quite elaborate, consisting of breakfast boxes, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pizzas, pastas, grilled items, tacos, bowls, salads, as well as starters and meal boxes across Indian, Oriental and Continental cuisines. We visited their base kitchen for a tasting, and were amazed with the hygiene standards they maintain.

We started our meal with a couple of dim sums- Spicy Chicken Dim Sum in chili oil and Pan Fried Chicken Dim Sum, and both were comparable to the dim sum we’ve had in fine dining restaurants. Even the packaging was very convenient and didn’t take away from the experience. The chili oil dim sum had juicy chicken inside a paper-thin covering, and the chili oil was delightfully spicy. The pan fried ones had the perfect crust on one side, without being chewy. The dips served alongside were also exquisite.ttb1The next box had Jerk Spiced Cottage Cheese, Double Reshmi Khus Kebab and Cantonese Fish served with three different types of dips- salsa, mint chutney, and an oriental dip, which came in glass jars. The cottage cheese had thick strips coated in a delicious spice mix and the spices had permeated the paneer well- it was one of those rare dishes where the paneer doesn’t turn out bland. The reshmi kebab had a mix of chicken and lamb mince, and it was quite juicy and deftly spiced so we could still taste the meat. The fish was steamed to perfection, was soft and moist and got its flavor from the salsa sauce on top.ttb3We also had the Chicken Nukti Kebab, which had soft, melt-in-the-mouth chicken mince in a creamy sauce, and was served with bakarkhani and fresh coriander jalapeno chutney. The slight sweetness from the bakarkhani gelled well with the succulent kebab, and we got a nice hint of spice from the chutney making it a perfect mouthful.

Another delightful creation is their Dips and Crisps box which comes with trio of hummus- spicy, basil, and beetroot along with multigrain lavaash, thepla crisps, rosemary and sea salt crackers. The box is perfect for sharing along with evening tea, and is totally addictive. Each hummus is super flavorful, and the crisps are fresh and tasty.

Their Paper Chicken is another dish worth trying- it has an Oriental spiced chicken breast cooked in paper leaf so the chicken retains all its juices and the flavor from the spices.ttb4The Zucchini Fettucine salad had fresh and crunchy zucchini and carrot strips, sweet peppers, roasted tomatoes, pine nuts and sunflower seeds for crunch, along with a lemony dressing which added a lot of flavor to the veggies. The Mu Shu Pork with Mandarin Pancakes is also a dish worth trying- the sauce coating the pork was perfectly balanced.ttb6We also tried the Indian meal box, which had Zafrani Tawa Chicken, dal makhani, jeera rice, lal mirch lachcha parantha, raita and salad. The dal makhani was rich and creamy, and the chicken had a thick gravy with onions, tomatoes, and whole spices. The Cilantro Lime Grilled Fish had perfectly cooked, flaky fish fillets coated with a lemon butter sauce and served with creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes and al dente cooked long beans. The Spicy Lamb Bao had a flavorsome lamb filling and the bao was moist.ttb5For dessert, we tried The Trial Box Medley, which is, as the name suggests, a medley of waffle, cheesecake, chocolate brownie, and marshmallow, topped with gems and chocolate sauce. We also had the Blueberry Risotto Phirni and the Mango Chili Bhapa Doi, both of which were delightful, but the one we liked best was the Mango Chili Bhapa Doi for its light, airy texture and nice combination of mango with that little hit of chili.ttb7Overall, this was by far the best meal we’ve had from a delivery chain, and the packaging was also superior. It is amazing how they can offer such a wide range of gourmet dishes, each being tastier than the previous, and that too at such reasonable rates. The Trial Box is highly, highly recommended.

Overall Rating: 4.75/5

Location: DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon
Phone No.: 0124 460 1666

Review: Royal China

Review: Royal China

Royal China has been serving authentic Cantonese food for many years now, along with a gorgeous view from the 16th floor of Eros Towers at Nehru Place. They recently introduced some new dishes to their menu, and these are just as good as (if not better than) their signature dishes.

We started our meal with an assortment of dumplings- each intricately prepared with amazing flavor combinations. The Corn and Water Chestnut Dumpling had subtle flavors, while the Wild Mushroom Crystal Dumpling is a delight for mushroom-lovers. The Vegetarian Cheung Fun was something we tried for the first time, and we found it quite interesting- the rolls had nicely flavored vegetables inside a crispy deep-fried covering, which was then coated with paper-thin rice sheets and served with soy sauce. On the non-veg side, things were equally delightful, with the Chicken and Chive Dumpling, which had juicy minced chicken, delicately flavored with chive and carrots, steamed to perfection. But our favorite has to be the Poached Chicken Dumpling with Soya Chili, which was spicy, tangy, and delicious, with the moist dumpling swimming in a lovely sauce made with soy sauce and chili. The Roast Pork Puff had a filling of roast pork in a sweet sauce, inside the lightest and airiest puff pastry we’ve seen.rc3We then moved to main course, where we enjoyed one of our old favorites- Stir Fried French Beans with Garlic Sauce, which had crunchy beans in a spicy sauce. The Royal China Exotic Vegetables had al dente vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy, and wild mushrooms in an umami black soy sauce with a little bit of chili. The Lamb with Chili Oil and Spring Onion came on a sizzler plate and was perfectly cooked. We enjoyed these dishes with some Vegetable Hakka Noodles.rc4As we enjoyed the gorgeous night-time view of the city from the windows of the restaurant, we relished our desserts- Lai Wong Bao or custard buns and Chocolate Lava Cake. The buns were really light and fluffy and were filled with a delicious custard inside, and the lava cake oozed out delicious molten chocolate as soon as we dug into it.rc5Throughout our meal, the servers were attentive and professional- explaining each dish, giving recommendations, and making sure we’re having a great experience. For delicious Cantonese food with a view, do visit Royal China.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Location: 16th Floor, Eros Corporate Tower, Nehru Place, New Delhi
Phone No.: +91 11 4981 8000

Review: Back to Basics

Review: Back to Basics

If you’re looking for a place with good music, nice ambience, and great cocktails and food, Back to Basics is a great option.

They have a nice list of interesting cocktails, out of which we tried the Express to Espresso, a concoction of whiskey, espresso, kahlua, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Though whiskey and coffee are both strong flavors, they were nicely balanced to make for a great drink.btb3We started our meal with the Chicken 65, which had spicy and juicy pieces of chicken with a nice crust on the outside, tossed with some fried curry leaves.btb4The Non-veg Platter had chicken lollypop, mutton seekh kebab, galouti kebab, and tandoori chicken wings. The lollypop had crispy, deep fried chicken drumsticks while the tandoori chicken wings had a mild but flavorsome marinade on them. The mutton seekh kebab was soft, juicy and deftly spiced and the galouti kebab was simply melt-in-the-mouth. However, the ulte tawe ka parantha on which the galouti was served was a tad too oily.btb5Next, we had Baida Roti with Kebab which consisted of a soft roti blanketed with egg that was nice and fluffy and served with juicy mutton seekh kebab. The combination of the roti and the kebab worked really well.

For mains, we went with Railway Mutton Curry with crispy Lachcha Parantha and Andhra Chicken Curry served with flaky Malabar Parantha. The mutton was nicely cooked, and the gravy was flavorsome without being too spicy. The andhra chicken curry was creamy and had a nice coconut flavor.btb6We ended the meal with Gulab ki Phirni which was thick, creamy and adequately sweet with a subtle rose petal flavor.20180727_204536Overall Rating: 4/5

Location: 30A, First Floor, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi
Phone No.: 091558 48484

Review: Carnatic Café

Review: Carnatic Café

Carnatic Cafe has been our favorite place for South Indian food ever since it opened its first outlet at New Friends Colony a few years back. Over time, it branched out to GK and now it has recently opened up its third outlet at Gurgaon. Located in the upcoming complex at 32 Milestone, this outlet is bigger, but still has the charm of a humble, simple place with similar cane and hand painted decor.cc1We started with Majjige to cool off, which is their refreshing masala buttermilk with mint.

The Dahi Vada has soft, fluffy vada soaked in thick, creamy curd with some crispy boondi served on the side to add crunch to the dish. The thick curd was delicious and made this one of the best renditions of the dish we’ve had.

Next, we had Workshop Thatte Idli which was a huge, fluffy idli, made and served in a copper plate topped with a delicious chutney and some butter, and was filling and tasty.cc2Paddu, or shallow fried balls made with lentils and rava, were really crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and had been flavored nicely with onions, coriander, and green chilies. They were served with their signature coconut chutneys- plain, mint, and tomato. Their coconut chutneys are simply out of the world- thick and fresh, unlike the bland, watery ones we get elsewhere.

A recent addition to their menu is the Angai Dosa. This was a set dosa, which was slathered with podi and topped with coconut and carrot shavings, coriander, potato mixture and coconut chutney. Though it looked really small, but was quite heavy, and really flavorsome.

But our favorite dosa out here will always be the Malleshwaram 18th Cross Dosa. Again, deceptively small but super heavy, this dosa is thick and fluffy, yet still crispy from the outside and soft inside, and was smeared with a delicious chutney podi and lots of white butter. This house specialty is an absolute must-have.cc3We ended our meal with a couple of their house-made ice creams. They have a range of interesting flavors such as black pepper, jamun jeera, etc. out of which we went with the Mango and Red Chili Sorbet and the Pink Guava ice-cream. The pink guava ice cream was really creamy and soft and had a nice, subtle guava flavor, while the mango sorbet had specks of red chili and had a nice balance of sweetness with that hit of chili.cc4Overall, each item on their menu is made with utmost care to retain the authenticity of the flavors. For a lovely South Indian meal with fast service and reasonable rates, Carnatic Cafe is highly recommended.

Overall Rating: 4.75/5

Location: Sector 15, Gurgaon
Phone No.: +91 9667180466

Review: Indian House

Review: Indian House

Indian House is a delivery outlet at Karol Bagh serving North Indian delicacies. We recently ordered a few things from their menu and were really impressed with their packaging and timely delivery. The food was individually packed in containers which were placed in a labelled cardboard box.indianhouse1The Mini Cheese Naans were a nice little snack. They were bite-sized naans stuffed with chilies, mozzarella, and mushrooms in garlic butter and were really tasty.

The Subz-e-Seekh was a soft and tasty seekh kebab made with a combination of vegetables and seasoned nicely. The Lamb Boti Kebabs consisted of pieces of lamb marinated with red chili, garlic, and ginger. The taste was nice but a few of the pieces were a bit under-cooked and chewy.

The Dal Makhani, though nice in flavor, was quite watery. The Mushroom Masala had a nice, thick gravy and the mushrooms were soft and juicy. The Chicken Curry had juicy pieces of chicken in a robust gravy made with whole spices to give it depth of flavor.indianhouse2We had these dishes with Pudina Parantha and Missi Roti, both of which were made well- crisp and thin.indianhouse3Overall, there were a couple of areas of improvement but this place can certainly be tried.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Location: 15A/6 WEA Karol Bagh, New Delhi
Phone No.: 011 33106520

Review: Chaayos- New Monsoon Menu

Review: Chaayos- New Monsoon Menu

Chaayos, our beloved tea and snacks place, has just launched a new monsoon menu featuring some delicious chaats to go with the weather.chaayos1The Samosa Matar Chaat was nicely made with crisp samosa crushed along with some soft matar or chickpeas, topped with a tangy imli chutney and raw onions and tomatoes. The Bhelpuri was crisp and tangy, with just the right amount of raw onions and sauces added to it- a light and relatively healthy snack to munch on. And if it’s healthy food that you’re looking for, the Egg White Chaat is the ideal dish for you, with soft boiled egg white topped with chaat masala and served along with raw onions, tomatoes and lemon juice. The Chicken Keema Papdi Chaat had a unique combination of soft and juicy keema served atop crispy crushed papdi. Though we appreciated the innovation, the keema had a bit too much sauce for our liking.chaayos2The Loaded Open Parantha had a thin, crispy Malabar parantha base topped with lots of cheese and a tangy tomato based paneer gravy, and felt like we’re eating an Indian-ized pizza.

The Thepla Tacos Paneer was a great dish! It had tasty mini theplas that were filled with paneer and some sev for crunch, served like a taco. We loved not just the fusion, but also the taste of this dish.chaayos3From the drinks menu, we went with Drinking Chocolate, Desi Filter Coffee, Kulfi Shake and Cake Shake. The drinking chocolate, unlike at most places, was not milky, and was thick and chocolaty. The filter coffee was strong and nicely made, but what we loved were the two shakes. The cake shake actually had blended chocolate cake making for a rich drink, and the kulfi shake was refreshing and not overly sweet.chaayos4We ended with a Moist Chocolate Cake which was a fresh, soft chocolate cupcake with a molten gooey center, and was delicious!chaayos5Overall, we really loved the new monsoon menu at Chaayos, and the food items are not just inventive, but also taste as good as all its drinks.

#ChaayosMonsoon

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Location: Multiple outlets across Delhi NCR