Review: After Stories

Review: After Stories

After Stories is located in the quieter part of Sector 29, near IFFCO Chowk metro station, which allows it to have an expansive space, spanning across three floors, including a beautiful outdoor seating area on the ground floor. The restaurant has a variety of house-brewed beers, with some flavors really unique and interesting, that we haven’t found elsewhere.afterstories1We started off with the beer tasters, which were all really nice, but our favorite was the apple cider vinegar one, which had a very different taste. The Kala Khatta Ice Tea was also tangy, slightly sweet, and quite tasty.

Coming to the food, we started with Crunchy Fried Lotus Stem which had thin and extremely crisp lotus stem chips coated in a spicy, sweet, and tangy kimchi caramel glaze. This dish is absolutely addictive and would go perfectly with drinks.

The Tandoori Mushrooms were no less- juicy, perfectly cooked mushroom caps stuffed with melted, oozing cheese, and coated in a lip-smacking paste made with jalapenos, coriander, and mint.

The Crisp Aloo Sabudana was a very unique dish with potato cubes coated in a vindaloo paste and tempered with curry leaves and dried red chilies, and sprinkled with fried sabudana.

Baked Filo Puff, which had flaky filo pastry stuffed with melted cheese and roasted vegetables also tasted very nice with the dip served alongside.afterstories2Coming to the non-vegetarian starters, the Tawa Meat Bhuna Masala was something worth going back for. The meat was juicy and perfectly cooked, and coated in masalas that imparted adequate flavor without over-powering the meat, and was served with toasted flatbread.

The Lemon Basil Fish had perfectly cooked, flaky fish coated in a sweet-spicy sauce made with peppers and Thai chilies, tossed with onions.

The Crispy Chicken in Sriracha was also a delicious dish, consisting of chicken chunks tossed in fiery sriracha chilies, and a maple and honey glaze to counter-balance the heat from the chilies.

The Chicken Jujeh Kebab had juicy pieces of boneless chicken coated in a mild yogurt-based marinade and sprinkled with spices, served with pickled veggies and tahini dip.

Another smashing and extremely innovative dish was the Baked Chicken Tikka, which had shredded chicken tikka and melted cheese, topped with a perfectly cooked egg yolk, in a bowl made with crisp and thin pastry. The egg yolk was cooked so well that the moment we hit it with our fork, it oozed out and melted into the bowl. The dish was innovative, nicely presented, and delicious.afterstories3We started the main course with Mumbaiya Style Chicken Triple Sichuan Rice. The dish was beautifully plated, with a tangy Manchurian gravy at the base, with a pile of nicely cooked fried rice, topped with fried chicken, fried egg, and crispy noodles. The dish was really hearty and tasty.

The Double-Cooked Old Delhi Style Chicken blew us away with the simplicity of its flavors. The chicken was cooked well, and the gravy was rich in flavor, light on the palate, and left us almost licking the plate clean. The Khamiri Rotis served with the chicken were soft on the inside and crisp outside.

The Baked Maggi, which was topped with a creamy, smoked mushroom ragout, and two cheese koftas was again a delicious, innovative dish. Baking the maggi had given it a crisp top layer which, juxtaposed with the creamy mushroom ragout worked wonders on the palate.afterstories4We finished off the meal with Chocolate Fondant and Chocolate Brownie with vanilla ice-cream. While the fondant was well-made, with a gooey, liquid center, and soft and moist cake covering, the brownie could have been more gooey.afterstories5Overall, the place has great music, nice ambience, and amazing food, making it a must-visit!

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Location: SCO 390, Sector 29, Next to IFFCO Chowk Metro Station, Gurgaon
Phone No.: +91 97173 33161

Review: Wok Me

Review: Wok Me

Let me start with a disclaimer- the place deserves higher ratings for its food, but it was let down by its slow delivery. The delivery was delayed by an hour because the delivery person’s bike got punctured, and while that is understandable, what isn’t is the fact that no information was conveyed to me.

However, when I did get the food (which was made again fresh as the initial one got cold), it came neatly packed in Chinese take-out boxes, and was really delicious.wokmeThe Chicken Chili Oil Hargao had a thin covering and was filled with juicy, spicy chicken topped with chili flake oil. The spicy dip served alongside really packed a punch. The Yum Yum Rolls were really crispy, nicely filled with veggies, and extremely tasty.

They also have a concept of making your own wok box, which includes selecting the base, the sauce, veggies, and meat. I got a wok box make with classic noodles in their Kinky Korean sauce that had basil, chili, and oyster sauce. I asked them to add wild mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, spring onions, pak choi, chicken, and tossed lamb, and to top the noodles with fried garlic and fried onions. The final product was spicy, flavorsome, loaded with meat and vegetables, and extremely tasty. Also, it was a filling, hearty dish and can make for an entire meal for one person.

Overall, this place wins on the food, but needs to work on its delivery.

Overall Rating: 3.75/5

Location: Shop 28 – Aurobindo Market, New Delhi
Phone No.: +91 88001 76375

Review: Biryani & Qorma Express

Review: Biryani & Qorma Express

Biryani and Qorma Express is a chain with two outlets in Gurgaon, serving up some damn good food at reasonable rates. Their combo deals are especially value for money, and I went for the mutton combo which at 300 bucks provides an entire meal comprising Masala Chaach, Mutton Seekh Kebab, Mutton Biryani, Mutton Qorma, Burrani Raita, Sheermal, and Phirni.bnq1The food was delivered hot and on time, and though there was no spillage and everything was packed nicely, they could use some other packing for the chaach rather than the plastic box, as transferring the drink from that to a glass is very difficult.

The chaach was refreshing, with a light flavoring of coriander, and the seekh kebabs were moist and flavorsome, with a sprinkling of a spicy masala. The biryani was nicely, with well-cooked rice which had a nice fragrance and delicate seasoning, and the mutton pieces were juicy, but the masalas had not seeped into the mutton adequately. The spicy and tangy burrani raita went really well with the biryani. Our favorite dish of the lot was the Mutton Qorma- the mutton was juicy and well-cooked, and the gravy, made with whole spices, was absolutely delicious. This dish is a must-try! We relished the mutton with the slightly sweet and well-made sheermal. We ended the meal with the phirni, which came in a mitti ka sakora, was nice and smooth, just adequately sweet, and really tasty.bnq2Overall, a nice option for tasty food at reasonable rates.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Location: G-6, Baani Square, Sector 50, Gurgaon, Haryana
Phone No.: +91 124 420 6980

Review: Pind Balluchi

Review: Pind Balluchi

Pind Balluchi has been around for ages, and it was one of the first restaurants in the city with the rustic, village theme. The brand now has over 20 outlets in Delhi NCR, and as all the others, the Sector 29, Gurgaon outlet also had lively and colorful décor, with bangles displayed on one of the mud-plastered walls, mirror and painting work on the other, and of course, the effigy of the traditionally attired Sardar Ji is sitting on a cot at the entrance. They even have an artificial tree inside the restaurant to give that typical pind effect, and an open kitchen resembling an open dhaba. The restaurant has many small section, each with different seating styles and décor, including an artificial cave as well.pind baluchi1Coming to the food, we started off with the Dal Shorba, which was delightful- the shorba was thin and was nicely flavored with cumin and coriander. This is something which should certainly be tried.pind baluchi2Next, we had the Veg Kebab Platter, which consisted of Adraki Saboodane ki Tikki, Chatpate Tawa Mushrooms, Dahi ke Kebab, Paneer Tikka Shashlik, and Makai ki Tikki. The saboodane ki tikki had too much gram flour in it for binding, which made it very dry, but the flavor was nice. The paneer tikka had a nice marination on it, but that had unfortunately seeped inside the paneer. The mushrooms were very spicy and tangy, and nicely cooked, while the makai tikki was really different and tasty. And their dahi kekabs had tangy curd flavored with spices and finely diced vegetables with a thin coating of bread and fried to perfection.pind baluchi3For main course, we went with Dal Tadka, Heeng Dhania ke Aloo, and Dhaniya Murgh Curry with Hari Mirch ki Roti. The dal tadka was very lightly tempered with whole red chilies, cumin seeds, and ginger, and tasted nice, and the aloo was well-cooked in a mix of coriander, asafetida, and cumin seeds. The chicken curry was cooked in a thick coriander-flavored gravy with spices and was quite nice as well.pind baluchi4We ended the meal with Tilla Kulfi, which was nicely made.

Overall, a decent place to have a meal in a rustic, village-themed setting.

Overall Rating: 3.25/5

Location: Vatika Grand, Near Leisure Valley, Sector 29, Gurgaon
Phone No.: +91 8010202020; 0124 4575759

Review: Between Buns

Review: Between Buns

Between Buns, as the name suggests, is a burger joint that has recently set up shop at SDA market, and they have on the menu some amazing gourmet burgers, along with other delicious bar snacks, grills, and sandwiches.bb1We started our meal with Doritos Crumbed Kimchi Paneer, which had moist paneer coated with crushed doritos and was doused with a kimchi caramel sauce. The doritos not only provided a unique flavor to the dish, but also a nice crunch. The pickled green papaya served alongside was nice, but could have done with a bit more pickling.

The Mushroom and Bechamel Bombs were simply delicious. The coating was nice and crispy, while inside the balls had a delicious mushroom filling mixed with creamy, oozing béchamel sauce. The balls were topped with olive tapenade and served with flavorsome sauces, making for a perfect bar snack.bb2Next, we had the Grilled Tenderloin Medallions, which had perfectly cooked, juicy tenderloin which was nicely coated with freshly crushed black pepper and grilled to perfection. The garlic mash and braised onions served alongside rounded up the dish perfectly, and the vibrant chimichurri sauce uplifted the flavors. This dish should be definitely tried.

Coming to their USP- the burgers- we had the Beet Burger and the Pork Belly Burger. The beet burger is a delight for vegetarians who often lack variety beyond paneer, potatoes, and mushrooms when it comes to burgers. It had a beetroot brioche bun with a soft and juicy beetroot patty topped with an apple walnut mayo and pepper marmalade. The slight sweet flavor was perfectly balanced and made for a damn fine burger. This burger was served with a side of french fries. The pork belly chunks inside the non veg burger were soft as butter, and were wonderful in flavor as well. The burger had a sesame brioche bun, and the patty was topped with confit onions, providing a slight sweet flavor which always goes well with pork. The crackling served along with the burger was nicely done as well.bb3Along with our meal, we also had the Cold Coffee, which was made with strong coffee brew mixed with condensed milk- quite on the lines of Vietnamese cold coffee, and the Rocky Road shake, made with their in-house rocky road ice-cream. The shake was creamy and had a nice nuttiness to it.

We ended the meal with the Banoffee Pie, which had a lovely, crumbly biscuit base, topped with a rich toffee sauce and fresh bananas and some soft whipped cream. The sweetness of the toffee sauce was nicely counterbalanced by the lightness of the whipped cream and the dark chocolate crumbs.

We also tried their Bacon ice-cream, which though has a unique taste, can be a nice thing to try for the adventurous eaters out there. Their Belgian chocolate ice-cream was dark, rich, and creamy, and tasted amazing.bb4What’s also great is that all their breads, sauces, and desserts are made in-house, and the place, though not too big, has a nice, classy feel to it.

Overall, the next time a craving for hearty comfort food strikes, Between Buns is the place to head to!

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Location: C 13, SDA Market, Opposite I.I.T. Gate, New Delhi
Phone No.: +91 98998 04904

Review: The Bar Cat

Review: The Bar Cat

The Bar Cat opened its door to public recently, after keeping us all on our toes with the promise of bringing forth a new concept. Located at South Ex part 2 main market, the entry via a tiny lift probably does not set the right expectations. But everything henceforth is pure perfection.

The place has a classy, understated charm, which is a welcome relief from the brigade of places with loud music, mediocre food, and uninspired cocktails that have hit the city recently. Clearly targeted at a niche crowd that can appreciate the elegance of a jazz and cocktail club, inspired by the prohibition era, this place excels on all fronts- food, drinks, and ambience. The restaurant has a performance stage (which will soon see jazz bands, magicians, stand-up comedians performing) with a theatre style seating around it, along with couches on the sides. The terrace section, which is due to be launched soon, will have a more relaxed vibe with a projector showing the live performance happening downstairs.barcat1But as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and The Bar Cat’s refreshingly innovative menu (which by the way, delivers to the T, and then some more) clearly takes the metaphorical cake here.

Since they were still waiting for their liquor license, we were not able to try their impressive sounding cocktails on this visit. But the innovative and well-made mocktails left us with no scope for complaints. The Panama Mama, a concoction of pumpkin, pineapple, coconut water, and lime may feel risky due to the pumpkin, but take a leap of faith, and you won’t be disappointed, as the drink is delicious, and the Dumb Dora, made with basil, sweet lime, lemon, and soda was nice and refreshing. And if you like your coffee strong, their Cold Coffee should not be mixed.barcat2Coming to the food, we started with the Smoked Grilled Asparagus, which had crunchy, fresh grilled asparagus stalks, which were topped with a luscious, creamy hollandaise and a slightly sweet nut granola which provided a nice texture to the dish. The dish was doused with balsamic vinegar, an herb oil and a chili-infused oil, which enhanced the flavors of the dish, and was topped with a paper-thin melba toast.barcat4The Spinach and Mushroom Tree was plated exactly like a tree- the spinach was coated with a thin tempura batter and was really crispy, which was topped with a robust-flavored mushroom ragout, balsamic vinegar. The plate was dotted with a lip-smacking red onion marmalade, and the roots of the tree were made with thin, shredded leeks, which did not serve just a decorative purpose, but also added to the flavor of the dish.

Next, we had the Grilled Pork Skewers, which consisted of confit pork cubes glazed with spiced orange and maple sauce, placed atop charred hearts of palm. The hearts of palm were well-cooked and went very well with the pork, which was succulent and perfectly grilled with nice char marks.barcat3Before moving on to the main course, we were served a basket of delicious freshly baked breads- garlic bread, focaccia, and brioche, along with whipped butter.

The Wild Mushroom Risotto had the perfect consistency- creamy but not too liquid-y, with a rich mushroom taste. The risotto was filled with porcini mushrooms and was drizzled with truffle oil, and of course, topped with parmesan shavings, and the herb oil doused on top added that extra zing to the dish.

The Ratatouille Melanzane Flat Bread had a thick bread layered with grilled aubergines and a tangy tomato sauce, and was really tasty and filling. The flatbread was served with onion rings, potato wedges, and cured crudites, which were all so good that they can each individually have a place on the menu.barcat5The Roasted Pork Belly was a delightful dish, and something you just cannot afford to miss. The pork was perfectly cooked and really juicy, and was accompanied with a granny smith apple puree and red wine jus, which was so scrumptious that it could be bottled and sold. The mashed potatoes were creamy, and delicious, and the pork crackling was extremely crispy.barcat6We ended this amazing meal with two delightful desserts. The Philadelphia Cheese Cake was plated very artistically, and tasted as good as it looked. The cheesecake was light and fluffy, and was topped with delicious raspberry jelly and berry compote, and had the crunch of almond crumble. All elements were perfectly balanced, making for a great dessert.barcat7The Toffee Glazed Carrot Cake had a moist carrot cake which was coated with a thick maple toffee sauce, and was accompanied by a home-made almond ice cream and perfectly poached pears.

The service was also splendid throughout, and though the dishes read a bit expensive on the menu, the huge portions (and the delicious taste, of course) more than make up for it. Overall, this was one of the most delightful dining experiences, as everything- from the ambience, the service, and the food was spot-on. The menu is super-impressive as it has dishes you don’t normally find at places other than five-stars, and the execution is on point for each. The Bar Cat warrants multiple visits, and we too will be making our journey back there very soon!

Overall Rating: 4.75/5

Location: E 17, South extension Part 2, New Delhi
Phone No.: +91 11 4984 1617

Review: Khyen Chyen

Review: Khyen Chyen

If tasty Kashmiri food is what you crave, Khyen Chyen is the place to head to. They have three outlets spread across the city, and the one we went to was at DLF Cross Point. It is a quaint little place, beautifully done up with trinkets from the owner Mr. Nasir’s home, who hails from Kashmir. The music playing is also Kashmiri folk, sung by Kashmiri artists, so this is as close to the real deal as it gets. Mr. Nasir’s vision is much larger than just offering authentic Kashmiri food- he wants to take Kashmiri food to the world, and he rightly believes that the unique flavors and variety of the food from the region is capable of being loved and appreciated by a much larger population.kc1We started off the meal with a lovely cup of Zaffran Qahwa, which had a lovely aroma and delicate taste of saffron and just soothed not just our palates but also our souls.

Next, we had a platter of vegetarian appetizers which consisted of Buzith Hyederr, which were nicely marinated, grilled mushrooms, Buzith Tczaman (tandoor-grilled paneer), and Soya Champ. All three were flavored with mustard oil and delicately spiced, and what really amazed us was how soft and moist the soya champ was, which at most places turns out rather chewy. Along with these veg dishes, we also had Tabakh Maaz (crisp fried mutton ribs), Maaz Seekh Kabab (mutton seekh kebab), and Kabab Kanti. The tabakh maaz had juicy mutton with a crisp covering and light seasoning, and tasted wonderful with the chutney and onions they had served alongside. The mutton seekh kebabs were moist, flavorsome, and delicious on their own, but what was even better was the kabab kanti, which consisted of the same kebabs cooked with green chilies, tomatoes, and onions. We enjoyed this dish with some soft and thin rumali rotis.kc2Moving on to the main course, we loved how each dish was presented in beautiful copper vessels. The vegetarian dishes consisted of Kashmiri Razmah that was slow-cooked to perfection in a thick, creamy, and mildly spicy curry, Hyederr Muttor Tczaman (mushroom and green peas sautéed in a nice spice blend), Palak Tczaman (lightly fried paneer cubes cooked with spinach and spices), Tamatar Tczaman (lightly fried paneer cubes cooked with tomatoes and spices). We were simply floored by the Palak Tczaman- the thick gravy coating the paneer had spinach mixed with spices and was incredibly flavorful.kc3And the non-vegetarian dishes were equally, if not more, delicious. The Rista, which consisted of spongy, pounded meatballs simmered in cockscomb and saffron curry, was spicy and delicious, while the Gushtaba, which had the same pounded meatballs, cooked in a light, mildly spiced yogurt-based curry, flavored with mint powder. The Lahabdaar Kabab had a flat, diamond-shaped patty of hand-minced mutton, slow-cooked in a spicy curry, while the Daniwal Korma had morsels of mutton cooked in yogurt curry flavored with coriander and turmeric, and was immensely flavorsome. We also really liked the Chicken Marchwangan Korma which had chicken on-the-bone in a fiery gravy made with dried Kashmiri red chilies, cumin, and tamarind. And the quintessential Kashmiri dish, Rogan Josh had mutton on-the-bone cooked with Kashmiri shallots, cockscomb, saffron, and spices. We relished these dishes with some crispy naan and tandoori rotis and Batta, or steamed rice.kc4What we really enjoyed in this meal was that each dish had a distinct taste, and while everything was really well-flavored with painstakingly hand-pounded spices, none of the dishes were overpowered by spices, and the flavor of the main ingredient came through clearly. All these dishes are slow-cooked, and are clear labors of love, and that reflects in the taste.

We ended this delightful meal with a Fireen, a creamy semolina pudding mixed with almonds and saffron. It was very mildly sweetened, and was really tasty.20170824_220318Overall, this place not only offers great food, but also great value for money. The dishes are priced very reasonably for the quantity (and the quality) served. Khyen Chyen is highly recommended!

Overall Rating: 4.75/5

Location: G-11, DLF Cross Point, DLF Phase 4, Gurgaon
Phone No.: +91 78620 00707; 0124 4231919; 85277 39955