Review: Nagai

Review: Nagai

The culinary scene is expanding in Gurgaon, and another new entrant is Nagai, a contemporary Japanese restaurant and sake bar in Sector 29. The fine dining restaurant is situated slightly away from the main market, which works well for it, as it provides a nice calm surrounding.

The place sprawls across two floors, with a huge bar in the basement, with a lounge-like seating, with more a more formal seating area on the ground floor, where they even have a section for traditional Japanese tatami seating. It is done up beautifully, with spectacular geisha paintings on the wall on the ground floor, and modern art on the walls in the basement.

For drinks, we went with their signature cocktail- the Nagai Mule, which was a concoction of vodka, honey water, ginger beer, and fresh lime juice, and was very well balanced. The signature mocktail though was very basic, and could have been more imaginative.

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We started off with Miso Soup, which was a thin soup flavored with miso, which is a fermented soybean seasoning, and had chunks of silken tofu, baby spinach, and sea weed. The flavor was really unique and all the elements worked beautifully together to create a mild, delicious soup.

Next, we had the Salmon Carpaccio with Chili, Coriander, and Pomegranate Sauce, which is surely a must-have here. The salmon was really fresh, and the combination of the fish with the spicy, vibrant coriander sauce and the sweet pomegranate seeds was just an explosion of flavors in our mouth.

The Caramelized Lotus Roots with Soya and Roasted Sesame consisted of thin, crunchy lotus root slices tossed in sesame seeds, soya sauce and mirin (a Japanese sweet rice wine). The mirin provided a sweet note, which counterbalanced the saline soya, making this a great dish.

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The Rainbow Sushi Roll was amazing. The sushi was stuffed with cucumber, avocado, and boiled egg, and was topped with different types of fish such as yellowtail, red snapper, tuna, salmon, and sea bass. With sushi, there isn’t much to hide behind, and the quality of the fish shone through, and the fish was sliced intricately. They were topped with beautiful edible flowers and soya sauce caviars which added to the flavor.

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For mains, we had the Tuna Tataki and the Pork Belly Stew. The Tuna was encrusted with black and white sesame seeds, and seared perfectly. It was served with mashed potatoes (which were made really well), and a salad doused with wasabi honey sauce and sesame seeds. The dish was nicely made, but could have done with a touch more seasoning. The Pork Belly was slow-cooked for 6 hours which had rendered the fat and made the pork soft as butter. The stew had daikon, and was flavored with cinnamon and ginger, and had a slight sweetish taste which worked really well with the pork. We relished the dish with some steamed rice.

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After our meal, we had a cup of Matcha Green Tea, which, aside from its health benefits, was also really tasty.

We rounded off the meal with the Coconut Panna cotta. The panna cotta had the perfect texture- it was nice and jiggly, and the flavor of coconut was definitely there. The panna cotta was served with mango sauce, ginger jam, coconut cream and coconut flakes, and this combination of flavors was brilliant.

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What also impressed us was how professional and well-informed the servers were. This place should certainly be tried!

Overall Rating: 4/5

Location: SCO 305, Ground Floor, Sector 29, Gurgaon
Phone No.: +91 99580 22300

 

Review: Lockup

Review: Lockup

Lockup, a jail-themed restaurant in Gurgaon, has recently opened up another outlet in Sector 22, and we were invited here for a tasting. The place follows the theme to a T, starting with a police jeep (actually, half of a police jeep), stationed right outside the restaurant. There are a few seats on the ground floor, with most of the seating in the basement, where you are led through a narrow tin staircase, living up to the theme. Right at the entry of the basement, you see a figure chained up, hanging from the ceiling, and the entire place has seating in the form of mini jails. Even the cutlery and the plates are akin to what you would perhaps get in a jail.

We started off with a couple of drinks- Melon Fresco (made with watermelon, mint, and chaat masala), and Piyakkad Peru (consisting of guava juice muddled with green chilies). The melon drink was so refreshing, since it was made with fresh watermelon, and not with canned juice or syrups. The guava drink had a real kick to it, and was really lovely.lockup6We started the meal with a vegetarian kebab platter, which had Golden Cheese Sweet Corn Balls, Mushroom Caps, Hindukush Kebab, and Hara Bhara Kebab, all of which were smashing. The corn balls had gooey cheese and corn inside, along with fresh herbs and jalapenos, and was really crisp on the outside. The mushroom caps were stuffed with jalapenos and cheese, battered, and fried to a crisp. The Hara Bhara Kebab was juicy and really delicately flavored, while the Hindukush Kebab, our favorite of the lot, was made with beetroot, spiced deftly, and had a gooey, cheesy center. This platter is a must-have here.lockup7Next up, we tried the veg and chicken Steamed Dim Sum. The veg dim sum had a thin covering and was stuffed generously with veggies. But the chicken dim sum could have certainly been a lot more flavorful, as without the sauce (which was quite nice) they tasted quite bland.lockup8For main course, we had Mutton Rogan Josh, which though not authentic, did taste nice. But the mutton was a bit chewy. The breads served alongside were nicely made. The Murg Dum Biryani had rice which was flavored and seasoned very well, but unfortunately, the spices had not seeped into the chicken.lockup9For desserts, we had the Double ka Meetha and Gulab Kheer. The shahi tukda had crispy fried bread slices, soaked in hot milk flavored with cardamom and saffron, which was generously topped with delicious, thick rabdi. The dessert was great, but it was just a tad over-sweet. However, the Gulab Kheer was absolutely incredible- one of the best Indian desserts we’ve had in the longest time. It was just adequately sweet, had actual rose petals in it, and was so flavorful. It was served slightly warm, and this was the perfect temperature for the dessert, and it enhanced the flavors.lockup10While the food was quite tasty overall, our experience was marred by the painfully slow service. There was a wait of at least half an hour between each dish, and the staff was not even giving us any details of why it is taking so long, and were not able to manage the situation well. If they pull up their socks a bit on the service front, this is a place worth visiting, as the food is nice, portions are generous, and prices are reasonable.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Location: SCO 83, Sector 22, Gurgaon
Phone No.: +91 124 658 8888

 

Review: The G.T. Road

Review: The G.T. Road

The G.T. Road provides a gastronomical journey from Kabul to Chittagong in the form of a lavish buffet spread. The restaurant sprawls across two floors, and is done up beautifully with antiques and artifacts, along with a vintage car right at the entry.

The moment we sat down, we were served with a welcome drink of Aam Panna, which was such a relief in this heat.

We also has a couple of their drinks- Santra Achaari (a concoction of orange juice, pickle, chaat masala, black salt, and mint) and Amrud Masaledar (made with guava, tabasco, black pepper, and chaat masala), both of which were amazing. Though these are not a part of the main buffet, these are definitely worth having.

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Their buffet spread is nothing short of lavish- comprising live chaat stations, live grills at your table, starters, a huge main course spread, and the largest selection of desserts we’ve seen at any buffet place.

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The live chaat station is a great idea. You get a variety of chaats- dahi bhalle, papdi chaat, raj kachori, bhalle papdi, lachcha tokri, kanji vada, palak patta chaat, and bhelpuri, and you can tell these to be made exactly the way you like them. The palak patta chaat was really well-made- the spinach was thinly battered and really crisp, however, the kanji vada lacked the tanginess it should have had. The papdi chaat and dahi bhalle were quite nice.

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The starters consisted of a range of delicious veg and non-veg dishes with origins from places such as Delhi, Amritsar, Kolkatta, Kanpur, Lahore, Kabul, etc. The veg selection had Achaari Paneer, Paneer Panch Poran, Teekha Ananas, Lasooni Sarson ke Phool, Sabz Chharray Angara, Salakhonwale Tandoori Aloo, and Arbi Seekh Masala. Our favorites of the lot were the Sabz Chharray Angara, which were soft and moist veg seekh kebabs, which had a delicate flavor, and the Salakhonwale Tandoori Aloo, which were spicy and tangy.

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The non-veg starters had a selection of Sindhi Machchi Tikka, Achaari Machli ka Tukda, Ajwaini Jheenga, Mutton Galouti Kebab, Mutton Gilafi Seekh, Lal Murgh Tikka, and Pudina Chicken Tikka. The clear winners here were the Mutton Gilafi Seekh (juicy mutton dotted with coriander and bell peppers), Lal Murgh Tikka, and Pudina Chicken Tikka (which had a minty, zesty marinade).

We were already quite full by the time we moved to the main course section, but looking at the sheer variety as well as the amazing options available, we knew we couldn’t miss out on it. There were two soups- Sabz Hariyali Shorba and Gosht ki Yakhni (which was super flavorful). They also had a range of salads- from Rakh Bhuni Shakarkandi, Ambarsari Masala Mooli, Kabuli Chana Batata Dhania, to Gosht Mantou Salad and Chingri Mircha Salad.

The dal makhani was creamy and robust in its flavor, and the dal panchratan was light and homely. Apart from the regular fare like Paneer Makhani and Palak Kofta (which were delicious, by the way), the spread also had dishes we normally don’t see at other places- such as Bagharey Baingan, Tindey Masaledar, Lauki Dahi Wali, and Pindi Chana. The non-veg selection was no less, with Rarah Gosht, Machher Jhol, Murg Makhani, and a very unique and delicious dish- Murg Shahjahani (which had chicken cooked in yogurt, onion, saffron, and spices. It had a depth of flavor, while still being light on the palate.

But the best part of the meal was still left- their never-ending dessert spread. Consisting of dishes like gulab jamun, rabri, paneer ki jalebi, kulfi gulkand, phirni, imarti, rasgulla, chukander sheera, rajbhog, rasbhari, dodhi badam halma, afghani burf, sondesh, kalakand, balushahi, rasmalai and pantua. The chukander sheera was just adequately sweet and had a creamy consistency, and the rajbhog was soft and spongy, with a beautiful saffron flavor. The kulfi gulkand (flavored with pistachio and sweet rose petal preserve) and afghani burf (which had actual rose petals and pandamus flower extract) were our favorite desserts of the day.

We ended this royal meal in a regal fashion- with paan and things like gazzak, shaker pare, gud ki rewari, along with digestives like meethi adrak, ram laddoo, and anardana goli, served at our tables.

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The food was all great, and the service was swift and professional throughout. And the best part is, all this delicious food is available for a cost of just Rs. 600 (for lunch). This place is certainly a must-visit!

Overall Rating: 4/5

Location: M – 39, Outer Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi
Phone No.: +91 97177 20084

Review: Roadhouse Café

Review: Roadhouse Café

It’s not every day that you come across a restaurant which has everything going for it- delicious food, pleasant ambience, and warm service. And Roadhouse Café, is exactly such a place. First opened at Kathmandu in 1992, the brand has expanded to multiple locations across Nepal, opening its outlet in Delhi in 2016. What sets them apart is that they use fresh, seasonal ingredients and try as far as possible to make everything in-house.

We recently dined here on a sunny afternoon, and were simply blown away by the place. The restaurant is spread across two floors, and has been decorated in a very elegant manner- with a lot of emphasis laid on natural light. The second floor, which also had outdoor seating, is especially beautiful.

roadhouse cafe 4We were served a complimentary portion of Lavaash Crisps with Tzatziki dip to start with. The thin, light and crispy lavaash, which was made in-house, along with the delicious dip were a great way to prepare our palate for the meal ahead.

The Summer Salad was just perfect for the weather- consisting of pomegranate seeds, orange segments, red apples, romaine lettuce, rocket leaves, and roasted walnuts tossed with an apple cider vinaigrette, and topped with some freshly ground black pepper.roadhouse cafe 7The Chipotle Chili Hummus was certainly one of the best renditions of hummus that we’ve had- it was creamy and zingy, and the chipotle chili added a nice heat to the hummus. This was served with some fresh, warm pita bread, again made in-house.roadhouse cafe 8The Bruschetta Tuscan consisted of crusty country-style bread, topped with black olive tapenade, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, and drizzled with fragrant olive oil. This was a simple, yet flavorful dish.

Another great dish for vegetarians is Knuckle Crushed Baby Potatoes- deep fried baby potatoes topped with harissa flavored non-fat Greek yogurt, and finely diced tomatoes, onions and coriander leaves. The potatoes were crispy without being oily, and the harissa added a nice kick to it.

Another must-try dish here is the Smoked Chicken Sandekho- a Nepalese dish, which combines shredded smoked chicken, onions, peppers, cilantro, garlic, cumin, turmeric, lemon juice, tossed in mustard  oil. This pungent, savory, spicy dish really made our taste buds tingle.

The Devilled Fish Cakes were great as well. The pan-seared fish cakes were flavored with Cajun spices, kaffir lime leaves, and served with a sriracha mayonnaise. Though the kaffir lime flavor did come through, but it did not overpower the fish flavor, which was great.roadhouse cafe 9Roadhouse Café also makes excellent artisanal pizzas. Their pizzas are hand-tossed, and made with soft, fresh dough, resulting in a light texture, with the crust being airy and crunchy.

The Al Fungi Pizza was topped with mushrooms, mozzarella, rocket leaf, with a drizzle of truffle oil, giving it an excellent earthy flavor. The Smoked Chicken Pizza was generously loaded with super-flavorful chicken, and their special Tandoori Chicken Sausage Pizza, topped with their smoky, spicy tandoori chicken sausage and coriander.roadhouse cafe 11Another dish which will keep us going back for more is their beautiful Gnocchi with Chili Pea Mint Pesto. The gnocchi was light as clouds, tossed in their signature spiced green pea mint pesto sauce. Their pesto was very innovative and super-tasty, and had us almost licking the plate clean. And the finishing touch of freshly grated parmesan took the dish to another level.

For those of you who don’t like heavy, saucy pastas, the Roadhouse Special Pasta is a must-have. It was made with penne pasta, in an olive-oil base, flavored with capers, sundried tomatoes, smoked chicken, and black olives, and topped with crumbled feta cheese. The mélange of flavors- tart capers, saline feta, and flavorful sundried tomatoes- worked brilliantly together, in this light and flavorsome pasta dish.roadhouse cafe 10Along with our meal, we also had a few drinks. The Beet Basic was a nice mix of beetroot, apple, carrot, and orange, and the Blueberry Virgin Mojito was lemony and tangy. What was really great was that both these drinks were decorated with beautifully (and I’m sure painstakingly) carved fruits. We also had their non-alcoholic Cinnamon Sangria, which was super delicious as well, and thankfully, not too sweet.roadhouse cafe 6We ended this wonderful meal with a decadent dessert- the Chocolate Bomb. The dessert consisted of a chocolate dome filled with airy and luscious chocolate mousse, served with some cookie crumbs and blueberry compote. While a lot of restaurants have similar desserts on their menu, what stood out in this one was how beautifully the chocolate had been tempered- it had a nice sheen and crack to it.roadhouse cafe 12We were also super-impressed with the service- all the servers had a big smile on their faces, and were prompt and efficient.

Overall, Roadhouse Café excels on all accounts- food, service, and ambience, and warrants multiple visits!

Overall Rating: 4.75/5

Location: M-22 Main Market, Greater Kailash 1, New Delhi
Phone No.: +91 11 4904 1414

Review: Espress-O-Ville

Review: Espress-O-Ville

A quaint little café focusing on all things coffee, Espress-O-Ville has minimalist and neat décor, with a reading corner, where you can pick up any book from the shelf, and sip on a coffee while you read away.

From their vast drinks menu, we tried the Classic Mojito, which was nicely made, and their specialty, Tiramisu Caramel Shake. The shake was not too sweet, was perfectly blended, and we loved the combination of coffee and caramel.espressoville4We started with Maggi Ball Fiesta, a very innovative dish, consisting of maggi rolled into balls, coated with breadcrumbs, and fried to a perfect crunch. Even the mayo served with the dish had been spiced with maggi masala. This was a great dish which must be tried here.espressoville3The Non-veg Nachos were nice as well- topped with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, beans, chicken, and lots of melted, stringy cheese.

The Mixed Sauce Penne was spicy and tangy, and had generous amounts of chicken chunks in it, though the pasta was a bit over-cooked.espressoville7
The Smoked Chicken Sandwich was super tasty- the bread was grilled nicely, and was filled with tasty smoked chicken, bell peppers, lettuce, and melted cheese. And the proportion of bread to filling was just perfect. The sandwich was presented very nicely, and was served with ketchup, spicy mayo and mint mayo, and lovely, crunchy french fries.espressoville6We also had the Herb Grilled Chicken Breast, which was served with grilled vegetables, rice pilaf, and hot peri peri sauce. Though the chicken lacked juiciness, the sauce was spicy, tangy, and perfectly balanced, and really uplifted the flavors of the dish. The veggies were grilled perfectly and nicely seasoned, and the rice pilaf was super flavorful as well.espressoville8We ended the meal with Cappuccino French Toast and Flourless Chocolate Cake, both of which are must-haves here. The french toast was dusted with coffee powder and drizzled with chocolate sauce, and the dip served with it was light, airy, and was packed with coffee flavor. The flourless chocolate cake was served warm, so the chocolate was oozing out, and it went well with the vanilla ice-cream served alongside.espressoville5

espressoville9Overall, Espress-O-Ville has some new and interesting dishes on their menu, a soothing ambience, and some amazing drinks, making it a place to visit!

Overall Rating: 4/5

Location: Shop no. 11, Ground Floor, Satyaniketan, Opp. Venkateshwara College, New Delhi
Phone No.: 011 30806322

Review: Big Wong XL

Review: Big Wong XL

Big Wong is a well-known brand that has been around for years. And the way they have not just maintained their popularity, but have also expanded to seven outlets across Delhi-NCR is a testament to their quality.

We got to experience their delicious Chinese and Thai food and their amazing hospitality recently at a dinner at their Cross Point Mall outlet.bigwong1

Their non-veg starters, the Chicken Sake Wine and the BW Special Crispy Fish had us floored. The fish was soft and flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside, coated in a tangy and spicy sauce made with chili, garlic and red wine. And the chicken was even better, with juicy chicken chunks tossed in chili, garlic, and Japanese sake wine.

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And for vegetarians as well, there is plenty to choose from. The Crispy Honey Chili Potato had crunchy, thin potato fingers, doused in a sauce which had the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. The Crispy Spinach and Corn had a subtle taste, and the crunchiness of both the corn and the spinach was superb.

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Their dim sums are also spectacular. The Spicy Asparagus Dim Sum had a mix of asparagus and mushroom flavored with lemongrass and curry powder, and was packed with flavor. The Chicken Sui Mai had a filling of chicken and mushroom, with a subtle flavor. The Curry Chicken Dim Sum had chicken marinated with red chili and sesame oil, topped with yellow curry sauce, an unusual flavor combination, which really worked. The Chicken Thai Herbs had strong flavors of Thai herbs, and was topped with chef’s special Thai sweet chili sauce, and was quite great. But our favorite was the Chicken Homemade Sauce Dim Sum, in which the dumpling, topped with Chinese vinegar and ginger juliennes.

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For main course, we had Chili Szechuan Style Vegetables, Chicken Hong Kong, Spicy Szechuan Fried Rice, and Chili Garlic Noodles. The gravies both had delicious flavors and the fried rice and noodles were both excellent.

What’s great about the food is that none of the dishes are too spicy, so as to overpower the dish, but are still packed with flavor, and the chili is a background note.

We ended this delicious meal with Banoffee in a Jar and Darsaan. The banoffee was not too sweet, and was nicely constructed, with just the right proportions of biscuit crumb, banana toffee sauce, and whipped cream. The darsaan had thin, crispy honey noodles served with vanilla ice cream- the perfect end to any Chinese meal.

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The décor, service, and the music was all great as well, and the dishes have huge quantities and are reasonably priced. This place is a must-visit for the next time you’re craving Chinese!

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Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Location: 116, 117, & 130, 1st Floor, Cross Point Mall, DLF Phase 4, Gurgaon
Phone No.: 0124 4288666

Review: Cheesy Kneads

Review: Cheesy Kneads

A delivery-only place offering some delicious thin-crust pizzas, Cheesy Kneads just opened their second outlet at Cross Point Mall. Their pizzas are made using in-house sauces, good quality ingredients, and a lot of love.

We placed an order for a couple of pizzas which arrived neatly packed and right on time. We also liked the cheesy and cute slogans on their boxes.

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The Birdy Salute was simply amazing- topped with flavorful smoked pulled chicken, onions, jalapenos, their special in-house bacon jam, and hot sauce. The bacon jam provided a big punch of flavor with slight sweetness, which was counter-balanced perfectly by the spice from the hot sauce and jalapenos. This pizza was a riot of flavors and is a must-try.

We were experimental with our second choice of pizza- as we went for the Chu-Cha, which had Chinese flavorings. Though we were a bit apprehensive about this one, turns out the sharp and pungent black bean sauce and the heat from the chili oil worked brilliantly with the pulled chicken, and it all worked really well on the pizza.

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Also, the pizzas had a thin crust, which was baked well.

We also tried the Garlic Bread with Cheese, and were really happy with this as well. The garlic bread was crunchy on the edges, and soft and buttery in the center, with a nice garlic flavor.

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Cheesy Kneads truly impressed and we will surely be ordering again soon!

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Location: Cross Point Mall, DLF Phase 4, Gurgaon
Phone No.: +91 124 408 8222 Ext 4088666; +91 98101 95599