Tuesday, December 4, 2007

India: Various

For the past 2 weeks, I was in India for business. This afforded me some time to sample the local cuisine.
First observation; the Indian food we get in Canada is a very limited subset of the full offering that is available in India.
My hosts were very concerned about my ability to deal with spicy food, which turned out not to be a problem; I didn't find anything there that was so spicy as not to be edible. However, the pollution and crazy driving there is what really killed me! I got dizzy as soon as I was in the car for more than 10 minutes.

But I digress... Here are a few spots that I visited.

Panchavati Gurav; a Pune restaurant offering Nasik regional cruisine.
On the plate:
Khadi ( clockwise on the little cups)
Aloo curry
Rasmalai (sweet)

Ondhio ( in the little steel plate
Ladies finger fry (okra)
Pooran poli ( litte circular rotis that was sweet)
Methi rot ( little dark brown rotis, not sweet)
Green chutney
Red chutney
Pickle ( mango)
Green chillies
Lemon slice

They also gave us Jaljeera, a green drink that was...mmmm.... disgustingly salty. Not too fond of that thing. I was told by my peers in Pune that the restaurant somewhat screwed it up actually (it was too salty even for their taste)

The dish above, we had at the top of Le Meridien Hotel in Pune. Very nice setting with a rooftop pool and barbecue. Food offered was veg and non-veg (as it is declined everywhere in Pune)

I spent two days in Mumbai (Bombay) and stayed at the Taj Mahal Palace. It was great because the Hotel is centrally located and I could just walk pretty much anywhere I wanted to go.
Food at the Taj was OK. The buffet (below) had a lot of variety but overall, I was a bit disappointed with the quality/price of food at the Taj. I would suggest you venture out of its walls. The last night, I went to Tendulkar's, a restaurant just a few blocks away. Food there was good. However, I tried some Indian red wine and.... well... you better avoid India wine for another 10 years!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ottawa: Wellington Gastro Pub

Ok, before I left for India, we went to try out the Wellington Gastro Pub. I won't say much here because lighting was so dim that none of the pictures turned-out. Worth mentioning is that food was good. Actually, the mushroom appetizer I had was divine.

Next time (in a few weeks) we go back, I will use flash photo (usually makes the food looks bad) and report in more details.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Plane food... and not so plain food!

On November 19th, I'm taking off for Pune, India for business. I plan to use some of nights over there to sample the local cuisine.
One thing I am certainly not looking forward to is the flight; the longest leg is 14 hours. Luckily, my employer's policy if for us to fly business for flights longer than 8 hours. This reminded me of a few things I wanted to share:

1. Plane food in economy class is disgusting and seemingly has gotten worse over the years.
2. Last time I flew, from Hong Kong, I requested a seat behind the washroom section or in the emergency exit row. Those rows have more leg room (in the latter, because the seat in front does not recline). Well, to my surprise, the guy at the United booth offered a cheap upgrade to business class. So here's my recommendation; always ask if there's a cheap upgrade if you are going to fly for more than 10 hours! It is worth it. Just do the math. For me, it was less than 40% over the price of an already discounted economy ticket.

3. Food in business is exponentially better. Actually, I should say, food in business class is food! (not quite sure how to call what they serve in economy)

I included the business class menu below for your perusal (I had the steak, cooked 'a la minute', according to my instructions):

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quebec City: Ristorante Michelangelo

We heard very good things about Michelangelo; best Italian in the province of Quebec, maybe in Canada, blah blah...
Not that it is bad in any way, it's just not great and certainly not up to what I heard of Michelangelo being the best Italian restaurant in the province of Quebec (not by a long shot)

Is it worth a visit? If money and time are no object, why not. However, if you have only a few places to try and are looking for value for money, I'd suggest you try somewhere else...

Festino (3 types of pasta and veal parmigiana)

Liguine Al Pescatore

Piccola Torta de pommes (that was excellent)

Sablé au Grand Marnier

Salmon Tartare (Mine's better. Michelangelo presents it much better though)

Total with wine and taxes: $229.04


3111, chemin St-Louis, Sainte-Foy(Québec)

Canada, G1W 1R6
T : 418.651.6262F : 418.651.6771

Quebec City: Le Cochon Dingue

Escapade to Charlevoix. Stop in Quebec City. Lunch at Le Cochon Dinque in Old Quebec City. Nice little place.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hong Kong: Gough 40

Nestled in the middle of the small Gough street, not far from the loud Lan Kwai Fong, we found Gough 40. If the building did not happen to be owned by May's dad, we would likely never tried this place. Surprinsingly good and definitely unpretentious, Gough 40, for me, captures the entrepreneurial spirit of Hong Kong; the owners basically learned their craft (including food making) on the fly and adjusted to the need and wants of their clientele. The result is sometimes a bit weird (serving garlic bread before the meal), sometimes amateurish (table service doesn't quite follow protocol, presentation could use some work) but the food we had there was great (fresh, prepared with care, and so tasty). Actually, we prefered it to HK Joel Robuchon; it was less pretentious and,as far as I'm concerned, as good. This is, to me, the entreprenarial spirit of Hong Kong; anyone can hope to succeed if they are willing to try hard and see obstacles as just one more opportunity to distance yourself from your competitors.

Grilled Duck Breasts with Sun-Dried Cherry Sauce

Fresh Pasta

G/F 40 Gough StreetSheung WanHong KongTel. 2851 8498
HKD $1000 for us two (About CDN $140)

Hong Kong: L'atelier de Joel Robuchon

(July 19, 2007)

This is a second outing to L'Atelier; the first time it was in Las Vegas.

Well, this ain't the same L'Atelier... Vegas was exponentially better.

The amuse-bouche did not amuse our bouches at all; it was bland.

"Les Legumes" was one of the highlights for me; slow roasted veggies layered with Buffalone mozzerella and a basil couli. Very nice and fresh.

"Le Thon rouge". Red tuna tartare with red peppers and bergamot. We thought it was OK but that's it. No special attention to flavour layering (I did not taste the bergamot at all). May told me she prefers my salmon tartare. It also smelled like fish. Now, come-on, we're in Hong Kong! Having more than half day old fish is inexcusable here.

"Le pied de cochon", an overly salted concoction of pork meat on a french baguette with parmesan and sliced black truffles. So salty in fact that there was no other discernible tastes to this dish.

"Le cabillaud"; pan-seared cod with a lemongrass foam. Nicely cooked (some juiciness to it). The lemongrass foam was a nice complement which added some layers to an otherwise plain rendition.

"Le Boeuf"; steak tartare with fries. Way too spicy for May. Tolerable for me. However, I did not understand why the dish needed to be so spicy. Seemed like the chef did not sample the dish before serving it, or did not care. Also, I thought that tartare was supposed to be served with a raw-egg on top? Nowhere to be found here...

"Le Saumon fume"; potato waffle. Decent.

"L'entrecote"; Wagyu beef. Oooohhh, that was good! Japanese beef is possibly the best beef in the world (Canadian Alberta beef being a close second).

The souffle was a bit undercooked to my taste.

My Mont-Blanc was fine.

With water, a Kir Royal, 1/2 bottle of red, a cup of tea and 10% gratuities, our bill ended up at HKD $4,115.10 (about $550 CDN)

Overall, very disappointing. Not only was L'Atelier Hong Kong was not impressive from a food point of view but it was also more expensive than its Vegas counterpart.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Tokyo: Kaiseki dinner experience

From Wikipedia: Kaiseki (懐石) or kaiseki ryōri (懐石料理) is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner analogous to Western haute cuisine.
We were kind of in a crunch for time and heard that the hotel had a not too bad Kaiseki offering. Taste wise, we were not all that impressed when compared to everything else we ate in Tokyo. Presentation however, was very nice and it made me think that the French chef behind the nouvelle-cuisine movement might have been inspired by Japan's Kaiseki for their approach to plating. Worth further investigation.

Various sushi (not quite on par with the ones we had at the fish market... obviously)

Great view however.

Kobe beef. Ok.

Giant shrimp tempura. Now, we had much better tempura in France at Lucas-Carton, go figure!

This dish (above) tasted like dirt. I am adventurous, but this was not a pleasant experience!

Tokyo: Tsukiji Fish Market

The Tsukiji Fish Market is a must for all who visit Tokyo. How can I put it? I don't like sushi... but I loved the sushi there. This is what sushi should taste like everywhere. No bland taste there; the fish is so fresh you'd think it'll whack you with its tail.

The restaurant opens at 7am and closes when there's no more fresh fish (10am is sometimes too late)

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Toro (Fatty Tuna), just unbelievable!