Review: DIVA Spiced, New Delhi

DIVA is a chain of fine dining restaurants in India. A brainchild of Chef Ritu Dalmia, each restaurant is famous for its own unique style and menu. A new offing from the same team is Diva Spiced. Situated at Meherchand market, it has taken the space of the old Chez Nini, ‘DIVA Spiced’ is an all-day dinning café offering Modern Asian Cuisine. Reflecting Ritu’s signature style of fresh and wholesome ingredients, the café introduces a menu which is a culmination of flavours, spices and innovations from the South East Asian belt. As Staying true to her classic style, a definite splash of European technique and presentation is evident in the cuisine.

DIVA Spiced_Ground_floor

DIVA Spiced is a 70 cover café spread with a ground and first floor seating. Keeping up with the DIVA legacy, Spiced has a warm and a cozy ambiance, but unlike other Asian cuisine venues it has its own take on decor.The interiors of the cafe have been designed by Anita Dalmia with a combination of vintage and contemporary style. The wallpaper is quite quirky with images of Asian women, Asian motifs and sightings while the chairs and furniture have an industrial appeal. Keeping Asian minimalism in mind the look is overall quite subtle with a play of bright colours. The style is very cafe like while the food is Ritu Dalmia’s take on Asian cuisine.

DIVA Spiced_1stFloor

Not for the weak-hearted or for people who do not like experimenting, the menu is a culmination of a lot of innovations, ranging from steamed crystal dumplings to grilled, fried and baked dishes. Some of signature dishes include tapas dishes like Panko Crusted Arancine filled with corn & chili jam, fried Zucchini flower stuffed with Tofu and Feta, Pork belly skewers with spicy yuzu Lemon dressing. For the mains there is a large variety like Goan Prawn Curry simmered in kokum and coconut served with ginger rice, stuffed baby eggplant in a whipped fennel sauce, Miso Marinade Salmon with soba noodles etc. For a sweet ending there are the regular DIVA desserts and a few special ones for Spiced such as a Spiced Mess- Lemon Grass Meringue with mascarpone cream and berry compote and the special black pepper infused chocolate fondant served with basil ice cream!

Address: 79-80, Meharchand Market (Ground & First Floor)
Contact no: 011 49051837
Meal for 2: Rs. 2200/- (without Alcohol)

Review: Tamra, Shangri-La, New Delhi

Tamra, the new all-day dining at the Shangri-la, takes its inspiration from the early ages of culinary evolution when copper (tamra) vessels were key components. I think the concept and the visual appeal of Tamra is fabulous. Tamra brings a high level of creativity to the casual dining scenario with a large variety of food offerings from around the world. It successfully brings old world charm and presents it in a new avatar,as it borrows its decor inspiration from the early trading markets when Indian spices, jute, copper, silk, leather and other items were appreciated at shores all over the world. Even the interactive kitchens are a tribute to the early market place, where Chefs showed off their skills and produced culinary delights to sell to traders and visitors.

Tamra, Shangri-la, www.stylecity.in

Walking into Tamra was quite a pleasant surprise for me as I am not used to seeing Hotel coffee shops go through such creative ideas and style the space. Tamra has a unique five, live kitchen concept, along with an elegant wooden bar next to the entrance. Conceptualized by the renowned Dubai based Stickman Design, the restaurant is a visual depiction of culinary delights from around the world. From the wheat grass lined planter boxes that form the backdrop to the continental station to Copper hanging pots that are displayed over the two infinity tables where mirrored walls provide an exaggerated view,the space gets an overall warm and convivial character

Tamra, Shangri-la, www.stylecity.in

Led by the hotels Executive Chef Martin Bracker, Tamra’s open theatre stations are Asian, Indian and regional, Japanese and Teppanyaki, homemade gelatos and a Dessert Bar, Cold Cuts, Cheeses, Breads and a Salad Bar. However despite the large Designed with intimacy in mind, Tamra has pockets of privacy screened off by decorative floor to ceiling jute rope partitions. Hanging shelves at the back of the show kitchens display decorative culinary installations and provide a quirky backdrop for the interactive kitchens while the counter tops are lined with signature dishes to showcase the food. The food itself is amazing! The variety and amount of food offered here possibly surpasses that of any other Hotel coffee shop buffet. They also have a ‘ghar ka khana’ counter which is perfect for the traveler who is missing home cooked food. Finally at Rs.2100++ (w/o alcohol) the buffet is also extremely well-priced. Piece of advice, go starving if you really want to enjoy the vast selection!

Review: Chew Pan Asian cafe, New Delhi

It is a pleasant surprise and joy to see bright and quirky interiors in an Asian restaurant, namely Chew Pan Asian cafe,  which is such a contrast from the usual sombre and zen interiors usually associated with Asian restaurants. But the decor is just the start as the food is equally delightful and unique. Launched in January 2014, Chew Pan Asian is all about experimentation with Pan Asian cuisine. The menu boasts of Chinese , Japanese , Thai and the Indonesian Cuisine and also boasts of an open kitchen as well as a live Teppanyaki grill.

Chew Pan Asian Cafe, www.stylecity.in

Spread over 2500 sq.ft. area the interiors of the restaurant are vibrant yet comforting. Walls adorned with the eye-catching black and white Aztec-patterned tiles have been carefully contrasted with Dholpur stone. Chew is a quirky, hip and vibrant restaurant. The furniture is a mix blend of booth sofa sitting, swing seats and turquoise blue chairs that make the dining experience at Chew super comfortable and fun! Asian inspirations within the space come in the form of carefully hand-picked ceramic plates and posters that adorn the walls and the elongated spice rack that features spices from Asia! My style pick was definitely the swing chairs which had been anchored to the floor, but as cool as they looked they also looked a bit uncomfortable, but then style before comfort I say!I also loved the wall with one liners, that included lines like “All you need is love, but also a little chocolate”, those pretty much made my day.

Chew Pan Asian Cafe, www.stylecity.in

Chew Pan Asian cafe, www.stylecity.in

The menu much like the decor of the place is quirky and fun. It is appealing and makes one want to actually read the menu without it seeming like an ordeal. For food, we asked the chef to get us small portions so we could try the various dishes on the menu. We started with the chew special house salad, which unlike what is expect from Asian dishes was actually not very sweet but quite fresh and light. We wanted to avoid Japanese dishes as it seems recently all we have eaten is Japanese food, so we stuck to other asian dishes. Of course the highlight was the various dumplings where they have something called crystal dumplings which i have never eaten before, but am glad I did as they were lighter than regular dumplings and we tried almost all on the menu. For mains we had Stir friend prawns and Chicken meat teriyaki with some steamed rice and some braised vegetables. We were very happy with both the service as well as the quality of our food. We ended with some Tiramisu and finger-licking chocolate molten cake. I would absolutely go back and have already recommended the venue to various people. Do try it for yourself!

Address: First Floor, M16, Outer Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi
Phone: 011 41516164
Price: Rs.2,000 for two

Review: Hungry Monkey, New Delhi

The New York styled loft ambiance of Hungry Monkey; bare brick walls, concrete floors, the MS installations and the elegant wooden interiors come together in perfect synchrony to create an intriguing industrial feel. The creative typography of quotes on the walls, crafted using carefully chosen fonts are a perfect match to the stylish vibe of the restaurant. Already curious? Well, ‘curiosity is the beginning of adventure‘, is exactly what the walls of The Hungry Monkey tell you.With a faint old school meets new age magnetism, numerous little elements like encyclopaedias stacked on shelves, a vintage hour glass, Edison light bulbs and the rich brown of the wood everywhere bring to life these very stories.The Hungry Monkey, www.stylecity.inThe Flying Brunch, Hungry Monkey, www.stylecity.in

Inspired by sunny California, The Hungry Monkey introduces the city to ‘California cuisine’, which many may not be well-versed with, but worth a try. An out of the box offering, the restaurant brings you a rendition of varied dishes from the European culture with a unique twist of fusion. Even the “Flying Brunch” is a step away from the usual. After you pick your salad from the display, you get small quantity main dishes delivered to your table and you can pick and choose the ones you want to have or repeat. The Hungry Monkey offers an eclectic menu which focuses on a global palate, through a surprising fusion of flavours combined with fresh produce from organic farms like ‘Farmlove’, a pioneer in organic food in the capital. Dig into the Cold Spinach Gomae or relish the signature Bang-Bang Chicken Rolls. For the adventurous souls, the Expresso Pan Fried Chicken made with a light coffee sauce or the Asian Honey and Soy braised Pork Ribs served with Kimchi on the side are the perfect indulgent picks from the menu. While the Smoked Salmon Carpaccio is a succulent fusion of flavours, the White Chocolate Parfait with almond and vanilla filo pastry cigar along with Coconut French Toast leaves a lasting impression. The Flying Brunch, Hungry Monkey, www.stylecity.in

The bar’s hexagonal chemical bond inspired display itself has been designed personally by the owners who have left no stone unturned to bring you an exciting array of drinks. Always innovative in its ways, The Hungry Monkey serves its signature cocktails, the Old-Fashioned and the Manhattan, classic as well as smoked. The bar here easily boasts of a selection of delightful and many a times ‘difficult to spot in this city’ liquor.  Apart from popular modern cocktails, be assured to also come across beautifully infused renditions of the classics.

Eat | Drink | Play
Address – B 6/6 DDA Market, opposite Deer Park, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi
Contact No. – 011 46049801, +91 9810788196
Meal for 2 – Rs. 2000 ++
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/hungrymonkeydelhi

Review: Amreli, New Delhi

If you are an avid food lover or even if a stylish ambience is your thing, Amreli the new offing at New Delhi’s Diplomat hotel is just the venue for you to try out. A cross between an upmarket London diner and a classic bistro, Amreli offers seamless dining experience, with faultless service and exquisite multi-sensory food experience.

Amreli, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

Situated in the embassy area of Delhi, Diplomat hotel is a serene property hidden away from the chaos of the city and this is the reason it makes for a perfect venue for a chic fine-dining eatery, attracting a crowd which knows its food and desires the perfect ambience for a business meeting, a lazy sunday brunch or a romantic night out. Amreli suits all these purposes and fills in the gap of a fine-dining restaurant in that area. Conceptualised by Sidhant Lamba, Amreli aims at offering palate pleasers without the extravagant commitment of time and money. His aesthetic influences are as broad as his travels. Through Amreli he is introducing a signature style to the city,“Amreli will have its own culinary leanings, and it will exhibit a laser-like focus on professionalism and impeccable service. With Amreli, we will be serving a multi-concept menu that focuses on freshness and ingredient quality,” says Sidhant.

Amreli, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

Amreli, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

Amreli’s décor is modelled on that of an upmarket London diner, complete with chessboard floor, mirrors and gorgeous artworks. Some of the pieces have also been curated by Sidhant to go with the ambience, trust me if you love art, you would want to buy a few pieces for your collection (Not sure if they are for sale!). The alfresco area, in a quiet courtyard has a lovely lush green and perky seating to enhance your enjoyment of the exquisite fare, while the indoor dining room is a mix of casual yet sophisticated seating with casual perches at the bar. The menu has been done by Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, a well-known name among India’s dining public. Popularly known as Chef Saby, he doesn’t walk the route of a traditional chef, but that’s arguably what brought him such fame. With his high-end techniques and culinary curiosity, he has given a diverse menu to Amreli. The all-day breakfast menu is also strong, in fact it is the highlight of the menu with the dishes done spectacularly well. The beautiful display of each dish is a threat or a promise—depending on whether you would want to wear your skin-tight jeans again. For breakfast you can choose from, Homemade Granola, French Toast, Mushroom on Toast, Egg Appam, Eggs Florentine, Keema Eggs Benedict.You can also expect aromatic dishes jewelled with nuts, herbs and dried fruits, plus hearty peasant-style stews, spiced roasted meats and seafood. The careful spicing and flashes of creativity means the menu is peppered with classic dishes (Sole Meen Moilee, a fish curry from the coast, The Humble Plate, dal and vegetables of the day and Kerala Mutton Stew, melt-in-mouth mutton chunks in a creamy coconut stew) to please conservative diners, as well as more inspired interpretations of well-known recipes. So whether you are cutting on carbs or you are after that plate of comfort food in the company of a few friends, or a celebration that requires plenty of bubbles or probably at lunchtime for peace and quiet; dinner for buzz, Amreli is the place you should try out for sure!

Address: 9, Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic enclave
Phone: 011 46050200
Pricing: Average Meal for two approx.: Rs. 1400-1600 (without alcohol)

Review: Guppy by ai, New Delhi

There are two myths about Japanese cuisine in Delhi, first that it is all about raw sea food and second that the decor has to be streamlined and simple. Guppy by ai breaks both the myths and introduces us to a different side to Japanese cuisine in the most charming and memorable way. Starting with the decor, the 2200 sq. feet space designed by Anshu Arora has been divided into three areas, the restaurant, the bar and courtyard. Each area has unique features to recreate a playful wonderland in a modern setting.

Guppy by ai, www.stylecity.in

Every unique element from the solar fired heart shaped tiles to the lighting and fixtures have been customized for Guppy making this one of the quirkiest restaurants I have visited. A manga artist has worked on murals, window art and column figures. There is clever use of Origami (Japanese paper art) and metal to make lights. The bar area from where you enter the restaurant shows an artistic representation of Mickey Mouse behind the counter, while anime inspired upholstery adorns the couches and heart shaped wall paper cover the walls.A feature water body with a stream of metallic Guppies (tropical fish as I discovered) strung together like a stream of a river make for an unusual water installation.The charming courtyard which was the highlight of Guppy for me has a anime inspired sculpture, smaller tree light boxes, a huge mural, candle lighting and casual seating centered around a tall Frangipani tree.The dining area focuses on a sushi counter and a big community table with comfortable, casual seating around it.  It has touches of studio designed and custom tailored kimonos on the walls.The area also boasts of two specially sculpted metal lion fish lights and Japanese kokeshi dolls, vintage cameras, old tiffin boxes and more such Japanese memorabilia scouted from antique shops. Of course how can I not mention the polka dot bathroom.We started with some vodka and wasabi based cocktails at the bar recommended by the manager. They were a perfect start to a lovely evening at the end of a harrowing week. As we munched on some edamame and gossiped, the starters started coming to our table and then began one of my most exciting culinary journey’s.

Guppy by ai, www.stylecity.in

Guppy by ai, www.stylecity.in

I who can eat Sushi every meal of every day was actually gorging on everything else Chef Vikram Khatri decided to serve us, not because the Sushi was bad, it was delicious, but everything else had such a unique texture and taste I could not drag myself away. We started with, Chirashi Seafood Salad which is Pickled prawn, tuna, salmon, crab and baby greens in goma-ae dressing and finished every last morsel. We then moved on to Guppy Signature Pork Belly which is Slow braised pork belly, glazed with soy honey, served with mustard miso sauce and actually melts in your mouth. We then moved on to the gluten free, amazing texture in your mouth Exotic Mushroom Gyoza and Prawn Gyoza which were equally delish before trying the Sushi’s. The Sushi assortment included the Prawn Tempura roll and Spicy Tuna roll which we found the best but also the accompaniments supported the dish really well; the ginger was slightly sweetened and the wasabi was not too sharp. For mains we had Grilled Jumbo Prawns and Guppy Signature Black Cod with some Garlic Fried Rice. Of course, even though we were stuffed to the brim no Japanese meal can be complete without dessert, in our case was Red velvet cake, which was absolutely out of the world.

Honestly it is a beautiful restaurant, with the food priced and presented really well. You could taste the spicy, the tangy, and the exotic all in one bite. Most dishes, from mains to the condiments are made from scratch here. More than anything, I loved the ambience and the friendly nature of the staff. It is definitely a place I will be visiting regularly and would recommend the same to all of you.

Address– 28, Main Market, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi
Lunch for two With alcohol 2000 ++
Dinner  for two With alcohol 3000 ++

Review: Mia Bella, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi

As you know I rarely do food reviews myself, I usually leave that to my self proclaimed foodie brother or Style City contributors. There is no particular reason for that actually, like there is no reason for why I chose to review Mia Bella on my own, maybe it was the Italian name (I have a soft spot for Italian food, places, language and men) or maybe it was because it was situated in Hauz Khas Village, one of my few loves in Delhi, either way one fine Thusday evening I decided to give this quaint place a try. Even as I drove towards the restaurant I was having a hard time trying to contain my excitement for I have always had a great time at Hauz Khas village and from the pictures I had seen, I knew Mia Bella would be my kind of place, I am so glad I wasn’t disappointed one bit.

Mia Bella, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

Mia Bella, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

Firstly I don’t have the problem most ‘Delhites’ seem have with Hauz Khas becoming too commercial and pseudo, I don’t feel it has plus I feel no commercial place can remain your little haven forever, it is better to accept that and move on and enjoy the place in its new popular form, or well sit at home. Secondly, so far inside the village away from the hustle and bustle of the market which is where Mia Bella is situated, you can’t help but feel at peace, especially with the lovely view of the HKV monument if you are seated at the terrace. Thirdly, unlike the name suggests ‘Mia Bella’ actually does not serve only Italian food but has a wide variety from African to Lebanese which had me excited as I love trying out different cuisines.

Mia Bella, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, www.stylecity.in

The décor of the place reminded me of an old Portuguese villa, very well thought out and executed the colour pallate includes balmy hues of yellow, green and brown, all shades that make the place look warm and inviting. Besides that, enchanting curios such as vintage wall clock, mirrors and hand-painted cupids adorn the walls and if you sit on the terrace it actually looks like you have travelled away from the city and are sitting in your little holiday home. So from the moment you enter and take that first sip of the deliciously made cocktail, which is definitely not void of alcohol, you feel like you are on a well deserved vacation. Finally the food arrives and not enough can be said to do complete justice to the actual taste of the food, it is actually divine. Not one dish is a disappointment be it Spit Roasted shell prawns, the Peri Peri chicken or Chicken Dhoka each dish was better than the last and finally to be served with the perfect Lemon cupcake, made it an absolutely memorable experience. So despite what people may say about Hauz Khas or the millions of places that have opened there, this is one place I can definitely vouch for, but don’t take my word for it alone, go ahead and try it, I guarantee you will not be disappointed either!

Price: Meal for two Rs.2,000 minus alcohol
Address:50, 3rd & 4th Floor, Hauz Khas Village, Hauz Khas, New Delhi
Tel:011-26566220

Review: Yoko, Paris

A contemporary twist to Asian Exoticness
Japanese food has a charm of its own- it is healthy, fresh and exotic. The pungent sauces combined with the fresh ingredients complement each other and the presentation makes it a wonderful experience. Paris is sophisticated and elegant, an inspiration for culture, style, fashion and cuisine. You combine the grace of Paris with the exoticness of Japan and you get an exquisite fine dining Yoko- the perfect harmony of European and Asian sensibilities.

Review: Yoko Paris, www.stylecity.in

The range of dishes at Yoko have been conceptualised by Korean chef, Young Kyu Park along with Toyofumi Ozuru head chef of Black Code Group chain and offer a range of dished exclusively concocted for the restaurant, a pure harmony of Asian and European influences; Kyoto-style Caesar salad, Cantonese steamed dim sum as well as semi-cooked tuna Tataki with citrus fruit salad. This state of Art Japanese restaurant is a part of the CFOC experience, an acronym that conjures up travel a world of wealth and breath-taking craftsmanship from regions and villages of the orient, Asia and other distant lands.

Review: Yoko Paris, www.stylecity.in

The first Compagnie Francaise de l’Orient et de la Chine opened its doors in 1966, since then CFOC has become a fully-fledged brand and opened its store at Boulevard Haussmann in 1995. This was taken over by Laurent Dumas and repositioned in 2011. Redesigned by Francois Schmidt and Sarah Lavoine, the store showcases exclusive collections by both designers as well as collections from external designers like Benjamin Graindorge and A+A Cooren design agency. The idea is to embrace a wide variety of styles and promote the intangible heritage of Orient and Asia intergrated with the savoir-faire of French business. And they do succeed, the store the collection and interior design are everything one images and hopes from an amalgamation of such diverse culture; A perfect place to shop for your home or even buy gifts.

Review: Yoko Paris, www.stylecity.inReview: Yoko Paris, www.stylecity.in

Finally the test of taste and experience lay on my mother’s shoulder whose birthday we were celebrating at Yoko; and she was vegetarian that day. Her verdict “This is amazing, it is Japanese cuisine but with a French twist, which makes it so contemporary and exquisite.” So to get a taste of Asia in Paris you now know where to go.

Address: 170, Boulevard Haussman, 75008- Paris
Tel: 00 33 (1) 45613315
Price: Meal for two approx. 175 euros

Cocktail Hour

For all of you, who like me love going for a drink post work, or meet for drinks over lunch (or don’t even mind an occasional wine at breakfast) Cafe Zoe the latest entry into the Mumbai hospitality scene is just our answer for that and much more. Open from 7.30 am, with authentic European cuisine, the owners encourage you to come in and spend time at the place as much as you want. Whether it is grabbing a book or using the wi-fi facility for work, noone will disturImageb you till you are ready to go.

Coming back to the point which is the delish drinks,  In keeping with the persona of doing things differently, Zoe also has something special to offer the tipplers.  Expect to be served pitchers of all your favorite cocktails at prices that will make this place your favorite! You can also purchase your very own bottle of vodka, and no, it doesn’t apply only to the most premium. And my recommendation is the fresh seasonal fruit Margarita. We tried the Kiwi and Strawberry Margarita, both get two thumbs up from us. They were yummy! We were so tempted to get more except we were there over lunch and had to get back to office (Unfortunately).

So if you are around the area or work around there, do stop by for a drink, and do try the Margarita.

Cafe Zoe: 7-11 Mathuradas Mill Compound, 126, NM Joshi Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400013

(Photograph Courtsey- Casaviva India)