Chaat Affair at Nine Square – Reviewed!

Who doesn't love chaats and especially the heavenly cold savory ones in the scorching summer. We all have them at street carts but the experience of having chaats in a restaurant is altogether different in terms of hygiene, authenticity and flavours. Recently, Nine Square has come up with the Chaat Affair to treat your palate with the absolute indulgence. Not only the food but the drinks are also Summer-inspired.

From the Special Menu which had around 6 coolers and 6 chaats; we tried the following...
  • Jodhpuri Jaljeera (4.5/5)
  • Masala Shikanji (5/5)
  • Raj Kachori V2.2 (4/5)
  • Pudina Paani Poori (5/5)
  • Chhole Samose ki Chaat (4.5/5)
  • White Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse (4.5/5)
Started our lunch meal with the chilled Jodhpuri Jaljeera (Rs.90) which had the plethora of spices, refreshing mint and boondi for the crunch. Not-too-tangy cooler, known for its digestive properties, was the perfect way to ignite our hunger.

Masala Shikanji,(Rs.90) my most favourite famous and traditional lemon drink, was just what I needed on a hot summer day. Bit of chaat masala, cumin powder, salt and fresh lemon juice made this perfect cooler. Must try!

We also tried their version of Raj Kachori V2.2 (Rs.180) which was made with activated charcoal, rest all remains the same. Two pieces of kachoris, stuffed with potatoes, sprouts, chana, curd, chutneys topped with farsan and edible flowers, over the bed of green chutney, dates-tamarind chutney and curd. It was not only burst of colors, flavours but textures too. Activated charcoal is not my choice personally however the ingredients for chaat were excellent.

Star dish of the day was the Pudina Pani Poori (Rs.150). OMG! Beautiful presentation and what a taste! Deep fried puris in the glass and chilled savoury/tangy water and sweet chutney in two separate cups. The chilled, tangy-savoury water was just heavenly. Crispy fried gol gappas were filled with potatoes. Pick one, fill with both savoury pudina/mint water and chutney and devour the awesomeness! Highly Recommended!

Another wonderful dish from the menu was Chhole Samose ki Chaat (Rs.150). A popular road-side lip-smacking treat was plated beautifully. Smashed samosas were topped with delhi-style spicy chhole, coriander-mint chutney, sweet chutney, pomegranate seeds and edible flowers. Full of textures and flavours. Loved it!

Concluded our meal with the luscious White chocolate and Raspberry mousse.

Viet:Nom – Authentic Vietnamese Food in Pune at The Gateway Hotel — Reviewed!

Vietnamese Food is quite under-rated and not much popular in Indian restaurants. Asian Harbour at The Taj Gateway, Hinjewadi, Pune is hosting a Vietnamese Food Promotion –"Viet:Nom" for a limited period (21st March 2019 to 31st March 2019). To provide unique authentic gastronomic experience to the aficionados of Pune, Chef from Taj West End, Bengaluru has been brought in to the city. He hosts one of India's first Vietnamese Restaurants – Blue Ginger where the cuisine is done with perfection.

Apart from the A la Carte Menu, there are two value for money TDH menu options ranging from Rs.900 to Rs.1800. The dishes served were bit tweaked as per the Indian Palate, however, you can trust on the authenticity. With the subtle use of spices, this cuisine is majorly influenced by France, China and Thailand. We had the following...
  • Vietnamese Raw Papaya Salad (4/5)
  • Rice Paper Summer Rolls (4.5/5)
  • Crispy Lotus Stem with Butter Garlic Sauce (5/5)
  • Grilled Tofu (4.5/5)
  • Spiced Lemongrass Soup (3.5/5)
  • Trio of Mushroom Fresh Green Pepper Sauce (4.5/5)
  • Grilled Assorted Vegetables Saigon Sauce (4/5)
  • Vietnamese Yellow Cari and Jasmine Rice (4.5/5)
  • Rice Noodles with Vegetables (4.5/5)
  • Che Chuoiz (4/5)
  • Coconut Caramel Custard (4.5/5)
Started our lunch with the light, refreshing, healthy Vietnamese Raw Papaya Salad (Rs.500). Dressed with light, tangy dressing with loads of lemongrass, bit of chilli with the crunch of peanuts. Burst of flavours in this cold salad.

Rice Paper Summer Rolls (Rs.500) were served next. Fresh vegetables and water chestnuts wrapped in transparent rice paper sheets, this appetizer is not only simple but healthy too. The veggies were seasoned well. The rolls tasted best with the Tamarind and Hoisin Sauce. Excellent preparation.

Next served was the Crispy Lotus Stem (Rs.500). Super delicious! Unlike other places serving sweet and tangy Honey Chilli Lotus Stem, this one was prepared in Garlic Butter Sauce and even after 15 minutes, the lotus stem were crisp and full of buttery flavour. The garlic was mild. Highly Recommended!

So, that's the fun part of tastings, when you get to learn something. Here, we were introduced to the Vietnamese style of grills. The meat/tofu/veggies are perfectly marinated especially in the anato oil and curry powder and to devour it you need to wrap a tofu into the lettuce leaves with basil leaves, noodles, herbs, with some lemon drops. So unique, fun way of having "grills".

Spiced vegetables and lemongrass soup (Rs.275) had sprouts, veggies and loads of spices. Too hot and spicy though. Not for weak hearts! Haha

From the mains we had Trio of Mushrooms in Fresh green pepper sauce. Three types of mushrooms were seasoned well with salt, pepper, oregano and garlic in the green pepper sauce. So delectable. The crunch, sweet-tangy taste and the sauce qualified this dish as one of my favourites. Grilled Assorted vegetables in Saigon Sauce was delicious. The intense flavour of sauce was the hero.

One of the finest main course was the Yellow Cari and Jasmine Rice and perfect homemade Baguettes. The Cari was similar to the Thai Yellow color but the consistency was bit thinner. Coconut flavour was intense and I loved it. Lemongrass, Madras Curry powder and ginger elevated the taste to next level. With baguettes also, it was a delicious combination.

Rice Noodles were very light and healthy with assorted vegetables and caramelised onions on the top. One can devour like that or can pair it up with the curry. Super flavourful.

Last but not the least in the desserts we had Che Chuoi – banana with sago pearls and sweetened coconut milk (Rs.400). It tasted somewhat like Falooda but not too sweet. The coconut milk and banana was giving natural sweetness. But the star dessert was the beautifully presented Coconut Caramel Custard (Rs.400). Silky smooth, creamy, sinful custard adorned with beautiful edible flowers was melt-in-mouth. Highly Recommended!

Winded up the meal with the Vietnamese Cold Coffee! Perfect sweetness and finest coffee was loved by one and all. A must to beat the summer! However, there was change in quality when we ordered twice.

Overall, it was a lovely experience and hands down to one of the most authentic Vietnamese Food in Pune. Definitely, a must visit!

Asian Harbour - The Gateway Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe Paashh – Organic tasty treats! — Reviewed!

There are some places where you visit for food and some for experience and then there is PAASHH, a destination where one can visit for not only scrumptious food but a memorable experience as well. On the lines of healthy food craze across the country, Paashh, an organic cafe, opened its door to Pune almost a month back. What makes this place different from the contemporaries is its balance of organic and sustainability.

Located in the quaint lanes of Kalyani Nagar, an old bungalow is turned into Sustainable fashion boutique on downstairs and Cafe on the upstairs. The brand Paashh believes in connecting to nature and sticking to the roots. All the raw ingredients are sourced from the local farms around 100 km from Pune.

The wonderful menu is the best blend of two worlds – traditional recipes and modern flavours and is created by the Celebrity Chef Ajay Chopra who also has Nine Square and Pandora Gastronomy in his kitty. Fresh Juices, Smoothies, Teas by TWG, Pearl Barley Risotto, Sattu Stuffed Parathas, Tartines, Quinoa Methi Tikkis, Charred Pumpkin Kebabs, Bikaneri Khichdi, Buddha Bowls, Artisnal Ice-creams and desserts will definitely give you Sukoon! Chef Vikrant was kind enough to explain us the concept and menu. Following are the dishes, we tried....
  • Vegetable Consomme (4.5/5)
  • Mushrooms and Crispy Puy Lentils Tartines (5/5)
  • Smoothie Bowl (4.5/5)
  • Baby Beet and Citrus Salad (4/5)
  • Pongal Rice Cakes (4/5)
  • Taco (3.5/5)
  • Charred Pumpkin Kebabs (4.5/5)
  • Saffron Poached Pear (4.5/5)
A warm bowl of comforting Vegetable Consomme with umami-rich vegetable extract and cute beetroot ravioli cones was a perfect way to start the lunch meal. So flavourful and soothing that I could not stop sipping.

One of my favourites of the day was the Mushrooms and Crispy Puy Lentils Tartines. A wonderful choice for light lunch. Five-grain sourdough bread slice was slathered with mushroom pate, mushrooms crisp and charred spiced dust. Oh so yum! The crunch, the flavours, the mushroomy texture is enough to tantalize your taste buds. Highly Recommended!

I had to try my favourite smoothie bowl. One of the most delicious smoothies I have tried. A must-have for a summery day. A perfect blend of seasonal fruits, roasted almonds, mixed seeds, and rolled oats. How healthy and delicious can it be! Highly Recommended!

How can one not eat when the salad – Baby Beet and Citrus looks so pretty! Thin radish slices, micro greens, orange slices, tzatziki on the bed of flavourful Quinoa Tabbouleh. It had crunch, sweetness and also tangy flavours. The Mediterranean salad is not only full of textures and taste but also healthy!

Next were the Pongal Rice cakes. A popular Tamil delicacy Rice and sago are mixed with spices, shaped into tikkis, cooked with ghee and placed over the fried sago pearls. The rice cakes are topped with the molagapodi and tomato chutney.

Taco was served next. After relishing all delicious stuff until now, I had huge expectations, but somehow Tacos failed to reach up that high. However, the presentation was so beautiful. Methi whole wheat soft taco was topped with fried okra, diced tomatoes, onions, raw mango, micro greens, and edible flowers. The tacos were placed in a plate full of raw Rajma. Pretty!

I was tempted to try Charred Pumpkin Kebabs. Something unusual and power-packed. The Mediterranean-Asian Red Kuri Pumpkin Kebabs is a masterpiece. Served with the local Kodo Millet along the splash of three bold-flavoured chutneys/sauces. The sauces served are Morning Glory and Jalapeno, Pumpkin and Raw Mango dust and Miso honey glaze with Kodo millet tabbouleh. The smoky effect of pumpkin was lip-smacking! A must try!

From the sinful alternatives of desserts, we tried the Saffron Poached Pear. Gently simmered, the tender, poached pear was one elegant dish. Served with the blue cheese ice-cream, on the chocolate base, this dessert was just perfectly sweet. Recommended!

Paashh, is a place where you can eat, sit, relax, work or shop. Quiet, peaceful cafe to indulge and connect with nature. Loved the vibes.

Cafe Paashh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato