Gastronomic Vacation: Mumbai to Goa in a week

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Vacation with my sister has always been a call for adventure, thankfully without mishaps. Having recently quit my job, and taking advantage of my sister’s annual leave from work, we embarked on a short, one week trip around our 2 favorite places in India: Mumbai and Goa. The experience was momentous, and we covered several locations accomplishing thus, a most satisfying itenary. Some of the most poignant moments (including food ofcourse!) have been captured and put up for recommendation:

7 Kitchens, Palladium Hotel: Lunch Buffet

The sole deciding factor between buffet versus a la carte menu, was my appraisal of the ostensible desserts. 7 Kitchens is a renowned fine dining restaurant of the luxurious Palladium Hotel, situated at Worli, adjacent to Phoenix Mall at Lower Parel. The sophistication of the town, and the grand view of the skyline from the Worli Sea Link Bridge is what makes this trip worthwhile. We were greeted by an unprecedented wet spell that day, making our entrance a little less ostentatious than planned, (not that we were celebrities of any sort, but I believe that good hotels deserve a classy walk-in), nevertheless the intricate works and interiors were finely detailed, polished with much assiduity, and elegance. Atleast we had a plausible excuse to use the tersely polished marble bathrooms before settling for lunch. The buffet won hands down, after I observed their dedicated counter for pastries and my two favorites: Opera and Tiramisu.

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Lake View Cafe, Renaissance Hotel:

It was our lazy day, and so we missed brunch! While we entered the restaurant, the staff were carting away the tables and cloches and I managed to see what I had missed, regretfully. Had we made it for the brunch on time, I’m sure we would have enjoyed a most formidable spread. It was almost sunset, so we enjoyed a pasta dish each, followed by coffee. The place is highly recommended for its serene views of the Powai Lake, lawn and surroundings.

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Cidade De Goa Hotel:

Moving over to Goa, I would always recommend the stay at this fabulous hotel that has been my holiday destination for over a decade. It feels like I grew up here, as it has been the place of many family reunions, occasions and celebrations. Like us, there are plenty of Indian expats who are regular guests at the unchangeable hotel. If you manage to reserve during the peak season (we were informed that we had arrived during the wedding season), the costs could be exaggeratedly high, but you get to enjoy several aspects and locales of the hotel, which otherwise remain closed during the reasonably-priced monsoons. Sapiently, I would recommend you take time to discern how to enjoy your trip here. The entire five star resort is located by the beach, facing the shores of Donna Paula (a famous monumental town), with its water sports and beach activities for guests. Several restaurants, catering halls and cafes, indoor and outdoor are widely dispersed throughout the structure. The service is brilliant, and most satisfactory. Very accommodating staff, so to speak that gave us attention to every detail from our check in, special food orders, spa treatments and transport. The entire hotel was active with weddings, corporate conferences and live entertainments, etc. We never had a single prosaic moment during our stay here, and I know I never will have, hopefully for years to come.

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Mumbai International Terminal 2:

The most raved about terminal had just opened doors to us as we arrived in Mumbai, so a week later the place still smelled of fresh paint. A lot of effort, innovation and creative designs and construction by international designers and private investors have contributed to the florid look of Terminal 2 or T2 as it has been named. For all those who were otherwise used to the dingy predecessor, this sight will surely shake your inhibitions. The change is refreshing, remarkable, while several fine dining options as well as fast food courts have made their establishments. I wish I had more time for a fulfilling exploration of the area, and its many dining options, but we were stifled for time, and made it few minutes before boarding. The airport signboards clearly restrict everyone from photography, yet some obstinate few could not control their urge for selfies.

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Orient Treasures Restaurant

“What do you prefer to eat?”

Two years ago, when she asked me the question, I hesitated to answer. I knew that if I had said fish…or soup…or chicken, she would make that phone call, and voila! I would have a dish in front of me. Back then, I had just relocated to the office where my senior management were all present. Getting lunch was a challenge I thought, as I was used to the restaurants around the old office. My senior colleague, was a co-owner of a newly opened Filipino restaurant, that was the nearest from where I was. Being calorie conscious, I held an ignorant doubt that like most Asian platters, pinoy food too would contain either too much oil or too much spice. She pressed the question again, adamant that I should try.

“Do you have anything light?”, I finally asked back,

“What do you mean by light?”, she asked, resounding the vagueness of my question;

“Light…non-greasy, and non-spicy..?”

“All of our foods are light in that context, spice is an option ofcourse.”

Finally I said “chicken”, and waited till the dish came. It was a silog dish – Chiksilog. Silogs are dishes served with garlic rice, fried egg and pickled papaya strips called achara. Not only was this dish light, it was delicious. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the rice was portioned just right, and together with a fried sunny side up the meal was simply beautiful. With a dish so simple, and so conveniently available I was confident that the other dishes were as awesome as this. Of course, I had Filipina colleagues who gave me suggestions from time to time, and guided me across the food names. A guide through the silog list would be:

Chiksilog – Chicken, fried rice, fried egg

Longsilog – Sausages, fried rice, fried egg

Daingsilog – Fried fish (milkfish), fried rice, fried egg

Tapsilog – Cured beef, fried rice, fried egg

Tocilog – Honey barbeque sauced chicken, fried rice, fried egg (my personal favorite)

Cornsilog – Corned beef, fried rice, fried egg

Clockwise from Top Left: Tocilog, Chiksilog, Daingsilog, Tapsilog

Clockwise from Top Left: Tocilog, Chiksilog, Daingsilog, Tapsilog

Chicken Mamee with Fried Tofu

Chicken Mamee with fried Tofu

Chopsuey

Chopsuey

Orient Treasures by now has gained a reputed name all over Najda Street for their home-style cooked dishes, delivery service and new innovative additions to their menu. The restaurant manager – Ms. Relly is an over all talented lady both in and out of the kitchen. Whether its food presentation, delivery and even menu design and photography, she’s the best to rely on. The kitchen also has a team of efficient cooks behind the counter. It is preferred to enjoy the casual ambiance of the restaurant, but free delivery service is also provided for the sake of customer convenience. The restaurant is located at the heart of Najda Street, near to National Hospital. One of its best features is the budget meal service, which is available on a monthly contract basis, and has affordable hot meals served at your office desk. This restaurant is guaranteed to satisfy any nationality or varied foodie types with their choice of food. Just name your favorite, and like me you will get it hot on a platter.

Assorted Condiments

Assorted Condiments – Self Service

The restaurant has come up with Daily Buffet starting from today, and priced at AED 30. Combo meals are also available for AED 12. I recommend that one should check what this restaurant has to offer and meet the talented staff. I was also fortunate today to have tasted their ‘Taho’ – a light dessert made from soya milk custard, sugar, and tapioca. Its a specialty and a must-eat!

Fresh steaming Taho

Fresh steaming Taho

I’m looking forward for Orient Treasures to become the next big name in Abu Dhabi when it comes to daily meals / budget meals as they have been the only enterprise so far to have managed this so successfully and beautifully. Watch out for their progress on Orient Treasures Facebook page.

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The Village: One to One Hotel

Entertaining Spread…that’s about the best two words I could think of as soon as I saw the restaurant.

Those who are arriving here for the first time, will have some difficulty finding the location, therefore make sure to ask for the directions in advance and to be on time for the Friday Brunch outlaid between 12 pm – 4 pm. I was not expecting a large crowd, so I could call myself and my brunch companion really fortunate to have found a table. The Village is a large shisha tent, with indoor and outdoor seating arrangements, and we were recommended to sit inside so as to catch some entertainment that was being arranged for the customers.

Being famished, we commenced the buffet line and were welcomed to a wide array of assorted breads, salads and lentil soup. The menu was predominantly Lebanese, with a few continental main courses such as Grilled fish, Spaghetti and Sauteed mushrooms. Remarkably kid friendly, with a whole row of foods dedicated to children, lowered dishes of Chicken Nuggets, hot dogs, pastas, sandwiches and popcorn!

Among the main courses were: Grilled meats, assorted Fatayer, Noodles and the winner item: Lamb Rice. This rice is so flavorful, and with the meat well done, it simply melts in the mouth. There was also a Margarita pizza, Cheese stuffed bread and condiments of hummus, gravies and several sauces.

Noodles

Noodles

Assorted Fatayer

Assorted Fatayer

Lamb Rice

Lamb Rice

The entire while of picking up my main course items, I was distracted by the desserts counter. And from the other side, one cannot make out its expanse or contents, but I was looking forward to it especially after seeing another customer with a heap full of chocolate!

My wait was certainly not disappointing. The extraordinary array of desserts made me guilty for having taken a second round for main course, since many of the ones displayed were my all-time favorites: Chocolate Ganache Cake, Opera Cake, Cheese Cakes, Chocolate Mousse, Parfaits, Black Forest Cake, Crème Caramel, Baklava, Macaroons, Chocolate Brownies and much more. These complimented with steaming tea or coffee (also included in the buffet), made me request to see the Pastry Chef for a personal commendation.

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

Profiteroles & Fruit Cake

Profiteroles & Fruit Cake

Carrot cake

Carrot cake

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Crème Caramel

Crème Caramel

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Live Entertainment

Live Entertainment

Chef Ziad, as he is well known in One to One Hotel, has a remarkable patisserie experience of over 30 years. His expert knowledge in chocolate and pastries is the secret behind the divine taste of all those desserts on display. He was humble and forthcoming enough to show me pictures of his works in the field of pastry making. I am confident that his expertise and talent will lead him to more successful heights. As for the chocolate cake, I firmly believe this was the one I have been looking for – the ever perfect complement of moist sponge and ganache.

Radisson Blu Resort: Fujeirah

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Lord of the Sea & Sky

You don’t need to travel too far to experience the trilogy of wind, water and rocks, when you can enjoy it at Radisson Blu Beach Resort, Fujairah. The room’s best stand-out is its view: a grasping abyss of pristine blue waters, over a horizon of rain clouds and mountains. All rooms have sea-overlooking balconies fitted with comfy chairs, thus making for a cozy coffee conversation. The beach is well maintained, clean and covering a lengthy expanse.

*Oops!* Seems, like I rushed the readers straight out the balcony, without mentioning the hotel. Being from an established group of Resorts, Radisson Blu does not fail to impress the guest with its quality location, interiors, comfort and value for money. Importantly, its the ambiance and Guest-relations that counts, and surely the hotel was not complacent on their delivery. From the time of your arrival to your departure, you are well taken care of by the Concierge, Receptionist and Housekeepers. At the lobby, after you have received your welcome drink, take a quick look around the hotel’s facilities. Some of the key attractions being:

  • Library: A cozy study room by the beach side equipped with divans, study tables and chairs, magazine desks, coffee tables, a large cabinet with selected novels, and a PC.
  • Spa: Facilitating both indoor spa and beach massages for the guest
  • Lounge: With a bar, Billiards table for smokers and non-smokers.
  • Kids Section: For parties and children’s access.
  • Dining Restaurants: all of which overlook the beach.

Even while you are escorted to the rooms, you can stop and enjoy the valley view from the corridor lounges: bright and well placed divans with coffee tables. The hotel has really invested in it’s guest luxury.

Corridor Lounge @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Corridor Lounge @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Our package included a night’s stay with breakfast. We dined at Breeze for breakfast and lunch. This restaurant is known for its extensive outdoor seating, and delicious buffet spreads of continental and Arab cuisines.

Breakfast spread included: Egg station, pancake and waffle station, Fouls Mesdames, Hash browns and Sausages, cold cuts, cheese counter, assorted breads, muffins and cakes (including Christmas Stollen!), an array of fresh juices, cereals. I observed they also served low calorie breakfast specials available in the a la carte menu.

Cereals @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Cereals @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

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Cheese and Cold Cuts @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Fruit @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Fruit @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Juices @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Juices @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Muffins, Assorted Bread @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Muffins, Assorted Bread @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

For lunch, we ordered from the menu, and the chef – Mr. Kant, was kind enough to accommodate our request for special diet food, making sure it was served as specified. My order was a Grilled Salmon cured with potato puree.

Grilled Salmon @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Grilled Salmon @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Desserts @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Desserts @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

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All through our stay, I’d like to appreciate the hospitality of Mr. Savio D’Souza, who went out of his way to ensure our comfort at all times. The complete room reservation (even though it was at the last minute), to the food arrangements, as well as check-out was carried out with gracious and professional incumbency.  Mr. Savio, allow me to say that we shall be regular guests as long as you’re around.

Mr. Savio D'Souza

Mr. Savio D’Souza

This resort, is worth the long drive from other Emirates, for its scenic location, great service and awesome views. Make sure to book your next holiday at the place.

C.Taste @ Centro Al Manhal

C. Taste @ Centro Al Manhal

C. Taste @ Centro Al Manhal

A welcoming sight after more than a year! I hate comparisons, but I’d put it frankly: C.Taste @ Centro Al Manhal is a lot better and more welcoming than their branch at Yas Island. The service is more prompt, the service is very accommodating and the choice for food can intimidate their counterpart.

Centro Al Manhal Hotel comes from the line of Rotana Group of Hotels, and is conveniently located on Old Airport Road, right next to Millennium Supermarket and a couple of minutes away from Al Wahdah Mall. The Friday brunch is so popular, that you need to reserve your table atleast a month in advance.

boardThe restaurant is located on the first floor, and parking should not be an issue unless its the rush hour. Customers are welcome to park their vehicles at the Mall too.

To be frank, I found a few of the items reduced from last year. I remember fairly well they kept to ‘brunch’ items which included cereals and fruit. This time round, there were fruits, and a pancake machine with Nutella & some fruit condiments. However, the best relief was the coffee machine, which is also inclusive in the buffet.

The live cooking stations are mostly for roasted meats and hot cooked pastas.

The salad bar was really wide, the spread was good enough for a wholesome lunch. So also were the desserts of fresh fruits, chocolate pastries, mousse and Arabic sweets. The main course stand out was the Thai Crab curry, and next comes the seafood paella. Make sure to take a shot at these dishes if you happen to visit.

Salad Bar @ C.Taste

Salad Bar @ C.Taste

desserts

Desserts @ C.Taste

Desserts @ C.Taste

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The price is AED 99.00 ++ per head and subject to 10% service charge & 6% Tourism Fees.

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mousseAlcohol and hubbly bubbly also available for additional charges.

Rosewater @ Jumeirah Etihad Towers

Lunches have their advantages over dinners. Firstly, you get to enjoy the sunshine and its effect wherever you go, secondly you can eat guilt-free knowing that you could work out the calories for the rest of the day. My pictures at day ironically come out better than the ones I shoot at night, and does not seem to require much editing within the natural light.

So here we are again, driving late to our reserved table at Rosewater – Jumeirah Etihad Towers or better known as JET. The beauty of the place is that it has a separate connecting exit linking straight to the towers, of which one of them is a 5* hotel. This was one of those urban chic exquisitely designed structures – right from the driveway to the restaurant that places you in a “ramp-like” feeling as soon as you step out of the car. I have noticed that the latest hotels delve on chandeliers and carpet work, and JET is no exception. The entrance lounge is high, bright, bustling and crystallized.

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Lobby Entrance @ JET

We were shown our way around to the restaurant which was two floors below the lobby. This confused my sister a bit, who had done her homework of researching the details of the restaurant online, and wanted to avail the sea-view seats. But now that this was at the basement, she lost all hopes of a view, if there ever was one.

Rosewater Entrance

Rosewater Entrance

To our surprise, the structure was designed such that the first floor was way above the average 3-4 storeys. So the P2 floor was still well above the required height for an appropriate view of the pool and the adjoining sea. We obtained our vouchers from Groupon, who has been advertising the restaurant over several months, but this offer was too good to miss. The voucher included 2 house beverages per person, and upon seating we were provided with moist towels and complimentary aperitifs. The restaurant was full of customers, which was a pleasant difference from the otherwise silent and empty fine dining experiences. Since we were already late, we made our way to the buffet which was extensive with several live cooking stations. Sorry I wasn’t able to catch a picture of one of the chefs since they ended it by 3pm, which was around the time I completed my lunch too.

Nevertheless, there were several cuisine options – Thai, Lebanese, Italian, sushi and Indian. Some of the features of this buffet were:

2 house soups

Fresh Salad Bar

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Salad Bar @ Rosewater

Fresh Cold cuts and prepared salads

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Cold Cuts & Prepared Salads @ Rosewater

Thai curries and preparations

Lebanese / Arabic foods like biryani and meats

 Indian specialties like basmati rice, lentils, and tikkas

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Indian Specialties @ Rosewater

Assorted Breads

Live Sushi Counter

Live Pasta Station

Live Noodle Station

Live Manakesh Station

Live Grill Station

Desserts.

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Desserts @ Rosewater

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Fresh Fruits @ Rosewater

The highlight of the buffet was the impeccable Indian dishes which stood out from all the other cuisines that day. Full marks to the chef for each of the preparations – the peas rice, dal, tandoors and tikkas, etc. The Ras Malai in the desserts was the cherry on the cake – sumptuously fulfilling. Other notable desserts included the white chocolate brownies and the crumble tart.

The restaurant has an outdoor seating area which I’m sure will be enjoyable during the cooler seasons with its sea / pool view. Service was excellent, friendly and prompt to customers needs. The hotel has some breathtaking views, so after a hearty meal, don’t miss out on the tour of the place, and as I recommended earlier, its best to savor these sights while the sun is still shining.

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Outdoor Seating @ Rosewater

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Sea View from Rosewater

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Fashion Gallery Exit @ JET

Price per person (incl of all taxes) AED 249.00

Urban Kitchen & Dolce

And so the much awaited day!!!!!

Whew what a milestone achieved! I’ll be frank…I’m a bit insecure about turning 30 – I’m not confident about my job yet, my MBA certification is still stuck at the University, my marriage is not yet confirmed and I still weigh 78.6 kgs. Shucks!

On the other hand, since I look forward to every day with much positivity I plan on remembering what I have achieved successfully so far, without letting myself into unnecessary comparison. I am by far a more firm and outspoken person unlike before and try not to panic on petty issues if it can be helped. I’m glad I have a job, and someone to love immensely for today. Tomorrow will see for itself.

Leaving it to that, I must inform that right now me and my sister are enjoying the independent freedom of home-alone kids (our parents are on vacation)…hehe not that we’re kids anymore, but the spinsterhood shows all over the house. Its the time when the laundry is over-piled, so also the dishes in the sink; cooking and cleaning is done once a week, trash is thrown in the morning and our work clothing is hanging about all the chairs and sofas. My sis however still keeps the discipline of sleeping early at night, I drowse myself with unlimited TV sitcoms.

Back to my birthday….I waited impatiently for midnight as Jaan was the first to call up and wish :), followed by his mom 10 minutes later! This is the first time she called for my birthday and that too by midnight. The plan was to dine the next day, as my sister was looking forward to a much awaited outing after a couple of weeks, and what more better way to compliment it than with Entertainer Vouchers. I wanted to try the new hotel – The Dusit Thani and so we used corresponding coupons. We had a single voucher for Friday Brunch at Urban Kitchen and managed to wake up on time to dress and arrive at the lunch hour.

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Dusit Thani Lobby Front

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The entrance to the place was splendid, and so was the lobby. Beautiful, clean, exquisite and spacious. The restaurant was located at the lobby level just behind the coffee lounge. The buffet spread was marvelously awesome and seemed unlimited! The restaurant respected the word brunch and therefore put up breakfast as well as lunch items mostly patronising the Thai cuisine along with other international dishes. We were greeted by desserts at the entrance, which I found peculiar, owing to being the last course. My sister however explained that she found the idea more attractive than a typical salad welcome. Point noted!

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After the endless array of mouth-watering pastries (I noted they had the suddenly popular opera pastry), puddings, Indian and Lebanese sweets, fruits and creme brulees, was the egg station (for breakfast), followed by a live cooking station for dim sums and appetisers. Parallel was the American breakfast items of pancakes, waffles, cereals, breads and cold cuts. We were then shown into the next phase – which was more like an adjoining room that kept the fruit juices and cocktails, followed by the opposite table for live sushi preparations and salads.

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The main course was divided into the larger table hosting rice and grilled preparations, and a small table for the kids with french fries, fish fingers and pasta. Another room at the back of the corridor had the live roast stations – for duck and meats. The kids had their own dark and milk chocolate fountains. Coffee and other hot beverages were not included on the buffet menu, but since I saw the coffee machine I inquired into it, and the waiter was kind enough to provide me and my sister complimentary drinks. Perhaps it was because we did not take advantage of the other house beverages.

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After lunch we took a quick tour of the place and noticed the lobby was way bigger than what it seems from the outside. There were several more restaurants on the same level including a Grill bar and a Royal Thai Restaurant. A beauty salon was also located on the opposite end beside the restrooms. An escalator led you to the Ballroom at the basement which was huge and lavish. Altogether the hotel experience was wonderful.

After this we drove off to The Ritz Carlton, for picking up a Birthday Cake that I had ordered at Dolce – a chic coffee lounge with bright orange colors. Overall the place looks like a bright candy house and I’m sure will be the kids favorite. The pastry chef definitely has some distinct tastes when it comes to pastries.  The Resort by itself is grand and lavish with several valets at your service at the entrance. When they came to know of my birthday I was greeted with a complimentary pastry from the staff. That was too sweet!

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Dusit Thani:

Ambience: Grand, Quite, Posh, Executive

Dining Experience: Urban Kitchen, Thai Cuisine, Friday Brunch Special

Price: AED 225++ per person, excluding house beverages.

The Ritz Carlton:

Ambience: Posh, Grand, Awesome.

Dining Experience: Dolce – best for tea and candy.

Price: As ordered.