Hae Kum Gang – Korean Cuisine

My knowledge about anything Korean started with the movies. I am a big fan of Korean movies. They make the coolest barbaric action scenes with the most melodious background score ever. I am sure Tarantino and Mahesh Bhatt will vouch for that ;-)

What better way to increase knowledge about a region / country than to sample its cuisine, right? So this Sunday, off we went to Hae Kum Gang in Castle Street. Parking is a major problem there and we were lucky to find a place right in front of the restaurant. The only option if you don’t find a place there will be to park in Garuda Mall and walk to this place.

Nothing fishy
Nothing fishy

The restaurant is on the second floor in the building that also houses Plan B which can be yours if this place is full :-) There is no floor seating if you want the authentic Korean experience. But the place was full of Koreans (or so I think. Should go to www.japochi.com a lot more) and that meant the food was very authentic. The decoration is minimal and the atmosphere is pretty homely.

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2014-04-06 16.11.30

We were welcomed by smiling faces and that felt good. A 5 minute wait later, we were escorted to our table. I had some ideas about what to eat and the menu card helped me in that aspect. Normally, the menu has names like “fu qno ya” and gives no help on what the dish is. You ask the waiter or point at the menu card because you don’t want to make an ass of yourself by pronouncing it :D The menu here has nice pictures which give you a rough idea about what you can expect and the description has the vegetables and meats involved. +10 to hae Kum Gang! You still have to pronounce it though. On a side note, the waiters and manager are very helpful with the cuisine. Go ahead and ask them their recommendations.

Since it was a hot afternoon, we started with Sangria. To be honest, we were not really happy with the quantity but it looked good and it did pack a good punch and not the diluted stuff you get in other places. Each of our glasses had wine and a slice of apple, orange and lemon, served chilled.

So sangria!
So sangria!

They kept a small plate with a spoon, knife and a pair of chopsticks. Looking at the size of the plates, we wondered if this was why many Koreans were pretty petite. The chopsticks look a bit different from the Chinese ones. Not sure how, though.

And that’s how you do it, folks!

The appetiser was Kimbap, a sushi like roll with rice, veggies, meat and rolled in seaweed. There were about 8 to 10 pieces. The accompanying sauce was soy with wasabi. The thing with wasabi is that it is very very pungent and quite an acquired taste for many. I love it, in small quantities, of course :-)

Who's the Baap?
Who’s the Baap?

 

We weren’t told how to eat it and so we took a small bit of the sauce and wasabi, smeared it on the kimbap and ate it full. Reactions were from “Not bad at all” to “Very nice” towards the end. Recommended!

The main course was Dolsot Bibimbap (try saying that without a smile on your face). The dish came in a stone pot and had rice at the bottom, topped with veggies and choice of meat with a fried egg on top (You can specify if you want a half fry or a full fry). Our table looked a bit like the solar system as most of the Korean dishes come with its accompaniments or banchan as they call them. So we got 2 kimchis (cabbage and radish), boiled spinach, macaroni and tuna, boiled potatoes in a sticky sweet soy sauce, and kimchi soup. I didn’t like the tuna but the rest were very good esp the potatoes.

Kimchi - Cabbage and Radish
Kimchi – Cabbage and Radish
Kimchi soup
Kimchi soup
Spinach and Potatoes in sweet sauce
Spinach and Potatoes in sweet sauce

The waiter let us take one last look at the bibimbap and then expertly armed with a spoon and a pair of chopsticks, he proceeded to mix the layers so effectively that it reminded me of a massacre after an action scene. But the taste was great! Add more of the sauce if you need more gravy. The crispy sticky rice added to the taste. Do have this dish when you visit this place. Dip into the banchan for some veggies as well.

I am the Baap
I am the Baap
After the waiter went "OldBoy" on the dish
After the waiter went “OldBoy” on the dish

There were no desserts and so we concluded the meal with 2 cups of ginseng tea and honey. A good ending to a great meal. We had not over eaten and we felt great :-)

Ginseng tea - Settle our Stomach
Ginseng tea – Settle our Stomach

The bill came to 1321 (Incl of taxes) for this meal. Not bad at all for the portions.

Not bad at all!
Not bad at all!
Red Indian in Korea?
Red Indian in Korea?

Note: Mention Korean cuisine and people remark, “Dog food, right?” and make a long face! “How can they eat dogs? They are so cute” is the other remark! Who are we kidding? Rabbits are cute. Cows are cute. Goats are cute and they are pets as well. Chicks are cute (Not what you are thinking). We consume all of the above. But people occupy the moral high ground when it comes to dogs. Dog food was consumed in almost all regions of the World, including Switzerland, Belgium, Africa, Canada, USA (sometimes when other livestock depleted). Apparently, in Korea, the number of dog eaters is coming down. As a traveller, just respect the cuisine habits of others when you go to their places. That’s all :-)

Facilities
Valet Parking: No
Cards: Yes
Reservation: A brief wait should do the trick. Not sure about reservations
Bar / Drinks: Sangria, wine and I think, Korean beer
Pure Vegetarian: Maybe the cows, pigs and the chickens they serve, were ;-)
Recommended? The food is great, the service is nice and the cost is not so much for the portions they give. Of course, I recommend it highly. Oh, and if you do not like to visit a restaurant which serves beef and pork, stay away.

New Modern Hotel – Throwback to the 80′s

(I believe this is the hotel shown in the center fresh fruit ad though the board is in Tamil and English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvWBDWaX-Xg. Can someone confirm?)

There is one running joke about New Modern Hotel in V V Puram; that it is neither new nor modern. Maybe it was when it started with its faux leather seated service room. The time Rama and Lakshmanan took a break from their search for Sita and ordered 2 filter coffees to rejuvenate themselves. That’s right. No by two service here.

This place is ideally located for walkers at Lal Bagh, less than a
kilometer from Lal Bagh west gate near Minerva circle. The place looks like an old theatre from outside and the interiors are also unchanged including a notice board warning you not to do a host of things.

Strict Rules!
Strict Rules!

So, the last Saturday, we walked into NMH hungry after a good walk at Lal Bagh. The ground floor was full and the first floor it was. The ground floor has a more Darshini feel whereas the 1st floor is more upmarket, of course if you go back to the 80s.

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View from the first flooe

You get the usual items that you see in darshinis, but you also get to
order not so usual items like thatte idly, Peni and chiroti. Complete
menu here

We were ravenous and ordered Idly-vada, plain vada, set
dosa, masala dosa, sagu masala dosa, khara bath and Chiroti. Coffee and tea at the end, obviously!

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Idly Vada – Les Inseparables!
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Khara Bath
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Set Dosa
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Masala Dosa

The items we ordered were good, but nothing out of the world. The chiroti was the pick of the lot with the badam milk not being very sweet. Just right. We ended up ordering one more of this. Eat it before it gets too soggy.

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Chiroti!

Coffee was strong and frothy and a good end to the breakfast.

Service is fast and efficient. The whole meal came to INR 360, again great value for money!

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Minimal Damage

Photos are not of great quality. Apologies for that!

Facilities

Valet Parking: No. Park in the side alleys.
Cards: Not sure
Reservation: Not needed
Bar / Drinks: Strictly virginal
Pure Vegetarian: Yes

Recommendation: Recommended. Do not expect fireworks though!

Kadambam – Iyengar Cuisine

After a visit to the local Perumal (Vishnu) temple in Salem, joining the others for a donnai (cup) of Prasadam was a must for us. The prasadam will mostly be Puliyodarai (Puliyogre / Tamarind rice) or Rice cooked over a slow flame with milk and jaggery and garnished generously with cashews; aka chakra pongal (Sweet Pongal). Almost always, all of us sigh if the prasadam was something else.

Puliyodarai has to be suitably tangy and absence of fried peanuts was sacrilege. The experience is complete only when you bite into the peanuts. And, the experienced elders know the difference between a mix made at home and using powder (even if it is Iyengar’s mix). If it is a mix bought from a shop, their faces will go sourer than a tamarind :P

Kadambam
Kadambam

Recently, we stopped at Kadambam, a restaurant serving Iyengar foods (Puliyodarai and chakra pongal) enroute Mysore. I had been to Kadambam about 7 years back in Jayanagar 3rd block. So obviously, I had to go there again. Kadambam is located on the left from Bangalore to Mysore right before KFC on the left. They have decent parking space. You can either choose to sit inside or have a view of the road while eating. As you enter, you get a nice smell of Puliyodarai and chakra pongal and that’s always a good sign.

Super hungry that we were, we ordered Puliyogare (Puliyodarai), Curd rice, Chakra Pongal (Sweet pongal) and Kanjeevaram Idly and then wondered if it will be too much :) The quantity was just right though and we managed to wipe the plate clean.

Puliyogare ahoy!
Puliyogare ahoy!

The Puliyodarai smelt great. I am no expert on Puliyodarai and so was unable to determine if they made the mix inhouse but it tasted just fine! Right amount of tanginess and served with peanuts. I didn’t bother with the curd.

Kanjeevaram Idlis
Kanjeevaram Idlis

I am not a great fan of idlis, but the Kanjeevaram idli tasted different. What really made the difference was the chutney they served with the idlis. Nice and flavourful. I wouldn’t have it repeatedly, but it does make for a nice change.

Chakra Pongal
Chakra Pongal

The star of the day was the Chakra pongal. Richly coloured, with a heavenly smell of ghee :) , the dish wasn’t cloyingly sweet. Normally, you need to search for cashews and raisins in sweet dishes when you go to a restaurant and for me that is really annoying. No such qualms here though. Highly recommended.

Curd rice
Curd rice

Curd rice was your run of the mill type. Nothing special. Go home and eat it.

Filter Kaappi
Filter Kaappi

The coffee was frothy, strong and served in steel tumblers. Not the best coffee I have had, but a nice end to a good meal, nevertheless.

Not bad at all!!
Not bad at all!!

The meal came to INR 150 for 2 which according to me is great value for money. Service was courteous but “Wham! Bham! Thank you Ma’am” variety. What? Eat your puliogare and start driving!

Facilities

Valet Parking: No
Cards: Not sure
Reservation: Not needed
Bar / Drinks: If you really want to order a drink, see if Panagam is available :P
Pure Vegetarian: Yes

Recommendation: Would definitely recommend the place. Go here instead of the usual Kamats and Adigas for a change.

Adupadi – Chettinad Style

No matter how many ever cuisine I have tasted, food from Tamil Nadu always occupies a special place in my heart. Tambrahm and Chettinad cuisine, to be precise. Though Anjappar was good, it wasn’t exceptional for me to make repeat visits. And so, when we planned a trip to HAL Aerospace museum, it was easy for me to decide a restaurant for lunch. Adupadi.

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The crowd
Adupadi
Adupadi

Adupadi is a house converted into a restaurant and also sells souvenirs. I didn’t even venture that side. The ambience is pleasant with antique looking tables and chairs. It gets pretty crowded during the weekends. I am not sure about reservations but we got a table after a 10 minute wait. So, no major complaints there!

Thankfully, the restaurant has not really pandered to the multi cuisine treatment and sticks to the Chettinad region. I did see one panneer dish though and groaned.

Someday, very soon....
Someday, very soon….

Meals are obviously the de facto choice here, but I went for a la carte. My friend went for the vegetarian meal though and he had no complaints. For 60 bucks more, you get chapathi and something else. A waste, if you ask me!

For starters, we ordered the Vaazhakkai karuvaattu varuval (raw banana fritters), kalakki (folded omletted runny in the centre) and kola urundai (deep fried mutton mince balls). The raw banana fritter was a bit burnt and the kola urundai was pretty decent. But the star was the kalakki. It is a standard omelette but folded before it sets. Maybe it was because I was having it for the first time, but it will be a repeat dish for me when I go back.

Kola Urundai aka Minced mutton balls (pun unintended)
Kola Urundai aka Minced mutton balls (pun unintended)
Kalakki (Slightly runny omlette)
Kalakki (Slightly runny omlette)
Vaazhakkai karuvattu varuval
Vaazhakkai karuvattu varuval

Apart from the vegetarian meals, we ordered Ceylon parotta with egg stuffing, egg kothu parotta, chicken biriyani and aduppadi special chicken gravy. Egg kothu parotta was not value for money. Looked more like egg burji :( If only the guys at Pongal cafe made kothu parotta with egg. Sigh! The Ceylon parotta with egg was very nice. But this time, the Adupadi chicken gravy stole the show. It was pretty deceptive as the pepper didn’t hit me immediately but after 2 minutes, my cold was cured ;) Needed a few sips of raita to cool myself down.

Meals unlimited
Meals unlimited
Ceylon parotta with egg
Ceylon parotta with egg
Kothu parotta (more like egg burji)
Kothu parotta (more like egg burji)
Adupadi chicken gravy. As effective as brandy for cold)
Adupadi chicken gravy. As effective as brandy for cold)

The overall Man of the Match (or woman of the match, if you please) was Elaneer Payasam (Tender coconut kheer). We had ordered Kavini Arisi (Black wild rice pudding), but it was not there. No regrets though, as elaneer payasam more than made up for it. It was served cold and after the chicken, it was manna for our stomachs :)

Elaneer payasam (Tender Coconut kheer)
Elaneer payasam (Tender Coconut kheer)

Service was pretty confused, but not rude and definitely not intrusive. A group of North Indians walked into the restaurant, but no one from the restaurant came forward with recommendations. Though of course, for them to have walked into the restaurant, they should definitely have known about the cuisine :)

The meal came to INR 1375 (inclusive of taxes) for 3 people.

I would visit again, if I was in the vicinity or if my guests want to experience chettinad cuisine.

Facilities
Valet Parking: Yes
Cards: Accepted
Reservation: Not sure
Bar / Drinks: No
Pure Vegetarian: No

Recommendation: Would definitely recommend the place.

Madurai and the refreshing jil jil jigarthanda

When my friends used to go to Ooty and other places for summer vacation, I always ended up at the one place where you can really beat Summer. Madurai :). But in all those years, I have never had a glass of jigarthanda ever. That small problem was taken care of  in my recent trip.

But of course, the trip was not just about the jigarthanda. It was about Temples, Spirituality and Sex (it is getting really tough to separate these 2 in our temples however hard we might like to) The ‘enlightened eye’ helps here as well. As a child, we were not allowed to ask unnecessary questions about statues. We just had to close our eyes and pray. Maybe our parents knew about the dangers if we opened our eyes ;) There were the usual sculptures of busty women, men and mythical creatures with their privates out for all to see but this time I saw an especially weird image etched onto a stone pillar. This was at a temple in Thirupparankundram. Tell me what you think of it.

If you think "Eurrgh", see the next picture
If you think “Eurrgh”, see the next picture
Convoluted sex?
Convoluted sex?

Having said all this, you really should make a trip to Madurai for all the wonderful temples. Whatever sanitized version of religion you might be hearing from your parents, you will see for yourself that our folks in the past really had that naughty edge to them ;-) Go and marvel at the intricate workmanship.

We had been to Meenakshi Amman temple, Thirupparankundram, and Azhagar malai. Both Thirupparankundram and Azhagar malai house 2 temples of the Arupadai veedu of Murugan. I have been there before but this time, I also managed to see the sickle of Karuppanna Swamy, a border God for just 54 Rupees. I felt this was a brilliant business idea. You can’t see the weapon of God. Not unless you shell out 54 bucks. Yaay!! Azhagar malai is full of monkeys. So be careful with the food you are carrying. Unless you want to do a rock bottom to the monkey.

Temple Chariot
Temple Chariot
Prostration for Dummies
Prostration for Dummies
Ladies night out
Ladies night out

2013-03-24 08.01.15

Heels over Head
Heels over Head

2013-03-24 08.00.25 2013-03-24 07.59.47 2013-03-24 07.58.03 2013-03-24 07.57.45 2013-03-24 07.57.16

The rope to pull the chariot
The rope to pull the chariot
Work horse
Work horse

Madurai is also about great food and any person will tell you that Madurai is the place where you get piping hot idlis with 5 different chutneys all 24 hours. It is also the place where you get hardcore non vegetarian food. Go to Amma’s mess and Simmakkal Konar Kadai for that. Apparently, the mutton kari dosa at Konar Kadai and the bone marrow omelette from Amma’s mess are brilliant. Sadly, I couldn’t sample it this time.

For a great Vegetarian meal, please visit Sriram mess near the railway junction. Totally loved the food. Do keep in mind that most of the places which serve meals will do so on a plantain leaf. If you don’t like that, visit other places. Here you will have to scoop food from a leaf. You can’t be forking here ;-) You get a 4 course meal at Sriram mess. That just means you get sambhar, kozhambu, rasam and curd with rice. Unlimited, of course. You also get unlimited helpings of a poriyal, koottu, pickle and a single helping of appalam (papad), masala vadai and moar milagai / sundakkai. The food is pretty basic fare but incredibly tasty. Especially the sambar. Do have it with extra paruppu and nei (Dal and ghee). The cost is Rs 70 per meal and is great value for money. For 30 Rs more, you get a chapathi and AC. A waste, if you ask me.

Meals Unlimited
Meals Unlimited

And now the jigarthanda, a drink very popular in Madurai but not known outside. I loved the drink. It tasted like a milk shake version of basundhi but lighter. Smelled great too. The texture of one component, made from badam (Badam paste) was a bit squishy. The drink is brilliant. It is made by mixing different items: Thickened milk, Sherbet / sugar solution, badam paste and icecream (Khova flavour) and is made in just a minute. A piece of advice would be to get 2 scoops of icecream rather than 1. One drink will set you back by 25 / 35 INR depending on single / double scoop of ice cream.

Jil Jil....
Jil Jil….

All in all, a good trip. I tasted the jigarthanda, had a couple of awesome lunches at Sriram mess and was witness to some grotesque imagery. Konar Kadai and Amma’s mess will be on the radar next time I visit the place.

Recently came across a wonderful article in Kafila about our ancient <a href=”http://kafila.org/2013/03/24/when-the-vishwa-hindu-parishad-went-time-travelling-ilija-

Cafe Flamenco

Loads of cafes are opening up in Bangalore; Be it the chain of Cafe Pascuccis or the excellent Cafe Thulp in Koramangala, cafes are springing up in Bangalore like mushrooms. Cafe Flamenco in Jayanagar is one such place. It serves Continental food, both veg and non veg

This is a pretty small place which can house some 15 people max. When we went in, there was no one but a bored looking man at the counter. After he confirmed that the place was open, we occupied a table. Now first impressions, the place is really cozy with a lot of advertisements occupying the wall. We went around looking at the different ads, especially that of Royal Enfield, Harley Davidson. There are also games and books you can go through. A yellow vespa decorates the entrance.

Ambiance

Left wall of Flamenco
Left wall of Flamenco
Bullet ahoy!!
Things you need for a good life: Barley and Harley
Rajdoot and Legs: Who woulda thunk!! :-D

But then we went there for the food, and here goes

Cardinal Sin: It really is pathetic if they cant serve water as soon as you sit down. And the general assumption you make is that they want you to buy soft drinks. No Brownie points there

We ordered Bbq wings for starters. They looked pretty good. The dish starts off sweet but picks up spice at an alarming (albeit in a positive manner) rate. What was bad though was the chicken. It wasnt fresh at all and there were no accompanying dips. Thulp gives an awesome bbq wings dish with a mayo dip. +1 for the sauce, -2 for the chicken!!

Wings!!

For the mains, we had the ‘recommended dish’, the classic chicken steak with mushroom sauce and rice and the second dish was spaghetti meatballs. Now the steak wasn’t bad even though the chicken was not fresh. The mushroom sauce was good and so were the accompanying  (but measly) veggies. But when it is a recommended dish by the establishment, you expect sparklers. But zilch, nada, none.

Chicken Steak

The moment I saw the meatballs, I knew it was Venky’s meatballs at play here. A bite and I confirmed the same. Now for a dish costing Rs 240, it really is sad if they cannot prepare meatballs. For that price, I expect to see freshly done stuff… Not Venky’s balls!! And the lesser said about the sauce, the better. Again, not an impressive dish

Monkey Dish with Venky balls!!

We couldn’t see a dessert section on the menu, and frankly we just wanted out. Now here’s the clincher. When you do not accept cards, you *Announce* upfront that you don’t accept them. You don’t tell us after we give you a card that you don’t accept them. That’s unforgivable!!!!

Overall a great disappointment. The bill came to 640, and it was one of the few times I thought I had wasted money on food.

In a nutshell

Taste: 4

Ambiance: 8

Service: 2

Value for Money: 3

Recommendation: I wouldnt recommend the place. You are free to go there though. Couples who just want to hold hands can go here. There is no good food to hold!! :-P

Location:

Map of Cafe Flamenco

From Cool Joint, go straight on crossing the Bus Terminus and the Jain Temple and you will reach Maiyas. Immediately after Maiyas there will be 2 rights, one a diagonal one and the other, well not a diagonal one of course. Take the not diagonal right and you will reach this place after Amma’s Pastries

Jayanagar Bajji Shop

This place has been my favourite haunt when I stayed at Shanti Park Apartments, Jayanagar 9th block. More so whenever it rained :-) Bajjis, rain and tea are the best combo (no tea available here though). This is a very tiny place and has no name also (The name in the title is just for namesake :-P). But this place is almost always crowded in the evenings. Service is pretty fast though and the people are very efficient in handing out your orders.

The place serves chilly and raw banana bajjis, aloo bonda, masala vadas and jalebis. A 3 course meal, I say. Now though they serve the plain varieties, people always go for the masala varieties and I say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Once you ask for the masala bajji/ bonda, the person will slice it open, sprinkle some masala powder and stuff it with corriander and onions and pass it across to you. All in like 30 seconds. The
bajjis are hot and spicy. A perfect accompaniment for the chilly Bangalore evenings. Now if you dont want the masala, you can have them plain or have the masala vadas. But I would recommend the masala bajjis and bondas anytime

Once you have had your fill of the savoury stuff, turn your attention to the jalebis. They are sweet but not cloyingly so and will make a great ending to the meal.

Masala Bajjis
Masala Bajjis
Jalebis!!
Jalebis!!
The Peoples!!
The Peoples!!

The place is cheap. I had 2 masala bajjis and a jalebi and it came to Rs. 15. What do you think?

Contact Details
Well, this place is tucked in a corner in Jaya Nagar 9th Block. Take the lane opposite Bangalore Central and beside Big Bazaar in Jayanagar 9th block. Keep going straight and you will cross one more junction. Keep going and you will then pass a Temple and some Bank ATM where KSRTC is also housed. The shop is just after the bank. But if you dont find it I just hope the smell of bajjis and the crowd will guide you straight to the shop :-P

In a Nutshell
Taste: 8
Service: 9
Ambiance: 3
Value for Money: 8

Go as a group to this place

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