Friday, July 26, 2013

Himalaya, Five Docks, Sydney.

All right, another one for Indian. This one is Himalaya at five docks. Its a Pakistani Indian restaurant. It is funny to see Pakistani Indian together as restaurant and perhaps a wish that may be the two rival nations can be together again. A partition that has scarred the nations and a deep gash of wound in the hearts that still hasn't healed even after 60 years.
Anyways another occasion, my friends birthday. The cool stylish and very individual and exclusive dude of our group. Of course his unparalleled loyalty and humility to spend the evening with us mortals instead of the thousands of women screaming at the top of heir lungs for one evening. (I hope he reads this). Well he is quite the elegant charmer with the boyish looks which just throws a spanner into the normal functioning of the pretty damsels in Sydney.

Well to celebrate his birthday we head to Five docks, Himalaya. For me this restaurant has been like a dhabha. Most cabbies do drop in here for a meal and to me that in itself is a indication of good food. In the land of kangaroos where Indian food has suddenly gone through a renaissance and opened up in every nook and corner and yet serve the trashiest food, this is perhaps one of those places where there is some saving grace. The food is acceptable and nice.

Again the same demographics that haunt me these days.. 3 vegetarians and one me. Of course, it is beside the point that in any demographics, there can only be one ME. I could almost start a TV series like 'two guys a girl and a pizza place.' except this could be like 3 veggies and one pk.. Or the wolf in the veggie wonderland.

So without any further ado, I just proclaim my undying love for veg starters by ordering the Paneer Sizzler and the Assorted chaat platter.

For main course thanks to my heroic efforts, I order a tawa goat and save the group from having paneer makhani again. So the order for main course is paneer bhurji, daal makhani, regular breads- butter naan and rotis and a kheema naan.

As we settled and watch the TV playing videos, cant help saying what a fantastic music list they had. Almost everyone in the group just loved the songs being played.

The paneer sizzler and the chaat platter were served. The paneer sizzler was delicious. Little pieces of cottage cheese with capsicum and onion rings on a sizzling plate. What I loved about the paneer sizzler was that there was no artificial colour or excessive spice. You could taste the fresh cottage cheese with turmeric, garam masala and crunchy capsicums.

Next was the chaat platter. This had two samosas, two onion bhajjis and little bit of papri chaat. This one I would say was pretty ordinary and average. Nothing to rave about. I kind of stayed away from this one.

Once we were done with the starters, we gave a go ahead for the main course. It took about 15.minutes to get the mains. The daal makhani and the paneer bhurji. The paneer bhurji looked a bit too yellow to be honest. More like fluorescent green a bit but I think they used only turmeric again and no artificial color. The cottage cheese curdled from milk was definitely fresh. Tasted pretty good ID say. Not too over spiced. The daal makhani was pretty average and pretty stock standard. Actually the daal could have been better.

Next came the tawa goat. Well what do I say. This dish is my favorite in Himalaya. Simply because of the soft goat pieces they give over here. Served on a sizzler plate and came with the sizzle. Well what do I say.  as it approached the table I sat like a romeo with his heart out on his hand, looking at his love approaching him and she looking ravishing and splendid as never before. Makes you feel like falling in love all over again.

Well the tawa goat eventually came. Small pieces with bones cooked and served with very thick gravy along with diced onions capsicum and tomatoes with masala. Just too good. Ideally it would go well with drinks on a regular day but today I made it with rotis. Loved every bit of it. On other occasions its been even better but highly recommended.  I think this made my evening. The portion of course is good for two people and eventually I had to do a takeaway.

The breads were good. The keema naan was good. Loved it.

All in all good food. The kind of food that doesn't hurt too much and doesn't make you squirm with discomfort when you look at the color and spices and the price as well.

Well there is one dish I didn't like and this was at another visit. It was the chilli chicken, the Indo Chinese version. Quiet pathetic.

I like this place and would definitely come over again. I would recommend my readers to try this one out for sure. It has got good food, and a bit more authentic.

Recent Update: 5/11/14: Visited again. Great food. Besides the regular, the Tandoori Chicken and the Lahori Chicken were unbelievable.  The tandoori chicken was juicy succulent and yet spicy at the same time. The lahori CHicken is probably the best chicken curry I have had in some time.
Accepts EFTPOS
Average meal for two- AUD 30- AUD 60

1/205 Great North Rd, Five Dock NSW 2046
Ph: (02) 9712 2726

Himalaya Pakistani Indian on Urbanspoon

Thousand Spices, ... Simply Indian, Homebush

All right. This one is about another Indian restaurant in Homebush. A Thousand Spices. This is another Indian restaurant right opposite to the Homebush Station, next to the Taj Indian Masala.

Now there is a bit of history to this restaurant. Erstwhile, many years back in 2009, this used to be based out in St Leonards/ Crows Nest. I remember having gone there in 2008 with Gaurav, my best friend. Subsequently when I came back in 2009, to Crows Nest, the shop had closed down and there was Bundu Khan in the same Shop. Anyways. many years later, I saw this restaurant in Homebush..

I have visited this restaurant a few times. Recently, we came over to celebrate my best friends birthday. To begin with, whenever I cross this restaurant, I usually see it busy and full to the capacity. On a number of instances we have found a waiting outside the restaurant.

On this instance, we ordered the Alu Chaat, Papri Chaat and the Paneer Tikka for Starters. Yes, I was vegetarian that day and that's probably why I ordered all vegetarian stuff. I have tried out the chicken Tikkas previously here.

For main course we ordered the daal makhani, paneer mahani, and chana masala and roti's.

As we enter, let me tell you this restaurants is not too spacious. When we entered, the whole restaurant was full and we had to request the aircon to be turned on. I guess we felt a bit claustrophobic. After ordering pretty quickly we were served with the starters. The Paneer Tikka very ordinary and excessive colored. Served on a sizzler plate. Taste wise.. Preeyy ok but nothing to rave about. Next came the Alu chaat. Now when I think of alu chaat and being from Delhi, all i can remember is a big tawa with golden fried potato cudes topped with the spicy and tangy green chutney and lemon. On this occasion it was nothing like that. Very average and mediocre if I were to compare to my expectations from India. Even if I were not to compare to India, still about ok. Fried potato slices topped with imli chutney. Next came the papri chaat which was good. I liked it. Crispy paadi topped with curd and imli chutney and other toppings. Pretty good ID say.

Coming to the main course, we were served the daal makhani. I liked it. Pretty much the way it should be. Pretty good. The paneer makahni was also pretty good. The quality of paneer was good, very soft and creamy. Mixed well with the gravy. The gravy wasn't too sweet as well. I liked it. The chana masala reminded me off my days at Alwar and how veerji in the nearby dhabha made chana masala. Coming back to this one, again pretty descent. I mean not something that would make go gaga about it, yet not bad as well. Average and descent. No complaints. Not too excessively spicy which kind of suits me. The breads were about ok again. 

 Once we were done with the dinner we got the cake from the fridge and got it cut and had a great sweet dish. Chocolate mudcake which had been dusted with Cadbury chocolate and strawberry's, designed to perfection by my friends wife. Well one thing that was amazing about that night in this restaurant was the song selection. Beautiful and amazing. My friends thoroughly enjoyed. 

On another occasion I recall I had come here with another friend and the goat curry and chicken tikkas were on the order. The chicken tikka's were pretty good and lightly spiced. The goat curry wasn't too much to my liking here as the curry was very oily spiced and the most important part, the goat was not tender. This is something that sticks out in my mind as I am quiet particular about the quality of goat. 

Overall service was good. All in all, another of those recent regular and average Indian restaurants. The kind of place which ID go to if it were in my neighborhood, and I'm too lazy to go out for anything else. My rating would be about a little above average. In the same line between this one and Taj Indian Masala, if I were to make a choice, Id probably go for may be the Taj Indian Masala and that has come about recently when I have been there and its more spacious and the food is equally descent as well. I mean for vegetarian I wouldnt like to go to Thousand spices for sure.
Accepts EFTPOS
Average Meal for 2 AUD-30- AUD 60.
Thousand Spices
23, The Crescent
Homebush – 2140
Ph – 02 9746 1144, 02 97466 300
Mobile No – 0401266140
Trading Hour:
Monday: 5pm – 10pm
Tuesday to Sunday: 12pm – 10pm

Thousand Spices on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Taj Indian Masala, Sydney

All right, this one is about Strathfield. I stay here. This area is predominantly inhabited by Asians. Koreans, Chinese and Indians. Now for those who know Sydney, Indians would connect with Parramatta and Harris Park. Strathfield has many Indians but not to the extent of being synonymous or stereotyped. Now if it come to representation of various ethnic groups by looking at the various commercial establishments specifically in terms of eat outs and restaurants, I can safely conclude Strathfield is Korean. Close to 15 restaurants for Korean. Even for regional groceries, Indian stores do give a competition to the Asian grocery stores. Thee are about 4 stores for Indian groceries. But when it comes to Indian restaurants, my heart bleeds for Strathfield. Firstly, there are two restaurants and secondly, they are probably just about average.

Anyways, another Friday and we four friends from work are wondering what to do. Now this question is profound and I think it might be apt to specify the demographics of the group before you start thinking what is with wrong with these guys to be thinking what to do on a Friday night in a happening place like Sydney. 3 boys, 1 girl. 1 boy and 1 girl don't drink. 1 girl vegetarian and eats only Indian vegetarian. 2 boys vegetarian- 1 by history of eating habits as pure vegetarian and the other boy trying to restore eating habits to have a future (aka protective eating for preventive measures for high BP). And that leaves me- I need a reason to just go out on a Friday night and love Indian food. I am also on a diet but I try to convince myself by unusual tactics to say I am eating healthy for the rest of the week. Like chicken tikka and Biryani is better than curry. And sometimes succumbing to curry but then saying this is just a once off and I wouldn't have it for the next two months.
Anyways its 8 on Friday evening and we decide to head back to Strathfield. With Strathfield not having too many choices, the alternative is to go for Homebush. A short walk and we reach Homebush Station. There are 3 Indian restaurants, and one Korean called Hello Kyocho. Anyways we settle for Taj Indian Masala. This one is quite spacious and we settle in. We order the paneer pakoda and the bharwan khumb for starters. For main course the vegos go for the Dal tadka and the malai kofta and I settle for the goat curry.

Lets start with the starters. The paneer pakoda is the cottage cheese slices with spices dipped in a batter of besan or some flour and then deep fried. Usually accompanied with a mint sauce. The bharwan khumbh are mushrooms stuffed with cottage cheese and then dipped in a batter and then fried.  Well coming to mushrooms, they looked gorgeous but tasted ok. Not too great. I think it goes back to the fact that mushrooms when fried leave a lot of water and that probably makes me not like such dishes. The button mushrooms looked very tempting but tasted probably ok. The paneer pakodas were about ok. Descent and average. Made me remember the pakodas on the way to Meerut in India. Again about ok. On another occasion when I have visited this place, it is worth mentioning that they serve the kebabs and tikkas on a sizzler plate. The tandoori chicken is with color to my dislike but when it comes in a sizzler plate, it just changes the equation. Most of the starters including the chaats and all are above average.

Next comes the main course. The breads were good, freshly baked and perfect. The naans and the rotis were good and fresh. We ordered a mix of rotis, galric naan, butter naan.
The daal was again about ok. Nothing phenomenal. Yellow lentils cooked in Indian style with a tadka. Well to be honest in Indian cuisine, unless it is dal makhani which is the black lentils, most other yellow lentils are supposed to be simple. The daal here was probably a bit thicker, but as I said, ok and descent.

The goat curry again is a favorite but I try to be careful when I have it outside. At the time of ordering I had made it extremely clear that I am ordering this dish if only the goat meat is actually goat and tender. Well once the dish arrived and started. Id say it was a bit above ok. The quality was ok. Tender. The curry was descent. Would I have it again? Yes, most probably. It wasn't too spicy in terms if chilli but yes overall oily like a rich gravy. 

Next comes the malai kofta. Being a non vegetarian, take it from me that if I were to praise a vegetarian dish, there's probably something great. Well I am praising the Malai Kofta. It was amazing. Very creamy and slightly creamy curry with koftas made out of potato. This was simply awesome and amazing. Highly recommended.

My friends had the masala chai afterwards and they loved it as well.

All in all this place is probably average or a bit above average. The place is spacious and the decor is pretty average. Food wise pretty ok or good. Id come here than go to adjoining Indian joints such as Mirch Masala or Thousand spices. This joint has good food and good for a regular meal if you live in the neighborhood.

Taj Indian Masala
25, The Crescent, 
Homebush NSW 2140. 
Tel: 02-8065-3001
Time Of Operation
Open 7 Days
11:00 AM - 10 PM

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Urban Espresso Lounge

All right, probably my last of reviews for Coffs Harbor. Last day of the long weekend, we wake up and vacate our accommodation and are planning to drive back to Sydney. Before the long journey, we stop for one last time at the same strip near the jetty with all the restaurants. As we walk, there are a few places serving breakfast. We stop at the Urban Espresso lounge. Boy at 8:30 surely is very crowded. I mean seeing this place at the morning, I probably realized and painted a picture of people who like to wake up, go to the nearby cafe for a coffee followed by a hearty and sumptuous breakfast on a Sunday morning. With friends and family or alone with a newspaper.

Being a Monday, I wanted to be vegetarian, but then not that I had too much of choice. Actually to be honest, I did have a choice considering I could always go for fruits, but to be honest, I got tempted. Looked at the menu and saw many variations... Mostly with bacon. The egg related ones were there. The husband and wife settled for a simple poached egg and toast. Now coming to me, I knew that in view of the great sacrifice I had made, I had to do do justice. So I opted for the menu which had 2 poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, butter fried mushrooms and avocado. This was called as the Urban Vego Brekkie. Now for me the breakfast was almost there but not complete. I had to make two modifications. Add Hash browns and instead of water poached eggs, I requested for sunny side up fried eggs. My other friend the fourth one opted for the same combination. For coffee I settled for the regular skim latte, a cappuccino for me friend and two ice chocolates for the married couple. It was a relaxed atmosphere. Long weekend and being a holiday destination, I think most people were visiting. Families, couples or solo's like me. 

Everyone just relaxing and waiting for their brekkie's and enjoying a conversation. Some were living nearby and working their way through on the laptops with their coffee. A few lone rangers with their newspaper. The coffee was served quickly and was quite the strong blend. Just perfect to jolt you out and give you the kick. The brekkie was served next. The one that I had ordered just took my breath away. 

Two pieces of turkish bread with feta cheese, baby spinach, button mushrooms butter fried, grilled tomatoes with eggs. An avocado, peeled and sliced served along side. The breakfast was just perfect. Specially the use of button mushrooms instead of the big gigantic black mushrooms. My preference is always for the white button mushrooms. The brekkie was just perfect for a monday morning. The hash browns added to the taste. After being served, I almost forgot I had friends there and I dedicated my efforts and silence to the beautiful breakfast. All in all a heavy sumptuous breakfast that set us up for the next 500 kms drive. Well highly recommended.

Urban Espresso Lounge
Jetty Strip at 384a Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour.
Phone: (02) 6651 1989  (table bookings by phone only please)

Urban Espresso Lounge on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 1, 2013


All right. This one is about Malabar at Crows Nest. My best friend departing for Perth ans myself get invited by another of my close friends to his place for a catch up. He stays in St Leonards. Its a cold day and we settle into his couch and start talking and pretty soon I am narrating incidents about my India trip this year in May and how I am nearly molested but innocent people on the train and the heat. Anyways, we are then talking about where to go for dinner. Options vary from the nearby Nilgiri's to a host of restaurants at Crows Nest, an srea nearby. We walk down and it is a 5-10 minutes walk. We purposefully avoid the Pacific Highway and take the bye lanes of St Leonards and Crows Nest till we hit the market on the Willoughby Road. There are many memories that I have with St Leonards and this area. Many years ago I havr stayed in this area and later with a certain friend there have been many crazy nights. Anyways so as we head on the Willoughby street and there are lines of eateries and restaurants. We then head onto Pacific Highway and then onto Malabar. As we enter we are promptly seated. The interiors are a bit stereotyped but cozy. Dim lighting, big posters of the Mysore procession and the elephant and at the counter there is a little bar with a stacks of bottle. We get going and order. There are four of us. Two Dosa's- one masala and one of another variant. One uttapam. When It comes to me, I love people who eat vegetarian but then I cant be that person else I cant love myself. Besides it was a Thursday. Coming to Chettinaad cuisine, I was quite tempted and eager to have it after many years. I recall a few in the past- The Royal Dakshin in Delhi at Jamali Kamali in the big park near Qutab Minar, and then Anjappar and Korai Kudi at Chennai.

Well the thought of all these institutions aggravates my senses and makes me drool at the thought of the Chettinaad cuisine I have had so far. The spicy fried chicken, kotthu paranthas and the chicken Chettinaad.

Usually we as Indians think majorly of south Indian food as dosa samabhar idly utthapams etc. These however are just stereotyped image of south Indian food, just like butter chicken and tandoori chicken and chaats is to north Indian food. Often dosa's idly's etc are also referred to as tiffin in southern India. But like any cuisines southern Indian cuisines has many variants based on region and Chettinaad being one of them.

Eventually I rose above the occasion and ended up ordering the chicken chettinaad and the malabar parantha.

I think the restaurant staff could feel the rise in positive energy and could recognize a true foodie had arrived. It was that moment when Neo is christened as the One in Matrix. And to celebrate this moment the first dish they serve is the Chicken Chettinaad and the Malabar Parantha.  Now it is purely coincidental that although chicken takes more time to cook than dosa and the chances are that I was served something already cooked before, but purely coincidental again. And I wouldn't criticize the great camaraderie and noble character shown by the staff there to recognize me out of all the patrons.

Coming to the food. Dosas- crisp and awesome. One of the best dosas in Sydney. For those of you who don't know what a Dosa, it is made out of rice flour and a thin paper crisp cylinder with a stuffing of potato, or cottage cheese or sometime with no filling. It is usually accompanied with a few chutneys and hot piping vegetables and lentil soup called the sambhar. So dosa's were perfect. Erstwhile Malabar, I liked dosa's at NIlgiris and a few other Sri Lankan joints. But this was clearly the best. Also I was quite amused thinking the fact that the menu had regular and large size and the regular size in itself was so big, I dare not think how big the large dosa would be.

The uttapam my friend had was topped with onions and tomatoes. I think it was quite descent as well. I am personally not a too big fan of the uttapams but I did taste it was good. My friend was quite full and took some effort to finish it off.

Now coming to the chicken chettinaad and the malabar paranthas. The malabar paranthas are simple paranthas with layers in it. Multiple layers of dough bakes to become like a flaky pastry kind of a bread with oil. The paranthas were good. The chicken chettinaad was awesome. Not too spicy, thick curry with a strong coconut flavour and south indian style of cooking with their spices.  the portion served in a copper karahi looked small initially but to tell you the truth it is sufficient for 2 people. I hsd to do a take away as I could finish the entire dish. I guess the chicken chettinaad made me over come the pang of south indian chicken.

Price wise the meals are descently priced. An avergae meal for two could be from $25 -$50. All in all a good place and I would definitely visit and recommend to others as well.

Accepts EFTPOS

334 Pacific Highway
Crows Nest
NSW 2065 

T: (02) 9906 7343
    (02) 9438 4207 (Take away only)
F: (02) 9332 3745

Opening hours
Lunch: Sunday - Friday 12.00 - 14.30
Dinner: Monday - Sunday 17.30 until late

Malabar on Urbanspoon