Monday, September 12, 2016

Rama’s Fiji Indian Restaurant, Canberra

Red Interiors!
All right, this ones is about a very interesting cuisine. Fiji Indian Cuisine. Normally, you would see Indian cuisine being used as an overarching brand. Be it Nepalese, Pakistani or Bangladeshi- they all use Indian cuisine as a brand. Be it for the similarity or be it because Indian sells more. Now, we were in Canberra after a Friday working day in Sydney. The long drive thanks to cruise control and the relatively straight rhough drive from Sydney to Canberra luckily left us with some energy to try and explore a dinner out in Canberra. It is another matter that whatever energy we had left from the drive actually drained the extremely cold winter night at Canberra, which was significantly colder than Sydney. As we searched for options, we came across Rama Fiji Indian Cuisine.

Mango Lassi
Located at Pearce, which was a bit of a drive from the main city, this was a small eatery in a shopping complex in the middle of the residential neighborhood. What made us curious was what was Fiji Indian cuisine and how different was it from the regular run of the mill Indian restaurants. To be honest, I knew Fiji had a lot of second and third generation of Indians who had migrated many centuries back. We called up the restaurant and while it closes at 9, they kept open for us till 10:00.
The restaurant was cute and cosy little eatery with red walls, although a bit too red I guess :-). I was sceptical, anxious and excited all at the same time. High Risk leads to High rewards or High Losses.
To begin with, the restaurant was definitely full of people, even at thus hour, which is a good sign. As we settled in and looked at the menu, it did look similar to Indian menu but luckily a smaller and shorter menu. So another good sign. Restaurants which make almost everything under the sun with a long menu- are probably ones that cant differentiate between the dishes themselves.
Fish Pakoda's
It’s a small little family run business. The lady, of Fiji Indian descent was extremely warm and welcoming and friendly. As we settled we decided to give it a try to the Fish Pakora’s. There were a few interesting appetizers such as Roti Parcels and Bhara. Taking the safer option, we ordered the Fish pakoda. We did enquire which fish was used and were told its ling. Along with the Fish Pakoda, we ordered a mango lassi. To be honest, the appetizers didn’t impress me much. The fish didn’t seem to be ling and it was bit more fishier than ling. Being a fish eater, I somehow knew this wasn’t ling, given that ling is one of my favourite fishes. The batter had excessive turmeric. Likewise, the mango Lassi was just too sweet and had a bit of a distinct taste of some essence.
For mains we ordered the Goat Curry and Dhal, along with Rice and Roti. 

One of the best Goat Curry ever!
This is where the tide changed from a low tide of flavors to a high tide and me surfing like a golden beach boy on the spices and gravy. Man, the goat curry was heavenly. I was again skeptical about ordering goat, like most places, because of my passionate love for goat curry and the frequent disappointment I get at most places either because the goat is too chewy or its far too spicy. But not here. The goat curry was simply fantastic and mind blowing. It also had its own character and flavor, which is difficult to describe, but far too awesome that made me realize that this is Fiji Indian Goat Curry. I could go on and on and on and rave about how great the curry was. Let me tell you, a testimony of how great the curry was. I was craving to have it one more time and I actually called up the restaurant on Sunday, before I drove back to Sydney. Unfortunately, the restaurant is open only from Tuesday to Saturday.
The Dhal was also quite delicious. Quite different from the Indian version. Quite dense and thick and really delicious. With Dhal, you want it to be simple and this was really delicious, not too over spiced.
Garlic Parantha's
The whole meal roti’s were more like the parantha’s back at home. The garlic paranthas were also descent.  The masala tea at the end was great as well, perfect to finish off a great dinner on a cold and rainy day.

Overall, a great little eatery and while the starters were a bit of a dampener, I believe the mains were far too good to be true. Trust me, if I had the chance Id go back to Canberra, just to have the goat curry again. All in all, highly recommended from my end.
Rama’s Fiji Indian Retaurant
Phone: 62861964
Pearce Shopping Center, Pearce, Cnr of Macfarland and Hodgson Cres.
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 5:30 P.M.

Ramas Restaurant Menu, Reviews,
Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Bonolota Bangladeshi Restaurant

All right, being a Bengali, as much as I love Bengali food, I never venture out for Bengali food. Why? Simple, because I believe the best Bangla food is at home, so why try outside? Now I know my logic may be flawed to a large extent, but I do practice to a large extent with Indian food as well. Anyways, I’m definitely not like the grumpy Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino or the Terence Stamp in the movie Songs for Marrion.

The usual complexity in my life when it comes to eating out is the lack of craving for Indian food, given that I am an Indian and that Indian food is ridiculously abused in most places in Sydney when you go to eat out. Don’t get me wrong- I am always awed at the popularity on Indian curries in Australia and how widespread it is. Yet, it is equally an irony that almost anything under the sun gets dished out, sometimes good and most times overdrawn with colour and spices which makes it atrocious and yet acceptable to unassuming naïve eaters who may not know the true awesomeness of what Indian cuisine is all about.

Begun Bhaja- Eggplant Fried
Nonetheless, coming back to the topic, I am usually sceptical when it comes to Bengali food. For my readers who perhaps on the verge of googling what is Bengali, let me save you the effort. People from the state of West Bengal and/or Bangladesh – Bengali. That’s it. Now, while Indian food on its on is like an overarching umbrella which while it covers the entire subcontinent, be it Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Pakistani or Sri Lankan, I believe there are subtelities of individual cuisines of each of these countries and regions which need to be discovered and tasted.

Daal Puri
Now that I am done with all the bullshit to sound like a critique, lets come to what it matters the most. The food. Rockdale is known for a few Bangladeshi joints- and primarily due to the large number of Bangladeshis there. To begin with the décor is pretty descent. Quite airy and with a lot of natural light. Located close to 100 mts from the Rockdale Station.

We had come over for lunch. To begin with, we started with the Daal Puri. In bagla it is called Daaler Kochuri. These were like crispy breads with a filling of lentils. These were pretty descent although I believe the filling could have been more than what was there.
The Phuchka’s or the Bengali equivalent of Gol Gappa’s were next. Very interesting. The filling was a mash of chickpeas, boiled potatoes and boiled eggs along with a very small quantity of spicy and tangy water in a cute little miniature jug. I liked the phuchkas here. One serve cames with 8 phuchka’s.

The other starter we had was the Begun Bhaja, which is nothing but round slices of egg plant deep fried. Initially I thought It would be like the Beguni- which is basically thin spices of the egg plant dippe din batter and then fried. However, this one was without any batter. Personally I don’t like this form of the egg plant, although it stems from my childhood dislike for egg plants.

Palak Paneer
For mains, we ordered the Palak Paneer. Now this palak paneer was quite nice. On first looks, its looked a bit like light green, much lighter shade than actual spinach. Perhaps cream might have been added to give it a lighter note of colour. The Palak Paneer was fabulous and my favorite. This one was creamy and soft and sweet. Id probably say this was my most fa
vorite dish here that day.

Goat Curry
Next we ordered a Goat Curry. The goat curry was decent. A bit spicy, the quality of the goat was okay and in fact much better than what I expected. Usually goat meat turns out to be chewy and poor quality but over here it was quite descent. Is this the softest goat I have had? No But would I go there again – Yes. The curry was descent as well.

Kachi Biryani
The Kacchi Biryani– which is basically the Bangladeshi speciality and equivalent for Biryani- flavored rice with meat. This was interesting because the rice was a bit thicker and smaller. Usually I would have thought that Biryani involves the long grain fragrant Basmati rice but the rice here was different. Topped with a boiled eggs and a few saffron strands, the Biryani had essence of rosewater, that gave it a very different fragrance. What was also very interesting was that goat was amazingly soft in the biryani. Much more softer than the one in the goat curry. While the Biryani was pretty good, my rating is that its worth a try for something different in terms of a biryani type. I have again had other forms of biryani which I prefer, but nonetheless I would say its worth a try.

The last item on the table was the Fish Curry. Initially I had ordered the Hilsa curry, but due to lack of HIlsa we settled for the Pomfret Curry. This was again descent. I am personally not too much of a fish eater if it’s too fishy. Now the curry was pretty good and different styled. It had a base of onions and tomatoes. While one of my friends who accompanied complained that the fish was not crispy enough, but then I think if you want crispy fish, you don’t order a gravy. I believe from a gravy perspective, the fish was just great. It was fried aptly in the Bengali style and then put in the gravy and the fish was fresh. So overall, I would say yes.

Pomfret Curry
Next came the sweets. To begin with, the Mishti Doi or the sweetend curd was fantastic. It was awesome and amazing and one that I would say and highly recommended. When it cames to sweet, we had the long gulab jamun, the Sandesh and a few other sweets. While Bengali sweets are awesome, these to me were just about okay. I wouldn’t probably have it again to be honest, but Id definitely recommend the Mishti Doi, as a must have.
Oh Yes, one more thing. Like most other Indian Sub-continent, they do the regular drill or making Indian food- Chicken Tikka’s and Tandoori Items as well as the  Butter Chicken. I would probably not go for the Indian Tikkas and grilled items as they seemed to be using far too much colors. My friends daughter ordered the Chicken Tandoori and trust me, it was over colored. Id probably recommend to stay away from the regular Tandoor items.

The Bohrani is a curd based drink which is quite exciting and interesting along with mint and spices. Quite good.

Overall the place is pretty economical and affordable. Most appetizers are under $10. Chicken, Beef and Lamb gravies are about $15. Seafood gravies are about $18.

All in all, a descent spot, good food. The way I look at it, I usually judge a place by a simple question, how likely am I to return to this place?  The answer is Likely. The food is good, it’s a good spot, its got authentic Bangladeshi flavors. In fact, I am keen to visit again and try quite a few other dishes for the next time. So do go and give it a try.

23 Frederick Street, RockdaleNSW 2217
Ph: 95999405, 959991108

Bonolota Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Din Tai Fung, Sydney

Din Tai Fung

Shrimp and Pork Fried Wonton
Kung Pao Chicken with noodles
Now this one should be a no brainer given that it’s so famous and all across the world. Over the years in Sydney, I have always seen this one at the Westfield mall at City and due to being a non-pork eater, I hadn’t tried this for a long time. Luckily, things have changed and I started with the bacon and pork mince and hello Din Tai Fung. To Begin with, I have tried three locations so far in Sydney, one in North Sydney at Greenwood Plaza, the other at Westfield Mall at Pitt Street and latest at World Square, near Town Hall station. It would be quite a coincidence that in the last 4 weeks, I end up at Din Tai Fung every Thursday.

Dim Sum Roulette 
To begin with, Din Tai Fung’s core business is dim sums and buns. I have tried the pork dumplings and they are amazing. I have always believed that dumplings are something which have to be hot steamed and juicy. Back in India, I recall original dumplings or Momo’s as they call it in Tibetian cuisine, which were so juicy and the moment you pop them in your mouth, in one whole bite, all the juices of the meat kind of squirt out and there is this amazing explosion of flavours. When I came to Sydney, and tried dumplings, which are a bit different and tried them, I missed the juiciness in Momo’s. But that was only until recently in Din Tai Fung.

Pork Dumplings
Perfectly sealed delicate dumplings sealed and steamed and you pop them in your mouth and its instant nirvana. So to begin with, the pork dumplings are awesome. What Din Tai Fung does, is provide you with a set of dumplings, on a plate with roulette and one of the dumplings has chilli in it. Unfortunately, the first one I had was the chilli one and boy it was hot.  Super Super hot. But all the rest of them were normal and I loved it. There was also the chicken dumplings, but that was about okay. Nothing as tasty as the pork ones.
Wontons in Spicy Sauce
The fried pork and shrimp wantons are also great. Crispy, tasty and served with mayonnaise. It’s really nice and delicious.  The Kung Pao Chicken is another of my favourite, which comes with spicy chicken, cashews, greens and red chilli. Lovely. I have had the disk by itself or with fried rice and its great. Kung Pao chicken with noodles were probably not that great as much as it is by itself as a starter or with fried rice.
There is also the spicy Shrimp and Pork Wontons, which are basically wontons served in a delicious spicy sauce.

For vegetarian, they do the vegetarian dim sums, which has a stuffing of spinach and veggies. Its quite good, as much as I hate to admit that I would have ever liked veggie dimsums.

Overall it’s a great place and I love visiting and love to recommend it as well. I do find it a little bit expensive, 4 dim sums for 6 or 7 bucks, but nonetheless, there is always a price for the great things in life and this is one of them

So overall, I do think they match up to there claim of being the most delicious dumplings in the world. Highly recommended.

PH: (02) 9264 6010
PH: (02) 8246 7032

PH: (02) 8033 2353

Din Tai Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato