Koramangala

Nasi And Mee

I think Nasi and Mee opened just as we were moving to Whitefield. But we had heard so many good things about it that a plan had been in the works for a long while. The plan just kept getting postponed, and would have continued to, but for a couple of friends who thankfully manage to be very unsympathetic to the rigorous planning with which I plan my restaurant outings! And thus we landed in Koramangala, on a rainy Friday night, after having spent the previous hour and a half trapped in an Uber in slow motion. Even as we were pointing out to each other the changes on 80 feet Road, Koramangala, we spotted Nasi and Mee adjacent to what can arguably be now called a heritage hangout – Rendezvous!

Somehow, the space manages to give itself a hipster feel, helped by a largely young crowd. Great buzz, and just the right amount of light for us older folk to see around, and look at the menu.

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1522

First published in Bangalore Mirror

We hadn’t visited Koramangala since we shifted to Whitefield, so I took the restaurant review as an excuse to plan a 2D/1N weekend getaway at B and N’s place. 😀 After a beef and pork extravaganza the previous night, we visited 1522 on a Saturday afternoon.

The usual story is a restaurant doing well in Koramangala or Indiranagar and then branching out to relatively uncharted areas. But this time, we have a plot twist. Imagine two storylines moving in parallel from the beginning of this decade. Amidst the deluge of fancy cuisines and posh experiences in Koramangala, an old warhorse holds its ground. It’s an icon after all, with a signal named after it, and the number of times a cab/rickshaw driver has been told “From Maharaja signal..” must be approaching infinity. Meanwhile, in the relatively conservative environs that make up Malleswaram, a new generation, riding on the legacy of a White Horse, slowly begins to make a name for itself. It’s called 1522. Cut to 2015, and quite against the conventional tide, a little bit of Malleswaram appears in Koramangala! (map) More

Onesta

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Under normal circumstances, 7.30PM is a safe time to walk into a restaurant without a reservation – experience suggests that it’s too early for the twenty-somethings to have started their Saturday nocturnal agenda. But then one comes across places like Onesta that completely defy this logic. Onesta is on the Ooty Chocolates road off 100 feet Road Koramangala. (map) Best of luck on the parking. We barely managed to get a table, and in the two hours we spent there, there was hardly a moment when a whippersnapper wasn’t waltzing in and asking for a table, seemingly oblivious of folks who were already waiting. Having landed a table right at the entrance, we were at the receiving end of a ton of evil eyes, all of which were questioning the legitimate amount of time one should be allowed to spend with pizzas. This is amazing for an outlet which has been around for only a month, and it immediately raised hopes of some fantastic food. But, according to the menu, you need to wait for 25 minutes before the food reaches you. So let me attempt to distract you with the ambiance. Imagine walking off a Koramangala road straight into a cobbled street in Europe, complete with a tiny fountain, white walls and shutter doors. In the first ten minutes, we even had a two-girl band crooning to lyrics sourced real time on a mobile phone! Music reminds me, there’s a heavy metal fan right next to the fountain, and while the idea (coolness in summer) is indeed sound, it does result in water sprays every five minutes if you’re seated anywhere near it. That notwithstanding, the yellow flower pots, red and black chairs, the quaint lampshades and glass bottles, and paneled wood tables all contribute to a bright yet chic elegance that’s warm and charming.

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My Bar

No, not mine, it’s just a name. Located above Kobe in Koramangala, (map) it occupies a couple of floors, both offering my favourite kind of road-view seating. That’s probably what prompted a second visit. The place has a lot of knickknacks – lanterns hanging from the roof, and everything from compasses to framed Someecards adorning the walls. While the first visit was on a night when D and I were not really hungry, the second was a Sunday afternoon when the bellies were mostly empty! Their bar menu has quite a few interesting cocktails. On our first visit, we tried a Kala Khatta – a mix of vodka, black salt, chaat masala and raw mango mix, with mint, and a green chilli. Quite good, with multiple flavour pops, the only spoiler being the extended presence of crushed ice. We also tried a couple of starters – Beef Pepper Fry and Coorgi Pork. The first was (mostly) well cooked beef with the pepper corn adding a spicy touch. The braised pork was served with Kadamputtu, the pork itself was mildly spicy and juicy, but the accompaniment could have done better for itself.

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Twist

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Straight off the bat, I have not yet been able to figure out exactly why this new lounge in Koramangala is called Twist, unless I factor in the occasional ‘twists’ in the dishes. I’ll admit though that it does have its little quirks in décor – the cutlery themed door handles, the retro electric switchboard, the fake grass flooring and the copper balti washbasin, which, I hear, is fast becoming a norm in new restaurants. Being a rooftop lounge, it is able to takes full advantage of the lovely Bangalore weather, though I wonder what would happen when it rained. The place was reasonably packed when we visited on a Saturday night. For a lounge, I thought the tables could have been a bit more spread out. It also didn’t help that the rattan seating got a bit uncomfortable after a while, enough for a couple of my friends to twist and turn and make me wonder about the name. The other thing that made me reflect on the name was the spelling of ingredients in the menu – a whole bunch of them have been twisted around! Meanwhile, the service deserves a special mention for their friendly demeanour and promptness.

Given that the starters get a disproportionate share of the overall menu because it is a lounge, our focus too was on this section. Rather uncharacteristically, we decided to begin with a salad. My natural aversion to this gastronomic species was reinforced when the Thai Chilly Beef salad failed to deliver the spicy punch it had promised in the description. It probably had something to do with the Naga Chilli not turning up for the show at all! The Pesto Cheese Skewers had every ingredient in attendance but the pesto wasn’t really in a participatory mood, leaving the dish quite bland. More ‘greenery’ arrived in aquatic form – the Charmula fish. The basa was cooked just right and the marinade had enough flavour to turn the tide. The Pandi Papdi lived up to its interesting name – pork served on a crispy version of lavash. The well-cooked, mildly spicy pork and the texture of the lavash made sure it was a reasonable success. The Mozzarella Chicken Sish (sic) was another combination that aroused curiosity. The mince was marinated with Awadhi masala, and tempered with cheese stuffing. Not a bad attempt at all. Our favourite dish was the Chicken Chettinad Puff – fluffy-not-flaky pastry stuffed with tasty chicken morsels – unanimously voted the dish of the day. More

Malabar Bay

On one of those evenings when we were in the mood for our very own Mallu food, we decided to check out a place that had been on my list for a while now – Malabar Bay. This is on the Dairy Circle side of The Forum and off Taverkere Road. (map) There used to be a Kairali here if I’m not mistaken. We reached there by 7.30 and could choose a seat, but it did get crowded later. The place is quite large and portions of it have quite the Kerala touch when it comes to decor. We chose to sit in the AC section upstairs but you better be prepared for Siberia-like temperatures if you plan to do this. I wasn’t!

From the menu, we ordered a Koondal (squid) Roast. This was our second choice since mussels weren’t available, but turned out to be a good one. It was spicy and the squid was cooked just right. We also ordered a Podhi Chicken, since this wasn’t something we found on the standard Mallu menus. Wrapped in banana leaves and moderately spicy, this was quite fantastic too. It isn’t boneless though.

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Gilly’s

First published in Bangalore Mirror

I’d been hearing about Gilly’s for  while now, and when I figured out that the crowd on Saturday nights would lead us to a Hoppipola-like experience, we decided to land up on a Saturday afternoon.  Despite that, the place was reasonably packed and there was definitely a peppy vibe about the place. There are two sections – the indoor area is dim lit and has more of a retro pub feel to it, and the outdoor is brighter, seems more cheerful, and if it weren’t for the bar stools, you could mistake it for a fun café. The walls are adorned with pop culture posters, typical pub humour, and occasionally glass paintings. The music is exactly what the 20-somethings would order and the decibel levels increased as the afternoon progressed. The focus on short eats, both in terms of menu items as well as portion sizes, ensures that you’ll not need to worry about your beer not having sufficient company. More

Serafina

Serafina sounds like a fantastic super villain from the Marvel universe, but this is about a restaurant in Koramangala. (map) I think I could easily associate charming or pretty if I had one word to describe the place. The brick walls, decor, furniture, lighting and the fantastic music (classics, played at just the right sound for one to enjoy it and yet have a conversation without a megaphone) lend it a touch of classiness. They have seating on two floors inside, and an alfresco option that faces the 80 feet Road. On a pleasant Bangalore evening, we chose the latter.

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Happy Brew

First published in Bangalore Mirror . Happens to be my 50th for the publication.

There’s always something brewing in Koramangala and the latest addition is a Gastro Café named Happy Brew. This is the place that was once occupied by Soul Courtyard. (map) Yes, they have valet parking! From the name, we did expect a microbrewery, but soon learned that the happiness was limited to Kingfisher, which gets branding space all over the place. Thankfully, the pricing and the ambiance ensured that we could adhere to Bangalore’s famous ‘Grin and beer’ philosophy. The place resembles a courtyard more than anything else, with the bar at the centre and ‘good times’ caricature adorning the wall. A flight of stairs leads you to an area which won’t let you get too high, mostly thanks to the really low ceiling! The walls here are made of wooden panels with some lovely black and white photos of smiling people. While it seemed like an excellent area to lounge on a weekend afternoon, the heat became quite unbearable in a while! The playlist was a nostalgia attack – we heard everything from Modern Talking’s “Brother Louie” to Geri Halliwell’s “It’s Raining Men”, and “That Thing You Do” – songs which the younger members in our group didn’t even recognise. But between the songs, the brew and the food, we were all kept reasonably happy!

The drinks menu consists of beer, ‘beer tails’, mocktails, coffee and a few milkshakes. Conveying our order turned out to be tougher than a Mars mission, since it took three attempts before the person who took our order convinced us he had it right! The only ‘beer tail’ that worked was Diesel. (lager with cola) The Beer Mojito and Kiwi’s Paradise (beer with Kiwi) sounded promising but fell flat on taste. The Blue Lagoon, tagged a mocktail, featured Blue Curacao and scored on looks, but that was it. It also didn’t help that a couple of drinks we asked for (including a Brownie shake) weren’t available. When there’s cheap beer, perhaps one shouldn’t hope for a lot more!

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Tim Tai

Residents of Koramangala would remember Ping, which rose to stardom and fell from grace all in a few years! The same vicinity now hosts Tim Tai, which calls itself an Asian Deli. (right next to bon South) It exudes fun, from the moment you see its bright signage from the road. The interiors have a high ceiling, a tree almost smack in the middle of the floor (around which there is some seating available) and functional, yet chic decor. The general cheeriness is also evident from the ‘Gurus @ work’ sign above the kitchen. Having read that it gets crowded by 8, we arrived early and managed to get a seat in the alfresco area, which even has a little waterfall.

Though they don’t serve alcohol, there is a drinks menu with a fair amount of choice. (menu, incomplete) There is also a separate dim sum menu as well. Another thing that reminded me of Ping. When there’s Tom Kha, there are no discussions. We asked for two small portions, and I also decided to check out an Asian Mary.  (that’s a drink!) That, and the Banana Wrapped Grilled Chicken with Sambal’ made up our starers. The soup portion size worked just right for us and it was excellent in terms of taste as well. It was actual coconut milk (not the stuff made from powdered versions) and had a nice kaffir lime tang for some flavour in addition to the galangal and lemongrass. The drink was guava based with tabasco and a pepper rim that made it spicy, sweet and refreshing all at once. The Chicken starter should not be attempted if you don’t have a tolerance for spice. But if you do like spice, you’ll love this one! The menu also has satays, Asian salads and cold rolls.

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