My lovelies, say hello to traditional Mangalorean Kori Rotti, one of my favourite childhood indulgences! 🙂
If you’ve read about my travels to Thailand, and my review of our very-Sushi meal at Shiro, Mumbai, then you already know that I’m obsessed with Asian Cuisine! 😀 I love it all – Sushi, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Tempura, Nasi Goreng, Laksa, Thai curry, Glass Noodle Soups and Salads, Dimsum, Crackling Pork, Bao, Sticky Rice, Darsaan. You name it, I love it. And if I haven’t tried it, I will and I’m sure I’ll love it. 😀
So naturally, when my brother told me about a Pan Asian Food Festival happening at The Gateway Hotel, Mangalore, my ears perked up, and my mind was instantly swirling with images of Sushi, Dimsum, fresh salads and hot, sweet and sour punches of flavour. After tossing the idea around for a few days, last night we finally got off our lazy bums and headed to The Gateway Hotel. If you’re in Mangalore and are planning to try it out, hurry, the festival ends on January 31, 2016!
This is how the night went…
As soon as we were seated we were asked what we’d like to order and we went with the Asian Buffet. A couple of solo photographs of the brother and the boyfriend done, I headed to the buffet spread to get some clicks of the prettily laid out food.
As I walked over to the Appetizer bar, I must say, I was not very thrilled. There lay a few trays of sliced salad veggies, some Kimchi, Poached Seafood Salad, vegetarian Sushi and Crab Stick Urumaki, a Glass Noodle Salad and two platters stocked high with bread rolls. On another table lay two soups – Vietnamese Noodle Soup and Prawn Tom Yum Soup and some steamed Chicken Dimsum. When I list this all out, it seems like a beautiful spread, but one look at the Sushi and I was very disappointed. I also expected a larger variety of salads, some steamed bao and Vietnamese spring rolls; not to forget freshly fried tempura!
We began our meal with some soup. I went with a bowl of Tom Yum Soup. The reason I call it Tom Yum Soup and not Prawn Tom Yum Soup is because in my entire bowl, I managed to find just two tiny prawns sunken to the bottom. The reason they were sunken was because the soup was not thick enough and far too watery. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed the flavours; but we all know that consistency is key to a good soup. The flavour profile of the Vietnamese soup was really nice as well. Light and refreshing.
We absolutely loved the Steamed Chicken Dimsums. The outer coating was soft, and pulled away easily, revealing a delectable succulent filling that was so well seasoned, you kept wanting to go in for another bite. I loved the Mustard-Chilli relish that went with it (looked a lot like chimichurri to me!). Just delish!
The Glass Noodle Salad looked so pretty and colourful and was packed with refreshing flavours. It was lemon-y, sweet, fresh and just lip-smacking. I liked it so much, I went back for a second serving!
The crispy fried Fish Takra was another great dish. It was sweet and spicy and crunchy with a wonderfully soft centre. Just what you want from a yum starter to go with some drinks.
I am a huge fan of bread. Whenever I’m dining at a buffet spread, I make it a point to try all the different breads out there. The spread at The Gateway Hotel featured the Classic Bun and the Dinner Roll. I loved both. They were soft and melt-in-the-mouth, just the right amount of sweet sans the overpowering flavour of yeast. Just the way I like it!
There were two kinds of Sushi – a vegetarian kind that was basically a rice roll with a stick of carrot and Cucumber each and the Crab Stick Urumaki.
As you can see in the picture above, the Urumaki looks nothing like a good Sushi. It is almost impossible to locate the seafood. However, if you look closely, you can see a crab stick each stuck in there and some wasabi around it. Already disheartened with how it looked, I popped an Urumaki into my mouth. And my tongue was on fire. Due to the lack of veggies and seafood to complement and tackle the heat of the wasabi, the Urumaki was far too pungent; and not in an appetizing way. Having gorged on some amazing Sushi in Muscat, Mumbai and Thailand, this was a huge letdown. 😦
Apart from this, the Kimchi was not seasoned well enough and the Poached Seafood Salad didn’t please my taste buds. The Cottage Cheese cooked in pepper and herbs was rubbery and required a lot of effort to bite. Definitely not how it’s supposed to be.
So, this was my general issue with the Main Course spread. While I glanced through the gravies that lined the buffet table, I could see a variety of dishes that screamed Indo-Chinese! You know the kind. There was a chicken gravy, some Mushroom, Brocolli and Bamboo Shoot and Kung Pao Chicken – all featuring the same corn-starch thickened gravy seasoned with different sauces and batter-fried chicken and veggies. This was very disappointing, because I wanted to eat authentic Asian food, not Indo-Chinese!
The only thing I decided I wanted to taste from the entire main course spread was the Jungle Seafood Curry (which looked and tasted exactly like Thai Green Curry!) and steamed rice (no, it was not Jasmine Rice). I really enjoyed the curry but hated that the seafood was – as expected – batter-fried as well. The best bit about Thai curry is how fresh seafood/ chicken/ veggies work perfectly with the spicy gravy. Despite being a seafood lover, I couldn’t bring myself to eat all that soggy batter-fried seafood; I ended up eating just the rice and curry.
The dessert bar was prettily laid out with some fresh fruit, a sweet Tofu dish, some Darsaan (which they named Darshan!), Mithai Kaja (something like a desi Baklava), Green Peas Halwa and Cream Caramel.
Though it looked absolutely stunning, the Mithai Kaja was a little hard to bite and had a strong flavour of sesame to it. It was good, but not great!
These little bites of decadent goodness were amazing. The soft tofu covering giving way to a piece of sweet and sour pineapple was a lovely surprise! I tasted it for the first time and loved it!
When bakers see soft vanilla cake as the base of a cheesecake, they see red (are graham crackers or digestive biscuits not on the market?). And that’s exactly what happened last night and it drove me mad! To top it off, well literally, there was nothing cheesy about the strawberry layer – it was just a really bad strawberry mousse. We took one bite, cringed and set it aside. Extremely unpalatable.
Then came the best part of the meal – and I mean no sarcasm here – the Darsaan. The noodles were crispy, oozing with the sweetness of honey and a dash of sesame and paired with Vanilla Ice-Cream, it was a match made it heaven! Super delicious!
The brother and the boyfriend then went on to ruin the amazing aftertaste of the Darsaan with some really uninviting Cream Caramel, but I made no such mistake, hence my evening ended on a beautifully sweet note! (What can I say, they should’ve listened to me!) 😛
All in all, the Pan Asian Food Festival was largely marred by the introduction of Indian flavours, which was very dissatisfying for someone who expected authentic Asian Cuisine. When we conveyed our concerns to a server, he let us know about how the first day of the festival featured authentic Asian delicacies which were not well-received by diners. Hence the adjustments with an Indian touch. That’s too bad, they’re really missing out!
If I were to rate the Pan Asian Food Festival 2016, at The Gateway Hotel, on a five star scale, I’d give it a 2.5. I believe staying authentic to classic delicacies would have taken our dining experience to a whole other level!
It’s been a few days since we first dined at Brio Cafe, Mangalore; and in short, the experience was a blend of hits and misses. Situated right outside the Lighthouse Hill entrance of St. Aloysius Pre-University and Degree Colleges, one would imagine that this little cafe would be bustling with students bunking class and gorging on some scrumptious fast food. But one look at the prices on the menu, and it’s clear why the place is not filled with enthusiastic young chatter. But the exorbitant prices are not all that’s off about this place…
Here I share The Foodscape’s experience at Brio Cafe, Mangalore. Brace yourselves, it’s a long one. 😛
When we walked in to Brio Cafe, we quite liked what we saw. It is a chic cafe dressed in tones of cream, beige and chocolate, and a splash of colour here and there. While dining tables surrounded with high chairs provide for a comfortable dining experience, the cute sofa-coffee table seating arrangement that the cafe sports is great for a coffee and cake break.
The brick walls add a homey vibe to the experience, while neatly set tables topped with candles bring with them an air of warmth. The carefully picked wall decor is also pleasing to the eye; though I’m not quite sure if there’s any symbolism attached to the bicycle themed decor. Something we didn’t quite like were the paper menus; they were crumpled and worn, certainly not something that complements the ambience.
Chilled and laid back, it wasn’t hard for me to be at leisure here. Also, I must mention that the cafe plays some great music! 🙂
Priced at Rs. 100, the Cheesy Garlic Bread was quite nice. It came with six pieces of soft bread topped with semi-melted mozzarella. It was well seasoned and looked great too. However, as the boyfriend put it, ‘It just wasn’t cheesy enough!’ It lacked that blast of cheese that we all love when we sink our teeth into some velvety cheesy goodness.
When browsing through the menu, the Baked Stuffed Potatoes caught my eye. I instantly pictured skin-on baked potatoes, filled with chicken or sausages topped with oodles of cheese. But when we asked the server about the stuffing, he didn’t know just what it was. He told us they were stuffed with cheese, carrots and vegetables. It would have been lovely if the server knew exactly what he was serving; it provides a reassurance of sorts to diners, that they’re in good hands. We went with the potatoes anyway.
When the stuffed potatoes arrived, they looked lip-smacking. Priced at Rs. 150 and tossed in a gravy oozing with earthy flavours of paprika, the potatoes were cooked until crunchy and stuffed with as assortment of veggies like carrots, peas and baby corn. The cheese was nowhere in sight. I found that the earthy flavours of the gravy overpowered the gorgeous potatoes, the stuffing didn’t do justice to the dish and the potatoes themselves were a little too hard for my liking. The goodness of that mushy bite that is characteristic of baked potatoes was missing. All in all, the brother, the boyfriend and I were not fans of this dish.
Then came our drinks, which I think was the best part of the meal. The boyfriend went with a Pomegranate Cooler, the brother with a Chocolate Milkshake and I with a Mojito. While the former was a wonderful dance of pomegranate and lemon on the taste buds, the milkshake was smooth creamy and chocolicious; and my mojito was refreshing! However, I didn’t quite understand just why the Mojito was priced at Rs. 110. That’s crazy expensive for a drink as simple as a mint and lime concoction! The Chocolate Milkshake was Rs. 120; pricey, but edging on worth it; and the pomegranate cooler was priced at Rs. 80, quite reasonable.
For main course, the brother decided to have the lamb burger. Priced at Rs. 170, it looked inviting when it arrived, with the bread being all soft and pillowy and a side of fries. But upon tasting it, we were disappointed. The flavours and textures of lamb are beautiful and cooking it is an art. To be able to work spices in, to complement the meat’s strong flavours is definitely difficult but when done right results in something magical. This was not the case with the burger. The lamb patty was cooked in bland spices, and was then coated in a batter and some semolina before it was deep fried (why burger patties are batter fried, I will never understand). All this just took away the beauty of the meat, leaving it drab and unappetizing.
Priced at Rs. 210 (way too expensive!), the Chicken Steak was dry, overcooked and edged towards boring. The chicken breast cooked in a mushroom and garlic sauce spiked with lots of paprika, didn’t play well on my taste buds one bit. I enjoyed the fries and the buttery sauteed vegetables much more that I did the chicken. A thumbs down from me.
The boyfriend went with the Grilled Prawns and my were they delicious! They had this smokey hot flavour coming through which worked spectacularly for the sweet meat of the prawns. And the best bit, the amazing seafood-ness of the prawn that all us seafood lovers crave, was only amplified by the marinade. And the dish was reasonably priced at Rs. 210 as well!
So, here’s the deal about the main course at Brio Cafe. All three dishes that we ordered tasted somewhat similar, if not the same. While the marinade worked splendidly for the prawns, it didn’t work for the chicken one bit. And, that both the prawns and the chicken were cooked in the same marinade was a huge disappointment.
The desserts at Brio Cafe, were the biggest letdown. The three of us are huge fans of dessert and what we had at the cafe was extremely unpalatable, to put it lightly. The Nutella Cheesecake was the most edible from the lot but was a huge disappointment in itself. The base layer of oreos was gluggy and lacked the crackle of the biscuit layer, the cheesecake layer lacked that wow factor and the Nutella topping was just not Nutella. It was a thin layer of simple chocolate that really took away the draw factor of delicious Nutella. To pass that off as Nutella is a crime in the dessert world!
The Fudge Brownie was hard, and crispy, lacked the gooeyness of a brownie, had a weird cookie layer at the bottom and the aftertaste was soapy and unsavoury. The Red Velvet cupcake was really bad. It was not red enough, not velvety enough and the frosting was crisp and hard (obviously made with shortening) and had an incredibly distasteful flavour to it. Probably the worst end to a meal I’ve ever had. Here’s hoping they really step up their dessert game!
All in all, we didn’t really enjoy our experience at Brio Cafe. We went in with high expectations and came out feeling really letdown. There were way too many negatives and just too few positives to counter them. There is room for some serious improvement and I only hope they work harder to please the evolved taste buds of foodies, both young and old. If I had to give my experience an overall rating, I would give it 2 stars out 5. Would I dine here again? Quite simply, no.