25 August, 2014

Gig Review: Alien Chutney at Counter Culture, B’lore

Opening the evening for Alien Chutney was Michael Anthony Dias from Mad Orange Fireworks who pulled off a pretty tight acoustic set that had almost everyone in the house clapping along. Michael played a lot of his own compositions, the most popular being Corporate Bomb which got a lot of cheers from the crowd. As a preview to next week’s tribute gig by his band at the same venue, Michael played a very neat version of Pearl Jam’s Even Flow. As part of the encore, he played a Malayalam song, which he claimed his grandma taught him, which was a tribute to the recent moral tragedy of prohibition being imposed in the state of Kerala.

Michael Anthony Dias

Michael Anthony Dias

Packed house

Next up was Alien Chutney. The band is popular thanks to their front man - Vir Das. Vir took the stage with his acoustic guitar and began his routine pointing out how men and women perceive music differently. After having the crowd in splits, he brought on the rest of the band to run through the set. While a lot of the set was fairly unchanged from their NH7 gig in Pune last year, the impromptu comedy and interaction with folks in the crowd made all the difference. Singing happy birthday to folks, pulling the leg of an entrepreneur and nearly marrying off two people, the gig had it all.

Vir Das

Sidd Coutto

Sidd cracks up on stage at a joke

The band played songs like Say Naa, Delhi Girls, All You Happy People Please Fuck Off (phew, long name) and the closing number Man Boobs. Playing to a packed house, Alien Chutney closed their gig with We’re Up online to Get Lucky. 

Pozy Dhar clearly amused

Must hold devil's horns

Alien Chutney
Despite not having any new numbers, the band still sounded fresh as Vir Das was immaculate in judging the mood of the crowd and playing off the reaction the crowd gave him. It was one really entertaining evening.

21 August, 2014

Food Mood: Tim Tai

I was completely excited to meet fellow food evangelists to try out the fare at Tim Tai, the relatively new pan-Asian cuisine joint in Koramangala. The place has been open for a few months now and every time I would drive past it, I always thought how bright the entire place was. And that’s the very first thing that hits you when you enter the restaurant. Besides the large tree in the middle of the room, which doubles up as a very neat dining area, a lot of trouble has gone into ensuring the colours immediately lift your mood. It’s a stark difference from most restaurants I have been to recently that have fairly muted lighting. While the open kitchen makes the place a tad noisy, you soon get used to it. 

Bright Interiors
Men at work
We ordered a variety of mock tails including raspberry ice teas, cinnamon and orange mixes and more. We began the meal with a Chicken Tom Kha soup. This mildly spicy soup with lemon grass, galangal and lime leaves really hit the spot. I have been recovering from a cold and blocked nose, but the aroma of the soup took care of that almost immediately. I shamelessly took a second helping of the soup. I don’t know what it is about my love-affair with soups at almost all the places I visit. This is a definite must have on my list the next time I go there.

Chicken Tom Kha Soup

The meal continued with a tangy Raw Mango Salad which had the quintessential Thai taste. The onions with the peanuts and the raw mango were a superb combination that left a nice taste in the mouth. With all my senses being cleared up thanks to the soup, the salad was even tastier, a definite must-have from their list of signature dishes. We also had the Green Tomato Salad which came with grilled prawns with a hint of lime and chilli. My aversion to tomatoes did not help me enjoy the salad. This was despite having grilled prawns which were done quite well. 

Raw Mango Salad

Green Tomato Salad with Grilled Prawns
Next up was a variety of Dim sums and Momos including chicken, prawn, corn and spinach and more. Each of these very nice and fresh and we all had to make a conscious effort not to binge on them lest we not have space for the main course. We closed the appetizers with Prawn Skewers which were quite alright, but pale in comparison compared to the Dim sums and Momos. 

Prawn Skewers
For the main course, we had the Thai Chilli Basil noodles which had a lovely soya taste and aroma to it. This was accompanied by Fried Rice. The main side dish was the Lamb with Black Bean Sauce and Bamboo Shoots. This was a nice mildly spicy dish that really complimented both the rice and the noodles. The lamb was cut into fine slices and was cooked long enough to allow the gravy to enter the meat, evening out the taste.

Lamb in Black Bean Sauce
If your mouth isn’t watering already, here’s the most memorable part of the meal – the desserts. (Yes, plural) I started off with the Coconut Panna Cotta with Berry Compote. While the Panna Cotta was perfect, I did not enjoy the stark contrasting dominating taste of the berries. It didn’t do justice to the Panna Cotta. Now to the ice creams. We were offered a variety of Ice creams which included exotic flavours such as Orange Lemongrass, Chocolate Chilli and Kaffir Lime. All three were simply brilliant and soon made me forget what the berries had done to the Panna Cotta. Some of the other folks tried a very fancy looking dessert of water chestnuts with coconut milk, but I stuck to my ice creams. We also got a helping of Green Tea Fried Ice Cream with White Chocolate Sauce which was very unique.  The good part is that Tim Tai makes the ice cream in-house, so you probably won’t find a similar taste elsewhere. The elaborate meal ended with tiny chocolate paans.

Coconut Panna Cotta with Berry Compote

Kaffir Lime Ice Cream

Orange Lemongrass Ice Cream

Green Tea Fried Ice Cream with White Chocolate
I must say we all ate a lot that evening. But it was so worth it. Tim Tai is definitely one of the places I would recommend for someone looking out for a nice evening of good food at a place with a very cheerful ambiance. The staff was fairly courteous to us, food was served hot and the portions were quite filling. Located near the Sukh Sagar in Koramangala, Tim Tai is the new destination for good pan-Asian cuisine. A meal for two should cost around Rs.1000 – Rs.1200, provided you didn’t eat the way we did. I recommend booking a table in advance as the place was packed even on a Tuesday evening despite the rain. 

I’ve not even covered the vegetarian section but even that looked equally impressive. Do not miss having the Tom Yum soup and the Raw Mango Salad.

20 August, 2014

Gig Review: The East India Comedy Show at Biere Club

Here's the link to some work I had done for liveinstyle.com. It's the gig review from two funny stand-up comedians - Abijit Ganguly and Radhika Vaz.

Read the entire review here.

Abijit Ganguly

Radhika Vaz

07 August, 2014

Food Mood: The Dyu Art Cafe

One of the few things that make me really happy is when I stumble upon an eating joint that I fall in love with, and the people I recommend it to try it, and love it too. The Dyu Art Cafe in Koramangala is one such place. Three people I know went here based on my recommendation and fell in love with the place. So yaay!

The Dyu Art Cafe is a quaint little cafe located in the gully just after the Mangala Kalyana Mantappa in Koramangala. A small old-style house converted into an eating joint offers patrons a cosy outdoor setting in the courtyard area to enjoy some yummy sandwiches and hot beverages. The menu isn't as elaborate as most other coffee shops I've been to, but whatever they do make tastes really good. I started off with the Chicken Club Sandwich which came layered with shredded chicken, egg, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and cheese. Everything was put together in just the right quantities such that none of the ingredients overpowered the taste of the other. Even the egg flavour was muted. The sandwich left a lovely minty taste in the mouth. This is definitely the one things you should order when you go here. This was accompanied with a Cappuccino that had a lovely aroma to it, and thick froth on top.

Chicken Club Sandwich

Chicken Club Sandwich

I moved on to have a pretty neat Chicken Omelette which was cooked really well. The amount of chicken was impressive and the cheese simply melted in your mouth. The omelette comes with brown bread and a generous lob of butter for those who feel like putting on some pounds. I closed the meal with one of the best Hot Chocolates I've had in Bengaluru in a long time.

Chicken Omelette

Hot Chocolate
Being a small cafe, they are understaffed. While this made service just a tad slow, Dyu Art Cafe is not a place you go when you’re in a hurry. It’s a cute joint that’s best suited for long conversations with friends, significant others or just some quiet time to catch up on a book. Now where’s the art? The cafe also doubles up as a venue to look at the work by some of the city’s artists and painters. The overall lazy feel of the cafe just adds to the good food. My pick would be the Chicken Club Sandwich and the Hot Chocolate. The entire meal cost me under Rs.400 which I thought was a steal. Do check out the Dyu Art Cafe – my new favourite cafe.

Gig Review: Tribute to Black Sabbath by Bevar Sea at Counter Culture's #TimeCapsule

Oh my lord, what did I just see? I just saw the bar for tribute shows raised so high, it gave the White Wall in the Game of Thrones an inferiority complex. I was really stoked with the set list chosen by Kryptos to kick off the month of tributes at Counter Culture, and along comes Bevar Sea and blows the roof off.

Bevar Sea were slated to do a tribute to the founding fathers (or so we all accept) of heavy metal – Black Sabbath. One would normally expect a set list consisting of the standard Paranoid, Iron Man, Sabbath bloody Sabbath and so on. But Bevar Sea decided to throw that set list out the window and choose a very unique list from the Sabbath catalogue. And then they executed it to near perfection. The set started off with Into the Void, with the starting riff getting everyone in the audience up and front right away. The momentum continued with a neatly modified version of After Forever

The band had to throw in one popular Sabbath number, and they chose well. The crowd went hysterical the moment they heard the NIB bass riff. And that was pretty much game, set and match for the rest of the evening. This was followed by Sweet Leaf, National Acrobat, Hole in the sky and Snow blind.

At the halfway mark, the band showed no signs of being weary and the crowd was only getting crazier with each song. With more beer going down everyone’s throats, the crowd started doing (fairly sad) stage dives. Lord of this world and The Wizard followed. The penultimate song was Hand of Doom which made everyone go completely nuts and sing along at the very top of their voices.

I was still waiting for the point at which Paranoid would be played because let’s admit it, Black Sabbath = Paranoid. Almost every band in college played that first. But Bevar Sea took a brave choice to close the set with the Sabbath classic I. Honestly; I’ve never seen a braver set list backed up by a solid tight performance. That set list could have gone either way but at the end, no one was complaining. Take a bow Bevar Sea – absolutely stellar tribute gig.

06 August, 2014

Gig Review: Tribute to Classic Metal by Kryptos at Counter Culture's #TimeCapsule

Starting off Counter Culture’s Time Capsule: A Month of Tributes was Kryptos. The boys from Bengaluru were to do a tribute to classic metal. Traditionally I’ve stayed away from tribute shows because I’ve almost always had fairly poor experiences. However, this show was different. One would expect the standard crowd-pleasing songs that the radio plays in the name of heavy metal, but the band chose an unexpected set list and executed the same to near perfection. They kicked off the night with UFO’s Doctor Doctor. I did not see that coming. Like most metal crowds, the audience stayed away from the stage with their hands folded in an almost judgmental way. But by the end of the first song, everyone was up and front head banging away.

The band was very tight. Even more than what they are when it comes to their own songs. The lead guitar was spot-on along with the drumming that never missed a beat. There is always a big advantage when a band has two people who can handle vocal responsibilities. It allows a lot of room for harmonizing vocals that sound absolutely killer when it comes to chorus pieces.

The band went on to cover songs from artists like Sodom, Judas Priest (thankfully not Breaking the Law) and even Billy Idol. The band did a tight job with Metallica’s Four Horsemen, Grim Reaper’s See you in hell and Iron Maiden’s Bring your daughter to the slaughter (which they dedicated to all the people looking for partners on bharatmatrimony.com). Keeping in tune with the main theme for the evening which was a tribute to Black Sabbath by Bevar Sea, Kryptos played the Sabbath (namely James Dio) classic Children of the sea as well.

Kryptos went on to play some of their original material by which time they had the crowd head banging to anything they played. Their set ended with the Kryptos original and audience favourite Mask of Anubis. It was the perfect start to the evening and set the mood really well for the next band to take over. If I had to pick holes in the performance, the band didn’t play anything from Megadeth. But then, that’s just me being picky. A super tight performance made even better by a much unexpected set list that covered some of the best that classic metal had to offer. Two thumbs up for Kryptos.

05 August, 2014

Food Blog: Food from Hong Kong (Pt. 1)

Finally, here are pictures of some of the local delicacies I had during my short trip to Hong Kong. The first dish is the Lo Mein with meat and farm egg. This was the very first thing we had when we landed in Hong Kong. And oh wow, what a debut it was. We ate this at a quaint little place called the Macau House of Noodles and Buns which was right opposite our hotel. As the name suggests, it’s the ramen-style flat noodles with a fried egg and a slice of meat. I’m not sure if it was the hunger, but this was by far the yummiest thing I had eaten during the entire trip. And the best part is that the meal doesn’t have any of the usual preservatives that they dump into food these days to make you feel full. So despite having an entire bowl, I still had space for more.

Lo Mein with Meat and Egg
Next up is Macaroni Soup with Beef and Ox tail. While it was a filling dish, I was a bit disappointed. There really isn’t much to talk about it. It’s a clear soup with a combined taste of the meat and carrots that were put into it.

Macaroni soup with Beef and Ox Tail
On the second day, we made our way to the markets in Mong Kok and attacked some street food. The road side eateries were run by older Chinese folks who only spoke Cantonese. So I really don’t know what we ate because any attempt to ask was met with them shoving a calculator in my face with the price of the dish. So I really don’t have names for any of the dishes I ate, except for the egg waffle which was nice and sweet. The second picture you see below is some kind of sea food. The flavour of the soya sauce made it taste so yummy. I only wish I knew what animal it used to be.

Egg Waffles
We also tried some sort of meat on a stick that I couldn't identify. I tried to be very ambitious and try some octopus. I stood in front of the stall for almost five minutes trying to gather some courage to try the rather ghastly Pirates of the Caribbean-esque barbequed octopus tentacles. But alas, I just could not bring myself to eat it.

Octopus Tentacles
Anyway, more to (appetizing) pictures to come soon.