Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The much-awaited Kabab Factory

We've been trying to go to the Kabab Factory at the Radisson Hotel in Chennai for approximately a year now! And we finally managed to go last night. Not sure if it was worth a year of waiting.

The restaurant is unique in that you only get to order a thali - a non-vegetarian or vegetarian thali - and the rest is taken care of.

We got about 6 kababs, dal, roti, biryani and a host of chutneys. And though the 4 (+1/2) of us drove together in one car, we might have needed 2 cars to come back!! We were so stuffed that we actually got up and took a walk in the middle of dinner! The only other time I've done that was at French Laundry - and that was because it was a 11-course, 4-hour exquisite French experience.

The kababs were pretty good - I really cant comment having eaten the veggie version - but everyone else seemed to enjoy it. Except for the lamb that was sent back twice because it was too tough. Let me see, I got 1 piece of paneer, 2 pieces of babycorn, 1 spinach kabab, and 1 sweet potato kabab. I tell you, it was difficult to walk after that meal. Which leads me to wonder, how many tubs of butter goes into the kababs to make them that rich? :(

Would've been nice to partake of the hookah after the meal, but it was only on display. Not like Off the Hookah... :)

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Went for my first halloween party in Chennai. It was loads of fun! The host had gone all out - she had a spooky room (which spooked the hell outta my daughter), lots of crafts (we made a super creepy-crawly) and some great stuff hanging around all over the house. Followed by trick-or-treating! Didn't expect to do it for the first time in Chennai!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Last Night at the YPO event

It was a first for any evening that I have spent in India! (though the current price of real estate in Chennai does make one gasp!).



First off, I can't imagine south Indians like Japanese food very much. They are mostly vegetarians who are quite loyal to their own spices - mustard seeds, cumin etc. Japanese food is *very* different. Still we have TWO Japanese restaurants in Chennai. One is Haka Saka on the ECR, which I've yet to go to, but haven't heard good reviews of. The other is Dahlia.

Dahlia has been in the same location for the last 14 years (yes! 14 years! for those of you who are going - No Way was it there when I was in college!). Its located behind Ganpat Hotel at the end of Nungambakkam High Road. And even the decor has remained the same except for a new tv and a fish tank. The tv shows delightful Japanese programs that I thoroughly enjoyed watching while I was there.

The food was delicious! The noodle soup was great as was the fresh tofu with peanut-wasabi sauce. I enjoyed the stir-fried vegetable+udon though my dining companions complained that it could have MSG. And being vegetarian was not a problem - they accomodated special requests (the sweet potato instead of the calamari) and were very hospitable. Everything went down well with all the sake.... :)
Dahlia Rocks!

Friday, October 27, 2006


No, not the coffee - the Park Sheraton coffee shop.

The restaurant has become a fast favorite of mine. The food is exceptionally good and they accomodate most requests. Try the veggie noodles and chilli chicken. The pizza is pretty good and the pasta is great. The channa bathura, for those Indian-food enthusiasts out there, is fabulous!

This is definitely not the run-of-the-mill coffee shop that serves the usual buffet of left-overs from the kitchen!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Southern not-so-Spicy

We hosted a friend of ours recently from California. It was her first visit to Chennai (she has lovely insightful stuff to say about India in her blog). We went to a nearby southern Indian restaurant, Southern Spice. Let me start by saying that the food was very good. We had a yellow chilies and corn curry which was spiced just right and the appams were crispy at the edges and soft in the middle - just as it should be.

But I think that was all the good I can say about it. The entertainment was first the nadaswaram. And then a 5 minute interval, followed by a dance performance. Both were far too loud. We could hardly hear each other! And since we were enjoying catching up, this was really difficult. We had to wait for the 5 minute intervals, and then start talking really quickly before it started up again.

And next to us was a fortune teller with a parrot that was also making loud sounds, inbetween all the music! I have to say that unless I'm going with someone I really don't want to make conversation with, I won't go there again. Or I will reserve the "inside" room meant for private parties.

On a last note, the food was very good and the wine (though we sent the 1st bottle back), was also very good as was the wine selection.

Rainy Days

Chennai is lovely during the monsoon. You wake up to dark clouds, thunder and lightning. And then sip hot tea while watching the rain and listening to it all around you!

My daughter saw the rains for the first time today and was completely amazed. Kept looking between me and the rain with this delighted look (where's the video camera when you need it?). She wanted to go crawling around in the water and try and catch it in her palms.

Another great thing to do in the rainy season, is curl up with a warm blanket and a good trashy magazine!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Diwali Parties

The city seems to come alive and band together to celebrate Deepavalli. Everyone's in a pleasant mood. A typical party invite says 8-8.30 but people start to arrive at about 10. Dinner is served around midnight. Card tables are set up everywhere and mostly people play with their own sex - ie Girls Tables and Boys Tables. Thats because the boys play at higher stakes and the girls are too "cautious".

Everyone's dressed in their colorful festive wear and everyone takes a mental snapshot of everyone else. I was too naive to think this was true, but after spending much time with the same people, I realize that everyone notices everything! Its amazing! Now, tell me, when there is really only ONE (ok maybe Two) stores for fashionable clothes in Chennai, how can you possibly not be wearing what someone else is? And they do - and pretend not to notice!!

All said and done, the diwali parties are great fun. Playing cards is a riot and everyone is very hospitable and you get great goodie bags to take home! :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Kiddie Parties

Kiddie parties in Chennai are almost cookie-cutter style. Everyone has a bouncy castle, a balloon-twister, a face-painter. The food is almost always different types of sandwiches, pizza, popcorn, bhelpuri and of course an amazingly-iced birthday cake in various shapes, colors and sizes.

Are birthday parties the same in every city? Maybe they are, but we really need to change things around a bit here. Atleast for the sanity of the mothers!! :)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Global Chennai

One just cannot complain in Chennai anymore. Some time ago, I really wanted this Shiseido face powder and had it specially brought from the US. The next day while I was in Lifestyle, there in front of me is the Shiseido counter with the same powder as well as other shades suited for Indian skin.

Then I had some really cool baby cups with straws flown. And yes, today I found the same in Lifestyle. AND I love Act II microwave popcorn and found it today in Amma Naana - now, thats nothing exciting - I knew they had it there - but did you know they had it in Indian Masala, Jeera Masala and Green Chillies! Can you imagine how good that popcorn would be?

Everything is available here and indian-ised! Its great!

UPDATE: Just tried to link directly to the Lifestyle website and can't find one. Welcome back to Chennai - a huge Dubai-based store owned by the Landmark group, but no online presence!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Einstein's Bagels

Einstein's toasted Everything bagel with Jalapeno Salsa. And Noah's - our very own Einstein's in the Bay Area :)

'Nuff said. Can't even remember how it tasted, just remember it was so friggin' good.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tomato Sandwiches

I discovered the perfect tomato sandwich totally by accident. I just cut thick slabs of soft Madras Club bread, and spread it with butter, thin tomato slices and sprinkled pepper and salt on top.

It all looked very good but the problem was the bread was still slightly chilled from the fridge. So I popped it in the microwave for a minute, since I was too hungry to wait. And it was delicious! Warm but not toasted, thats the key.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Surprisingly, a plug for Chennai!

Eventually after living here a year now, I've come to appreciate the short distances one has to travel in Chennai to get from point A to B. After the bay area traffic, and long drives down 101 and 280 just to get for dinner or lunch, I love the fact that I'm home in 7 mts or, if its "far" away 15 mts! And let me say, fly private! :)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Steamed Wontons and Pahd Thai

Granted the wontons were a bit tough and the pahd thai a tad sweet, but Lotus still has the best Thai food in Chennai. Benjarong is a close second though, and they are opening another fast-food Thai at Chennai Citi Center. Hmm Thai fast-food?

Wouldn't mind getting the recipe for the sticky rice pudding though.