March 20, 2008

It's All Stir Fry

All Stir FryFood. There's a lot to be said for it. Especially when the quality – in terms of taste and, um, presentation – and the quantity – unlimited is best, are both available in spades. Then you can really shovel it down. Okay, I'm getting a bit carried away.

To return to the neighbourhood of the point, yesterday, a bunch of colleagues decided to head out for lunch. Nothing eye opening about that, of course. But we decided by a quirk of fate (20 minutes waiting at Lemon Grass Cafe) to chow down at the Noodle Bar. As restaurant moniker's go, by the way, that one sticks out as a truly creative one. It must have taken days, failing which, a committee of thousands of creative geniuses to come up with that one.

Anyway, we duly chewed our pencils up, ticking off the ingredients we wanted for the big wok job. I've already forgotten its given formal name, but in essence, you pick the veggies, meats, noodle variety, condiments and sauce(s), and they stir fry the lot (and a lot it is) and serve it in a serious looking bowl.

The thing is, most of us, took in the first forkful (or chopstick full in my case – and proud of it, I might add (you would be too, if you were clumsy, not especially motor-coordinated and still managed a full meal with smooth, slippery fake porcelain chopsticks)) and remembered wistfully, the lovely Gordon House Hotel and its glittering star, All Stir Fry. I've been there over, and over. And I love that place. And I'm about to tell you why.

The concept is simple. They have three glassed-off stir fry counters, manned ably by a trio of wiry chefs (neither of whom are in that pic, though). Outside the glass is a salad bar of sorts, with noodles (usually ramen and flat) at the corner, veggies in front and meats on the other side. You take a bowl (red ring say you're a <sneer> vegetarian and a black ringed bowl says all's right with your world) and fill it up. Or, if you're smart, you take two noodles (yes, just two noodles) and fill just a wee bit more than half the bowl with stuff, veggies first and take it to the chefs. There's a fair number of sauces on the board classified by how strong they are and you're free to experiment with them, including asking the stunned chef to add three or more sauces together. Plus condiments if you like. The result, somehow, is always extremely hot, extremely fresh and very tasty food.

Start a meal with their most excellent crackling spinach and a beer, follow it with a quick wok. Which is involved, involving and very satisfying process I just described. You can go back for as many bowls as you like. And while wasteful, should a particular bowl turn out not to your expectation, you can always skip and get a more appealing one. I've never once visited them without hurrying to the services halfway through to loosen that belt one notch or two, and I've never once managed to put together a combination that I didn't like. Even as I write this, sunbursts of flavour are going off in my head – I've taken many a long wok in there – the devil's sauce and its fiery arrogance, or the marginally milder burn of the mongolian sauce... I think I need to go back for another fix.

I do believe they now have a much bigger menu, but frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. Didn't someone already say that? Well, it applies.

Dessert? Forget it. There's never space. And they do have lovely fortune cookies that say things like, 'You're about to get lucky.' As in what? The trouser tops will suddely turn elastic and you could squeeze in a bowl or two more? Sigh, that would be nice, come to think of it.

I do believe a restaurant review is supposed to include stuff about staff friendliness, knowledge, ambience and so forth. Well, let me see. Staff is nice. They bring the menu to you. And fresh bowls when you finish the last one. And the beer also. They know where the wok bar is. Ambience. That's good too. There's place to sit. A green wall with lots of woks mounted on it. High windows so you don't look out and focus on putting the stuff away. I cannot remember the music, but there must be some. And yeah, the Quick Wok costs Rs 300.

All Stir Fry LogoAll Stir Fry | Online Menu
The Gordon House Hotel, Battery Street, Colaba
Council Hall, Mumbai - 400039
Phone: 022-22871122

Images mooched from

March 19, 2008

Back to the Basics 08.01 - How to Hard-Boil a Freaking Egg

Since we have already confessed to a man-crush on Anthony Bourdain, who better to tell us than the man himself. From his “Les Halles Cookbook” (2004, pg. 69, Bloomsbury, New York):

“Put your eggs gently into a small pot filled with cold water. Bring the water to a rapid boil. As soon as the water is boiling, shut off the heat and put a lid on top. After 10 minutes, remove the eggs and slide them carefully into ice water to cool. When cool? Peel. Here’s how you know if you’ve done it right: If the egg is cooked through, the shell peels of cleanly, and the yolk is not surrounded by an unsightly gray ring. Gray ring? Try again.”
Couldn’t have put it better myself if I had tried.

March 11, 2008

Welcome to A Grain of Salt, a blog (mostly) about food and all things related

Over the years, I have realized to my great joy that I am, in fact, a foodie. There, I said it. There is no shame in it. When you begin to rhapsodize about the crunchiness of pig's ears or the bitterness of fried neem leaves, you might as well 'fess up. I have also realized, to my greater joy, that most of my closest friends are foodies. And so when one the closest friend of them all, brother really, and a successful professional and blogger to boot, asked me to write a food blog with him it seemed, it was one of those forehead-slapping 'duh!' moments.

And then laziness took over and we let the thought stew for a goodly bit. But here we are at last, and not a moment too late I say. The blog will be driven, at least initially, by rearset, whom you've already met and me, Kaultilya.

But WTF will you two write about, you ask. Hmm, let's see... share a recipe, or talk about technique, or diss a restaurant, or rave about a beer (or ten) or confess our man crush on Anthony Bourdain or protest the objectification of women using the Hooter girls as a case
study – I don't know, it will be pretty free form.

So welcome again. And remember to Take Life with A Grain of Salt