Nagarjuna – Andhra Meals, Bliss.

Who doesn’t like Andhra meals? If someone doesn’t, then something wrong with them – terminate the friendship, if family tolerate them, but don’t be close.

I love Andhra meals – and have mostly had them from the smaller ‘Andhra messes’, which I guess are ironically more in Chennai than anywhere in Andhra. The only ‘proper restaurant’ where I’ve had the meals is Nandhana Palace and it wasn’t a great experience.

Sunday lunch at Nagarjuna was damn good though. There was a huge waiting list at 230 pm on Sunday! But the manager did a good job of managing the crowd – took down the names on a paper with columns that indicate how many seats you need – 2,4,6 or 8. Simple, elegant but rarely practiced. We got our table in 10 minutes.

Started off with the traditional rice, ghee and pappu (palak) – ah!! If there is a heaven, I am sure they serve rice, ghee and dal everyday. The podi was also on the money – not too spicy, and tasted fresh. Not to miss out was the green chilli and urad dal chutney, did a fine job on it’s own. I would have liked some more vegetables, we only got a carrot-beans poriyal of sorts, missed the ‘fries’ you get in smaller andhra messes. Wife recommended I mix rasam, ghee and podi – was a decent combo, podi kills it on its own.

Service was prompt and polite – there’s a dedicated guy for serving ghee, one for rice and the waiter for the table manages the curries, sambar, pappu etc. in addition to taking orders and billing. Seems trivial, but it matters when you are looking for someone to get you more ghee and that guy is walking around doing something else. Prompt arrival of food matters.

The non-vegetarian menu looks very very interesting – didn’t want to ruin my veg meals. I will be going back to try the biryani, fish fry and the various chicken curries. Looking forward to some lip smacking food!

Nasi and Mee, Koramangala 4th Block

TLDR: Classy little place for authentic South East Asian cuisine, can get crowded during weekends and peak hours with some waiting time. Must try: Soup dumplings, Honey Chilli Lotus stems, Thai curry (red and green, both), Char Kway Teow and the Mimosa. Slightly limited options for vegetarians, but whatever is there is great. Bit pricey, INR 1500 for two (1 starter, 1 main course, 2 drinks)

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Highlight: Honey Chilli Lotus Stem

Today was my second visit to Nasi and Mee and I was very careful. The last time I went there, I had some delightful South East Asian delights, but then I also burned the roof of my mouth. That was because of the soup dumpling, which by the way is a must try. I had never heard of anything called a soup dumpling and when the wife ordered it was quite excited to try it. So excited I was, that I did not bother that the dumpling was steaming hot and popped it into my mouth! What happened next? Well of course, the dumpling burst, the soup spattered outside (inside my closed mouth i.e) and burned the roof of my mouth. I did not scream, but let out big gasps. Even with a bruised palate I enjoyed the remainder of the meal – Pad Thai, Fried rice with Thai curry.

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Soup dumpling being served

Today, we went for an encore of the vegetarian soup dumplings, honey chilli lotus stem and Malaysian chicken satay. Thankfully the soup dumpling was not steaming hot this time and I handled myself gracefully enough. The lotus stems were the highlight of the day – crispy, saucy, wow, yummy! We gobbled it up fast.

The chicken satay was good to start off with, the taste was very close to the regular Tandoori chicken. Later though, I felt it the meat was a bit rubbery and could/should have been lot more tender.

We wanted to try the Panda Bao – and ordered it, 10-15 minutes later were informed that it did not turn out so well in the kitchen and we could order an alternate Bao or a different dish. Went for the wok fried flat noodles, Char Kway Teow. Fantastic choice (congratulating self), the noodles soft and the flavour lingering.

When the bill arrived, I noticed that the service charge of 10% was added already. I requested them to remove it, and they did, without any fuss. I added a tip and left.

The Mylapore Cafe, Koramangala 1st Block

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TLDR – Small place, with pretty decent to good Tamil Nadu style South Indian food. Prices are extremely economical and unreasonably reasonable by Bangalore standards. Could do with some improved cleanliness, and service.

What are the odds of a person, who has lived in Mylapore for 8 years, and then moved to Bangalore, to discover 5 years later, that there is a place called Mylapore Cafe and they serve good sambar? Like the one back home? I thought it was very unlikely, and when the food turned out to be pretty decent to good, I was very happy.

Wife and I have been taking early morning swimming classes on the weekend, and post the pool workout, we head out for a heavy breakfast. One Sunday, after class, we were not really in the mood for a Continental outing, and wanted some good solid South Indian grub. Zomato-ed the nearby locations and found two good places – Aarogya Ahaara and the Mylapore Cafe, right next to each other. Aarogya Ahaara was crowded like crazy, we were hungry, so went in right next to their neighbour.

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Idli vada to start off with

Don’t know about the other days – but Sunday morning breakfasts have two options – you can pick the a la carte options or have an unlimited breakfast. The unlimited breakfast gets you

  1. Idlis – unlimited
  2. Dosa – choice of plain, masala, podi dosa, podi masala – you can take unlimited of each
  3. Pongal – unlimited
  4. Semiyabath or semiya upma – unlimited
  5. Vada – single (I presume, please do check)
  6. Coffee

For 100 rupees, I think this is the most amazing deal you can get in the whole of Bangalore. 

The idlis were really soft, made with batter, and not idli rava in the Udupi style.  I thought the vada was a bit on the oily side. The sambar was traditional TN restaurant style with a fair amount of tanginess – made with both tamarind and tomato I guess.

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Pongal, on visit #2 it was really good.

I didn’t really care for the ven pongal (kara pongal), it did not taste too fresh, maybe made rather early in the morning (it was much better the second time we visited). The sweet pongal was very good though, a little extra sweet in fact.  The semiya upma was average, I did not ask for a second helping.

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Semiya upma, not to kill fore

The dosas could do with a little improvement. Taste wise, they are definitely good, but I found them to be too crispy, making them a slightly, ever so slightly thicker, would certainly make them fantastic.

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Chutneys and sweet pongal, on the side

Chutneys were standard fare – good enough to get you going, but would not call them amazing.  Coffee which is part of the deal, was very good. They also offer Horlicks, Boost, Bournvita – but are not part of the unlimited deal.

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Extra sambar

Would definitely recommend trying the place for a good, and inexpensive, heavy South Indian breakfast.

Note:  the second time we visited, we got Kesari for the sweet, and it was only OK. Wife has made much better at home.

Food – 4/5

Service – 3/5

Ambience – 3/5

Price – 5/5

 

Nandhana Palace, Kamanahalli

TLDR – Average Andhra food, service can be improved. 

Upfront, I’d like to say that my assessment of Nandhana Palace is not exhaustive. I only had the vegetarian Andhra meal. I’d classify it as OK, I’ve definitely had better in smaller Andhra messes in Chennai and near my office.

On a Sunday afternoon at 230 pm, the restaurant was quite full, so I guess their non-vegetarian meals and other dishes are getting appreciation from other diners. I went with my wife and parents, were shown a table quickly and the orders taken. All 4 of us were not particularly hungry and decided to stick only with the vegetarian meals, with my wife ordering a buttermilk additionally for herself.

Rice and the first accompaniments –  the pappu (dal), sambar, rasam, vegetable curries – came quickly. I liked the pappu dal, I’ve always did. Nandhana served palak pappu, and it was tangy, nice touch with the tamarind I must say. The sambar, rasam and curries were nothing much to talk about.

The ghee to mix with rice and the paruppu podi took two reminders and forever to come. Finally when it did come, it was served generously.  The finishing servings of curd, buttermilk came a little late and were not too good. The curd was ok, but the buttermilk seemed like a sad leftover or the beginnings of a bad raita. The buttermilk which came after the finger bowl (!?) was also in the same tone. We left without trying any desserts.

Maybe the non-vegetarian is good, maybe their other items are better, but I wouldn’t be returning if I wanted to have a vegetarian meal.

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A Hole Lotta Lova Cafe, Koramangala 5th Block

TLDR – Budget friendly, cozy place for breakfast. Casual, relaxed atmosphere. Good breakfast options available for both vegetarians and non vegetarians, limited options on hot beverages. Try the waffles and the burgers (without mayonnaise)

Food -3/5

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Egg White Omelette

I’ve been in Bangalore for close to 5 years now, and in all this time I have heard of Hole in the Wall Cafe so many times for their waffles, but I have never been there. A Hole Lotta Love is from the same people –  catering to the same palate. They are both commonly known for their waffles and the English breakfast.

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Veggie 9 Yards Hash

What we had – Egg white omelette, Masala omelette, Veggie 9 yards hash, Banoffee pie waffles, Sloppy Joe Beef Burger and green tea (With a slice of lemon).

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Banoffee Pie Waffles

How it was – wife and I particularly enjoyed the Banoffee pie waffle. The waffle and the whipped cream tasted unique – I guess the restaurant makes it themselves. The waffle was crispy and seemed to have been made from some sort of a cake batter, the whipped cream did not have a factory taste. Despite having reservations on our respective waistlines, we jointly gobbled this up.

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Masala Omelette

The masala omelette, while good, could have done with a little lesser oil. However this is how most kitchens make a masala omelette, and I should have asked them in advance if i wanted less trans-fat.  The egg white omelette was healthier, though the spinach tasted bland once the omelette disappeared.

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Sloppy Joe Beef Burger

I have heard the name Sloppy Joe quite a few times on American TV series, and decided to to try it out. What I should have done is asked the kitchen to make it without the mayonnaise. I am not sure why, but most restaurants in India make burgers and sandwiches with a generous serving of mayonnaise, which at least for me, kills the taste of the sandwich or the burger filling. The chilli beef filling tasted good, and the burger was truly sloppy – I had to lick my hands after every bite.

 

Service – 3/5

Quick and smooth. Nothing to complain.

Ambience – 4/5

Very relaxed and casual atmosphere. Surprisingly the crowd was for a Saturday morning. People slowly filled in though. I saw quite a few students with their bags, I’d say the average age of folks that were there would be 25, no more.

If you fancy eating your breakfast looking down on the busy Koramangala road, you could do that, or get a table inside – in the duplex style place. There is a pool table too. The bathroom does not have a mirror – they have made art that says “You Look Fine”. Ha!

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Very Casual atmosphere
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If the weather isn’t too hot, a table overlooking the road isn’t a bad option.

The Flying Squirrel, Koramangala 5th Block, Cafe

TLDR – nicely sitting among a cluster of restaurants, with proper coffee-house atmosphere. Serving fresh coffee, food is decent, could do lot better. Good choice for coffee and talk with friends.

Food – 3/5

The Flying Squirrel (TFS) is a coffee-house, the kind you’d would have watched on Seinfeld – known for their gourmet coffee more than anyone else. The people behind TFS have their own coffee estates, grow their own coffee and brew a pretty awesome brew. The fresh smell of invigorating coffee hits you as you enter the place and keeps one fresh as long as you are there.

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My Parama Cappucino, loved the small cookie.

 

For the coffee, I picked the slightly conservative choice of Parama Cappucino – a South Indian style blend, and it did not disappoint. It was refreshing, I only wished it could have been served piping hot. The coffee cooled down a little too quickly for my taste. Wife ordered a Aromatique Latte – slightly on the sweeter side, due to the infusion of fruit, berries and caramel. Might not be for everyone. Loved the small cookie they served along with the coffee. It’s about the small things, really, in the end.

In contrast to the excellent coffee, food is only decent. I ordered a beef burger for self and wife chose overnight oats and the fresh vegetable crunch sandwich. The filling in the veg sandwich was perfect except for the overdose of mayonnaise – cut that out, and you almost had the perfect sandwich. The overnight oats was fine. The beef burger was only so so, I thought the patty was too crunchy for its own good.

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Veg sandiwch – If not for the extra mayonnaise, would have been perfect.

Service – 4/5

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Polite, quick service. Nothing to complain about – the folks patiently listened to our questions and gave the right answers. As we checked out, they shared their new breakfast menu and suggested us to check it out.

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New breakfast menu

Ambience – 4/5

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This was the best part of TFS. I loved the coffee-house atmosphere. The aroma, the lighting, the seating, the coffee and coffee makers on sale, the TFS folks explaining coffee brewing running on their TVs – really a good spot to meet your friends over coffee. I loved the coffee bar concept too.

Summary – will definitely stop for coffee the next time I pass through, might have to think about ordering heavy food though.

Hubble Bubble, Koramangala 8th Block, Cafe

TLDR – very good location, excellent interiors. Food and service – abysmal.

Food 1/5

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Nachos Grande (er, if you say so)

Ordered cream of broccoli soup and nachos grande to start with. And that is what we ended with as well. Soup was not hot and it tasted like a raw concoction made of broccoli, nothing like what a cream of broccoli soup should have tasted like. I was surprised that the chef (or whoever it was) managed to screw up the nachos. I mean, you need to just mix nachos, some dip and cheese.

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Cream of Broccoli soup, apparently.

What Hubble Bubble (HB) served was a disaster. Firstly they served some kind of spiced nachos, and I was not able to get any discernible taste from the dip at all. We entered the place hungry, but after all this, we just asked for the check and left to satiate our hunger elsewhere.

Service 1/5 

At it’s best, the service on that day was bad. There was only one waitress. She went inside the kitchen 3 times to check if certain orders were available, and well most of the stuff we asked for off the menu was not available. She seemed rather harried, and got one full soup when we ordered a 1/2. She then told us that a 1/2 option in itself is not available. Why not mention that when we order? They don’t give plates to eat with, and no tissue holder was there. The fastest to arrive was the bill, and we promptly paid and left. Needless to say I did not leave a tip.

Ambience 4/5

So HB is a coffee house on the ground floor, and a hookah place on the first. I made it only to the ground floor, so I do not have any views on the hookah place. The interiors are tastefully done, giving the impression of a place where one can unwind, order and eat slowly. HB has some books and games also that patrons can use, and I saw one couple playing a board game. The place is an old bungalow and has a very good charm. Try getting outdoor seating if you can. The futons and chairs were super comfy.

When we checked out the inside for seating, noticed a couple that was getting cosy. Not sure if it is in my place to mention this, but well, no one seemed to object and we did not choose to be seated there.

Summary: will not be returning, unless I see visible changes in reviews.

Bhojanam, Electronic City

Visited Bhojanam on Ganesh Chathurthi. We were very hungry after the pooja at home and the prasadam was not enough to fill our tummy. Being a festive day, unfortunately could not try out the non vegetarian items, which I assume is the specialty of Bhojanam. I am a fan of Andhra cuisine in general, and their non vegetarian preparations in specific (except for the floating layer of oil of course).

The ambience of Bhojanam i of a traditional South Indian house, with all the old style pillars, bronze hangings and even a bronze gilded roof, which I thought was an overdo, but looked pleasing nevertheless. If I am not wrong, they were in fact playing old Telugu songs as well, some of which were familiar to me, owing to their remakes in Tamil or vice versa. The staff, however have nothing to do with South India, and seemed to be more comfortable in Hindi and English, rather than Telugu or even Kannada. Maybe there are other waiters who speak Telugu, but I did not happen to come across. I liked being in a rather South Indian place after a while, in Bangalore you just happen to keep visiting multi-cuisine restaurants or pubs playing Hindi, English or Punjabi songs. It was a refreshing, nice change.

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Paneer Tikka

We ordered a paneer tikka to start off with. It was well cooked, but I thought it was rather on the spicier side, with a little extra chilli. Nevertheless, it was served well and the chutney was a good accompaniment.

Wife said she was done with the paneer tikka, so I ordered a vegetarian thali for self. It’d been a really long while and I was craving for some authentic sambar. Now whether you like it or not, I do not believe Karnataka has good sambar, nope, not at all. If I were to rank sambar between the South Indian states, I would unanimously vote my own Tamil Nadu’s sambar on 1, Andhra’s on 2 and Karnataka’s on 3. I haven’t tasted Kerala sambar, and I don’t really have high hopes anyway.

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Vegetarian Thali

The waiters ended up bringing two thalis by mistake, but did not make a fuss when we said we wanted only one, they quickly whisked the other one away. The overall look of the thali was tempting, except for the oily appalam, which I did not touch till the end. I did not care for the vegetables on offer, which were boring, beetroot and cabbage, nor the pulusu, which was actually decent. The dal, with ghee (generously added by the waiter), was brilliant and the sambar was not bad either. I mostly finished off the rice with these two, using the masala vada as a companion. While I did not explore the entire thali, overall I would say it was a decent meal.

I believe and hope the non vegetarian thali is their specialty and would be way better. Try it if you are there.

Bhojanam service I would rate 3/5, not because they are rude or bad, but merely because they are a little distracted. If they can pull up the socks on that front, and with a little more focus on food, they can be a pretty good option in the area.

Address

21, 1st Floor,Concorde Silicon Valley, Neeladri Road, Opposite Concorde Manhattans Apartments, Electronic City, Bangalore

Phone number

+91 8048543463

Bhojanam on Google Maps

My review on Zomato

 

Sultans of Spice, Koramangala 5th Block

Why Sultans of Spice

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Sultans of Spice (SoS) was not our first choice for a Saturday late lunch. Wife wanted to visit Kopper Kadai, but by the time we reached at 430 pm, it was closed.  We walked around to find suitable places (MIL was also with us), we landed at SoS.

Where it is

SoS is a part of the BluPetal hotel in Koramangala, on Jyothi Nivas College Road and is known for its buffet. The folks at the reception told us they would check if the buffet was still open. It was not, but they said could ‘work something out’ for us in the a la carte section. We gleefully accepted (hunger) and took the elevator to the 4th floor.

How the place looks

SoS has the ambience of  what someone would describe as a ‘proper North Indian restaurant’ – the cushy chairs, the lightings, and the Rajasthan style paintings. I liked it, because it has been a long while since I’ve visited a North Indian restaurant in Bangalore, I think Punjab Grill was the last one, and that was a long time back. Even at the late hour, there was quite a number of patrons who were still finishing their lunch buffet, so I would advice you to make an advance reservation. It is a popular place.

What we had

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Malai paneer, Tandoori Gobi, Seekh kebab, Roast potato, Stuffed Mushroom
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Veg Pulao

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Dilli Punjabi Afghani Malai Kofta
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Pan milk (with cinnamon topping!!)

Veg platter – which consisted of veg seekh kebab, tandoori gobi, malai paneer tikka, roast baby potato, cheese stuffed mushroom.

Veg Main course – Dilli Punjabi Afghani Malai Kofta

Breads – Butter Tandoori Roti

Rice – Navratan Pulao

Dessert (of sorts) – Pan milk

How it was

The veg platter was the winner and most memorable order of the afternoon. Every single dish was brilliant and rich. For instance, take the mushroom – it was stuffed with cheese and cooked in a tandoor. The mushroomy taste combined with the milky cheese makes for a very different and enjoyable taste (go back to mixing tastes in Ratatouille). The potato had some sort of a sweet aftertaste to it – I mean other than the actual potato taste itself. The seekh kebab was the best, well minced and you could taste the crunchy almonds as you bite into it. The tandoori gobi and paneer tikka were pretty well made.

The malai kofta was slightly off, a little extra cream. Otherwise it was pretty much the standard recipe of a malai kofta which a good chef can stir up. It did not help that the rice had a little less salt as well.

We asked for the pan milk as dessert – it was good, but somewhat ruined by a cinnamon topping. I am not sure why the kitchen would do that.

Service

The overall service was good, waiters were quite attentive and served us well. They constantly kept checking if we needed serving and were polite. One of them goofed up when the spoon he was supposed to serve with fell down and he was about to serve with the same without replacing, but his superior stopped him and apologized. He came back to ask for feedback and accepted some suggestions we gave.

Billling

SoS did not add the service charge, so I gladly added a INR 50 tip. I wish every establishment follows the same practice.

 

Gudguda Prime Cafe, Koramangala 6th Block

Gudguda Prime Cafe (GPC) is not for everyone, at least that is what I thought when I walked in. Maybe it is because I am older now, or maybe because I just walked in with a different set of expectations. GPC is a sheesha (hookah) place and a cafe, I thought it was only a cafe. This was another late afternoon lunch for me on a Saturday, and I was extremely hungry. The place was sparsely filled, with only 2-3 tables filled, all of them enjoying a hookah.

There is plenty of space at GPC – you can choose to sit in the open terrace, a general hall, then a lower floor, and a slightly closeted section. We walked in there, thinking that would drown the rather loud music playing, but it did not. Nevertheless, we made ourselves comfortable and the wife quickly ordered a ‘citrus salad’ for herself and a ‘crispy fried cheesy garlic mushroom’ for me. I wouldn’t have preferred something that oily, but well, the deed was done.

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Citrus Salad – the wife loved this one, I simply picked on the olives.

The salad arrived first, and I hated it. The wife loved it. She is a big fan of salads, and particularly loved the way salad was served with olive oil and citrus dressing. I only picked out some olives and munched away. The crispy fried mushroom came next, and surprisingly was not that oily. It was piping hot and we had to wait a while, until we munched. This was one good thing about GPC, everything was served fresh and hot, I did not feel anything was lukewarm and was made in a hurry of sorts. I polished off most of the mushroom, and loved the cheesy garlic taste.

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We picked the veg shaslik sizzler for the main course – a superb choice (self pat on the back). Except for the overcooked french fries, it is a perfect sizzler.

They add the service charge on the bill directly, so I did not leave a tip.

I do not know of their sheesha quality and services, but judging from the fact that everyone other than us were having it, I guess they are good in that space. Even otherwise, it is a great place for food – I do not think you will regret that decision.