Restaurant Review: New Thai Food Menu Haaochi Sun N Sand, Mumbai

Name: Haaochi, Sun N Sand

Location: Next to Novotel, Juhu Beach

Date of Visit: 12th December, 2014 (Dinner Hour)

What is your relationship with food? Do you look at it with honest love or passionate lust? You see, this questions becomes very important when you drool over butter chicken, but it is pure love when the item that you’re drooling over is Broccoli & Waterchestnut Dimsums – without sauce. As for me, my relationship with food started out as lust, pure greed and the have-it-now attitude but slowly it has grown into deep love. And one can only hope that yours will too, after this meal.

I first visited Haaochi, the Oriental restaurant at Sun N Sand, Juhu last year, right after its opening. Ever I always remember this place for its tea and dimsums. When you think of going for an extraordinary white tea with golden tips or think of gorging on gorgeous dumplings with subtle notes of flavour weaved in textured stuffings, think of going to Haaochi. After my extraordinary experience with the tea and dimsums at this place last year, I was really excited to taste their new menu with which they have recently launched Thai food.

One thing that is worth noting about this place is that the food and menu at Haochi has an edge. While they understand the Indian palate, common preferences and design their menu for our taste, it is still not a common menu. It is certainly not common food. Haaochi does their food differently, and not in the modern “playing with concept way” but they just make every dish very well. You can see study, balance and patience in each of their dishes. While I am not a fan of the slightly crowded ambience, I always enjoy the food because sometimes it is the hardest to do common favourites that well.

For instance, whether it is the succulent – Wild Catch Black pepper prawns from the new menu or that gorgeous piece of art that is called the Broccoli & Waterchestnut Dimsum, the flavour in every dish, doneness, freshness and texture is just perfect. I have cooked in restaurant kitchens and I have cooked at home, so I can tell you that this is food cooked with love. May be it helped that we were there on a weeknight, so there wasn’t a crowd.

It may as well be that they were taking special care back in the kitchen but the new menu was not that regular old satays and Thai Curry rant, it was really new, and different and had the right balance of flavours. Like any other Thai food it was fragrant but designed for the Global Indian taste buds. How often do you hear that “Mieng Kham” or a Thai paan is being served at a restaurant? Not very often. In fact I had never tried this chaat-like Thai style appetizer before. It was a betel leaf served with five bowls of accompaniments, lime, peanuts, plum sauce, ginger and spring onion. I won’t say it tops my chaat list but it was interesting. Then came the spare ribs, charred, with were way to sweet for my liking and a wee bit tougher meat than I like. This was followed by the wild catch prawns from the new menu, topped with browned lemon grass julienne and my hot-favourite crystal chicken and vegetarian dumplings from the old menu.

The main dishes included Massaman Lamb Cury along with coconut fried rice. The fried rice was a fresh concept and fairly coconuty and its light sweetness paired nicely with the robust flavours of the lamb curry. The curry had great consistency with deep meaty flavours, an enjoyable addition to their menu. Some of my proud “Bangkok-return” friends might say that the food doesn’t taste the same in Thailand. These dishes are as authentic as easily accepted by our Global desi palate. If it doesn’t taste exactly the one that you had in Thailand it is because it is designed to comfort our taste buds aka Global Indian taste buds. The food must be enjoyable, balanced in flavour, consistent and pleasing in texture and theses dishes from the new menu most certainly all that. Haochi is one of those restaurants that can easily become your comfort zone. It is familiar food designed to please, the ambience albeit a little crowded, is no-frills, old fashioned and pleasing. It serves Chinese food with gorgeous Dimsums made by an expat or imported Dimsum specialist from China.

This new addition to the menu offers Thai Curries and delicious fried rice, noodles and extends that comfort zone some more. After all curry is always a welcome addition, right? Haaochi is the right place to go with family or to plan a business lunch because with the new additions in the menu there’s something for everyone, even choosy kids! When you don’t know what everyone will eat, curry & fried rice are always that safe bet that ought to be there. And that is the “That thing about this place”. If I have to describe it in 3 words, I will call it – Comforting, delicious & simple. I was at Haochi for a review invite. The new menu includes Thai food delicacies and will now be permanently available on their menu.

Rating  

Ambience : 3/ 5

Menu: 3/5

Food: 4/5

Service: Not Applicable due to Invite

Value for Money: 3/5

That thing about this place: 3/5

Rating: 3/5 – Good    

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5 Things I Hate About Silver Beach Café, Juhu; Confessions of a Tortured Tongue

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Name: Silver Beach Café

Location: Juhu

Date of Visit: 8th September, 2012 (Dinner hour)

I rarely use the word ‘hate’ for a restaurant so let me fully explain why I came about using this word for Silver Beach Café. Silver Beach Café is the perfect example of ‘All that glitters is not gold’. When I entered this dimly lit, cosy little café I was surprised to see such few tables occupied on a Saturday evening. ‘What could go wrong with a place like this?’ I thought to myself, hoping to not find the reason in their food. Everything, every single thing can go wrong in a place like this. Alas! I did not know this before I visited, else I would be saved from the strange things that they call food.

Reason 1 – I’m torn between spitting it out and swallowing these potatoes with water.

Their service staff recommended a potato appetizer. I think their tongues must’ve gotten numb from tasting unappetizing food for a long time. It was confusing to me; first, why the appetizer was brought to our table after one of the main dishes was served. Secondly, I was extremely confused about what they were trying to achieve when they designed this dish. It was unwashed, unpeeled and undercooked medium sized potatoes, cut into half smeared with coriander paste and served on a bed of very sweet tomatoes. It’s indecent to spit the food, so I gulped it down with water.

Reason 2 – Offensive Service

The service staff was rude, and they did not know what they were doing. I asked the gentleman (sorry, rude man) serving us whether it would take much longer to bring the food to our table. He did not look at me, he did not stop to listen to what I wanted to say, he simply passed me by while my head turned to follow him, when finally he spilled out the words, ‘5 minutes!’ To tell you the truth I almost felt privileged at that moment when he replied. Thank you Mister, no tip for you. He mustn’t be worried about that, they charge a pretty good sum as service charges. Clearly, the restaurant owners know about the bad service and yet don’t wish to loose tip money.

Reason 3 – It feels like being in Jail.

Have you ever thought what it would be like to be handed food in Jail? Well, here is your chance. The service staff is doing you a favour. They don’t look at you, or smile or bother for a kind word to their paying customers. They also bring your food, as it is prepared, not all together. If you want to eat together, everyone must order the exact the same dish. No, that won’t help either. They don’t understand that people have come to a restaurant to enjoy a meal ‘together’. Live with it!

Reason 4 – Which Jerk Made this Jerk Chicken?

Or should I just call it what it really is, a rubber chappal? When I put this chicken in my mouth, I could visualize the cook tormenting that stale chicken breast. Whatever juices were left of it, were pressed on a hot grill and forced out to yield rubber on my plate. Like a Punjabi mother crisps up parathas. It’s a pity chicken breast wasn’t treated differently. The sauce couldn’t mask the chappal. Yet, somehow that wasn’t the worst part. The cook managed to make it worse. Cook a cup of rice in half a bottle of vinegar, bad quality vinegar and you’ll know what the accompanying rice tasted like. It was hard to tell whether the rice was stale or not, because all I could taste was vinegar. Don’t ask me how I finished this dish, let’s just say, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Reason 5 – How can you go wrong with cream based pasta?

I don’t think I will ever be able to answer this question; you may try if you will. The spaghetti was what I call ‘Blue Bird’ quality pasta. It was stick, soggy and broken all through. Spaghetti was obviously over cooked. The cream was in lumps and not properly mixed before it was added. It was edible, like the spaghetti I must’ve cooked when I was eight. No, I was never this bad. The quantity was pretty good, but that would have mattered more if the pasta tasted better.

The ham and chicken pizza they served even before the appetizer tasted okay.

This meal was in many ways a writer’s dream and a nightmare. Dream because I enjoyed telling you about it, a nightmare because I had to eat it before I told you about it. With dark wood furniture set in a cosy almost cramped space, a cigar selection and a variety of wines to choose from don’t be deceived by the appearance of this place. It is not worth anyone’s time. No wonder it was sparsely populated even on a Saturday evening. That thing about this place is that they carry a selection of cigars.

Ambience: 6 Average

Value For Money: 5 Below Average

Menu: 6 Average

Food: 3 Poor

Service: 3 Poor

That Thing About This Place: 7 Good

Average Ambience + Below Average Value For Money + Average Menu + Poor Food + Poor Service + Good That Thing About This Place = Below Average

Rating: 5 on 10