Trishna Seafood Restaurant, Muscat. Never Again Kind of Love

The rates were high so naturally my expectations were high. Fine-dining was the classification so finitely delicious was my expectation. As the title suggests I was mighty disappointed.  For a brand that claims to be one of Mumbai’s favourite restaurants, they delivered neither in class nor in flavours. Let’s not even try to assess the value. I am no restaurant expert, but can any restaurant set up shop and decide to call itself fine dining?

I believe in giving restaurants a second chance, especially if they have just opened, because I appreciate the effort and the dream that goes behind doing something like that. I repeat, I am no expert, I do not have a degree in food anthropology or the likes but I connect with food, I am emotionally attached to what I eat and every food experience is a learning.

Trishna did not disappoint me on their claim of using fresh sea food. Yes, the fish, prawn and crab were fresh. But were they treated with respect? No. We ordered Prawn salt n pepper (RO 3.8) and Prawn Koliwada (RO 3.7) as starters but the prawn was overcooked thus hard and devoid of that wholesome flavour.

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The signature dish ‘MEDIUM Crab butter pepper garlic (RO 10.1), was good, across the table, everyone enjoyed it. I liked it as well, but there is something about the sweetness, the warm-earth flavours of crab meat  that was overpowered with the garlic and to an extent the butter.Crab meat is buttery in itself, I personally didn’t see the need to smother it up with so much butter or garlic. The meat however, was tender and something that I believe everyone will enjoy.

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But the rate of the dish goes up depending on the size of the crab. The one that we order is fit for two people ONLY. A friend of mine said that he could wipe it out all on his own and still be hungry, I have to agree with him. For me, a crab that size, for that rate and that flavour profile does not translate into value.

The Pomfret Punjabi Masala (RO 8.1) was a complete dud kind of dish. Nothing new, nothing old; a ‘nothing’ kind of dish that lacked inspiration and had no story to tell. Waste of RO 8.1 for sure.

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Veggie Delight – Not so much: There was one vegetarian on the table and she ordered for a vegetarian Shangai Soup (RO 1.7), which was a disaster according to her and I second that. Dal Hyderabadi (RO 3.1), what can I say, if I didn’t have the restaurant bill in front of me for reference, I would have forgotten to mention it. The restaurant can justify the price of their seafood dishes by saying:  “Some items like King Fish is available locally, but there are other items on the menu which are not available in Oman. So we have tied up with one of the seafood importers to bring in live crabs and lobsters and fresh prawns from Dubai,”  but what is the justification for the mark up on the veggie dishes?

The drinks were mediocre as well. Garlic Nan (RO 4.1for 4Nos.) was yum and garlicy just the way I like it, Neer Dosa was good as well. We also ordered Roomali Roti (900 baiza for 1No.), Mango Lassi (RO 1.7), Sweet Lassi (RO 1.1), Strawberry lemonade (RO 2.1), Litchi Temptation (RO 2.1) and Gulab Jamun (RO 2.6 for 1 portion).

My Verdict: I will not be going to this place again when there are better alternatives in town. They have to bring down their prices. Reallocate the spends in the right place. Strip the fine-dining title and thus cut the frivolous overheads and build on the soul and the story of the brand. I gather (again from a quick google search) that they are planning on introducing set menus at lower prices to attract the lunch-time crowd. Good Move? Already long overdue.

*Prices mentioned are inclusive of taxes

*Location: Gallery Muscat Mall, Near American British School, Al Khuwair.

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2 States, 2 Weddings & Endless Food – A whirlwind kind of love

Trying to think of excuses as I type… Why haven’t I blogged since January?

  • I was squashed under pre-vacation work load.
  • I was busy traveling to and in India.
  • I did not always have good internet connectivity… or
  • I was so engulfed by family and extended family drama and stress, that I couldn’t even think of EATING. The last reason will and can never fly… because no matter how stressed I am, I EAT.  I eat when I am happy, I eat when I am sad and I eat because that’s what I do.

So no excuses and given the number of people who read my blog, I am sure an explanation is not due. What have I been up to? I was on a whirlwind of a vacation to India. Hopping between states and cultures in the land of diversity. Travelled from the laidback Southern part of India to the loud and colourful North. I spent a week in Kerala; devouring my mom’s yummy treats, prepared specially for me and only me (I can safely claim that as I was the only one in the house), walking down memory lane in my ancestral home, exploring my uncle’s vegetable garden and spending time with cousins at Kentucky Fried Chicken – clear sign of how easy it is for food to break cultural barriers. And not to mention attended the coming together of a beautiful bride and the most compatible groom at a family wedding and feasted on the true Kerala feast – Sadhya. mom's yummy treats

Early morning veggie hunt at my Uncle's Backyard
Early morning veggie hunt at my Uncle’s Backyard

KFC wedding south I knew I was heading to the northern part of India, when Mr. Hubster came with ‘Idlis in a Cup’. Yeah heard of Cup Noodles… well now its Cup Idlis. Tasted pretty good though for airport food. idli in a cup

Landed in Chandigarh. Was amazed at how polite and well-spoken the taxi drivers there are. And not to anyone’s surprise, while Mr. Hubster enquired about the great French architect, the mastermind behind the planned city Chandigarh, I cut in with the most pertinent question “WHATS THE BEST PLACE TO GO FOR AUTHENTIC PUNJABI FOOD”. He asked us to go to Pal Dhaba. He said, “It doesn’t have the glitz n glam of a shiny five star restaurant but the food is the best in the land”. Exactly my kind of place.

Paal Dhaba

It was just the two of us, so we ordered half butter chicken, a dish which can most definitely be called the brand ambassador of Punjab or even India. Wasn’t prepared for what arrived. The portion sizes in this land matches the heart of its people. The half portion was equivalent to two full portions elsewhere. The taste – can never have butter chicken outside Punjab again. I am ruined! And the tandoori roti, just reminiscing about it right now makes me crave for it. BUTTER CHICKEN In Punjab, and how can I say no to dessert. Headed to Gopal Sweets for Moong dal Halwa and Gulab Jammun. After quiet literally supping up all the richness of Chandigarh we went into snooze mode. DESSERT I wrapped up my trip at a big, fat Punjabi wedding. My bestie was tying the knot, post which she will be relocating from Muscat. I was welling up with the sheer thought of having to part with her and my sole solace was the juicy tangadi kebab (tandoori chicken drumstick) and the endless mouth-watering dishes on display. My friends and I without a doubt devoured every bite wedding food

The North Indian Wedding
The North Indian Wedding

Qureshi Restaurant Muscat – Melting into Submission kind of love.

The radio, the newspaper and the social media channels have been abuzz about this new restaurant Qureshi Bab al Hind, located in Muscat, Oman. My friend has been pestering me to go there but I never took the initiative as Indian restaurants tend to easily disappoint me… That’s probably because I know the flavour profiles so well.

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Nevertheless we were there last night! This restaurant is actually housed inside the hotel Homruz Grand, located a few meters away from the glorious Bank Muscat building at Airport Heights, Seeb. It is on-route to the resident/labour card renewal ROP office.

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As soon as I entered the porch, the high ceiling, larger than life columns and doors, the immaculate interiors, tastefully selected cutlery, velvet & leather couch, and the mesmerizing courtyard pool view, established that  I was in for a fine-dining experience; did a quick math and made peace with the fact that its going to be an over the budget dinner. Hoping and praying that it doesn’t disappoint and makes it a worthwhile experience.

 

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We started our meal with Masala Lassi (buttermilk) and it was just perfect, not overpowering with condiments, herbs or salt. It was fresh and woke up our taste buds for the coming onslaught of complex yet divine flavours. The beverage list at Qureshi is truly special, wanted to try the Thandai but there is only this much a girl can eat 😉

masala-buttermilk

The appetizer, though not fancy looking, scored high in taste. The Murgh Peshawari (chicken kebabs) were A] tandoored to perfection and B] were coated with creamy layer of  smokey marinade. The dish prepared in desi ghee (clarified butter) added oodles of richness to the soft and moist chicken. The pickled onions, carrots and veggies (a staple in most homes in Uttar Pradesh, India) as garnish was an accompaniment that elevated the dish to a whole new level.  A MUST TRY!

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The Koh-e-Awadh (lamb shank) RO 11.5  made me want to cry out of joy – for it introduced me to the simple yet soulful flavours emanating from a slow-cooked dish. Famous celebrity chefs keep emphasizing the merits of a slow cooked dish, but last night I got to live it. This dish is cooked for 6 hours and this process brings out the true character of the meat. I wiped the dish clean. Don’t be deceived by the looks, this one dish can be shared between 3, even 4 if you order other stuff from the menu.

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We also sampled the Warqi paratha (layered bread dressed with desi ghee). Perfect match. Most dishes here follow the authentic recipe, hence they are richly laden with butter and spices.

Please do not equate spices with spicy, as the spices played the role of the supporting cast and allowed the key ingredient to shine.

My Verdict: Splurging justified!Dinner for two with one appetizer, two refreshing drinks, one hearty main course with bread, cost us around RO 34. When you are able to gauge the quality of the food presented in front of you with just a whiff then you know you are at the right place.

Word of Caution: The restaurant is in its debut phase, thus don’t expect the service to roll out like a well-oiled machine – but like me, you will forget that and melt into submission after devouring the dishes that represent the passion of the chefs and the soul of Awadhi cuisine.

 

Foodventurists, meet at Golden Oryx, Muscat

“Golden Oryx Chinese food is quiet something!”

“Golden Orxy has a Mongolian Grill, how exciting”

“We went to Golden Orxy for a business lunch and it was a munch fest”…

…These are some of the tempting statements Muscateers have said about one of the oldest restaurants in Muscat. Somehow our paths never crossed up until last week, when I was invited for a food blogger event at the restaurant.

The ‘food-adventurist’s meet’ coincided with the restaurant’s new Japanese Menu launch, which added to the excitement of being around a bunch of food lovers, who have explored the depths of Oman’s food scene.

As the conversations flooded the table, so did the food. The dishes from the new Japanese menu kept flowing. Yay! We go to taste it before anyone else in Muscat, the sushis, sashimis, California rolls, tempura and what not.

I am familiar with sushi; I worship Global Fusion the coolest sushi joint in Mumbai; but do not qualify as an expert (even though I am a major ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ fan). 

Image licensed under Creative Commons courtesy

Image licensed under Creative Commons courtesy <Movies in LA>

There are some dishes on the Golden Oryx Japanese Menu that I absolutely loved, some I couldn’t comprehend, a couple that I disliked, some familiar and some completely new.

I got introduced to EDAMAME – young green soybeans that were steamed.  An absolute must have!

EDAMAME_Japanese spices

Vegetarians will find this menu enthralling as some of my favourites during this exploration were Mushroom dim sum, Negima roll (Negi = green scallions), Three Seasons roll.

Mushroom dim sum
Mushroom dim sum
Negima roll
Negima Roll
Three Seasons Roll
Three Seasons Roll

I also loved the California roll and the Cocktail Roll (latter a combination of two types of sushi, with fish roe, adding an interesting flavour and texture to the sticky rice)

california roll

I am an understudy to Japanese cuisine, if you are the same then here’s a break up for you.

Sashimi Platter: Comprises of fresh slices of fish that is served raw, often with daikon (raddish) or gari (pickled ginger)

Sashimi Platter

I liked: Tamagoyaki (a slightly sweet, Japanese omelette made on the grill, by layering cooked sheets of egg), the sliced salmon was fresh and creamy, crabsticks…well were crabsticks, I always like them, tuna – not so much, octopus – not so much either.

Nigiri Platter: slices of fresh raw fish served over pressed rice.

Nigiri Platter
I liked: Salmon, Crabstick, Tamagoyaki.

So, after my visit to Golden Oryx, I have got a status upgrade, from being an amateur to being a Japanese cuisine understudy. Can’t wait to act like a ‘food snob’ with the newly acquired set of vocabulary.

All in all, I think, if you are familiar with authentic Japanese food, it may be hard to satiate all your senses. (I say this not because I doubt the chef’s calibre – He is driving this new Japanese menu based on his in-depth understanding and hands on experience with Taj New Delhi – one of India’s premium hospitality brand. But I say so because some of the produce (prawn in particular) used weren’t fresh enough)

Nevertheless, there are some winning dishes on the menu and the novice in me would like to go back and sample it after the official launch.

Oman’s love affair with Karak Chai

Many a times I have driven past these hole-in-the-wall eating joints with ‘Karak Chai’ written in bold, never to be missed font size. From past experience, I know for a fact that these places tend to be a treasure trove of flavours.

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Another Tea joint in Al Khuwair, Muscat, Oman
Another Tea joint in Al Khuwair, Muscat, Oman

I always start my weekends with a hot cup of tea, true Indian style. Not doing so depresses me to the core.

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My friends and I stayed over at my Omani friends place on one of the weekend and I was craving for my morning cup of chai. That’s when they introduced to me the world of Karak Chai.

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A hole-in-the-wall store that serves more than 10 different types of tea, made with tea leaves and flavouring of our choice. Saffron tea, mint tea, ginger tea, cardamom tea so on and so forth.

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‘Karak chai’ is derived from the Indian chai called ‘Kadak Chai’. The latter is very different from the English tea and tastes splendid and has an international fan following. It came to Oman from India and is yet another example of the historic camaraderie between the two nations. Omanis, fondly rechristened it as Karak.

Enough of the history. Next time you visit Oman, or if you live here and drive past this joint. Stop and enjoy the tea of your choice. You also get a tasty snack here that goes by the Omani name Rakhel and is a crepe like snack. It also resembles the south Indian delight Dosa.

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with honey & cheeese

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with egg and cheese
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with Oman Potato Chips & Cheese

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5 Must try dishes in oman

It’s not necessary to love everything about everyone we meet, right? Similarly when we go to a restaurant we need not like all of it. It might Be a tantalising main course or an absolutely glutinous dish that catches your fancy.

Here is a list of dishes found in muscat restaurants that are a must try according to me.

Murgh Musallam @ Fusion restaurant
MBD Area Ruwi

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Patthar Ghost (lamb) Shalimar Restaurant
Al Khuwair, Backside of KFC, opp Al Amal Medical

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Vegetarian Cannoli Darcy’s Kitchen
MQ , Jawharat Shatti

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Labneh and honey fatayer – Turkish House Al Khuwair

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Karak Saffron Chai, Tea House Al Khuwair

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Let me know if anything entices you enough that it makes you want to know the direction

The Natural Kind of Love

I consider myself blessed as I belong to a ‘generation of parents’ who are firmly grounded to their roots. They might have branched out to greener, brighter pastures but their roots keep pulling them back to the land they were born in. Because of that gravitational pull – me, my brother and my cousins got to experience the village life in all its glory.

So when my cousin whtapped me the images of the produce from my Uncle’s vegetable garden it filled my heart with the memories of my late Grandma overseeing all the mango and tamarind harvest in our backyard.

My Ancestral Home in Palakkad, Kerala, India
My Ancestral Home in Palakkad, Kerala, India

Our ancestral home is more than 100 years old and has a lot of acreage.

My Uncle the man behind the prodcue
My Uncle the man behind the produce

Kudos to my uncle for nurturing the land that has the potential to yield gold. He has such a big heart that he distributes the produce to family, friends and passerby for FREE. Such is our love for food 🙂

Here are some of his productions:

Half blushing Tomatoes
Half blushing Tomatoes
Okra / Lady Finger - Hmmm i never knew it grew upward, facing the sun.
Okra / Lady Finger – Hmmm i never knew it grew upward, facing the sun.
Melony goodness
Melony goodness
Look closely - wild yet tamed chili
Look closely – wild yet tamed chili

When you love you love naturally. When you love food you love it to the extent that my Uncle does – Nature-lly. Some day I wish to do the same.

First Bite Experience:

I cant tell you how different these home grown, organic veggies taste. If you have never had it, I have to boldly say that you are missing  sublime goodness that stems from the lap of nature. My Omani friends have farms and they have got me freshly plucked Cherry Tomatoes and they taste just the same. Sublime!

Have you ever tried to grow something a herb, a plant, a veggie… anything? Do share your experience. 

 

Worth the Wait, Kind of Love

Oh My! I can’t tell you how much I have waited to put out this post. I wanted it to be perfect; I wanted it to be the best; I wanted it to be so many things and more that I realised if I didn’t write it now I would never end up writing it. The Manhattan Fish Market – A dinner date with ‘the man I am waiting’ for at ‘the restaurant I have waited to go to’

best seafood restaurant in muscat, oman
best seafood restaurant in muscat, oman

It finally happened. My hubster took a short break from the 3 year course that he is pursuing in India and came visiting. So date nights were on an all-time high and I was on a spree of showing him all the treasures that I had discovered in Oman in his absence. Ever since I read the dreamlike post about The Manhattan Fish Market on Andy in Oman (thanks Andy, I owe that night to you!) I was dying to go there. Waiting for the perfect moment, waiting for the perfect company. Even if you don’t read what I have to say, look at the pics and make it a point to go there. It is totally worth it. The food is amazing, the staff is extremely friendly and it’s worth the wait and worth every baisa you spend. Best Seafood Restaurant in Oman The Manhattan Fish Market, 6855 Way, 18th November Street, Azaiba Tel: 24 499621  Facebook Page, Website  First Bite Experience Stewed Tomato Mussels. Costs RO 2.9 and is served in a pool of tomato gravy infused with magical spices and condiments. IMG_1747 Scoop the earthy, tangy sauce into the shells of the mussels and sup it up.

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Us – Muscling up the romance.

The creamy mussels and the magical gravy will make you want to lick the last traces off the plate. Manhattan Flaming Seafood Platter

Must Have platter at the restaurant seafood
Aren’t you happy when what you see is what you get?

We wanted to taste everything on the menu as that was not possible we decided to go in for the Platter (RO 11.9). Squid was deep fried to perfection not chewy, not soggy and oily but just light, crisp n tender.

Flaming Platter
Flaming it up for us – Table side.

What can you say about a dish when even a grain of rice is flavoursome? The garlic fried rice, and the creamy flamed shrimp will help you attain nirvana. The fried oysters were good not great but good. The fish fillets were of buttery perfection. We wanted the veggies to be pan friend instead of their usual steamed version, and our request was delivered, without a single question. The quirky and creative decor wordplay combined with the oceanly love makes this experience totally worth the wait. But why wait… go for it and do let me know what you think.

The Quickie Kind of Love

Quickies make us alllll happpy. WHY? Coz its quick and insanely satisfying. Mistake me not…for me talking about one quick fix that can make you smile, slurp, sip and sup. In India it goes by the name Gola, Chuski and in the West shaved ice popsicles.

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Picture taken at Mumbai – Juhu Beach

From the beach side Ice Gola escapades in Mumbai to experimenting it in its many shapes and forms abroad, I have come a long way. Every time I take a drag from the ice i get filled with not just its sweetness but of the various memories that comes with it. The times I have shared a gola with my parents when I was a kid, as I couldn’t finish all of it to the times when I would selfishly keep it away from my hubby. So many memories of it with my friends, my sister-in-law and cousins…Gola I LOVE THEE.

Shashank Mehrotra

Different types of golas found in India

Image courtesy of Shashank Mehrotra licensed under Creative Commons

Best Goal in Muscat

Khana Kazana, Right next door to Khimji Mart, Ruwi.

First Slurp Experience

I love the Kalakhatta flavor so do most of the gola fanatics I have met. It comes in a zillion flavors and what makes it click is a special Indian salt called the ‘Kala Namak’ or black salt, even though it is pinkinsh in color. Yeah we Indians like to always have that element of surprise to everything we do. It made with Indian blueberries called jammun. Get ready to be mesmerized. Will surely wonder how can something so simple looking, taste sooooooo darn good.

Word of Caution

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Opt for the kalakhatta flavor only if you do not have place important to go to. Coz after u have it your tongue and lips will be colored beyond recognition in a naughty shade of purple.

The Messy Kind of Love

It’s more than a mouthful, its overpowers you senses, your hand is the only implement to aid eating, it spills and leaves a trail…in short, its messy but that is what lures you into slurpy submission. This is an Indian treat called Pani Puri / Gol Gappa / Puchka, which will surprise you, so you need to be a food adventurist to truly fall in love with this messy addiction!

Forget fine dining and say hello to street food dining that may make you sweat a bit but there are always ways to get over it!

Not familiar with Pani Puri? Intrigued? Read on…

Pani Puri Al Khuwair Muscat Bakery

So pani puri are these individual fried balls of dough (puris) that are stuffed with a filling comprising of potatoes and lentils which are thereafter dunked into a water (pani)bath.  Thus the name pani puri (balls of water). And don’t think blahh when I say water… coz it’s far from it. The water is the soul of this dish, it’s tangy (from the tamarind), it’s sweet and the moment it touches your tongue your mouth will be

“tricked, tickled and tantalised.”

Best Pani Puri in Muscat – Muscat Bakery Hypermarket Al Khuwair, near Home Centre.

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First Bite Experience

It is so hard to get this dish right outside of India coz ‘freshness’ is the major deciding factor.  I opened my mouth to its maximum capacity and carefully placed the brimming pani puri in. This puri was made of semolina and is much better than the wheat / all-purpose flour puris as the semolina ones instantaneously melts in your mouth. FRESH!!!!!!!!!

I try real hard to be lady like and keep the released coriander, mint and herb infused sweet, tangy water from trickling out from the corner of my lips.

I demolished eight such puris and am left with sticky fingers and a happy tummy. Silly as it may seem this snack lures me into the must experience messy kind of love!