Wednesday, 31 March 2010

India, Bergmannstr., Berlin

klein aber fein....

Als ich das 'India' in Berlin entdeckte, habe ich gedacht, 'was für einen langweiligen Name.'Aber das Essen und die Einrichtung waren gar nicht langweilig! Das Restaurant hat nur 8 oder 10 Tische und es sah wie ein Wohnzimmer aus aber die Bedienung war supernett, hilfsbereit. Die Speisekarte bietet eine bunte Auswahl an Thalis an. Ein Thali ist ein Teller von verschiedenen Dips, Salaten, Curries und Reis. Ich habe ein vegetarisches Biryani-Thali bestellt- eine Mischung aus gebratenem Reis und Gemüse, ein pikantes Currysauce zum Übergießen, knackige Salat, Joghurt und Minz- Dip,dazu ein knuspriges Popadom. Es schmekt nicht wie die englische Thalis aber war trotzdem lecker. Die indischen Puppen an der Wand waren auch lustig, ein Hauch Indiens in kalten Kreuzberg.
Es gab keine Desserts aber die süsse Verführung war Yogi-Tee, eine indische Teesorte mit Nelken, Milch und Honig! Perfekt für die Weihnachtstimmung aber im Sommer auch überraschend erfrischend.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Lee-On Chinese, Leven St, Edinburgh

Finally. A fabulous, cheap, tasty Chinese in Edinburgh!

After last week's hideous experience at Tippoo Sahib's, I needed a break from the spicy stuff. I decided to tuck into my other favourite cuisine, Chinese. By chance, I found myself in a funky part of Edinburgh,slightly tucked away from the centre and home to the fabulous Cameo cinema and King's Theatre. This area is restaurant heaven.

I found myself drawn to the interesting-looking Lee-On, an old Chinese with round windows like a ship. The menu looked both interesting and appetising; however, peeking into the restaurant, it was stone empty. Not to worry, the actual restaurant is in the basement and was full. It was a bit like a wartime bunker,the seating areas like sparsely decorated rooms. The 'bunker' was a hive of activity and reassuringly there were a large amount of Chinese people eating there. I ordered a delicious mushroom noodle soup to start, only 2.20-bargain. For my main, I went for mixed veg and bean curd in black bean sauce, accompanied with fluffy egg fried rice. Another dish worth sampling is the salt and chili beancurd, a dry tofu-based dish spiced up with chillies, garlic and spring onions. The portions were huge, but I meanaged to squeeze in dessert from the 1970s throwback style menu with delicacies like 'banana boat'! This is a pimped banana split which is packed with fruit cocktail between the bananas and has lashings of strawberry sauce. I digested the feast with some Chinese jasmine tea which was on the house!

The staff here were really cheerful, making it an all-round good dining experience. If you want plentiful Chinese food with no pretentions, I'll see you soon at Lee-On!

New Lee on on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Little Tibet, Gneisenaustr., Berlin

von Berlin nach Tibet während des Essens....

Berlin-Kreuzberg ist als Multi-Kulti Bezirk bekannt. Wenn man Kreuzberg sagt, denkt man sofort an Türken, Italiener, Amis usw. Aber mein Geheimtipp in Xberg ist eine kurze Reise nach Tibet. Little Tibet ist ein gemütliches Restaurant zwischen U-Bhf Gneisenaustr. und Mehringdamm und bietet leckere Gerichte und nette Gastfreundlichkeit an.

Die Speisekarte ist vielfältig und interessant, die 'normale' Currys sind da aber ich wollte was anderes entdecken. Ich habe mich für Momos entschieden, Teigtaschen mit Gemüse prallgefüllt, außerdem ein gemischtes Pakora (gebratene Gemüse) mit 2 Dips- Satay und süß/scharf. Und die waren nur die Vorspeisen!

Jetzt geht's los...Hauptgerichten. Ich habe eine Weile gewartet aber es hat sich gelohnt. Ich habe eine Riesensuppe als Hauptgericht mit Gemüse, Nudeln und Knoblauch-die Mischung macht's (hab auch die Gemüsecurry probiert). Wow. Was für ein tolles Essen!

Als Entschuldigung fürs Warten haben wir auch ein Gratis-Dessert bekommen-Eis, Pfirsichen und Honig. Nach dem Essen haben wir im 'Tibet-Eck' gesessen- eine gemütliche Ecke des Restaurants mit Kopfkissen, Kerzen und Teppichen ausgestattet. Normalerweise liebe ich meinen Kaffee aber wollte was landestypisch probieren, so habe einen Ingwer-Honig Tee bestellt. Lecker.

Ich würde sagen, dass Little Tibet ein etwas intelligenteres Restaurant-Besuch ist. Hier plaudert die Bedienung gerne mit den Kunden über Geschichte, Sitten und Politik in Tibet und ich persönlich habe etwas gelernt. Hier kann man auch Informationen über die tibetischen Gemeinde in Berlin auch bekommen.

Ich wohne nicht mehr in Berlin, aber das nächste Mal, dass ich Berlin besuche, gehe ich sofort in LITTLE TIBET. Empfehlenswert.

The Light of Bengal, Aigburth Rd, Liverpool

A typically traditional English Indian.....

The Light of Bengal has been around for many years now but is often overshadowed by the nearby, overhyped 'trendy' Lark Lane eateries. With the Light of Bengal, what you see is what you get, a good, proper traditional Indians. It's uncool, has chintzy carpets and chipping paint, but that's what makes it charming. The people who eat here know what to expect and the LoB has 'regulars'.
I tried the popadoms which came with an impressive array of chutneys and sat in a cosy booth. The paint was chipping off the wall but I overlooked this as I tucked in to my fresh pops. For my main, I ordered Madras; it was very potent but it got a big thumbs down for the veg- frozen rubbish from the nearby Iceland. The restaurant was so pleasant, I was prepared to overlook this error as it was a Ronseal restaurant- it does what it says on the tin.

As I said, nothing impressive, nothing awful-just reasonable Indian fayre without pretentions which would set you up for a good night out.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

My Trip Advisor Article 'The Liverpool Curry Scene'

I recently posted this article on Trip Advisor, enjoy!

My main passion is curry-hence my user name- and am constantly on the search for what makes the perfect Indian restaurant. Are the modern restaurants better than new ones? City centre hotspots or cosy suburban eateries? Open plan or traditional booths? Vindaloo or more delicate tastes? Here is my guide to Liverpool's curry scene.

My first stop is South Liverpool, an area populated by students, professionals and ladies-who-lunch. The two newcomers to the curry scene are SPICEWAYS at the Childwall Fiveways and SEKANDER on Allerton Rd. Spiceways opened at the end of 2009 and has a trendy, winebar feel with no reminders that it is actually an Indian restaurant. The portions are huge, as is the menu, and the quality of the ingredients second to none. Sekander is much loved due to the fact it is a BYO and can therefore save a few quid and spend that on a delicious dessert instead. Sekander started life as a takeaway in the late 90s and its popularity grew, evident in the fact that there is a queue of a weekend. In the historic Woolton village where Liverpool's favourite sons John and Paul met, a quaint Indian can be found in the form of THE RAJ. From the outside. it looks like a Tudor house, but once inside it looks like a stereotypical old-school curry house with booths, flock wallpaper and chintzy carpet. The odd Hollyoaks star has been sighted here.

Next stop is the trendy Lark Lane and into the RED FORT for a vindaloo. The restaurant is in a street perfect for bars and pubs and is a mix of traditional and modern. Perfect for a works night out. romantic meal or family event. Nearby is the LIGHT OF BENGAL, a tasty old-school experience with the obligatory booths.

Our journey takes us to the city centre's Renshaw Street where MASTER CHEF is located. The prices are bargainous, it is a BYO and they offer student discount. More importantly, it is a staple of LIverpool's Pakistani community who rate this restaurant highly for authenticity. They offer some dishes that do not appear in your bog-standard curry house such as the wonderful, chutney-based Achaari. Its neighbour, the UNI (pronounced you and I)is a 1970s classic and an experience not to be missed. Yes, it has booths, but with a difference. Each booth has a dimmer switch, a curtain and a bell to call for service- Kitsch or romantic? You can be the judge. The lassi selection is worth a try too. In the same area are other favourites of the Liverpool dining scene, THE PASSAGE TO INDIA and INDIAN DELIGHT.

And finally, for those who want a different Indian experience, try the MAHARAJA for a South Indian take on your favourite dishes-recommended by Gordon Ramsay!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Tippoo Sahib, Rose St, Edinburgh

I visited Tippoo's as it was advertised as being such a customer friendly restaurant and it has been in Edinburgh 30 years. I have had better customer service in McDonalds.

I entered the restaurant down the chintzy staircase, the entrance looking like a Berni Inn from 1975. My feet stuck to the floor but oh well, isn't that the good old tradition of an Indian. It got worse. The restaurant was in a sleazy, airless basement and had the atmosphere of a Jobcentre. The place was hideously decorated with a mural of Scotsmen (I thought it was an Indian) and turbaned princes.
I was presented with the menu which was in one of those folders you put your projects in at school, and it still had the remains of the previous diner's food on it, as did the tablecloth. The food on offer was plentiful and cheaper than the other restaurants on Rose St. The staff were intent on hard sell and tried to get us to order 6 popadoms (there were only 2 of us). When we ordered our mains, they kept trying to force more on us and the lady sitting behind me was in an argument with another member of staff about his sales technique.
I ordered a Vegetable Pathia, a sweet, hot and sour curry. It was really tasty and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Peshwari however was soggy and tasted like a cake. The mango lassi was a disappointment, it tasted like one of those cheap supermarket milkshakes.

We were then asked about 5 times if we wanted dessert and the staff were rude when we said no, plonking the bill down. I then had a small heart attack when I saw the bill, 3 popadoms for 4.50. A disgrace.

One month later.....

You know how it is, you're in work and you fancy a works night out. You get caught up in the planning- it has to be a central location, easy to get to, usually curry or Chinese, close to clubs, good for a loud, talkative group.....

Yep. You guessed it. I ended up in the horror that is Tippoo Sahib and the repercussions were damaging.

I didn't want to put my friends off so agreed to come along, as a night out was overdue. I entered the sleazy basement, my feet sticking to the carpet and the garish drawings on the wall seemed to be laughing at me. I was about to give these awful people my hard-earned money much to my digust. I am such a hypocrite...Plus we were a big group, they were definitely going to try and hard-sell us the dishes that were on the turn. Some of my colleagues weren't British- either they didn't know what authentic Brit curry was supposed to taste like and think it was nice, or their sophisticated continental tastebuds would cause them to mock us Brits with derision.

We ordered popadoms, they forced 18 on us, a lot of which didn't get eaten. Instead of the ubiquitous chutney dip, they bizarrely gave us a pineapple ring for reasons unbeknownst to us. Maybe it was to cleanse our palates, like the way ginger is used while eating sushi? For starters, we shared bhajis and pakoras. They were swimming in fat and reeked of supermarket frozen section. Although our bellies were full, the hard sell patter continued as they tried to sell us side orders. We refused- power in numbers, there were 9 of us to shout at them!
My main was a veg madras and it was vile. The curry tasted cheap, the vegetables looked like a leftover Xmas dinner. There was a sprout-I kid you not, a SPROUT- bobbing up and down in it and a few Netto mini carrots. The rice was the only decent thing about the meal, and I admit, the naan was ok too. Serves me right for being a hypocrite, I knew what I was letting myself in for but didn't want to spoil a grand night out. But the joke was on the shifty staff as we left no tip and were wise enough not to buy into their hard sell patter!

Sorry to spoil your appetite, but the next day I couldn't leave the house if you get my drift. And I had no Imodium at home.

Tippoo Sahib on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Britannia Spice, Leith, Edinburgh

Nautical but nice.....

When I first heard the name Britannia Spice, my first thought was Geri Halliwell in a Union Jack dress and thought it was maybe a Spice Girls tribute bar. On closer inspection, I realised it was a very classy, modern Indian restaurant located by the sea near the Royal Yacht Britannia. The restaurant has a nautical theme and on first glance, it does not look like your typical Indian,more like a sophisticated yachting club. The staff are dressed up in nautical uniforms, there are paintings of ships and the famous Royal Yacht adorning the walls, ornamental sails decorate the ceiling and separate tables, making them private, and the focal point of the restaurant is a ship's wheel. for a moment, I thought I was on a Caribbean cruise.

The staff were very friendly and weren't overbearing and pushy like the staff in Eastern Pavilion and Tippoo Sahib; they respect their guests.On the menu, there were a few surprises in store. I was searching for my trusted trio, the pathia, madras and vindaloo but they were nowhere to be seen! Instead, Britannia Spice had a few surprises up its sleeve and offered regional variations of curry instead of the curry house staples. The vegetarian selection was very inspiring, plus I spied some Nepalese Momos on the menu. Momos are a dish I had only ever seen in Berlin before, a dish not widely known in the UK. They are popular in Tibet and Nepal and they consist of a parcel with either a meat or veg filling and are particularly tasty with a satay dip.

To start, I had popadoms which were beautiful, fresh and crisp as I like them. Three dips were offered, a chutney, lime pickle and the onion and mint. They were chilled and fresh, unlike some restaurants I have mentioned on here. For the main, I had my beloved peshwari naan, pilau rice and Vegetable Korai. They were beautifully prepared, the Korai's vegetables delicate and spicy. The portions weren't as big as some other Indians in the city, but it allowed me to make room for dessert. The carnivorous meal of choice is the chicken Jaipuri, a gentle blend of spices so I was told.

The dessert menu looked so tempting with Kulfis and a range of exotic ices on offer, predictably I settled on a Mango Kulfi with a freshly brewed coffee to take the chill off. I had such a pleasant evening here and felt comfortable to take my time and enjoy the meal. Whoever thought the combination of Indian and Nautical wouldn't work was completely wrong. Rule Britannia!

Britannia Spice on Urbanspoon