Smokin’ Johnny Rockets

When Johnny Rockets is 2 stores next to a store where people buy chicken by the buckets, it is not a surprise that JR was virtually empty. This is exactly how I like my dining environment. Not so fast. And well, when you have burger on your mind, then a visit to JR is quite imperative. Johnny knows his Rockets!

Smokin' Johnny RocketsI asked the server for some help to navigate through the new menu, since a few names were repeated separately. After browsing the menu card, which happens to be my favourite literature, I settled for the Smokehouse burger.

Lamb patty sitting on a squishy bed of ‘smokehouse’ BBQ sauce with a dull shining, melting slice of Cheddar that balanced crispy bacon and some onion rings on top. All this goodness was arduously held together with a very “muffiny” sourdough burger bread. This was what made the burger very special. Sourdough – full marks.

Smokehouse Burger from Johnny RocketsI demolished the burger within minutes, also since the size wasn’t that huge. The taste made up for such shortcomings. What really fell short on expectations was the milkshake.

All shakes are ice cream based and hand-spun. After reading such descriptions along with the flavours available, you expect a big, fat glass to sit in front of you – a glass that should reach your eye level and make eye-contact with the guest in front of you, a difficult and distracting task. That is something that doesn’t happen. Have you seen those glasses, Johnny? They are, at best, teenaged shot glasses that hold about 4 glugs of milkshake!

Johnny, your menu card and its graphics really create a mirage in the eyes of the good eater. It is something that commonplace restaurants do. Your order never looks the same as the picture.

So, here’s what you do:

  • Redesign that menu. Read – simplify.
  • Do not repeat your burgers on different pages. Never confuse the customer.
  • So, you have chicken, lamb and tenderloin? What meat would tenderloin stand for? Lamb? Pork? Beef?  Given the moo(t) situation now, a clarification would be less stressful, don’t you think?
  • And get those shakes in a bigger size.

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#BurpAndBelch Meter: 3 burps full

#5WordFoodReview: Can You Get Me XXL?

The Juicy Lucy Burger

This Juicy Lucy Burger @CafeDelhiHeightsThis has got be a man’s doing. Naming a burger Juicy Lucy. I am yet to come across a menu where the woman chef has gotten back, full square. However, now I shall steer clear of any accusations of misogyny and focus on this burger that is a global favourite.

The Juicy Lucy or Jucy Lucy Burger is just another slightly pimped up version of the American cheeseburger. Any quick search will tell you that it came about in Minneapolis with a controversy on its true parent. With a history like that of a DC superhero and a name like that of a NSFW website, I would safely presume that the burger would blow my brains out with its taste.

I was in Cafe Delhi Heights in Mall of India with my wife and my radio guru. He recommended that I dig into the JLB. You don’t say ‘no’ to your teachers.

The positives first:

When the burger appeared on my table, I was instantly in love with its size. As big as my outstretched palm, with the sesame bun shining and well buttered on the inside. Sure I like my food well-endowed.

The burger sure was juicy. And this wasnt just the tomato squishing against the grating of the cutlery.

The patty was served at the exact temperature it should be consumed. Not too hot and dry, warm, moist and the melting cheese wasn’t as hot as lava.

The lamb was not gamey and smelled rather appetising.

The not-so-positives:

Have you seen its plating? The most insipid, boring and disinterested plating ever. Slapping on some lettuce on a plate will not earn you any star (presuming there is no hunger for the Bibendum star). And where is the dressing? How difficult is some balsamic or citric dressing?

The patty was under-seasoned. Stark would certainly not have approved of this one since one could not get a whiff of pepper for miles.

And the cheese. Well, if you are serving me a gigantic burger, please make the cheese serving ginormous. I should be able to taste the cheese in each bite. Maybe a pepperjack would have been a better idea since we were low on pepper to begin with.

Stop obsessing with mayonnaise! Never understood this new obsession of mayo in everything people want to eat. At this rate, there will be mayo in biryani too.

An excessive bed of red cabbage does nothing even though it is dunked in mayo. When one is crunching a mouthful of cabbage, it makes me feel like a wanton cow or having those roadside sandwiches that serve you cabbage in the name of a vegetable sandwich.

And the burger bread within was way too much than the burger. Serious munchers will get this concept of bread to meat ratio. I ate the burger without the top cap. I finished it later since I wanted a clean record of finishing up my entire Juicy Lucy Burger.

Wouldn’t want Lucy to feel offended, do we?
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#BurpAndBelch Meter: 2 burps and half a silent one

#5WordFoodReview: Sorry Lucy! Didn’t Work Out!

 

Taming The Errant Egg

The Eggsetter - honestly, I named it that. Purely merit-based, I add.
The Egg-setter: honestly, I named it that. Purely merit-based, I add.

I confess being a bit of a homemaker. I steal time even while doing groceries to check on what’s new in the kitchen department. Such wanderings have proved priceless as I have picked up painted wooden chopsticks, tea-strainer, fruit forks and this contraption that I call the egg-setter. It maybe called that, I am not sure, but I see what it does and hence the name is purely merit-based.

The Disciplined Egg
The Disciplined Egg

This egg-setter does as it has been named. It sets the egg in shape while it cooks. It is difficult to get some thickness in the egg while it cooks since usually the albumin runs the entire circumference of the frying pan. The egg-setter restricts that. In effect it does what happens while you make a frittata or a Spanish omelette, just that there are more eggs. The egg-setter is a nifty way to make eggs for your burger.  And it sits pretty between the burger buns.

Enjoy the thickness of Egg
Enjoy the thickness of Egg

Grease up the inside lining of the egg-setter with the fat of your choice. I used butter. Make sure the ring that will sit on the pan is also suitably greased. Now sit it in the frying pan, add a small dot of oil and crack your egg inside it. When you see how obediently it sits inside the egg-setter will you feel a surge of love for this kitchen tool. Break the yolk, if you want, add salt and add pepper.

The Tamed Egg after the Egg-setter has been removed
The Tamed Egg after the Egg-setter has been removed

Occasionally stir it like you would while making a frittata. Run a knife along the edges to free the sides. When you are more or less happy with the consistency of the egg, take off the egg-setter, and slide off the egg on your toasty burger bun. Load up with whatever you want, since I believe that eggs make anything taste good, and there you have your breakfast burger!

Eggcellent Breakfast Burger
Eggcellent Breakfast Burger

Egg-cellent innovation, shall we say!

What The Telly Won’t Tell

Pic courtesy: kernelmag.dailydot.com
Pic courtesy: kernelmag.dailydot.com

Food shows have always had an audience. I have watched food shows on TV for as long as I can remember, be it Jiggs Kalra’s forward-thinking show or the hilariously well-seasoned Chef Yan. Years later when I got to be part of a food segment on the telly, it was an eye-opener more than a taste-bud tickler. There are some things about food shows that the telly won’t tell, ever. Let’s peep into what goes into the food shows, of course behind the scenes.

Food is the star and the story
Off late, we see the bulge of TV-ready chefs who love to present their own work. Works best that way. Unless the chef is really handicapped at presenting does one need a presenter. And by presenter I do not mean a lipstick-clad-heel-totting-accent-spewing specimen who could, in real life, burn water while boiling! And that is not a biased but a seen and tested statement. Thankfully things are shifting towards the better. The presenter needs to know and understand food, sometimes its history and most times the process food ingredients go through.

Use, re-use and abuse
No food show can survive if the presenter garnishes the script with hackneyed, boring phrases and epithets that could numb your ear and tongue. It starts with “awesome”, goes on to “amazing” and ends on “absolutely mind-blowing”. The other level of presenters use parboiled phrases like “melt-in-the-mouth”, “flavourful”, “beautiful textures” and “crunchy and juicy”. Sure one can learn this by watching a couple of shows on the tube or reading a few food bloggers.

1 Tablespoon = 3 Tablespoons
Food on some food shows is made not the way it is told. There are various re-takes and that would mean starting all over again or at the stage where it has been left. Many chefs add extra oil, condiments or spices, of course off-camera; including secretly adding MSG (read more here: msg-for-msg). Purely unethical. Incorrect communication. A lot of shows, internationally, have bravely ventured outside of the studio into real surroundings and settings where  “let’s add this since nobody is watching” is not an option.

Food shows on the telly are entertaining as they are informative. You learn about foods in various cultural set-ups and countries, know about celebrity chefs, popular restaurants or food trucks to try-out and feel encouraged to try to make that dish at home. The shows, like the ingredients used, must be true to the taste.

Fingers crossed.

Mum’s Raw Mango Salad

I had not known Bengalis to use mangoes in salad. To the east Indian residents, mangoes are usually used for sweetmeats and / or desserts. Salads are what cucumbers are bred for! And that notion was thwarted when my mom made together this wonderful raw mango salad.

Mum's Raw Mango Salad
Mum’s Raw Mango Salad

Mango salads are quite popular, ‘cross cultures. It is a refreshing fruit; can be used in unripe and ripe stages and goes well with most other things. Most coastal countries have been using mangoes in their salads; from Haiti to Thai. The good thing about using raw mangoes is the added crunch from the fibres. The sourness can ride tandem with other flavours that can be introduced. Now for this easy-peazy mango salad recipe.

Mum's Raw Mango Salad
Mum’s Raw Mango Salad

Chop up a raw mango into fine julienne. Now, in a mortar and pestle, crush up some dry mustard seeds. To that add, finely chopped green chillies and a handsome heave of coriander, chopped. The secret here is to add a dash of salt and double that of sugar.

In a bowl, mix the mango and the rest. Pour over a glug of mustard oil. Mix well and cool. Serve. Set. And Match.

Mum's Raw Mango Salad
Mum’s Raw Mango Salad

The mustard oil and seeds add the sharp bite, the sugar balances the sourness of the mangoes and uplifts the heat of the green chillies. This is the most refreshing mango salad I have had in India.

Man vs Lobster @ Zheng He

TheCalmDev @ Zheng He - Man vs Lobster
TheCalmDev @ Zheng He – Man vs Lobster

Unfair fight. Lobster alive or on the plate, notwithstanding.

Little did I know that I was going in for combat when I walked in with my dearest friend at Zheng He by the waterfront at Mina’a Salaam. Priority seating, with uninterrupted views of the Burj Al Arab changing gels in the evening, was quite the highlight. And then the food started rolling out.

The Dragon Boat Festival @ Zheng He
The Dragon Boat Festival @ Zheng He

To celebrate the dragon boat festival, there was a special dimsum menu. Truth is, whatever the festival, I am always up for dimsums. Chicken, prawn and mushrooms, tempered, and stuffed inside delicate translucent steamed bags is something I can do on repeat mode every evening.  The only thing that beat it was a crispy golden king prawn in Chinese mustard and spicy mango. Our kind hostess from the Orient, oriented us and patiently answered our questions. Spicy mango, not spiced mango, said she. This appetizer is highly recommended. In fact, I do not mind having it as a main course.

And then on followed a kingly sight of soups, duck, shrimps, octopus and scallops. My co-eater asked for the whole Canadian lobster in black pepper sauce. It didn’t alarm me, as I thought it would be an equal share of the crustacean. When it arrived, I was left to wrestle it all by myself. Understand this, I had half the Tasmanian Sea inside my stomach and then I had to eat the entire lobster! (Ideally this line would have sounded better with an expletive.)

The lobster on the far right. What I ate was bigger!
The lobster on the far right. What I ate was bigger!

And so, I set out for the impossible. The head and the tail shells on the plate taunted me as I slowly reached out my chopsticks for the chunks of juicy lobster meat flavoured with the essence of the Sichuan area. The taste was incredible, as was the texture. My hands picked up momentum, picking and delivering piece after piece until my mouth was unable to keep up. Chewing and swallowing on an almost-full stomach is not an easy task. I was thinking of greater glories like my name on Zheng He’s aesthetic walls discussing my superhuman feat; or comforting things like eating in my loosest pyjama in front of TV. I wasn’t prepared to give up easily on this deliciousness on my plate. I was about 7 pieces more to go before fame and glory would throw their garlands around my neck. I wasn’t looking at the Burj, or at the table next to me with 5 gorgeous girls daintily eating their Chinese food. And then there were 3, left. Lobster pieces. I felt like Achilles in the siege of Troy. To destroy a 1.5 kilo lobster all by myself is no less satisfying. With my plate polished off clean, I stood up akimbo, much to the surprise of my bemused friend, the 5 beautiful co-diners and our Chinese stewardess. I told her stoically that I was adjusting the lobster inside my stomach and she did have a strange look on her face. Hah! You should have seen mine – it was like Po with his mouth filled with buns.

Ni hao! And how!

#BurpAndBelch Meter: 5 buuuuuurps (sorry, was I too loud?)

#5WordFoodReview: Eat Pray Eat! Then Repeat!

Zheng He's - Mina A' Salam Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Carter’s – for English grub and King Tut

BurpAndBelch @ Carter's
BurpAndBelch @ Carter’s

When you have a mall in Dubai, in the shape of a pyramid, with walls adorned with hieroglyphs, Ramasses II greeting you at the gate along with Anubis, then little wonder that there will be a pub called Carter’s.

The Englishman who shot to unprecedented fame when he ‘stumbled’ upon the untouched tomb of boy-king Tutankhamen, was celebrated for opening up the preparatory after-life of the ancient Egyptians to the whole world. That was just the history appetiser. For those that want to know about more Howard Carter or King Tut, read up. If you want to know about the ‘meteoric’ iron used for King Tut’s dagger, read this: MeteoriteIronForKingTutsDagger

Carter’s is a lively, charming, colonial gastro pub (and sports bar), Carter’s features some English favourites and gourmet newness that one can enjoy without the starched formality.

The menu was rather square, something I would have personally designed if I was running the show here (with a few tweaks here and there). Luckily the staff was friendly enough for you to come back a second time. Well, I have seen this for the last 10 years, so this felt like old times.

When in an English pub, eat Stilton. This beautiful salad could be my best friend for a long, long time. Oven roasted beetroots, with a drizzle of Stilton blue cheese, baby gem lettuce and macadamia nuts for crunch was simply delish. It was too dark for me to behave like typical food bloggers and whip out my phone camera and shoot the food a zillion times before eating it! So, I just ate it in peace!

Right after this got over, the live rock music took over. That meant, the abrupt end of conversation as the drummer was within earshot and a careless flick of the Stilton could have soiled the guitarist’s shiny black leather waistcoat. I stuck to my crispy calamari for comfort.

Peppered steak - demonstrative picture
Peppered steak – demonstrative picture

For mains, I ordered the peppered filet with hash and buttered spinach. Do not miss the peppercorn sauce. Eating this sauce is like listening to your favourite tune on the radio. My dinner mate settled for Carter’s Cod and Chips. Now the thing about fish and chips is that there is nothing new that can be done to a classic. It’s like a vintage car. You can just rub the chrome 4 times extra for value add. There was mushy peas and tartar sauce. Home run. Although I am a little blah to the bland batter the fish gets coated in. So, instead of helping my friend out when he couldn’t finish it, I chose to relish on the perfectly done, medium well, steak with handsome grill marks et al. What the dish lacked was the crunch of steamed veggies which the wilted spinach could not perform.

We washed the food down with our beer. While on that, make sure to ask for the Summer Sale where you get pints and selected grapes for very cheap. Will certainly come in handy for the rock night.

All in all, Cater’s is a great place to unwind with family and friends. Use the terrace when the weather isn’t that muggy. Or else just sit indoors and crane your neck to see the inquisitive Carter bent over the sarcophagus of Tutankhamen. Should do the trick!

#BurpAndBelch meter: 3.5 out of 5 burps

#5WordRestaurantReview: Not What King Tut Ate!

Carter's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burps to remember food by!