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Sushi Fest at R.E.D

The food scene in Delhi has finally come of age. Ten years ago, I could not have imagined being spoilt for choice of sushi places around me. Today, at every ten feet, you can experience a different region’s flavour and fervour. The newest entrant to tap into the sushi market is R.E.D (Rare Eastern Dinning) by Radisson Blu. While the restaurant has been around for a while, its sushi menu is a fresh addition valid for a limited time. The sushi recipes have been crafted by Chef Raymond Sim, from Singapore. It borrows from the traditional Nigiri cuisine combined with a distinct western influence.

An entire meal of sushi for a fish starved Delhiite like me is a rare treat. Naturally, I was smitten. The Tuna Tartar is a definite win at the offset. Once that is demolished, go for the Torched Salmon, Steaks, Green Onion Salsa and Ponju next. The ponju at R.E.D is a gelatinous cube of sauce which is a unique preparation that I have never tried before. There’s some amount of cognitive dissonance, trying a savoury jelly but it works well with the dish and sets it far apart from the usual fare.

Once you start eating sushi, it is difficult to stop. Give in to temptation and dig in next into the California@RED packed with prawn, avocado, cucumber and crab. The Prawn Tempura Uramaki is a classic that would have been the entrée, main and dessert had I been the chef. It will add a nice crunch to your sushi meal.

Take a breather with a veggie sushi, if you like. I’d recommend the Sweet Shitake and Bean Curd Roll. Top it up with the Rainbow Uramaki which combines the two best seafood in the world – fish and prawn into bite sized rainbow-y goodness. At this point, I assume you’d have had enough sushi to keep you going for a while. A dessert may be desired if not deserved. Don’t hold back. Try their spring roll cream with apple.

The highlight of my visit was when I requested for watching the chefs constructing sushi. To my surprise he actually agreed to not only let me watch but also try my hand at rolling it. Sushi making has become a new goal henceforth. Just need to scrounge up the ingredients. And watch a million YouTube videos.

I’d recommend R.E.D for a quiet night out or a date. The candle light, calm colour tones and affable staff add up beautifully to make it a great experience.

 

Location: Radisson Blu MBD, Sector 18, Noida
Price for Two: Rs. 3,000

 

Anjora cannot resist a good prawn preparation, finds home in Chinese food anywhere in the world but will eat almost anything if it looks appealing. She is a Potter head and has recently discovered pottery as a hobby (excuse the pun).
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Italia Cafe by Aura

Italia café by Aura is a small café in pul prahalapur, surajkund road. They serve cakes and pastries, pizzas, burgers, hot dogs and much more. It’s primarily a bakery shop serving various cakes at very affordable prices. But as soon as you enter the shop, you’ll see the bakery items placed in the refrigerated counters on the right and as you go a little inside, there is a café at the back of the shop. The small café isn’t the best looking cafés you’ve seen but they serve some really good food items. The chairs remain unorganized and the café isn’t really squeaky clean.

But the best part about the café is the old man regarded as baba ji. He used to sell brownies in a tiny kiosk placed in front of another restaurant a few years ago. And now he has a restaurant of his own and he serves everything from pizzas to pastas, to burgers to soups and salads. He is not only a hardworking man but an extremely warm and friendly human being. He was constantly cracking jokes and talking to the kids around, while I was there.

Aura is not only a café and a bakery shop but it also has a grocery shop in the basement. You can find everything in that grocery store that you’d probably find in a big retail convenience store.

They also sell their own breads and pizza bases.

Their pastries are quite delicious, moist and fresh but their decorations can be a bit too colorful and juvenile. I’ve order a few times from Aura and each and every time the cakes have been very good. Their pastries start from rupees 30 and goes up till 50 rupees. They also serve swiss rolls and lava cakes, other than the more traditional pastries including vanilla, pineapples, chocolate, choco chips and black forest. Their brownies are really good, perfectly moist and chocolaty.

Their savory items are equally as good, the items on the counter keeps changing; sometimes they serve chilli paneer pizza or sometimes corn and paneer pizza. The pizzas you see on the counter are sold in slices and they cost 50 rupees. To eat a whole pizza or order it, you need to go to the café. I always order the picante pizza which is the four cheese pizza and at that price point, it’s probably one of the best. The small pizza is for 99, the medium pizza is for 129 and the large pizza is for 279. The pizza is very cheesy and delicious. I’ve also had their aalu tikki burger which is for 35 rupees, and that was pretty great too. The buns were perfectly toasted and the aalu tikki was perfectly seasoned.

Aura is great place to hang out in after your tuitions or just the right place to be at if you want to eat sufficient without burning a hole in your pocket.

Meghna Chakraborty
I love to eat. Pizza is my favourite food, and I love cheese, any kind of cheese.
I love animals, I love dogs. Dogs over humans, any day, all day.
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MONGINIS- from the far away land of Calcutta.

Monginis is a new bakery-cum-fast food café serving some really good dishes at some really really affordable prices. It is quite popular and an extremely celebrated cake shop in Kolkata. It has six more outlets here in Delhi, namely New friends colony, RK puram, Subhash Nagar, CC colony, Gurgaon and Keshav Puram. I however went to C.R Park to try out their menu. The shop is located in D-block, opposite market number 2.

My mother and I have had a few cakes and pastries in the past, from the shop; but we weren’t exactly huge fans of it. However, I think I am going to surely try some more flavours to make a holistic judgment. Monginis also serve savory items like veg puffs, chicken patties, paneer puffs, burgers and pizzas. I recently ate their chicken patty and paneer patty, and the chicken patty was one of the best things I’ve probably ever eaten considering the price. The patty was circular in shape, the filling inside was just perfect. It was slightly sweet, very meaty and seasoned to perfection. And on top of that, it was just for 30 rupees. They also serve a chicken puff which is rectangular in shape and costs 25 rupees. I have had the chicken puff as well; it was slightly on the spicier side, but still quite good. The paneer puff also had a great taste, but I felt like the filling lacked paneer and there was a little too much cabbage. The overall taste was good nonetheless. I would call it good value for money at a modest pricing of just 25 rupees.

All in all, the Monginis’ menu is very tempting as they serve a variety of pastries and snack items for really cheap prices. The cost of the pastries starts from 30 rupees and goes up to 80 rupees. They have some really intriguing pastry options like Zebra Torte, Alpine Choco, Honey Rose, Dutch almond etc. Their donuts are priced at a mere 27 rupees. There are also the red velvet cheesecake and Blueberry cheesecake for those who prefer cheesecakes.
They have a wide range of cookies costing in the range of 50 to 60 rupees. Once again, there are some interesting flavours like the butter shrewberry, honey crunch, jeera etc.

A standard half kg cake at Monginis can range from rupees 300 to 500. The range for 1 kg cakes starts from 600 and can go upto 1000. They serve celebration cakes, designer cakes, inspiration cakes and premiums cakes; so you have a large variety of options to choose from.

But if you ask me, the savory items in this bakery take the cake away. Ironic, I know! 😛

Meghna Chakraborty
I love to eat. Pizza is my favourite food, and I love cheese, any kind of cheese.
I love animals, I love dogs. Dogs over humans, any day, all day.
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Thingyan Festival at Burma Burma

Burma Burma first opened its doors to the world just over 4 years ago in Mumbai and then slowly made its way to my neck of the woods, Delhi (and Gurgaon). Being a strict meat eater when dining out, an all vegetarian Burmese meal did not sound wildly appealing. However, word travels fast and peer pressure got the better of me. True to its reputation, over the multiple times that I visited this place, it hasn’t let me down even once. I also never miss meat while I am here.

Both outlets that I have been to are beautifully adorned with unique and eclectic decorative pieces adding to the grandeur of the place. This June, Burma Burma is celebrating the Thingyan festival to mark the Burmese New Year. The new additions to the already well curated menu are exciting. We managed to gorge on a large assortment of dishes starting with a Pumpkin and Basil Soup, Grilled Mock Meat Salad and a Glass Noodle Salad. I especially loved the soup for its light and comforting flavours.

Would recommend for a winter day.  We followed it up with ‘Wa’ Style Potato and Crispy Corn Tossed in Tea. The corn dish was an unusual and interesting take on the crispy corn you find in barbecue chains across the city. Our main course was the Tangy Khowsuey which like many things on the menu, veered off the beaten track with dry noodles only to deliver flawlessly on taste. For dessert, we had the mild Matcha Ice-Cream. We were not bold enough that day to try the Durian Ice-Cream. Someday though, I hope to conquer that smelly fruit.

Apart from its food selection, Burma Burma also features an array of teas. Bubble teas, fruit-based teas, estate teas, you name it and they have it. They claim to have a tea ‘for every mood and occasion’ so on this occasion, I paired my food with a Yuzu Bubble Tea which was the perfect accompaniment to the spicy, tangy flavours on my plate.

It is heartening to note that we are finally broadening our palates to savour cuisines from around the world, including that of our neighbours. One of these days, I might succumb to the temptation to catch the next flight out to Myanmar and follow the flavour trail I’ve been introduced to in the past few months.

 

Location: Cyber Hub, Gurgaon
Meal for Two: Rs. 1800

Anjora cannot resist a good prawn preparation, finds home in Chinese food anywhere in the world but will eat almost anything if it looks appealing. She is a Potter head and has recently discovered pottery as a hobby (excuse the pun).
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Chalte phirte, phir kabhi na milte

On a recent quick trip to Nirman Vihar, I stumbled upon this momo shop called “Chalte Phirte Momos” in V3S mall at Laxmi Nagar. I had heard a lot about the place and had seen some beautiful, appetizing pictures of their momos along with some raving reviews. All this had me tempted and so I decided to give this place a try as soon as I saw their signboard.

With a lot of zest and curiosity, I entered the place only to be met with a small shop, with only one working fan and a million flies. I still decided to try some of their momos because let’s face it, not all best-tasting foods have the cleanliest of places to eat at. I ordered their steam Afghani mozzarella cheese momos and their Tandoori Gravy akkha paneer momos. The akkha paneer momo was for 120 rupees a plate and the mozzarella cheese momos were for 100 rupees. Both the plates included 8 pieces of momos. Each plate came with the sides of spicy red chilli chutney and a dollop of mayonnaise.

As a cheese fanatic, I was especially excited about the mozzarella cheese momos but boy, was I disappointed! I expected the momos to be filled with mozzarella or at least come with some kind of cheese inside as the stuffing. Instead it was just plain veg momos lathered with diced onions and MAYONNAISE. I personally just don’t like veg momos; I hate the combination of cabbages and momos and it just doesn’t work for me. I was extremely disappointed with the mozzarella cheese momos; there were absolutely no traces of mozzarella or any other kind of cheese in that dish.

The tandoori gravy akkha paneer momos were better but still, the stuffing had more cabbage than it had paneer. The gravy was super spicy, and I don’t handle spice very well. But at least in some senses, it was somewhat true to what it said it was. The momos were lathered with the spicy gravy, and red onions. Again what irked me was that each bite I took had at least few pieces of onion. It was a onion attack.

You might just have a great time eating the momos there if you enjoy spicy food and veg momos filled with cabbage, but I unfortunately did not like what I ate at Chalte Firte Momos. And it wasn’t just that, the place felt a bit dirty and unhygienic with all those flies and it got hot and stuffy very soon with only one fan as the source of relief. The man at the counter looked like he didn’t want to be there and the whole experience was just below satisfaction.

Meghna Chakraborty
I love to eat. Pizza is my favourite food, and I love cheese, any kind of cheese.
I love animals, I love dogs. Dogs over humans, any day, all day.
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The tale of Chaats

I recently went to Lajpat Nagar to help a friend pick out some clothes. Lajpat Nagar is not only a place to shop but it’s also a place with tiny outlets serving some of the best street food, Delhi loves to eat. I always start my trip with a glass of banta from any of the small vendors serving them. On a hot day when you’re out to explore the market kinda day, the banta soothes you down. The tangy drink is the perfect way to start the exploration of this ever so busy market.

After having the refreshing drink we dived into the shopping part. However, soon the day started getting hotter, the sun got angrier, the humidity started crossing all limits, the good old Lassi came to our rescue. Shivam Suresh Chaat wala is a shop located right in the middle of the market serving amazingly delicious chaats, the shop is always crowded with people and it takes some time to get your order across. They serve raj kachori, dahi bhalle, batata puri, gol gappe, palak patta chaat etc. They also serve kulfi faluda, malai lassi and badam milk. I had their badam milk and malai lassi to hydrate myself, under the scorching sun it was all the hydration I needed. The lassi was the perfect accompaniment to the hot sunny day. It was sweet and so delicious. The badam milk was also very refreshing, however the milk seemed too thin and a bit runny but it was tasty nonetheless. Both the drinks cost us 50 rupees each.

I also found these cart vendors selling something which I initially thought was nimbu shikanji but they were actually the flavoured water of gol gappe, but mellowed down. It’s almost like a mix of Golgappe ka paani and jaljeera. A glass for 20 bucks, it was just so invigorating under the scorching sun. It was probably the favourite thing that I had that day.

Then I went to a tiny shop, Hot and Fresh corner, also serving chaats but they were serving something that I had never had before; Bharwa Golgappe. The shop is like a hole in the wall, with clothes’ shop surrounding it from both sides, it’s very easy to skip this shop. But the words Bharwa golgappe caught my eyes and I decided to taste it.

Bharwa golgappe are gol gappe but instead of serving them with the flavoured water, pieces of mashed aalu and dahi are stuffed in. They were served with red and green chutney made of imly and dhania respectively on top. The Bharwa golgappe were seasoned with salt and chat masala. One plate of Bharwa golgappe was priced at 60 rupees for 6 pieces of golgappe. The guy at the counter; Prem was extremely friendly and helpful. I got a plate for my mother, and once he got to know I will be travelling far with the food, he individually packed every single ingredient with two layers of packaging.

Shops like these are a perfect example of how you don’t need to spend a lot to eat well. And it’s also very exciting to set out on such street food tours where you explore hidden little gems that satiate your cravings without emptying your pockets.

Meghna Chakraborty
I love to eat. Pizza is my favourite food, and I love cheese, any kind of cheese.
I love animals, I love dogs. Dogs over humans, any day, all day.
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The Knighthood of Momos

Everybody loves momos especially good, quality momos. Don’t you just hate biting into a momo that says it’s chicken but you bite into soyabean and it doesn’t taste like chicken at all?
Lodhi Knights is a momo shop serving mouth-watering, Mughlai cuisine inspired momos that taste absolutely divine. All the sought after afghani and Mughlai dishes are encapsulated beautifully into tiny pockets of momos and they take you to heaven.

Lodhi knights is a take away fast food joint with little to no seating arrangements. There are a few tables available where you can put the food and eat, but they’re mostly occupied. They have very recently shifted to a new location in shop number 119, Khanna market, Lodhi road.

Butter Chicken momos
chilly chicken momos

Lodhi Knights serve few of the best tasting momos I have ever had in my life, their menu is elaborate and includes everything from Chicken Shawarma, to KFC style momos, chilly chicken momos to the simple steamed paneer momos, chicken changezi momos to Butter chicken momos. Since momos are one of the dearest street food one enjoys in Delhi, this place is one to try if you love having options. They also serve rolls, main course meals, soups, noodles and chicken and paneer tikkas as few of the starters.

Chicken Shawarma

I very recently had their butter chicken momos, chilly chicken momos, soya malai chaap roll and chicken shawarma. I have also had their chilly paneer momos, chicken and paneer steamed momos, KFC style(kurkure)paneer momos, chicken and paneer tandoori momos among many others that I can’t even recall. Their momos and rolls and shawarmas are all accompanied with mint chutney, mayonnaise and red chilli chutney. Their food is always well seasoned and bursting with flavours.

They are pricier than your roadside momo stalls but Lodhi Knights also serve much more quality products. The sizes of their momos are also larger than the average 50 rupees momos, per plate. Their steamed variants start from rupees 50, the Mughlai momos cost around 150 per plate, the tandoori momos cost an average 100, the rolls range from 80 rupees to 140 rupees.
The new shop is open from 11 am till 11 pm, but unforturnetly their service is not very prompt, and you’ll have to wait a couple of minutes if you order dishes like KFC momos and chilly chicken momos since they make it fresh. Dishes like chicken shawarma , steamed momos and tandoori momos are served within 5 minutes. They earlier even had complaints regarding their timings, as the shop claimed to open at 5 pm but it hardly ever did. But with the new location, that issue has been rectified.
This place is a must try, it takes you on a tasty journey, their food is tasty and the flavours are beautiful. Lodhi Knights is a must for all momo lovers and all Mughlai cuisine enthusiasts, and it’s better if you’re both.

KFC kurkure momos
Meghna Chakraborty
I love to eat. Pizza is my favourite food, and I love cheese, any kind of cheese.
I love animals, I love dogs. Dogs over humans, any day, all day.
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Bottle opener- think out of the box bottle

Bottle Opener is a beautiful little beverage shop that recently opened up right outside Jor bagh metro station, gate number 1. Started by a group of friends, Vishal Sethi, Saurabh Kumar and Sonali Paikaray from Air Force School, this entrepreneurial venture serves shakes and ice cream sodas in some really intriguing combination of flavours. In conversation with the friends we actually got to know a lot about them, “We are basically three school buddies & best of friends. We always wanted to do something on our own & something which we enjoy doing and not just for the sake of it. So, our friend and partner Vishal Sethi came up with this idea overnight and the very next day we started working on it & within a month this whole thing was conceptualised and implemented” said the Team of Bottle Opener. Their menu is divided into three categories. The “Killer Shakes” are for 139 rupees, the “Vintage Shakes” for 89 rupees and the “Ice Cream Sodas” for 69 rupees. Their whimsical and curious blend of flavours is their USP, and their menu is attractive to those who like to experiment. But it can also be intimidating for those who have somewhat conservative tastes. For instance, how many of us would ever have thought of putting popcorn and milkshake together? But that’s for later, first let’s discuss the aesthetics.

With its charming and fanciful appearance, the cafe stands out amidst the string of plain old grocery shops in that line. There is also a beautiful graffiti on the side wall that portrays Lord Shiv in a meditative pose. Full of vivid colours and a majestic theme, the graffiti was designed by one of the guys from the group itself and painted by Fitoor art studio. One downside though is that the shop doesn’t have a seating arrangement yet.

The shakes come in transparent glass bottles. They are much more user friendly than plastic glasses as the glass bottles can be sealed with a lid in case you are not able to finish the heavy shakes in one go. And for someone like me who loves getting these cute little bottles for free, it’s a win-win situation.

So, now coming to the main part i.e, the beverages being served. I was with a friend when we discovered the shop. With a lot of curiosity we had the Kokum Refresh and the Pink Guava in addition to the Black Currant Ice Cream Soda. The flavours are extremely unique and I cannot enunciate it enough. The innovative but smartly chosen combinations just blew my mind. For someone who usually only goes with traditional flavours and has very conservative taste buds, I was skeptical to begin with. I couldn’t understand how Kokum would go well with milk but once you have it, the taste somehow grows on you. And for people who love experimenting with tastes and flavours, it is a total paradise. Also, their flavours are very genuine and deliver exactly what they say. For example, if you take the Pink Guava, you get a very genuine taste of guava in the shake.
There are also a few traditional variants on their menu like the oreo cookie crumble, brownie indulgence, mango duet etc. So if you’re not too keen on experimenting, you can always fall back on these classic alternatives.

My friend accompanying me absolutely loved all three flavours right off the bat, while I needed a little more time to understand the flavours. The polarizing character of flavours is quite amusing, and one of the biggest reasons why one should try this place, to know which end of the dichotomy you fall into.

Address- Shop 8, NDMC Market, Jor Bagh

Meghna Chakraborty
I love to eat. Pizza is my favourite food, and I love cheese, any kind of cheese.
I love animals, I love dogs. Dogs over humans, any day, all day.
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A burger like no other

Quite close to the hustle bustle of the ever so busy Central Market in Lajpat Nagar, there is a quaint and quiet lane which teleports you straight to Afghanistan and introduces you to the art of Afghan bread-making. Located right across the market road, this lane is known as Afghan street and it’s easy to understand why. Almost all the shops have signboards written in English, but predominantly in Dari. And a lot of those shops are Afghan eateries, some of them restaurants and some street food stalls.

As you walk down the lane, you’re hit with the familiar smell of freshly baked bread and rich butter. For someone like me who loves the aromas of baking, it felt like walking in paradise. At one of the street stalls, you see a vendor serving out an intriguing dish that looks like a curious cross between a burger and a wrap. Below the tiny counter, the signboard said Afghan burger, veg and non veg.

I asked for a veg Afghan burger and Afghan Lassi, but unfortunately they weren’t serving the Lassi. Another vendor at the neighboring stall told us they’ll start serving it after Ramzan. The veg Burger was for ₹50 and the non-veg burger was for ₹ 100. They also had heaps of bread resting on a table, that were coming straight out of the tandoor (clay oven) nearby. The breads smelled divine and they only cost TWENTY rupees. On the table, you will find jars of pickle that looked like large chunks of diced vegetables drenched in vinegar. The pickles looked fresh and cost only 50 bucks. There were also sheermals and Afghan cakes for 100 rupees each.

So now coming to the main attraction of the shop, the Afghan burger is unlike any ‘Burger’ you’ve had before. It’s a thick, large Roti or lavassa bread encasing soft potato fries, perfectly seasoned and garnished with coriander leaves. Then, some kind of red sauce is drizzled on top of the burger, and voila our afghan burger is ready.

The burger tasted fresh and soft, but it was a bit too dry for my taste. The sauce used is made with a blend of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, red chili and capsicum. And while the sauce adds a bit of zest and tantalizing flavor to the burger, the quantity of the sauce used was somewhat underwhelming for me. I would have preferred more of it.

They put egg in the veg burger so if you don’t eat eggs, you have to let them know while placing the order. You can also see beautifully marinated chicken stocked up to be put in the non-veg burgers, so you should try that too if you eat meat.

One burger is totally sufficient for a single person, as it’s more than a handful. Bring a friend along if you know you can’t finish large sided portions of food, because this one is not for those with little tummies. The burger is extremely fulfilling and scrumptious. You’re guaranteed to go home with your hunger satiated and all that without burning a hole into your pocket.

Meghna Chakraborty
I love to eat. Pizza is my favourite food, and I love cheese, any kind of cheese.
I love animals, I love dogs. Dogs over humans, any day, all day.
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Sushis and Dimsums Galore

As the mercury soared in May, and Delhi turned into its annual furnace fest, I found refuge in the light and fresh flavours at YouMee. The restaurant has recently opened in M Block Market at GK-II and offers delicious Japanese and Pan Asian food.

Manga lovers, rejoice. Your prayers have been answered. The restaurant walls are covered with Manga inspired art, geared around food ofcourse. We began the meal with obvious starter choices – sushi and dimsums. The choices of dishes within these categories at YouMee are endless, so do inspect the menu closely, or just come back again for more.

We ordered the Garden Dragon, Spicy Chicken and Prawn Tempura sushis. They were freshly prepared and tasty. The dimsum varieties we had included the Chicken and Water Chestnut Dumpling, Prawn Hargow, Edamame Truffle Oil and Spicy Asparagus with Thai Flavoured Herbs. This was one of my rare trysts with vegetarian dumplings and they surpassed my expectations. I washed my food down with the signature orange and kaffir lime mocktail – Asian Swirl.

By the second half of our meal, the restaurant was abuzz with people enjoying their Saturday afternoon amidst the colourful environs, wafts of barbecued or seared seafood and familiar childhood graphics, far away from the sun. We decided to give the Robata a go. Robatayaki or Robata is a Japanese version of barbecue where small meat portions are slow-grilled to perfection over hot charcoal. The Ebi Maki or Bacon Wrapped Prawns was the perfect choice for us. It came on skewers with a side of Miso soup and sticky rice which complemented the juicy meat beautifully. If nothing else, then you must try this singular dish at YouMee. I wish I had room to score some Ramen Bowls, but alas. I did however have space reserved for dessert, as we all do, and we gulfed down the Matcha Cheesecake and Banana Fritter Sundae, before we called it a day.

GK-II has acquired yet another classic which I am certain will be there in the times to come to offer you and your friends comfort food on many an uncomfortable summer day.

 

Location: M Block Market, GK-II, New Delhi
Meal for Two: Rs. 2,000

Anjora cannot resist a good prawn preparation, finds home in Chinese food anywhere in the world but will eat almost anything if it looks appealing. She is a Potter head and has recently discovered pottery as a hobby (excuse the pun).