Friday, May 25, 2007 smells like home

I am in mumbai and there is no other place I would want to be. I m lovin it...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Why can't I stick to one thing to do justice to it? Why am I interested in so many things. Mediocrity. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sigh. How I wish I could excel in something. Oh wait a minute I excel in not excelling in anything!

Friday, May 18, 2007

HAKA - The Chinese Place @ F.C.Road, Pune, India

Finally it was HAKA. There had been much dithering on my part for going there but the moment I came to know that they served Chilli Baby Corn, I had to give this place a visit. I finally made my way there today along with Abhishek Pradhan and Sandesh from the Pune Eat Outs, Orkut community.

Venue 4.5/5
As I reached F.C.Road, I got a bit confused with the location but Abhishek came to the rescue and guided me to the venue over the phone. While coming from agriculture college, its just before the Manmeet or Ghole Road signal on your left hand side. I guess, anything bang on F.C.Road can be termed as prime property and HAKA shouldn't have any problems attracting initial footfalls by virtue of sheer frontage. The place seemed decently crowded and seems to be getting good crowd. Not surprising as despite all the eateries, the F.C. Road/J.M. Road area lacked a good chinese restaurant with China gate on J.M.Road holding the fort. HAKA should provide some welcome competition. Parking for 2 wheelers is plenty in the area though you might have some problem with four wheelers during busy hours.

Decor 4/5
The theme is black, red and white! As you enter, there are a few tables which were completely empty because of the hot summer afternoon. As you head inside and climb up the stairs does the real restaurant unfold with its cool environs of A/C. The seating is very comfortable. Decor is majorly minimalistic with pure interplay of the three colours, except some wall hangings and decorations (a nice and pretty caricature of a chinese lady!). Plates and bowls are white china with the HAKA logo imprinted on them while the forks and knives are simple stainless steel. No fancy stuff there.

Service 2.5/5
The service was good for most of the duration. They lose out on points because the waiter tried to serve the main course while we had just started out with the soup and we had to send him back with a risk of the main course becoming cold. We were visited atleast thrice by different attendants after a course was served to ask if we were enjoying our food.

It's a good idea of making sure that the guests are enjoying their meal but they went a bit overboard with the frequency. It seemed to be done more because "my boss asked me to", than a real desire to give exemplary service. I belive that good service only comes from the heart. Serving time for the dishes was quick and efficient but as our meal came to an end the service really lost its plot. Sandesh had to resort to some special eye movements and hand puppetry to attract some water service and the bill process took up atleast around 20 minutes. They just didn't seem to want the money it seems! :D

Food 3.5/5
Finally, the stuff that matters and it was quite upto the mark. Our entire meal was vegetarian, I don't know if it was thanks to my influence but I was glad. The starters were Spring Onion Wontons. The other veggie wonton options were of Sui Mai and Spring Rolls. Wontons had to be ordered minimum 5 in number and they can't be assorted. They were perfectly fried and did not have any trace of oil, quite upto the mark on taste as well. They must be had with the Sichuan sauce which greatly enhanced the flavour. I wonered why they didn't offer the steamed variety or did I miss that on the menu? Next in starters was Chilli Baby Corn Fry. Quite the highlight of the meal for me. This is what I had come for and I got what I wanted. Very well done with perfect crispiness of the baby corn and good thickness of batter. This dish alone warrants a repeat visit.

Next on the course was the soup. We chose Sour and Pepper Vegetable Soup, served 2/3. I found it quite average being a tad bit heavy on the corn flour side but the veggies inside the soup proved to be a saving grace and helped me get by till only the soup remained and did not go anywhere after that. :D. It was a bit hot owing to the pepper but taste was definitely different than the normal fare.

Main course proved to be quite entertaining. Abhishek first ordered Vegetable Dumplings in Chilli sauce, followed by Sandesh ordering Veg Sichuan Rice. Now the entertaining part is that though both of them gave orders as stand alone dishes to be had invidually, after they arrived both of them realized that they can't have their meal without mixing them with the other. So mix and match it was and depending upon what I tasted, it was good but I have had better. But don't let that stop you from ordering these as they were almost as good as any other standard chinese place in pune. I ordered the Vegetarian Combo, which was vegetables in sauce served with pickled cabbage and two fried wontons along with an option of fried rice or noodles. I was in the mood for rice and the end result was quite satisfactory and fulling. Again, not the best chinese meal I have had. Either taste wise or on authenticity but not a bad option for a chinese day out. Based on the quantity, while a single dish is enough for one, if shared between two it will leave them with an empty feeling so one should order freely. I must mention that I did not find any of the dishes tasting like the everyday fare. Each of them had an individual taste which was quite different and definitely enhanced the eating experience.

Desserts were single scoops of ice cream. I and Sandesh had Vanilla, while Abhishek had chocolate. Abhishek identified them to be from Mainland China which furthur served to propogate the myth that HAKA is owned by the MLC people. I call it a myth because I have't seen concrete evidence to prove the contrary.

Pricing 4.5/5
For the quality of food that's on order, the prices seem to be just right. The entire meal for three came to Rs.554/- which is decent by most standards of good chinese restaurants.

Overall 3.5/5
With the kind of food, decor and pricing they have in place, HAKA should be an ideal joint for those out on a date, a quick business lunch or a family dinner. I cannot think of a reason why one should not try it out atleast once. All said and done, Chinese fans should only have reason to rejoice once HAKA is entrenched firmly in place. It is not overtly authentic like Mainland China, nor extremely indianised like the street side fare. They seem to have struck a fine line between the two and should help our indianised taste buds to evolve, only if we want to!

P.S. Sandesh and I couldn't help indulge ourselves with some delectable paan at Ganesh Paan wala. It was a fitting finale to a satisfying lunch.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A start...

I have been thinking of doing this for quite some time now, until I finally got round to...doing it. I am not advertising it, I am not promoting it. I don't know how you got here. I Hope you survive.

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