Anand Sagar | Restaurant Review

Place: Anand Sagar
Location: Dharam Karam Road, Ameerpet
Cuisine: Indian
Meal: Dinner (with a friend) / Take Away

First Meal: Dinner

Me and my friend were’t really hungry and wanted to eat something light. I remembered this small dhaba I once saw on DK Road in Ameerpet and decided to give it a try. It’s a small joint, something similar to an Irani cafe. At about 10:00 PM, the place was pretty much empty. The place didn’t look so clean, but we decided to give it a shot anyways.

The menu looked quite similar to the ones I saw in Mumbai. They serve everything, right from Chaat to Pav Bhaji, Burgers, Pizzas, to Noodles and Fried Rice apart from their North-Indian dishes. The best part is that they offer full or single of almost every dish, which is perfect if you’re visiting alone, or if you want to try out different items. This day, we ordered a full of Kaju Paneer Masala and Aloo Paratha. We wanted to try Stuffed Kulcha, but they were done for the day.

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The curry was served within minutes of order, even before the parathas were served. The quantity looked pretty alright and the curry tasted good. The paneer though was’t so fresh. The masala was more of regular kurma, with kaju and paneer in it to make it Kaju Paneer Masala.

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The Aloo Paratha was excellent. Its one of the best paratha I have eaten outside, and reminded me of the ones my Didi makes. They were pretty huge, and the stuffing was excellent. I felt that it had a little more lime juice in it than required, but still good. They actually didn’t need a curry to be eaten with. With some dahi, they would have been perfect.

We were pretty much stuffed with a single paratha each, but we ordered a Tandoori roti to finish the curry. It was huge, soft and really good as well.

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Though I am on a diet, I couldn’t stop the temptation, and so ordered a special dry fruit Lassi. It had chunks of malai in it and was yummy.

Overall, a pretty decent meal for the price we paid. Though we ordered a full curry, we were charged for half (I don’t know whether if it was a mistake or if what we were served was really a half). The ambiance and the place is not so great, but with the food they serve, you might want to try this place.

Food: 8.5/10
Service: 7/10
Ambiance: 5/10
Meal for 2: Rs. 145/-

Verdict: 8/10
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Second Meal: Take-away

Not satisfied with the place, I returned the very next day to order some take away for dinner (Another reason for coming back was that I forgot the name of the place :P). I was promptly greeted by the server who attended our table the previous night. I asked him for suggestions with curries, and he was suggesting exactly the opposite of what I was looking for.

Finally, I ordered a half of Malai Kofta, half of Kaju Paneer with Fried Rice (combo) and two Tandoori Rotis. It took about ten minutes, and I was away with my order.

I came home and was surprised to find plain gravy in the place of Kaju Paneer. I was actually cursing him for serving me something like that. Quantity of the gravy served was also quite less. The Malai Kofta’s quantity was alright, and it had quite a few chunks of paneer in it apart from the koftas. It tasted good, quite similar to the gravy last night, but the koftas were kinda hard. (I am tired of places serving hard koftas!!). The Tandoori Rotis became cold, and were saggy.

Next I open the rice packet hoping to find Fried Rice, but instead I find Kaju Jeera Rice. That’s when I realized that the waiter mistook my order and parceled Kaju Jeera Rice instead of Kaju Paneer with Fried Rice, and that is why there were no kaju or paneer in the gravy. The Jeera Rice was alright, the basic stuff, with chunks of Kaju in it (not a lot though).

I so wanted to have Biryani (they apparently are famous for their Dum Biryani), but ended up having Jeera Rice. Anyways, a decent meal. There was more than half of the Kofta curry left at the end of my meal. My excitement to retry this place within the span of a day though was totaled. I was hoping for an excellent meal, but was only partly satisfied.

Food: 7.5/10
Service: 5/10
Ambiance: NA
Meal for 2: Rs. 125/-

Verdict: 7.5/10

Vasudev Dhaba | Restaurant Review

Place: Vasudev Dhaba
Location: Sindhi Colony, Secunderabad
Cuisine: Indian
Meal: Dinner (with a couple of friends)

Wanting to try a new place, we dropped by at Vasudev Dhaba in Sindhi Colony. It’s a small place, easy to locate, not so exquisite to look at from the outside. We walked in, and the place was bloody hot. Though an AC restaurant, the place had none running, and no fans running either. We sat at a table in an enclosure, making sure he turned on the fan. It was a decent place, something similar to Santosh Dhabha.

It took about five minutes for the waiter to appear at our table. He was kinda sweet and helped us a lot with our order. We ordered Chilly Paneer as starter. For main course, we went for Punjabi Kofta and their day special Tiranga Paneer, along with a stuffed Naan and stuffed Kulcha. We also ordered a dum Biryani.

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The Chilly Paneer was good, but the paneer wasn’t great. It had a mix of fresh and old paneer, and so few pieces were like eating rubber.

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The Punjabi Kofta looked scary, while the Tiranga Paneer was well presented, but both were oily like crazy. The Kofta tasted alright, but kinda hard. The gravy was well cooked though. The Tiranga Paneer had tons of gravy with very few paneer pieces which were horrible. Again, unfresh. The oozing oil from both the dishes was scary to look at.

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Both the Naan and Kulcha tasted pretty much the same. We asked for the stuffed Naan and Kulcha without butter. But even then, they were oozing out oil. The portion of bread was quite small, and they were burnt towards the corners. The stuffing wasn’t great either.

The only part of the meal which was good, was the dum biryani. The quantity served impressed us, and so did the taste. The dum/curry was well cooked, and the rice was perfect. Though again, it was oily.

Overall, we were kinda disappointed. Looking at the place from outset, we expected something similar to Santosh Dhaba, but it was not even close. The food, though priced nominally, lacked brilliant taste, and was very very oily. Roti Shhoti on the opposite side of the road was much better. Give it a try, but don’t expect anything great.

Food: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Ambiance: 6.5/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 531/-

Verdict: 6/10

Agneepath | Movie Review

Ok, firstly, I am no big fan of Amitabh’s 1990 version of Agneepath, and so went to watch the movie with no expectations. But still, I walked out of the theater with a head ache. Karan Malhotra and Karan Johar, what the hell was that?? I mean, I really wonder what these guys were thinking when they started to make the movie. With this script, and the obvious comparisons to the 1990’s film, they should have known that it was an absolute disaster in the making!

Except for Sanjay Dutt, and maybe Katrina Kaif, the film stands no ground. It is a three-hour long, slow, boring movie (did I mention long??). Sanju baba is really good, but he aint Dark Knight’s Joker to save the movie. Hrithik tried really really hard to live up to Amithabh’s character, but failed miserably. How can he, when he does not appear on the screen until exactly 45 minutes have passed by? And Priyanka, our irritating slum dwelling heroine makes sure that she wears designer sarees with backless blouses all the time, her pallu covering less than half of her bosom, is horrendous. The best part of the movie though is in the climax, when our Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, twice stabbed by the intimidating, bald, scary Kancha Cheena, lives long enough to avenge his father’s death. I can’t believe that I live in a generation where such kinda dumb and dull movies are still made.

I suggest you stay away from this movie at all costs. Instead, go buy a DVD of Amitabh’s version, which though not a classic, is way way better than this version. I expect Mithunda to entertain you much more than Chikni Chameli!!

In one sentence, it’s not Agneepath, but agni pariksha for us!!

Verdict: 3/10

PS: There are people I know of who liked/loved the movie. If you happen to be one of them, well, nevermind…

For a detailed review, read on…

Plot
Master Dinanath Chauhan (Chetan Pandit) is an upright, principled and role-model citizen of a small island south of Mumbai, Mandwa. Kancha (Sanjay Dutt) wants to take over Mandwa and use it as a base to export cocaine. He accuses Masterji of child abuse, and hangs him to death. Vijay (Hrithik Roshan), Masterji’s son, vows to himself to return to Mandwa and avenge his father’s death. He, along with his mother move to Mumbai, where he joins Rauf Lala’s (Rishi Kapoor) evil gang. Rest of the story is about how Vijay rises through ranks in Rauf Lala’s empire and fights Kancha to get Mandwa back to its people.

Actors Performance
Hrithik Roshan tried really hard to be Amitabh Bachchan, but thanks to the script, fails. Dont get me wrong here, he did a pretty good job, but his characterization fails him. He seemed to have worked quite a bit for this role, and the effort shows on-screen. But there is no charm in his character, and his dialogue delivery was no where close to AB’s. However good he was, bottom-line, he ain’t the Vijay Dinanath Chauhan we know.

Priyanka Chopra looked awful. Except for a couple of songs, she barely had screen space. And when she did, was irritating. I thought she over-acted in most of the shots. She seriously needs to work on her wardrobe, and stop showing off her curves unnecessarily. Rishi Kapoor shines as Rauf Lala. He, along with Om Puri, easily walk-through their respective roles. The rest of the cast was alright.

Katrina Kaif sizzles in her brief appearance in the item song. She looks yummy delicious, and was way better than Priyanka Chopra, looks wise.

The star of the movie though is Sanjay Dutt. He was brilliant, and I mean absolutely brilliant as Kancha Cheena. He bald look is scary enough to put children to sleep. His expressions and the menacing laugh were great. But again, the script fails him. Such threatening Kancha Cheena losing the battle to a wounded Vijay without a fight in the climax seemed really silly.

Story-Screenplay-Direction
Debut director Karan Malhotra simply makes a mess of the original movie. Mukul Anand’s Agneepath is not a classic in itself, so when remaking, I am guessing Karan intended to better it. But unfortunately, he, along with co-script writer Ila Dutta Bedi (story-screenplay) completely ruined it. Firstly, something I don’t understand is why the movie was scripted to happen in 1992. Is it because they thought that people don’t use common sense in that period?? It is a slow, draggy movie which makes no sense. It is so senseless that our hero, Vijay not only enters Kancha’s den, but blasts Mandwa just like that, single-handedly, while whole of Mumbai’s police force does not even dare to enter the island because of its high security. And then, he, twice stabbed, has the strength to lift our heavy Sanju baba on his shoulders before hanging him. Awesome!! And oh, did I mention the sister sentiment in between (which is followed by a song)?? The screenplay is mediocre. Direction, though good in parts, is not worth talking about. With actors like Sanjay, Hrithik and Rishi Kapoor at bay, even I can do a better job.

Other Departments
Music by Ajay-Atul is alright. Except for ‘Chikni Chameli’ and the background score, rest of the stuff is forgettable. The re-recording is good. Lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya are alright. The old Agneepath had amazing dialogues, but the current one lacks punch. Editing by Akiv Ali could have been way better. I can’t stress enough than mention that people started walking out of the theater on the first day 30 minutes before the movie ended. Cinematography by  Kiran Deohans and Ravi K. Chandram is good. Art work by Sabu Cyril could is bad. The sets, especially the banyan tree looked so bloody artificial. Graphics are pathetic. Production values by Dharma Productions are not up to the mark. For a film from their house, we expect it to be atleast technically brilliant, even if story wise pathetic.

Papa Johns | Restaurant Review

Place: Papa Johns
Location: Road No. 12, Opp. Nissan showroom, Banjara Hills
Cuisine: Pizza
Meal: Lunch (with a couple of friends)

After enjoying a movie, we decided to go hog at Papa Johns. I loved their pizza’s while in the US, their garlic sauce is yum!! So here we were at their Road No. 12 outlet at about 3:00 PM on Saturday afternoon. One table was occupied, and rest of the place was empty. We sat in a corner and took a while to decide on our order.

We ordered a Meal for Two (half and half of Small Garden Special and Veg. Barbecue pizza, portion of Cheese Sticks, and 2 x Pepsi), Tandoori Chicken for One, Original Breadsticks and a bottle of water. We sat there for about 30 minutes thereafter, but nothing, not even the water or Pepsi’s were served. When after that long we asked the waiter to get us the water at least, he serves the Cheese Sticks. After about 10 minutes, the Pepsi’s were served, but still no water. Then he brings us the Pizza for Two, which was supposed to be a half and half, but it turns out to only Garden Special. We ask for a replacement and he takes the pizza back in. Then came the water, along with Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks, not the Original Breadsticks we ordered. At this point I totally lost it. I asked if the Manager was in the store, and was answered in positive. Five minutes later, another waiter comes and informs us that the Manager is not in the store. We walked out!!

Ten minutes after we sat at our table, the place was empty. We were the only customers in the store and it took the waiter more than 30 minutes to get a bottle of water. And then he messes up our order big time. We would have continued with our meal if the Manager (who was told to be in store) attended to us, but he was amiss.

I had great expectations from this place. Their pizza’s are good, no doubt about that. But if the service is this pathetic, I would never return to this store. Surprisingly, these were the same guys who delivered a pizza on time when I ordered one on New Year’s eve. But such horrid service is not going to gain them customers in the restaurant.

Food: NA
Ambiance: 7/10
Service: 0/10

Verdict: 3/10

PS: We did taste the Cheese Sticks. They were good but not great.

Roti Shhoti | Restaurant Review

Place: Roti Shotti
Location: Opp. ICICI Bank, Prenderghast Road, Secunderabad
Cuisine: North-Indian, Chinese
Meal: Dinner (with Mom and Dad)

I’ve been wanting to try out a new (good) restaurant for a really long time. Googled a bit and found this vegetarian restaurant with good reviews. So decided to give it a try. I didn’t know the exact location, so called in to ask for directions. The guy was very cheerful and helped me pinpoint the restaurant. So here we were, at around 9:00 PM on Friday evening. It was bigger than I expected. We walked in, and the place was abuzz. They have a party hall, and the crowd in there was very loud. We were promptly seated at a table for four. The ambiance was alright. I believe its a house redone into a restaurant.

The reviews mentioned this place to be light on pockets, but the menu had another story to tell. It was expensive, but not exorbitant. I read good things about their “Potato and Spinach Honey Chilli” and “Anjeer Paneer Kabab”, so decided to order them. The “Anjeer Paneer Kabab”, which was their specialty, was unavailable, so instead ordered “Tiranga Paneer Tikka”. We were suggested to order “Manchow Soup”, so decided to give it a try.

It took less than 10 minutes for the soup to be served, and it was good. It was a bit spicy, and had a nice flavor to it. The fried noodles were giving it a nice taste. Then came the “Potato and Spinach Honey Chilli”. I’ve never ordered anything potato for a starter before, and was hoping this would be good. And it was. It was spicy, but the honey flavor made it taste delicious. The aloo was boiled to perfection. Named “Potato and Spinach..”, there was barely any spinach in the dish though. It was served along with tangy schezwan sauce which was yumm. Dad loved it. The quantity was so good and we were struggling to finish it.

In about 15 more minutes, the tikka was served. The presentation was very good, and the paneer looked fresh. But we were kinda disappointed with the taste. There was no proper flavor to the dish, and it was as if we were eating raw paneer. The stuffing was very very less, and had no taste to it. I don’t need to go to a restaurant and spend 160 bucks to eat charred paneer, do I??

For the main course, we ordered “Khazane E Lazzat” (their version of Malai Kofta, stuffed with nuts), Warqi Paratha, Mughalai Naan (Naan stuffed with nuts and coconut) and a Masala Kulcha. Again the Mughalai Naan was unavailable (something I was looking forward to taste), so we were suggested “Mirchi Pyaaz ki Roti”.

The kofta’s gravy was delicious, but the koftas were bad. They were very hard, and I barely found any nuts stuffed into them. The gravy was very thick, and had a keseri flavor to it. It was mildly sweet. The Masala Kulcha was really good; soft, properly stuffed, and oozing out butter. The Warqi Paratha was ok, nothing great. I was expecting the mirchi roti to be spicy, but it wasn’t. It was actually really good.

Overall, except for the soup and the honey potato, rest of the food was nothing great. I went in with high expectations and was partly disappointed. For the price, the quantity of the food served was good, but items from the menu being unavailable didn’t help the case. Also, the place was a little too loud, which was kinda annoying. I’d mostly prefer Santoshi to this place for its easy on the pockets. It is definitely not the best vegetarian restaurant in town as other reviews suggest, but wasn’t bad either.

Food: 7/10
Service: 7.5/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 777/-

Verdict: 7.5/10

Businessman | Movie Review

Mahesh and Puri!! Their last film broke Telugu movie records, and you expect this one to be a bigger and better movie. But due to my recent experiences, I went to watch without any expectations, and at the end of the film I walked out quite satisfied. The movie makes no sense, has no story or nothing, but thanks to the brilliant acting by Mahesh, and pretty good dialogues by Puri, Businessman is a decent watch.

Filming for the first time without his favorite actors Ali or Brahmanandam, Puri Jagannadh makes Businessman without a comedy track. Thanks to the slick screenplay, you never notice the lack of comedy though. There are highs and lows, but overall, it works. Might not be as big a hit as Pokiri, and might not run in multiplexes, but is sure to run houseful in B and C centers.

Watch it only for Mahesh and Puri. If you like neither of them, still go watch it!

(Actually, after second watch, I have a feeling it will break Pokiri’s records very easily)

Verdict: 7.5/10 + 0.5 for Mahesh!!

For a detailed review, read on…

Plot
The movie kicks off with the police commissioner (Nassar) declaring Mumbai to be a Mafia-free zone. Surya (Mahesh Babu) lands in the city with the intentions of becoming a don, and in his own words, to make Mumbai  beep. He takes the local goons, and the local minister Lalu (Sayaji Shinde) under his control. He makes the commissioner’s daughter Chitra (Kajal Aggarwal) fall in love with him, and later falls for her himself. The rest of the film (not story) is about Surya’s real intentions and how he turns mafia into a business.

Actors Performance
Mahes Babu is terrific as Surya. He looks uber cool and dashing. He has his way with the dialogues, and thanks to Puri, he mouths some terrific stuff. His expressions, intensity and antics are really good, and I loved his acting in the climax episode. He does create some humor (only humor in the film) as well. But I really feel that he needs to try something different from these kinds flicks. He’s one of the better actors in the industry today, and I believe that he has more potential than this.

Kajal looks great, but when it comes to acting, she sucks. But trust me, she’s way better than rest of the Telugu heroines. Nassar is really good in the role of the commissioner. Other than him, no one has any major role. Prakash Raj, Subbaraju, Sayaji Shinde are all alright. Dharmavarapu tries to create some laughter, and is ok. The girl who played Kajal’s friend (Ayesha) was really really annoying the first time around, but you kinda get used to her.

Story-Screenplay-Direction
Puri Jagannadh thanked Ramgopal Varma at the start of the film for helping him come up with the idea of Businessman. For a second there, I thought I was gonna walk out with a headache. But thankfully, Puri just uses RGV’s style of movie making. There is honestly no story to the movie, but he has a concept, and he uses it for two and half hours. Thanks to the amazingly scripted dialogues, the concept, or rather the film works. Since there is no story, the screenplay needed to be effective, and Puri makes sure that its crisp. Every scene is effectively planned, and very well shot. There was not a single boring moment in the film. The climax was a little too weak and predictive though. Direction is pretty decent. He makes Mahesh look really really good.

Other Departments
Music by Taman is good. He’s copied tunes from various films, yes, but they still work. After a really long time, I loved the theme music of a Telugu film. ‘Bhag Saale’ is impressive. The re-recording and sound effects are very good. Cinematography by Shyam K. Naidu is alright. The close up shots were canned well.  Editing by S. R. Shekhar is perfect.  Choreography by Dinesh is mediocre, and could have been way better. Production values by R.R. Movie Makers are good.

My only problem with the movie was the censoring. I mean, since when did cleavages or bikini shots get blurred in a movie?? Forget cleavages, even the thigh of the item girl was blurred. Same thing with the dialogues. When the movie is given ‘A’ rating, I don’t see a point for the censor board in being so harsh. Not that I want to see stuff or hear shitty dialogues, but hope that it doesn’t become a trend.

Thai Express | Restaurant Review

Place: Thai Express 
Location: Above Qmart, Road No. 3, Banjara Hills 
Cuisine: Thai (and Chinese) 
Meal: Dinner (with mom and dad) 
 
After a really long time, here I was trying out a new restaurant. Wanted to try Thai Express, which was right next to my house for a really long time. Called in advance and made reservation for three, but when I walked in, the place was pretty empty. It had good ambiance, and the decors were pretty decent. We were promptly seated at a table for 6.
 

Though the place was empty, it took a while for the waiter to attend to us. We ordered the Tom Kha soup and Golden Money Rolls for starters. I wanted to have Basil fried rice really bad, for I loved the one they served at Thai restaurants in the US. They had Basil curry served with white Rice, but no Basil Fried Rice. So instead went for their special (recommended) Tom Yum Fried Rice, along with Veg Drunken Fire Noodles. I wanted to order another vegetable dish, and when I asked the waiter, he suggested Phat Thai Vegetables with gravy.

It kinda took forever for the soup to be served, and further long for the rolls. The soup looked yummy, but it wasn’t as good as it looked. It was very thin, and was made of watery coconut milk. The vegetables, were a little raw as well. Flavor was alright, but overall, disappointment.

 
 
The rolls, thankfully were awesome. Crispy, perfectly baked, and the stuffing was spicy and tasty. The sweet chilli sauce (mix of duck sauce and chilli sauce) was yummy.
 
 
After a long long long wait, rest of the food was served. The food was presented very well, and I really was hoping that it would be as good as the rolls if not the soup. The Drunken Fire Noodles with Vegetables was excellent, and was the best of the lot. It was spicy, and perfect. There was a slight lemon touch, which made it taste delicious. I wish he’d given more of the crushed peanuts.
 
The Phat Thai Vegetables was served with white rice. Though the curry tasted alright, the rice was of bad quality, and a little over cooked. For a recommended dish, I honestly expected something better than this.
 
The worst of the lot though was the Thai Express Special Tom Yum Fried Rice! It was fiery spicy, and had no flavor to it. I asked the guy to modify it by adding a little salt, but that made no difference. He infact made it more spicy. Again, the quality of the rice was bad. Pathetic!!
Overall, a big disappointment. Except for the Golden Money Rolls and Drunken Fire Noodles, the rest of the food was bad, if not pathetic. The quantity of the Noodles and the curry was good, but the amount of rice was really less. For such exorbitant prices, I’d expect better quantity. Added to that was the horrible service. I had to keep asking the waiter to fill my water glass every time it got empty. The best part was when I asked him to fill my glass, he did, but didn’t bother to fill either dad’s nor mom’s glasses which were both empty as well!!
I am definitely not going back to this place for a really really long time. Visit at your own risk, but if you do, do try their rolls and noodles.
Food: 6.5/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Service:4/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 1080/-
 
Verdict: 5/10