McDonald’s | Restaurant Review

Place: McDonald’s
Location: Delivery
Cuisine: Fast Food
Meal: Brunch (at home)

My last review of McDonald’s was back in 2013, and I said I’m no longer lovin’ it. Since then, over the last 8 years or so, I haven’t dined or ordered from McD but for the one-off visit to get a McFloat. I’ve realized over the years that most of the fast-food chains are not worth it for they all serve something very different from what is advertised (read on to understand what I mean).

So come last week, I get a call from an agency in Mumbai who wanted me to try and review McD’s Maharaja Mac meal and McSpicy Paneer burger. I said yes, and the burgers were delivered last morning.

Maharaja Mac Meal

On most occasions, fast food like pizza or burgers are not packed properly which results in them becoming squishy by the time you take a bite (I recently had a pizza delivered in a very bad, almost inedible state). Thankfully though, McD ensured that this was not the case today for they ensured very good packaging. Everything was in its place, and care was taken to ensure that the fully cling-wrapped coke was kept away from the burgers. 

As per their website, the Veg Maharaja Mac is supposed to be a Big Mac sesame seeds bun sandwiched with rich & crusty cheesy corn patty, topped with chunky vegetable-cocktail sauce served with pungent jalapeño slices, red onion slices, cheddar cheese slice & crisp iceberg lettuce. Sounds delicious right?

Now let us talk reality; the Veg Maharaja Mac was actually a Big Mac sesame seeds bun sandwiched with rich & crusty cheesy crunchy corn patty, topped with chunky vegetable-cocktail chipotle sauce served with (barely any) pungent jalapeño slices, red onion slices, cheddar cheese slice & lot of crisp wilted iceberg lettuce. It still doesn’t sound bad, but for someone who loves their cheese, not having the cheese slice or the cheesy patty is a big turn-off. 

The burger was huge and it took effort to take a bite. It tasted good, the few jalapeños and onion slices added a nice flavor, and the corn patty was crunchy. It was quite a meal in itself, and I was struggling to finish it. I however missed the cheese!

The McSpicy Paneer, thankfully, was much simpler with creamy sauce and crispy lettuce, and of course the paneer patty. Everything was as it needed to be, again with the same chipotle sauce and the burger was alright. The lettuce however was almost bad and added a bitter after taste. 

The Fries were standard, and Coke was, well, Coke 🙂

Overall, the burgers were decent but the lack of cheese in the Maharaja Mac and bad lettuce in the McSpicy Paneer were let off. I know every experience is different at McD (or even Burger King) and depends on the crew members working on the order, but they need to make sure and be stringent to ensure that the crew sticks to the recipe and does not miss steps. 

Food: 7/10
Packaging: 8.5/10
Delivery Experience: 8.5/10
Meal for 2: N/A (Tasting)

Verdict: 7.5/10

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

Gudgudee | Restaurant Review

Place: Gudgudee
Location: Madhapur Main Road
Cuisine: Indian & Chinese
Meal: Dinner (with amma, wifey and our lil one)

I’ve seen this place on my way to work and wondered who would name their restaurant Gudgudee (They even have a tagline – “Tickle Your Tastebuds“). But having read good reviews about them, decided to drop in last month to celebrate my mom’s birthday. But alas, they were closed, and we ended up eating at President Dhaba (which turned out to be a disastrous affair, but that’s a story for another day). Come last Saturday, they were open, and here we were. 

We thought they might be empty walking in, but to our surprise, they were about at about 50% capacity. They have a huge place, and that means a lot. Brightly lit, with good views of the metro and the Hitech City main road, I was impressed with their overall ambience. Something I liked is their low seating towards the corners. We settled down somewhere in the middle.

Like with most of the other places, they had an online menu, which turned out to be a little different from the one I checked on ZomatoI was a little disappointed with this for I had more or less decided what I wanted to order, and some of these weren’t listed. Anyways, we started with Tomato Basil Soup and Shanghai Rolls, and for the main course, ordered Malai Kofta, a portion of Stuffed Paratha and Garlic Naan each, 4 Phulka, and Paneer Tikka Biryani.

Gudgudee | Tomato Soup

The Tomato Basil Soup was served in about 10 minutes. It had a strong Basil flavor to it and was decent. The bread crumbs were served separately which ensured that they were crisp when we dropped them into the soup. 

Gudgudee | Shanghai Rolls

Shanghai Rolls happen to be one of my favorite starters, and the ones you get at Palace Heights are the benchmark for me. The ones served here were crispy and good but nowhere close. I would have preferred them to be a little more spicier. 

While we were still enjoying the Shanghai Rolls, the main course was served.

Gudgudee | Malai Kofta

Gudgudee | Roti Basket

I asked for a not-too-sweet Malai Kofta, and they obliged. With a couple of kofta balls made of paneer and khoya, the curry was creamy and yummy. The Stuffed Paratha, with a lot of butter on it, was soft and tasty. The Phulka, though wrapped in foil, turned out to be super kadak and almost inedible. We asked for a replacement, and they obliged with two out of the four (given that we already finished two). The winner of the roti basked however was the Garlic Naan. They were soft and had tons of garlic butter on them. 

Gudgudee | Paneer Tikka Biryani

I was already stuffed with the Naan but managed to make some space for the Biryani. I’m glad I did for it turned out to be very good. With chunks of Paneer Tikka, the rice was well cooked, and the flavors were just perfect.

Overall, a good meal. But for the Phulka, we were happy with all the other dishes. I was also impressed with the portion sizes and thought the place offered value for money. Service-wise, most of the waiters were disoriented. Our lil one kept screaming “Bhaiya” to get their attention, but that didn’t help either. They definitely need to improve on this.

I’m gonna be back to try their Chinese offerings the next time around for their offering look tempting.

Food: 8/10
Service: 6/10
Ambiance: 8.5/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 1461/- 

Verdict: 8/10

Gudgudee - Tickle Your Tastebuds Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mimi | Movie Review

Mimi Poster

Director Laxman Utekar’s previous film Lukka Chuppi was a decent flick and the trailer of Mimi looks promising. But does the movie live up to its expectations? 

Scripted and screen-written by Utekar and Rohan Shankar, Mimi, a loose remake of the 2011 Marathi film Mala Aai Vhhaychy! (which was remade in Telugu as Welcome Obama in 2013), tells you the story of a young damsel from Rajasthan, wanting to make it big in Mumbai. In want of quick money, coordinated by a local taxi driver Bhanu, she agrees to be a surrogate mother of an American couple. Few months into the pregnancy, the couple backtracks when they get to know that the unborn child might have Down Syndrome. The rest of the story is about how she handles the situation, and whether she gives up on the child. 

Utekar does a good job handling the subject, infusing humor in most of the scenes. However, the reasoning for the doctor revealing that the child might have a disability, knowing that they might change their decision, seemed contrived and unconvincing. Also, Mimi’s parent’s reaction when they get to know about the pregnancy could have been better showcased. They are super upset in the first instance, and the scene turns comic when Mimi lies that Bhanu is the father. Some of the dialogues are well-written and impactful. 

Kriti Sanon gets a meaty role, and she excels playing Mimi. She should be commended for taking up such a challenging role. Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak are alright as her parents, but their characters could have been more powerful. The showstopper however is Pankaj Tripathi. With perfect yet subtle comic timing, this is one of his best performances.

Music by A. R. Rehman is not the best, but passable. I liked “Hututu” song in particular. The background score was a little uneven though. The cinematography by Akash Agarwal, and editing by Manish Pradhan are good. A little over 2 hours, the film’s length is just about perfect. 

Is it worth your time and money?: It’s a good watch, yes. After Pagglait, Netflix has another good film under their belt. 

Worth mention: Pankaj Tripathi is at his best!

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8/10

PS: I liked the fact that they set up the story in 2013 when foreign surrogacy was still legal in India (banned later in 2015).

I also came across a few comments on social media that the film showcases Down Syndrome in a bad light. I agree to disagree on that point for I thought that the entire episode was dealt with maturely. Yes, they still showed it as a disability, but Mimi rejects the idea of abortion and decides to carry the child to term. If anything, the American couple is shown as small-minded fold who return for the child when they realize that he’s alright. 🤬

Narappa | Movie Review

Naarappa Poster

Quite a few Telugu movies were released on OTT in the recent past but none made an impact. After a lot of delays, Narappa was confirmed to release on Amazon Prime, which airs the original Asuran as well. Risky move? Let’s find out.

A remake of the 2019 Tamil film Asuran, which in itself is influenced by the real-life Kilvenmani massacre that occurred in Tamil Nadu in 1968, Narappa narrates the story of a poor farmer and his family in the 1980s, and their tussles with the local landlord resulting in Narappa’s younger son murdering the landlord. Narappa, who is looked upon as a spineless loser by his son, flees with him into the forest to protect him. Rest of the story is about Narappa’s hot-blooded past, and how he saves his son.

I watched Asuran first before starting Narappa, and I felt that I was watching the same movie again, for it is a frame-to-frame replica of the original. Except for one fight, every scene is literally a cut-copy-paste. The sets, background characters, most of the locations, down to the minute little detail. I’ve seen quite a few remakes, but this one seemed extreme.

Asuran vs. Narappa

The only difference I observed is in the climax fight, the original version has the village elders disapproving the son being hurt, which is missing in the Telugu version. That apart, same to same. Srikanth Addala, the credited director of the Telugu version, didn’t even attempt to showcase the storyline as per his point of view. I understand that Vetrimaaran wrote the screenplay for both versions, but how difficult is it to make the movie yours? Addala didn’t even do a good job replicating the emotions for the punch was missing.

Comparison apart, I honestly didn’t feel that the story that appalling in the first case. The concept of the elder son rebelling against the landlord was sure to result in him being killed; it’s like he’s asking for it. 

It is more or less a cakewalk for Venkatesh, and he apes Dhanush in every shot. What I fail to understand is why he didn’t make the character his own. Priyamani is okay, but her dubbing in the slang seemed a little off. Ammu Abhirami and Aadukalam Naren are the two actors who reprise their roles from the original and do justice. Ammu Abhirami, however, looked odd romancing Venkatesh onscreen given their age difference. Newcomer Rakhi, who played Narappa’s younger son, does a commendable job. The rest of the cast is alright. 

Mani Sharma is credited as the music director and G. V. Prakash Kumar is thanked in the title credits, but I thought it should have been otherwise for the music and background score is more or less the same as the original (but for the only different song is “Ooo Narappa”). The title score is good. Art work by Gandhi Nadikudikar in the flashback episodes could have been better. It’s regular business for cinematographer Shyam K. Naidu and editor Marthand K. Venkatesh for they just had to copy the original with no uniqueness. The Telugu version is about 15 minutes longer than the original, I wonder why?🤔

Is it worth your time and money?: If you’ve watched Asuran, then it doesn’t make sense at all. If you are a non-gulti, then watch the original and give this one a miss. If you are a telugite, then watch it at you’re leisure. It’s not a bad film, but I wish it had some originality to it. I rest my case.

Worth mention: The original?

Acting: 7/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 6/10
Technical Aspects: 7.5/10

Verdict: 7/10

The Coffee Cup | Restaurant Review

Place: The Coffee Cup
Location: Sainikpuri
Cuisine: Global
Meal: Dinner (with friends, wifey and our lil one)

I’ve been wanting to visit Coffee Cup for ages now for I’ve heard some good things about this place. This never materialized thanks to the distance from the city. But come last Sunday, we were meeting a bunch of friends in the area, and finally, my visit came through. These guys have two setups on either side of the road, and both were packed when we dropped in at about 6:30 PM. We somehow managed to get a table for 6 in the outdoor seating area of, what I am told, the original café. It was sultry this evening, and we requested the staff to move us in as and when there was a table available.

Ambiance-wise, the place was okay. Given that we were sitting outside, we escaped the hustle and noise inside the café. We, as a group, were skeptical about whether safety protocols will be adhered to, not just here but at any place we visit. Thankfully, the staff was wearing masks, and there was a sanitizer on every table. We also had to scan a QR code stuck up on the wall to access the menu.

To start, we ordered a portion of Herbed infused folded bread, Veg. appetizer platter, the White House pizza along with a lot of coffee. The waiter suggested we opt for the Cheesy Garlic Bread instead of the Herbed bread, and we obliged.

Coffee Cup - Cheese Garlic Bread

The Garlic Bread was served in about 10 minutes, even before the coffee. Thanks to the pandemic, the four slices of bread topped with sumptuous amount of cheese, baked to perfection, were served on a disposable plate. Crunchy, with the right amount of cheese, we gulped them in a minute or so. We immediately ordered for another portion, but that never got served.

Coffee Cup - Coffee

In a few moments, our coffees were served. We ordered one Café Frappe, three Devil’s White (frappe with whipped cream and chocolate sauce), a Dangerous Devils (frappe topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and chocolate cake), and a Cinnamon Latte. We also asked for a fresh orange juice for our lil one, but they were out of oranges; we got a watermelon juice instead. All the frappes were creamy and chocolaty, and I loved mine (Devil’s White). I was told that the chocolate cake was yummy, and the latte was very good. We were very happy with all our coffees, but I thought the quantity served was less. For about 200 bucks, I’d expect more.

Coffee Cup - White House Pizza

Next came the pizza. With a few olives and a couple of burnt garlic chunks, this pizza was delicious. It was perfectly flavored, super cheesy and the crust was perfect. A few more toppings, especially of that garlic, would have worked wonders.

Coffee Cup - Veg. Appetizer Platter

The appetizer platter was served next with 3 pieces of fried cheese sticks, jalapeno poppers, spring rolls, and few fries (they replaced potato wedges with fries). We asked for a repeat right away as we knew this wouldn’t be sufficient for the table. The spring rolls were very mild and lacked the punch, fries were crispy and good, poppers and cheese sticks were practically the same, fried cheese with a little jalapeno flavor in the poppers. These were good on the first serving, cheesy, just the way I liked it. However, the ones on the repeat order lacked flavor and were very bland.

It was almost an hour and a half since we were sitting outside, and the weather was not helping us enjoy our food. So I paused for a while, went in, and looked for a table myself as the staff was not really bothered about moving us in. After about 15 minutes, and few requests, we conquered a table in a cozy corner on the first floor, right next to a bookshelf.

Our move-in didn’t feel welcomed as the waiter tending to our table was acting out of sorts. Anyways, a while later, we ordered a Four Cheese pizza, a Potato and Cheesy Croquette Sizzler, and a repeat order of frappes. I was told that the pasta here is good, but the sizzler was a little more tempting.

Coffee Cup - Sizzler

We were told that the sizzler would take time to be served, but in about 15 minutes, it was on our table (with barely any sizzle). I was surprised with what was on the plate – 3 potato croquettes, some sautéed vegetables, fries, and two small bowls of mushroom flavored sauce. That’s it? Isn’t there supposed to be some rice or noodles?

Apparently not. I look at the menu on my phone again, it said potato fries or rice. Given that I missed this, and thanks to our waiter who didn’t bother informing us, we ended up with a very dry sizzle-less sizzler. Both the croquettes and sauce were bland and tasteless. None of my friends even wanted to give it a try. The only saving graces were the sautéed vegetables and the fries. Disappointment.

At around the same time, the repeat of Devil’s White frappes landed on our table but without the whipped cream. Curious, we called for the waiter, and he then informed us that they were out of whipped cream, and so they added a scoop of ice cream. Before we could ask him why he didn’t inform us of this earlier, he disappeared.

Coffee Cup - Four Cheese Pizza

In a while, our last order, the four cheese pizza was served. One would expect a good amount of cheese on the pizza, but to our surprise, this was napoleon sauce with a few dollops of mozzarella, cheddar, Emmental, and parmesan. The crust was soggy and all we could taste was the tomato sauce. Another disappointment.

So what started off as a good meal ended up being a mediocre one.  On food front, some of the items were good, but what I realized is that they lacked consistency. The first batch of appetizers had flavor while the second batch were totally bland. Same with the coffee as well. And the mediocre sizzler and four cheese pizza didn’t help. 

Apart from the food, the service once we moved inside was pathetic, and that kinda ruined the overall experience for me at least. It’s a nice place to hangout, yes, so I can understand why it’s so popular, but for me, not worth the hype. They were having an off day maybe? 

Food: 7.5/10
Service: 7/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Meal for 6: Rs. 3989/-

Verdict: 7.5/10

Coffee Cup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Toofan | Movie Review

Toofan

We’ve seen quite a few sports dramas release in the recent past, and from the first looks of it, Farhan Akhtar and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Toofan looked very similar to Salman Khan’s Sultan. Their last collaboration, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was a sports drama as well, but it was a biography of the great Milkha Singh, which gave it the edge. But this time around, all we get is a boring drama.

Written by Anjum Rajabali, Toofan is a potpourri of Hollywood and Bollywood movies. He basically picked the storyline from the Rocky franchise and put it the mixer with some tadka. Right from the word go, it gives you the feeling that you’ve already seen this somewhere. And the feeling doesn’t end even after a wrenching 2 hour 40 minute drag.

As you’ve seen in the trailer, Aziz Ali is an extortionist, who discovers boxing overnight after watching a few videos of Muhammad Ali on YouTube, and becomes and becomes a state champion after 5 fights (wish life were so easy!). Supporting him through this journey are his doctor cum love interest Ananya Prabhu, and a khadoos coach Nana Prabhu (Wait, are they related?). You know what happens next; add an orphanage, some bigotry, love jihad, ban for 5 years, a daughter, a death, a comeback, an erstwhile opponent who becomes an evil boxing federation official, some melodrama, and a final bout with a maniac on steroids. Did I divulge too much?

It felt like Mehra and Akhtar were bored out of their minds and decided to rehash Bhaag Milkha Bhaag just for the heck of it. The training montage, the background score, the acting, the direction, all the same. Every time I heard “Toofan” in the background, “Zinda” was playing in my head. Okay, maybe this one has a different storyline, but it’s so god damn predictable and stereotypical. The unnecessary and illogical twists don’t help. It’s such lousy writing that they couldn’t even find a good reason to kill one of the characters (stampede on a Railway station, really?). Direction by Mehra is meh, screenplay by Rajabali is mediocre, and some of the dialogues by Vijay Maurya are, how to say this, uncalled for. Enough said.

Akhtar, as you’d expect, puts in all his effort to become a lean boxer, not once but twice. He’s good, but there’s nothing new in his acting. Paresh Rawal looks odd as a boxing coach, but is at home playing a bigoted character. Hussain Dalal is alright, Vijay Raaz and Supriya Pathak are wasted. Mrunal Thakur is probably the only saving grace. With a meaty role as Ananya, she does justice. The kid is good.

Music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy is decent. The title track, (if you forget its similarities to “Zinda”) is good, Purvaiya is neat. Todun Taak composed by Dub Sharma is groovy. All songs in the movie play in the background but for “Star hai tu” seemed odd on screen as the voices didn’t fit, especially with Akhtar. Cinematography by Jay Oza is neat. The boxing fights are well choreographed but don’t have any oomph factor associated with them. Editing by Meghna Manchanda Sen could have been better. There was no need for this movie to stretch for an eternity.

Is it worth your time and money?: As I said before, Toofan happens to be a potpourri of a dozen or so movies and offers nothing new. Sports dramas are to create an adrenaline rush that makes you root for the protagonist. But here, forget rush, you know the result of the fights even before they start. You may watch it at your leisure given that it’s on Prime, but I’ve given you enough head’s up, so don’t blame me later.

Worth mention: Mrunal Thakur?

Acting: 7.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 6.5/10
Technical Aspects: 7/10

Verdict: 6.5/10