Utupura Kerala Restaurant | Restaurant Review

Place: Utupura 
Location: Road No. 10, lane adj. Karvy, Banjara Hills 
Cuisine: India, Kerala Food 
Meal: Dinner

Amma and I were planning to hog on Onasadhya on Onam for about a week. We couldn’t eat at the restaurant, so instead brought parcel. I did read that this place is small does not have great ambiance, but on Onam, it was jam packed. I had to wait for more than 30 minutes to get my parcel.

The food turned out to be great though. The Sadhya had 17 items (I believe one item was missing). I am not fully aware of the items served, so Il skip that part. It was served with brown rice. I and amma struggled to finish one meal. I initially felt that it was too expensive, but later realized that the price was justified. I was really impressed with the food and decided to give the place another try, this time for regular mallu food.

So here I was again 3 days later, this time for dinner with mom and dad. It is on the first floor of an apartment building, on the lane next to Karvy office. As mentioned, it’s a small place with so so ambiance. It is basically an apartment turned into a restaurant. From the looks of it, it seemed like a famous food joint for nearby office crowd (lunch) and non-veg eaters. It wasn’t packed for dinner though.

As expected, there was nothing much vegetarian on the menu, except for Appam, Idiappam, Porotta, etc., and a couple of wet dishes like Stew, Veg. Korma, Channa Masala and Mushroom Masala. The Appams and Porottas were reasonably priced, but the rest seemed to be a little expensive. Anyways, we ordered Appam with Veg. Stew, and Porotta with Channa Masala (I wanted to order Veg Korma, but the guy suggested Channa Masala).

It took about 10 minutes for the items to be served. Weirdly, the Stew and Channa Masala were served first without the Appams or Porottas. The Appams were cooked at a live counter at the other end of the restaurant. The Stew smelt really good and tasted excellent. It was a little sweet and I could make out that it was made of fresh coconut milk. The Appams were very good. The Channa Masala was a little disappointing though. It was made with black channa, and was a little thin. The Porottas were the best I have had in twin cities. They were amazingly good, and I immediately ordered for another one.

We did order Idiappams and a Chapati later on. The Chapati turned out to be really soft, while the Idiappams were cold and were not so great.

Overall, we were satisfied with the food. And it went easy on the pocket as well. A little better ambience, and better service could have made this a great experience, but it was good one nevertheless. From the menu, and as expected, this place should be a feast for any non vegetarian. For my vegetarian friends, as long as you don’t mind beef and fish being served around you, this is a place you should try. As I said, their Porottas are the best I have had so far!

Food: 8.5/10
Ambiance: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 216/-

Verdict: 7.5/10

News Cafe | Restaurant Review

Place: News Cafe 
Location: Inorbit Mall, Hitech City 
Cuisine: International 
Meal: Dinner 
 
Was supposed to hit a pub on Saturday night. This time around, I even had company to go with. But as unfortunate as I am, headed off to News Cafe for a meal. I’ve heard some good stuff about this place so was very eager to try it out. Also, having starved the whole day, was very very hungry.
 
At 9 PM on a Saturday night, the place looked quite empty. Only the tables on the balcony facing Secret lake were occupied. There were four of us, and we found a table to the far end of the balcony, under the air-condition compressors. Beautiful view of the lake made us accept this table, but we began to regret sitting here after a while. There were loads of mosquitoes, and there was nothing the guy could do to help it.
 
Anyways, unable to bear our hunger, me and my friend ordered a pasta each while the other two planned to skip a meal. My friend ordered Penne in Alfredo sauce, while I went for Spaghetti in Walnut cream sauce (Spaghetti on consecutive days). We also asked for Apple flavoured Hookah (not for me).
 
The Hookah was served first. I took a taste of it for the first time. Strangely, I couldn’t feel a thing, it was as if I was breather air. But the second time, it made my throat go dry. I wonder what pleasure people get from it. I personally didn’t like it one bit!
 
My friend’s pasta was served first, and it looked alright. But it apparently dint taste that good. I took a taste, and thought it was very very bland. Mine was served a while later, and was much much better than his meal. It wasn’t as great as the one I had the previous night at Little Italy (Review), but no qualms. It was creamy alright, and there were a couple of crunchy walnuts here and there. The garlic bread served along was good, so ordered more of them. Since I was really hungry, I actually dint care much for the taste.
 
We sat here for about two hours, but the place got duller and duller. There seemed to be absolutely no life at the place. All four of us were starring at each others faces for most of the while. The prices of the food and liquor were exorbitant, and the food dint taste amazing either. The quantity of food served was also quite less. Added to this, the server was quite rude. He wanted us to move to a table for 3 in between, as we were having only food and hookah (he actually said that!!). On the whole, I was very very disappointed. I was hoping for a better end to a long day, and it was absolutely thwarted!!
 
Food: 7.5/10
Ambiance: 6/10 (Thanks to the beautiful view of the lake)
Service: 5/10
Meal for 2: Rs. 1850/- (Including the Hookah and a pack of cigarettes)
 
Verdict: 6/10

Little Italy | Restaurant Review

Place: Little Italy 
Location: Rd. No. 92, Jubilee Hills, Rd. adj. to Volkswagen showroom 
Cuisine: Italian 
Meal: Dinner 

On a Friday night, I badly wanted to go to a pub. But lack of company got me sitting at home as usual. Determined not to stay at home again, decided to go out and eat some good food. So here I was at Little Italy, my favourite Italian restaurant in town. Not wanting to leave amma alone at home, I treated her to loyalty (I am such a doting son :D).

Since it was a Friday night, I thought the place would be packed, so decided to reserve a table by calling an hour ahead. But surprisingly it was quite on this night. Located on top of a hill at Jubilee Hills, this place has an awesome view of the city, and has great ambiance. But the tables are placed quite close to each other which makes it look a little congested. They have cozy tables for couples outside on the balcony, which provides a better view of the city. The dim lights set you in the right mood to enjoy a sumptuous yummy meal. A great place to visit with family as well as with your better half.

I should have clicked more pictures

 

I was not really hungry after munching something at home late evening, so decided to go light on the meal. We ordered Crostini Alla Ragusana for starters (Sliced farmer’s bread, grilled and topped with artichokes, olives, capers, Italian mayonnaise, pesto and fresh chopped tomatoes). I am actually not so fond of Bruschetta, but wanting to taste something different made decide on this one. Also, the sound of Italian mayonnaise was tempting enough.

And I was very happy with my order. Ten pieces of bread were quite yummy. The tomatoes were fresh and juicy, and the artichokes very tender. The mayonnaise was a little too sweet, but had good flavor.

For the main course, I ordered a Lasagne alla Gypsy for amma (Layers of home-made pasta, béchamel sauce, tomato sauce, mozzarella, pecorino cheese, mushrooms and aubergine, baked in oven), and a Pasta Gambaza for myself (White creamy sauce, mushrooms, asparagus and Italian herbs).

The lasagna looked very good, but tasted alright. It had a strong after taste, probably because of the pecorino cheese. The mushrooms were strong and had good flavor to them. It wasn’t the best lasagna I’ve had here, but amma seemed to love it.

I choose spaghetti for my pasta. It turned out to be delicious. Very very creamy, as I asked him to make, it was cheesy as well. The spaghetti was tender and perfect. I had little trouble forking it but made my way through the entire bowl in about ten minutes. Amma had a taste, and thought it was a little too bland. I asked for some oregano, which disappointingly was very very dry. The mushrooms here weren’t as strong as in the lasagne. Overall, Bliss!!

The service was very friendly. It took a while for the food to be served, but we weren’t in a hurry, so it didn’t matter. Great food and good ambiance makes this place a must visit. The prices are on the high-end though. Their large vegetarian menu is something you don’t find at any other Italian eatery in town. They also serve a good range of mocktails and Wine. I dint know that these guys had branches in Mumbai, Pune, etc. till recent, with the same menu served everywhere. So, if you looking for a lavish Italian meal, head on to Little Italy.

Food: 9/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Meal for 2: Rs. 1200/-

Verdict: 8.5/10

Amma’s Verdict: 8/10

PS: The price played a big factor for the final rating.

Santosh Banjara | Restaurant Review

Place: Santosh Banjara 
Location: Rd. No. 12, Banjara Hills, next to Pizza Hut 
Cuisine: North Indian 
Meal: Dinner

I’ve been wanting to visit this place for about a month now, finally did with mom and dad. This branch they opened up a year ago, main Santosh Dhaba is at Abids, opposite Rajdhani Hotel. They do have another branch opposite Paradise in Secunderabad. They serve awesome vegetarian food, usually within minutes of placing the order. They have more than 50 varieties of North Indian curries on their menu.

We ordered Rani Kofta and Paneer Lababdar, along with Butter Naan, Roti and Stuffed Kulcha this night. I usually order their Special Dish (Kofta stuffed with Cashew nuts) which tastes really good, but wanted to try something different this time around. In less than 5 minutes, everything was served at our table.

The Rani Kofta was a red spicy gravy, but to my surprise, there was not a Kofta piece. The Kofta was pretty mashed up. The gravy was full of onions, which made it taste really good. There were a couple of paneer pieces here and there. Paneer Lababdar was ‘laajawab’. It had huge chunks of paneer in it. There was not much gravy, but whatever was there tasted good. Yummy food, but my only complaint, too oily!

The Tandoori Roti was kadak, and was alright. It was pretty huge. Butter Naan was not so great, I’ve had better. But the Stuffed Kulcha was excellent. It was stuffed with cashew nuts and aloo, and was baked to perfection. Not too greasy either. It made my meal.

Overall, a good Indian meal for a decent price. They have so many more dishes I want to try out. I hope there is a day when I’ve tasted their whole menu. The ambiance of the restaurant (all three branches) is not so great. But the food balances it all. The ones at Paradise and Abids are little cheaper than this one.

If you are looking to dine at a good vegetarian dabha in Hyderabad, this is a place be at. Dont forget to hog on their Stuffed Kulcha.

Food: 9/10
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 360/-

Verdict: 8.5/10

Southern Food Corner (SFC) | Restaurant Review

Place: Southern Food Corner 
Location: Road No. 10, Banjara Hills, next to City Center 
Cuisine: Indian and Chinese 
Meal: Lunch (3 consecutive days) 
 

I was at project management workshop on Rd. No. 10 for the last 4 days, and happened to lunch out everyday. The first day I chose McDonalds, for a McVeggie Combo. I don’t think I need to write a review on that, so skipping it. The next 3 days, I happened to visit this small restaurant called SFC, which is right next to City Center.

It looked like a pretty decent place from outside, with both self service and seated service options. The self service section looked a little crowded with chairs and tables placed in a haphazard manner. It dint look so clean either. But having walked in, decided to give it a try.

On a Friday, the place was jam packed, full of office crowd. I opted for the self service section. They had quite a huge menu – South Indian, Chinese and North Indian. Their South Indian food was selling like hot cakes, but being me, I ordered a Chole Batura. It was out in about 5 minutes. It was a little oily to look at, and I thought he gave very little Chole for such huge Batura. The Chole tasted a little sour, but was good. The Batura too was light. I had to get some extra Chole to finish it off. On the whole, decent food.

On the second day, I was kinda forced to return to the place, as I was with a bunch of people. We happened to sit on the first floor, the service section. This looked much better than the self service on the ground floor. They had Air-Conditions, but they weren’t turned on. People around me ordered Masala Dosa and Lemon Rice. The Dosa was huge, looked really crispy and tempting. My mouth was infact watering. I again ordered something different, Veg. Soft Noodles.

It took a while for it to be served, by which every one around me were done with their meal. But it was worth the wait. A huge bowl full of Noodles was placed in front of me, with Hot Garlic sauce. I normally don’t tend to order only Noodles for the reason that I like to eat it with an accompaniment. But seeing the Hot Garlic sauce made me really happy. The noodles was yummy good. It was properly cooked, the vegetables in it were crunchy, and it wasn’t too spicy either. The Hot Garlic sauce added extra taste, and was tangy. Impressed!!

I wanted to come back to this place after my last meal, but no so early, the very next day. This time it was a much bigger gathering, and we again took to the first floor. Everyone today ordered MLA Pesarattu. I happened to have the same last night at Chutneys (review), so this time ordered American Chopsuey.

Again, it took a while. The MLA Pesarattu looked really good. Everyone around me were going gaga about it while I waited on my food. Again, large quantity of food was served. The Fried Noodles and the Sauce were served separately. Adding the noodles into the sauce, it tasted delicious. It was actually as good as the American Chopsuey I had at Nanking about a month ago (review). Serving the Fried noodles separately helped them remain crispy. The sauce was not so sweet, and the vegetables were very very crunchy. Excellent food this time around. I happened to empty the dish in about 10 minutes and everyone around me were actually surprised to see me eat so much.

Overall, a good find. Though I wasn’t impressed initially, the Noodles served with the Hot Garlic sauce, in a slightly better ambiance on the first floor got me to write this review. The South Indian food looked really good, and people were saying good things, so am assuming that it was actually good. For a food place at Banjara Hills, the prices were very very reasonable as well. Also, the quantity of food served (on all 3 days) was excellent. I would definitely come back to this place. Its certified!!

Food: 9/10
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Meal for 1: Rs. 60/-
Meal for 6: Rs. 300/-
Meal for 11: Rs. 600/-
 
Verdict: 8.5/10
 

Shanbhag | Restaurant Review

Place: Shanbhag
Location: Basheerbhag, under the flyover
Cuisine: North-Indian
Meal: Dinner

Shanbhag is one of my all time favorite restaurants. It holds the honor of being my first favorite restaurant too. Being as old as I am, it was one place I used to throng every now and then while I was a kid. There is a branch at Panjagutta, but the main Shanbhag menu is still served at Basheerbhag. So here I was on a Friday evening, with mom and dad.

It was supposed to be a simple meal as none of us were really hungry. But looking at a menu I was so familiar with (albeit the prices) made me order the usual – Malai Kofta, Veg. Sizzler, Butter Naan, Masala Kulcha, and the ever so famous Ghee Rice. The Sizzler normally takes a while in the making, so it was quite a wait before dinner was served.

The Malai Kofta was excellent, creamy and butter oozing out of ever bite. It was probably not as great as what it was maybe 10 years ago, but still, was finger licking good. Their Sizzler is not what you get at every other restaurant. It’s rather a mixed vegetable curry served on a sizzling plate with a cutlet in between. On first sight when served, it looked lesser in quantity than the last time I had it. It tasted alright, nothing so great. It was much better before.

The Butter Naan was really good. Again, their Naan is one of the best I have had in the city. It was served tepid though. Mom and Dad ordered the Masala Kulcha, which turned out to be a bad choice. For 45 bucks a piece, it was totally dry and dint have any stuffing in between.

Then came the Ghee Rice, my all time favorite food. It smelt as good as ever. It tasted good too, but dint have enough salt in it. Adding a little made it taste excellent. I was a little disappointed that it dint have as many cashew nuts as it once did, but the amount of ghee was still the same. The gravy it is served with is their trademark recipe. My brother, while he was a Chef, tried to cook something similar but never could match their taste. It was full of flavor, delicious.

Overall, a walk into the past. The food was really good, but I have to admit that it was much better before. Before their change of menu, the one at Panjagutta served much better food than the Basheerbhag branch. But now Ghee Rice is available here only. The quantity of food served was good (we had to pack and bring home most of the food). Prices were alright for today’s times (I remember the Ghee Rice being Rs. 18/- once upon a time, now Rs. 75/-). The place needs a revamp, the furniture was in horrible state. They probably need a change of cutlery as well.

If you’re not a diet conscious person and looking for a place to hog properly, Shanbhag is the place to go to. Their Panrer Butter Masala used to be out of the world, so give it a try. Tiffins are great as well, try the Rava Bun, Rava Masala Dosa or the Besibele Bath.

Food: 9/10
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Service: 8.5/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 455/-

Verdict: 9/10

Jivas | Restaurant Review

Place: Jivas 
Location: Raj Bhavan Road 
Cuisine: Multicuisine Buffet 
Meal: Lunch 

After my high profiled job interview yesterday morning, I felt like eating a heavy meal. Someone recently told me about this place called ‘Nautanki Galli’ at Hitech City, so decided to give it a try. The place was great, but the buffet priced at Rs. 388/-, was full of non vegetarian food. So I decided to give this one a skip, and instead go to their sister restaurant Jivas (both owned by Ohri’s group). Picked up mom and dad on the way.

I love this place for their lavish buffet. The moment we were seated at our table, a plate of starters – veg Kababs and veg Manchuria, was served. A little later came in Noodle soup, followed by Papdi Chat. Both the Kababs and Manchuria were yummy delicious. The soup was nothing great, but again, the Chat was really good.

Once done, I started off with their Chinese food – Schezwan Noodles, Vegetables in Hot Garlic Sauce and American Sweet Corn Fried Rice. The Noodles was appetizing. The Rice and Hot Garlic Sauce were alright. The Rice though tasted much better with the Manchuria.

Next, the Indian food. On this day, they had Mutter Paneer, Aloo Tindoora, Baingan Masala, some Mixed Vegetable curry, and Biryani. There was a live Phulka counter, but I preferred their Butter Naan. The Naan was good, but the curry’s weren’t so great. The Paneer was not so fresh, Baingan Masala was too thin, and the other two were just alright. I don’t like their Biryani much, so I preferred to skip it. Also, I was already bursting!

Tried a little of their Besi Bele Bath. It dint taste good initially, but was actually good. I gave a skip at their Dal Makhni, Tomato Dal and Curd Rice.

Finally, plunged into their deserts section – Mango Ice-cream, Chocolate Pastry, Rasgulla and Sooji Halwa. The Rasgulla and Sooji Halwa were out of the world. I wanted to have more of them, but there was no place left in my tummy. The Pastry too was excellent.

Overall, a lavish, sumptuous meal for a very decent price. Wanted to take pictures, but was too lazy after eating so much. The ambiance was great, but the place was a little too loud for they were two big parties sitting at the adjacent tables. You get similar vegetarian buffet at Bikanervala at Banjara Hills, at a slightly higher price.

Food: 8/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 699/- (Rs. 185 + Taxes per person)

Verdict: 8.5/10

* This restaurant is now moved to a new location and renamed as Jiva Imperia.

Chutneys | Restaurant Review

Place: Chutneys 
Location: Nagarjuna Circle, Banjara Hills 
Cuisine: South-Indian 
Meal: Lunch
 

I’ve been wanting to go to Chutneys for a long time, it being the closest restaurant to my house, but have been avoiding it for the reason that I feel like having their entire menu whenever I am here. Now that my parents are back from the US, I had some company to help me with my ordering. So, late Sunday afternoon, we headed off to Chutneys. They have three other branches now, but I still prefer the one in Banjara Hills.

We had to wait for about for about 10 minutes for a table at 3:30. We were seated on the first floor, which they renovated recently. It looks much better than what it used to be before. We ordered Poori-Upma, Baby-corn Masala Dosa, MLA Pesarattu and Chole Batura. They guy was quite surprised with my ordering, but he dint know that I could have more of it.

First came the Poori-Upma, along with their usual four chutneys – Coconut, Ginger, Groundnut and Roasted Chickpea. I love the first three, with coconut and ginger being my favorite. The Upma was amazingly delicious. Ghee was oozing out of it and was full of cashew-nuts. The Poori was alright, the combination was really good. It was served with the masala curry of Masala Dosa and a wet Aloo kurma, which was tasty. Then came the MLA Pesarattu. Thanks to the Upma again, it was delicious too. The Pesarattu was crisp and perfect.

The Baby-corn Masala Dosa was served next. I think it took a while for it to reach our table from the kitchen, cause it wasn’t hot. But it was really crispy, just the way I like it. The masala was a little too spicy, but still good. I remember him serving this Dosa with butter smeared over it, but there was no butter this time around. Disappointing!

Finally, Chole Batura. Yum! The Batura was a little oily, but not soggy. The Chole was again delicious. I finished the Chole after my part of the Batura was done. All together, I ended up eating most of the meal, with little help from Mom and Dad! (they weren’t really hungry you see)

Overall, a very good sumptuous meal. I infact skipped dinner that night. The food really tasty, chutneys finger licking good. I don’t like their Sambar one bit though! They can do much better than what they currently serve. But again, who needs Sambar when you have such good Chutneys.

If your hungry for some South-Indian Tiffins, Chutneys is the place to be. Its a wee bit expensive, but serves good vegetarian food.

Food: 9/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Service:8.5/10
Meal for 3: Rs. 470/-
 
Verdict: 9/10

Nanking | Restaurant Review

Place: Nanking 
Location: Parklane, Secunderabad 
Cuisine: Chinese 
Meal: Dinner
 
The other day, a friend of mine dropped by, and took me to Nanking. I’ve heard quite a lot about this place (my best friend used to go gaga over this place), but visited it only once before. They have the main restaurant and an extension right next to each other, strangely, with separate kitchens. Both were packed for a weekday and we had to wait about 10 minutes to get a table at the Extension.
 
The vegetarian menu was not so long. Spring rolls, Egg rolls and Manchuria were the only veg starters they had. The non-vegetarian menu was quite long though. The prices seemed very reasonable for a place of such magnitude.
 
We ordered a vegetable Hot and Sour soup, Spring Rolls for myself and Chicken drumsticks for my friend. The soup was tasty and tangy. Spring rolls were good, but I’ve had better ones. 16 pieces was quite a lot. The rolls were out right away, but it took forever for the drumsticks. I was almost done with the rolls when they arrived. My friend loved them though. This guy owns a restaurant himself, and was telling me that it was quite impossible to serve 10 drumsticks for the given price.
 
Both of us were almost full with the starters, so we decided to go light on the main course. We ordered a vegetable American Chopsuey. I was having one after really long and loved it. The fried noodles were crunchy and the vegetables very well cooked. The quantity again was sumptuous.
 

Looks like I have a new favourite Chinese restaurant other than Chopsticks. For their prices and quantity, this place is a winner!! Only if they had better variety on the vegetarian side of things. I saw the guy at the next table struggling to finish the fried rice he ordered. A nice family restaurant, and a bargain for my non-vegetarian friends. On the downside, the place was a little to loud. Also, the cutlery they used was quite old. The main restaurant has better interiors than the extension, but is cramped for space.

I would definitely recommend this place for anyone wanting to eat good Chinese food!!
 
Food: 8.5/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Meal for 2: Rs. 440/-
 
Verdict: 8.5/10
 
PS: I like Chinese food, but it’s not my favourite. I somehow prefer the 50 bucks road side bandi food over a restaurant when it comes to Chinese. That is why an 8.5 even though I listed it as my favourite.

Pizza Den | Restaurant Review

Place: Pizza Den 
Location: Sindhi Colony, Behind Paradise 
Cuisine: Vegetarian Pizzas and Ice-creams 
Meal: Dinner
 

I’ve been wanting to visit this place for a long time now. It used to be a small pizza shop near Secunderabad Club, but later moved to Sindhi Colony. Back then, it served about 12 really good vegetarian pizzas and ice-creams for very reasonable prices, but not anymore. Its not a restaurant, but a road side shop (you have to sit and eat on the road, or in your car).

So, today for dinner, I again drove about 8 kilometers to have their pizza. Ordered a Cream Cheese pizza. As the name suggests, it was a creamy cheesy pizza with onions and special seasoning as topping. 10 minutes of waiting and my pizza was ready. An 8″, delicious looking pizza. It was creamy and cheesy, yes. The crust was really good too, and the pizza almost melt in my mouth. But for 100 bucks, I thought the pizza was really small. It dint fill my tummy!!

To stuff myself better, I ordered a Nutty Hot Chocolate ice-cream. It was good. Instead of the the base being vanilla ice-cream, it was chocolate. Vanilla would have tasted much better.

Overall, I should say I was not so happy about my long drive. Yes, the food was good, but I could get something similar right next to my house for maybe a lower price. Being an on road food place, they dint even have dust-bins around, and so all the paper plates and ice-cream cups were thrown right next to the shop.

I would suggest it for its variety of vegetarian pizzas though. If your driving by, you can probably pick up a pizza to eat in the car. But not worth a special visit, especially if you live far away.

Food: 8/10
Ambiance: 3/10
Service: NA
Meal for 1: Rs. 150/-

Verdict: 7.5/10