This is the beginning of a tribute to another one of my great loves. I believe good food and knowing how to enjoy it is nothing short of art.
Until a few years ago, Bangalore had fairly limited dining out options. Apart from the corner darshinis which cropped up quite early, the birth of the local chaat shops and the occasional Chinese joint which served an ‘Indianised’ version of the original cuisine to suit domestic palates, there wasn’t very much to choose from if you wished to eat something other than home cooked meals.
But with time, foreign food brands began entering the market, earliest in the form of fast food, making fried alternatives available to a hitherto health-conscious race that strongly advocated ‘natural’. People became more open to spending a few leisurely hours, out of the house, and considerable amounts, enjoying some food, which gave rise to a specific culture. That’s made way for a gamut of new cuisines, dishes, restaurants and concept dining outlets to open and survive in this city.
For example, where would you have turned to a couple of years ago if you were in the mood for Mediterranean Food? Choices would have predominantly been restricted to heading to an insanely expensive enterprise, if any, in one of Bangalore’s star hotels or booking the next flight to Saint-Tropez. Fortunately today, decisions need be less dramatic with an extensive Mediterranean Platter, complete with chicken kebabs, a choice of hummus or pita bread, baba ghanous, tahini sauce and falaffel available at Frescoes on Cunningham Road, for just Rs. 250 + taxes. It also has some of the best Spanish omelettes in town, beaten to fluffy perfection with mushrooms and tomatoes. And the spoiling of the foodie continues into the attached dessert bar of the restaurant where novel after meal offerings such as The Oreo Cup of Dirt and a twenty-layer cake are up for grabs – both of which among many more is the ideal dessert to indulge in and consummate any hearty meal.
The situation is no different when it comes to most other international foods. It’s now possible to enjoy authentic American food in the heart of the city. TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Friday!), a franchise of the original New York establishment, serves multi-layer hamburgers (one of the few places in the city that offers it with a choice of crisp bacon strips) and authentic nachos drenched in Monterey cheese and drizzled with fresh vegetables. Go ahead and get a taste of the Big Apple.
Perhaps, you’re in the mood for Carribean food, in which case you’d have to look no further than Sue’s Place off 100ft Road, Indiranagar. Some of its famous dishes are, Stew Beef (caramelized meat marinated with West Indian Herbs), Jamaican Jerk Chicken (uses a method of preparation called ‘jerk’ using jerk seasoning), Jeera Pork (a pungent dish cooked with plenty of jeera powder) and Tobago Crab Curry (a mild curried crab with coconut milk, which can be eaten with dumplings). The West Indies just got closer to Bangalore.
And Oriental food that has long been a feature on the city’s menu has also been reinvented in a big way. Unlike food that was served earlier which largely involved variations of the locally concocted Manchurian and the like, several places in the city today offer much closer versions to the original food, with Mainland China dominating top spot on that list. There’s also Harima on `Residency Road where its now possible to indulge in delectable Japanese dishes like the Harima Special. An assorted sushi platter, it includes 30 pieces of sushi such as Fashimi and Maki Rolls. It’s all available for a cool Rs. 1750 + taxes. A hot favourite at the restaurant is tempura – Japanese batter fried prawns – served with tempura sauce. And of course, it serves the infamously pungent accompaniment, wasabi, made of horseradish. In fact, it even offers the complete dining experience affiliated to the culture, of low seating.
And Soo Ra Sang on Windtunnel Road, off Airport Road, infuses soul to food from Seoul, serving authentic Korean food. Choose from Dolsoth Beebimbob, mixed vegetable rice that can be served with or without meat and the most famous Korean dish around the world or Bull Go Gi – marinated beef fry without oil, though sometimes it can be chicken or pork instead. These make for great options to sink your teeth into to get a taste of the east.
Bangalore is not just about its gardens or pubs. It’s also got a thriving culinary scene in sync with the melting pot of cultures and cosmopolitan people that it’s home to. So the next time your taste buds crave tantalizing cooking, the numerous options in Bangalore will almost guarantee gormandizing satisfaction. Bon Apetit!