Restaurant Review – Junoon

Latest update: Junoon has been rated as one star Michelin restaurant for 2016.

Last Friday we decided to go for dinner at Junoon, one of NYC finest Indian restaurants, as my sister-in-law was heading back to India and we wanted to celebrate her visit. Me and wife had previously dined at Junoon in August and found their food to be really good. Junoon has two dining areas – Patiala room and Main Dining hall. The key difference between the two is – you can order a-la-carte in Patiala room while enjoying your drinks, whereas you only have the option of tasting menu or ordering a 3 course meal when seated in the Main Dining Hall. Please make sure you select the dining areas when you make the reservations.

We made our reservations for main dining area for 8:30pm and I had put in a request to have a Bon Voyage cake to be brought to our table after the meal was over. We were a few minutes late, however, we didn’t have to wait for long to be seated. The seating provided to us was next to a pillar, with not enough space between pillar and the chair from the next table. Since we are vegetarians, we didn’t have a lot of options to choose from – 4 appetizers and 5 main course items between the 3 of us were the only choices which we had. We ordered our food and were happily chatting away when our first course of meal – appetizers arrived. We had ordered Lasooni Gobi, Eggplant chat and Lal Mirch Paneer, along with beer for me. The Paneer and Eggplant chat were really good, however, the Lasooni Gobi could have been better and we told the server about the same. We had finished our appetizers and waitstaff started to clear off these super heavy plates. As mentioned above, we were seated next to a pillar with not enough space between our table, the pillar and chair from the next table. The waitstaff who was holding the empty plates in her hand, was not able to balance the load of the plates properly and off came everything. The plates fell down and along with it took my glass of beer and water. As luck would have it, the beer and water fell on my jeans (in areas that cant be described here) causing embarrassment to me and the staff person who started apologizing profusely, whereas my wife and my sister-in-law started laughing after seeing wet patches on my jeans. We told the staff person to not worry about what has happened. My wife and sister-in-law even went to the extent of hugging her to make her feel comfortable.

The staff did ensure that they made up for this incident by providing additional dishes – so we were given an extra appetizer, daal, two vegetarian main courses, and curd raita. Just looking at all that much food, we were half full and I even protested about the quantity of additional food they were bringing to our table. However, the server was like don’t worry – you don’t have to cook for tomorrow. The food as usual was awesome and tasty. Our meals were followed with desserts, which were good too. The Mango Lassi and Chocolate were really good, however, the kulfi could be better. With the desserts done, the server asked if he should get the cake and I said yes. However, they got us chocolate with a candle in it and Happy Birthday written on the plate, instead of Bon Voyage and we were like okay – this isn’t what we asked for.  Apparently the chocolate mousse was over, so we had to make do with a chocolate bar (which the server once again apologized for). Also it seems that there was miscommunication, which resulted in incorrect message on the plate. Not knowing if we were going to get the message changed, we decided to have the chocolate bar, wished my sister-in-law a wonderful happy birthday in advance.However, the server was nice enough to get another plate with Bon Voyage written in chocolate syrup along with chocolate bar and marsh mellows in the plate. We had the chocolate bar (again) and called it an evening.

Inspite of some goof ups, it was an awesome evening full of fun and laughter. Thanks Junoon for the memories.

Day 37/ 365 – Drive to Nasik

Since I have an extended weekend, me and my wife after a lot of deliberations (yes/ no) decided to go to Nasik for the weekend. Nasik is approximately 172 kms from Mumbai. One of the reasons we chose Nasik over other locations was that one of my friends has an empty apartment on the outskirts of the city which we could use and save some money on the stay. Other than that, there are plenty of things Nasik has to offer and we decided to explore it to the fullest. Also it was our (me and wife together) first holiday for this year. We keep traveling with friends, but this time it was just us and we were looking forward to the time together. We left for Nasik around 3:30pm. After finishing some petty work on the way and picking up the house keys from my friend, we were finally on our way to Nasik around 5pm. The drive to Nasik is very nice. The roads are good and the scenery is excellent. There was a lot of traffic near Bhiwandi and Kalyan junction, but post that there was hardly any traffic and it was a pleasure to drive on. We took a break near Asangaon at a rest area – they had Dominos, KFC and other variety of food over there. In between, we came across Kasara Ghat and it was my first ever experience of driving on a proper ghat. The best part of the drive on the ghat was that it was unidirectional – no two way traffic. That really helped in negotiating some of the curves. We reached my friend’s place around 8:20pm and waited for him for 30 mins to give us further directions. Once we got the next set of directions, we reached within 10 mins and unloaded the car and decided to go find dinner. I had visited Nasik earlier (may be around 7 years ago), but a lot of things have changed since then. We wanted to find a local dinner place where we can eat authentic Maharashtrian food. The sad part about travel nowadays is that anywhere you go, all you get pizza, dosa, idli, pav bhaji, Punjabi, and Chinese food. In this rat race to get customers, the local cuisine of the area is lost. I call it the influence of the traveling Gujaratis. I will write a detailed post on that later. We really wanted something local and went about finding it. Luckily, we didn’t have to drive too far and found a local food place called as Kolhapur Express which serves authentic Maharashtrian food. They have thali system (they have 2-3 varieties of dishes, chapatti, sweet, rice and curry (dal for veg) all served in a single plate – picture below)and have a variety of thalis – chicken, mutton, fish, prawn, eggs, and veg. For vegetarians, there isn’t much option to choose from. However, that’s expected. The food was good and after dinner we decided to call it a day. Next stop – Sula Vineyards.


Day 27/ 365 – The rise and rise of food prices

Read in the newspaper yesterday, that the food inflation is now is at a all time high and prices of onion are currently 237% higher than what they were last year. Today onion, one of the most basic commodities costs anywhere Rs. 80-100 per kg, as compared to around Rs. 20-25 per kg. last year. The sad part is no one knows the reason why the prices are so high and the government, as usual, is clueless. The government blames that there is shortfall in supply, however, we keep reading that there onions have  been imported from Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Egypt etc. But there is still shortfall. Along with the prices of onion, the prices of potatoes have also increased. Couple of weeks ago, I got potatoes for Rs. 24/ kg, a week later my mom got it for Rs. 28/ kg and then last week I got it for Rs. 35/ kg. I asked the potato vendor – whats the reason for this reason. He had no reply. He said the prices would raise in the next few days. It sounded like these guys decide amongst themselves what the prices should be and then sell it to the consumers. Probably there is some cartel sitting and deciding on the prices of onions and potatoes and other veggies.

I feel the issue is with the entire supply chain management that we have in India. There are way too many middle men involved, who need to get their share of money before the goods finally reach the consumer. Consider this, the farmer sells his produce to his local agent, who collects the produce and forwards it on to the APMC level. The wholesalers buy their stocks from the APMC and the retailers buy the stock from the wholesalers and then finally sell it to the consumers. There is money exchanged at all these places and that extra cost is passed on to the consumers. There is also a very good possibility that these agents, wholesalers create an artificial shortage of supply thus reducing the availability of the vegetables in the markets. The government does not help in the matters by making statements like prices will remain high for the next 7-10 days. Such statements further create artificial increase in demand thus raising the prices further. There are statements from the wholesalers like “If people can afford to spend Rs. 200 crore on a movie, then they can very well afford these prices”. Not sure how they decide what we can afford and what we cannot. It is strange that the government acts helpless in such scenarios. We all know what happens once the prices increases – it more or less never rolls back down. The winter months are expected to bring the prices back to normal or reduce them. Let’s see how the scenario plays out. Not too hopeful of the reduced prices though.  However, do feel confident that a lot of people will turn to Jainism if such a trend continues.


Day 9/ 365 – Breaking the Karwa Chauth fast with Google Hangout

Today being Karwa Chauth, day when wife fasts for the longevity of her husband and only eats after seeing the moon and her husband, my wife – G, decided to keep the fast. I wasn’t sure if she was joking or was really keen to keep the fast. So I called her in the evening to check if she had any lunch or anything to eat in the whole day. She replied in negative and I was like why are you keeping the fast as I am not going to be around in the night when you need to break the fast. So she was like I will eat in the morning. Not the one to accept this, I suggested she eat dinner when she reaches home. Dinner time and I call her up to check if she has had dinner and she again says a no. Then she suggests something innovative, she asks me to come on Google Hangout. I wasn’t sure if there would be access available, but I was like let me give it a try. Got the Hangout configured, in the mean time she went hunting to see the moon. After seeing the moon, she came on the Hangout and thus we were able to see each other – breaking the fast. An interesting and a non-traditional way to break a fast.

Cooking and me

Yes.. I have finally started to cook again. I believe I have taken up cooking again after 6 months. The reason for that is I have been eating outside food since the last 3.5 months and it has caused serious health problems for me. Since moving to Kolkata, my acidity levels have gone up and sometimes it has been so bad that I would wake up in the middle of the night clutching my chest really tight or even puke. Also according to the doctor, my body is not getting the sufficient intake of protiens and vitamins it needs and so the best thing for me would be to stop eating outside. And yes, my dear mommy, my friends and my colleagues they have all been saying this for ages that stop eating outside. So yes, I have finally decided to stop eating outside food and start cooking everyday from this week. The menu for today is Alu Gobhi.. and you all are invited. 🙂