Mocha is a popular cafe among the urban youth. Their Coffee and Hukka flavours are well-known and are probably the only Cafe to have a strong fan following for both the heady mixtures!
I don’t remember the last time I had hukka at Mocha but Coffee here is my staple food. Always on the look out for something new, I tried out the Brazilian Bourbon Santos. The hot coffee has a rich flavour. It was a refreshing drink which is generally not the case with Indian coffee. It had a hint of chocolate I thought but it could just be the home-made chocolate I chomped on before chilling out at Mocha.
We also ordered for a Dutch Truffle Cake Shake which was exactly like the Dutch Truffle Cake with whipped cream on top! Along with the shake, ordered for a Honeyglazed Chicken Sandwich. The sandwich was filling and it almost felt like having a soft Panini sandwich.
Mocha is never a let down in terms of experience and the food though we wished we got better seats! Mocha is a bit expensive, which is the reason why I prefer other coffee houses but then again, Mocha has so far being without any disappointments and I intend to keep it that way!
There is something about a beach. The sound of the waves crashing, the touch of sand and the chills of the cold seawater on bare feet is but a generalization of an experience one can have on a beach. Yet it is amazing how each of these experiences is unique.
Over the last four months I stepped foot on more than 20 different beaches across Maharashtra and Goa. It is not an achievement I brag about (Well maybe I do ) but it is the experience that I treasure. Some of these visits seemed mundane while others were pure bliss. After all what is a visit to a beach if it does not enrich your soul, calm your mind and clear your head?
It all began with a trip to Kashid and Murud beaches which are ahead of Alibaug. Regarded as one of the prettiest beaches in all of Maharashtra, Kashid was one place I was eager to go. White sands and calm and cool waters was what I expected and it is what I got, or rather, experienced. A blog post about the trip to Kashid and Murud is up here.
But little did I know, that this little trip will set in motion a chain of events that would lead me to the point of penning down my experience of many more beaches, some of them pristine, untouched paradises!
The long-deserted stretch of the Diveagar beach won me over while the more famous Harihareshwar was only a small visit for the sake of proof through photographs for I was too eager to head back to my new found solitude at Diveagar. Harihareshwar though is an excellent beach with the waters calm all throughout the year!
Then, after a lull, came Goa. This party destination is the destination of choice to spend my new years eve. Unless I find another beach destination with lesser people and same old Trance/Techno/House/Electro music, Goa will continue to remain my preferred destination to ring in the new year. But this is not the only reason why Goa is a preferred destination.
For one, I am in love with Goan beaches and can never get enough of them. Secondly, beaches have a calming effect and no where but in Goa am I at peace within.
Be it basking in the sun on Calangute, or having dinner at Souza Lobo at Baga, or light snacks at Bob Marley Shack at Candolim, Goan beaches offer a lot more than sun, sand and booze and apparently great sights too .
Chill on every beach and enjoy the unique beauty was my moto on this trip. Offcourse, like a dog, I left my imprint on each beach I visited. The massive early morning waves at Calangute are not to be missed while the serene waters of Colva and the unpolluted ocean at Palolem is as close to heaven as any living mortal can get.
Anjuna has its own charm as well. The erstwhile rave capital of Goa still thrives just like any other beach. Tall cliffs that overlook the ocean make for a perfect sunset point. Baga, on the other hand, is dotted with clubs and discs and shacks that go on all night, but it is Anjuna where the real parties happen. It is not just the parties, the coarse Anjuna sand and the strong water currents are an attraction of their own.
But really, the most fun is the long stretch starting from Baga and ending at Taj Aguada. Different sands and a different colour of the sea every few 100 meters is a sight that greets one. It is like a beach buffet – every delicacy is there – choose the one you want! Speaking of delicacies, one should try out the Bob Marley’s Shack at Candolim. They serve good Vindaloo and excellent Veg Pakodas. It is also located in one of the less crowded parts of Candolim, partly due to the anchored ship there, which apparently no one wants to take responsibility for. Then there is X-Bar Restaurant at Calangute which serves good biryani and good food in general. Another is Manik which serves good Hukka too and has excellent chicken tikka! It is located just ahead of X-Bar on the road that leads to Baga Beach.
Moving away from the more commercialized yet very pretty north Goa beaches, we checked out the long deserted stretch of Colva. The day we went, there was a strike by the locals forcing us to take the longer, prettier road to the beach. Once there, didn’t feel like leaving.
A beach with so few people on it – surely this cannot be Goa in December. But it turned out that the strike was in part responsible for the desolation that was Colva. Anglers’ beach primarily, this is where many locals come as do the tourists.
The prettiest beach in all of Goa and by far the prettiest I have stepped foot on, Palolem was as enchanting as they come. A round cape, rocks and boulders mark the edges on either side. While the beach is pretty, it is the southern tip, which caught my attention. A natural pool by the sea, it was a pretty sight.
So much so that I chose to spend time sitting on the rocks there gazing out to the endless sea as if there was no tomorrow. A quick lunch at Chascaa was preceded by a long walk.
Amazed by the beauty, I felt sorry for the beach wondering how much pollution the resulting commercialization must be causing. But it was a clean beach suggesting that shack owners could be responsible for preserving its beauty.
Goa has so much more besides beaches. There is Fort Aguada with its majestic Lighthouse and the panoramic view of the Arabian Sea.
Then there is the Anjuna Flea Market which is probably the biggest I have seen so far. Excellent place to buy gifts and everyday items at throw away prices. Offcourse, one would need to bargain hard to get those throw away prices in the first place!
Palolem was my last beach visit in Goa. However, beach hopping did not end there. It continued with frequent visits to beaches across Mumbai and Maharashtra. I have penned down my subsequent travelogues in the following posts:
Its been a long long time since Mughlai food passed through my intestines. The urge was a little too much hence decided to go to the best Mughlai place I know – Moghul Sarai.
The place is a bit dark and hence was termed ‘sidey’ by my female friends though we decided to continue our meal at the restaurant itself. First up we ordered for drinks which included lassi for everyone. Apparently it wasn’t just me craving for a heavy lunch!
The lassi was the way I like it – cold and thick! The lassi followed a couple of starters including Afgani kebab and Sheekh Kebab along with Chicken Biryanis. Each dish was amazing. The flavours were well balanced without any particular flavour standing out.
However, the Afgani Kebab was a bit too sweet which was in contract to the Sheekh Kebabs. But the best meal was the Biryani. Again, amazing flavours, the biryani was cooked in a North Indian style. We all agreed that it was the best Biryani we have had in many months!
Moghul Sarai most definitely serves the best Mughlai food in Bandra. Besides awesome food once can also taste the many Arabian hukka flavours here with pricing in the range of INR 100 – INR 500.
The food prices are moderate as well with most dishes in the range of INR 80-200. Though the ambiance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea the food makes up for it! Bon Appetite!
Manik wasn’t anything special the first time we visited this place . Not so cold Tuborg and nothing to write about Veg crispy was a real downer. However, we were here the next day as well as my friend wanted to smoke Hukka and Manik was relatively empty (in fact we were the only ones there!).
There was a marked difference in the attitude of the waiter the second time we came. A big broad smile greeted us and he was friendly with us throughout. We first ordered for a Grapemint Hukka and the waiter agreed to cut the price by INR 100 without we even asking him! This was a great move I though and the hukka he prepared didn’t let us down either. Good flavour and it continued for a few hours albeit with a few coal changes.
The wonderful hukka was accompanied by 2 plates of finger chips which was gobbled down or should I say inhaled by my ever hungry vegetarian friend! For dinner we ordered for Veg Manchurian and Chicken Tikka. Though the Manchurian was pretty bland, the Tikka was cooked in true tandoori style. Was absolutely delicious the chicken tikka – tender and soft and not overcooked even though it took some time to get it ready. The tikka was accompanied by salads and more finger chips.
Good hukka and some great chicken tikka really made my evening that day!. Surely going to Manik again. Though a word of advice – Me thinks, the cook doesn’t prepare veg meals as well as he does the non-veg ones.
Prices: Chicken Tikka – INR 210 (The most I have ever paid for chicken tikka!)
Veg Manchurian – INR 110
Finger Chips – INR 40
Hukka – INR 250 (Down from INR 350 without even requesting!)
A coffee lover who doesn’t frequent most of Mumbai favourite coffee hangouts is a statement that defines me! But today it was different. A beautiful evening and the best drink I could think of was beer errrrr (now where did that come from!)… coffee! Been sometime since I went to Mocha, so decided to try the Brazilian coffee here while my friend went for the Colombian version. Both coffees were served in a big cup, so big that my friend had to use both hands to lift the damn thing!
The coffee lovers that we are, we spent quite a bit of time taking in the strong aromas emanating from our freshly brewed caffeine concentrates. The Brazilian coffee was strong though the Colombian one was the more bitter of the two. Took us a good hour to finish the coffee as we engrossed ourselves in conversations on just about anything!
The coffee was excellent but a sound parameter to judge its effectiveness is how alert it keeps you in the wee hours of the morning. Its 3 AM and I quite alert even at this hour. Though ironically, my friend who had the ‘stronger’ of the two coffees is fast asleep!!
Suhail’s China blue as the name suggest is a Chinese restaurant which also serves Hukka (a first of its kind maybe?) but lo and behold there is Mughlai and Indian fare on offer as wel! Well that is not a problem really cause’ we were here to smoke some hukka! As suggested by a hukka specialist that I happen to know (what are the chances!), we ordered for a Grape Mint, a mixture of grape and mint flavours!
In the meantime while the hukka was being ready, we changed our seats to a more comfortable lounge like sitting area where one can spend hours smoking and not realise!! The hukka we ordered was for INR 250. It began all well but the small pieces of coal kept running out which got on my nerves. However, one guy, Bablu, who is in charge of the top floor did manage to get us the big pieces of coal which lasted for like 30 minutes and was still going strong until some idiot changed the coal and again put smaller pieces in there! So here is a tip, if going to China Blue, please ask Bablu to change the coal for you. He seems to be far more experienced at making/serving hukka’s then the rest of the guys there!
Anyways, the hukka session was followed by a quick dinner which I couldn’t eat that time and had to get it parceled! Ordered for a Paneer Kadai and Roti. The food was really good but if only the pricing was a tad lower. We ended up spending INR 200 each (between two people) for the Hukka and the dinner. A bit on the expensive side though if in a big group (say 4 or more) then this is a must go to place for the food and the Hukka.
Comparison with Mezban Sheesha, Carter Road – Though Sheesha’s at Sheesha’s are costlier by INR 50, they are far far better as the flavour lasts a long time and the coal doesn’t need changing as often as at China Blue! Food is more expensive at Sheesha though its a bit bland. For a more spicy affair, China Blue is a better choice!
Address: Rays Chs Shop No 8/9 New Kantawadi, Towards Perry Rd, One-way from Sherly Rajan Rd, Bandra (W), Mumbai 400050
Rating: Ambiance – 4/5 (Excellent ambiance. Made to look like a Sheesha parlour with a lounge like area downstairs and more of a restaurant feel upstairs.)
Food – 4/5 (The food isn’t hot but spicy which I liketh. It isn’t like places where putting a few chillies means your food is now ‘spicy’!)
Price – 3/5 (The real downer here. Expensive for just 2 people!)
Address: Next to Bandra Bus Depot, Bandra (W), Mumbai
Full Review: Went there once and the smiling face of the owners and the waiters won me over! Quite a surprise, since that is not what I was told about the place!
Anyways, from the outside it looks like a dingy place, from the inside it looks like a dingy place but don’t mistake it for a shady food joint that don’t give a damn about whether your eating chicken or rat.
A Moroccan ambiance (Yes it does have an ambiance, just like any other place would), the restaurant is divided into two area one with cramped tables, seats and another with cramped sofa-type seating place where you could stretch your legs and relax (I still haven’t gotten how to explain this particular part of a restaurant!!).
It offers hookahs and in my view is one of the best places to actually watch the IPL (they have a big LCD screen). Imagine hookah, some nice tender chicken, friends and some good cricket, what better way to spend an evening after work?
Anyways the last time i was there, it was with some vegans! Offcourse, I did have a carnivore for company!
So we got down to ordering some food. First up was a Malai Kofta and Mixed Sabji for the veggies and chicken tandoori for me and my friend. The malai kofta bought back found memories of family gatherings around the family’s favourite dish!
The tandoori chicken on the other hands is set to create some found memories for me! The tender breast pieces, were cooked just about enough to make us salivate while eating and order for more after we finished. We also has a chicken Afghani kebab which can give the paneer a run for its softness!!!
Next up was a chicken boneless kadai, which though spicy was still quite nice. At the time we ordered the kadai the quantity seemed fit for 4 people but ah well the endless pits of two people were enough to finish the whole dish with multiple rounds of butter rotis, butter naans, normal rotis and normal naans!! In short we had a feast fit for a king!
All this for a mere 500 bucks was enough to make us want to come here again and again and again!