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Hallimane (Bangalore, India)

Cross-posted from http://lawolf.net.

Rating:

Hallimane was one of the best restaurants that Archana introduced me and Kenny to last fall, and we returned this week with our Seattle friends for a decadent lunch feast. It is conveniently located in Malleswaram, just a short walk from Sean and Archana’s apartment and an even shorter walk from the wedding hotel.

Its name is Kannada for “village house,” indicating that the menu features the typical foods of rural Karnataka. Of course, for variety, there is also an array of North Indian dishes available, but everything is vegetarian.

Like many casual lunch joints here in Bangalore, Hallimane has a system where customers order and pay at the counter and then deliver receipts to various stations to collect their food. Most hot dishes can be picked up indoors, while ragi and akki rotis as well as parotas must be collected from the men working the flat grill outside. Because Hallimane is always packed, this process involves elbowing your way through throngs of people, and is not recommended for claustrophobics.

Two of their signature dishes are made of ragi, the grain of Karnataka: ragi roti, and ragi mudde, which is a mushy steamed ball of grain. The mudde was certainly not for me, but Kenny and I love love loved the roti, which is made from a batter that includes onions, chilies and dill. We even tried making our own in Archana’s kitchen last fall, but had problems with the rotis falling apart. Thus was born our invention of the ragi waffle.

On our visit with the Seattle friends, we devoured a huge two-round feast, including several orders of ragi roti, two akki roti (made of rice flour), two aloo parota, one ragi mudde for everyone to try (no one enjoyed it much more than I had on the first visit), and a rava idly. We even tried a couple of North Indian dishes this time – channa masala, shahi paneer, naan, and kulcha – and they were excellent, probably the best North Indian I’ve had in Bangalore. For less than $2/person everyone was in food heaven, followed by a huge food coma that threatened to impede our last-minute wedding reception shopping.

Overall, it was an epic food day, starting with Veena for breakfast, continuing with Hallimane for lunch, and finishing off with a huge dinner buffet at Jayamahal for Sean and Archana’s wedding reception.

Lunch at Hallimane
Mini-feast at Hallimane with Kenny and Archana last fall

Kenny and Archana
Kenny and Archana love Hallimane

Hallimane feast
Hallimane feast with the Seattle friends

Hallimane chefs
These guys make the delicious ragi and akki rotis

Hallimane
3rd cross Sampige Road
Malleswaram
Bangalore, India 560003
+91-80-65611222

Som Tam Hut (Mae Hong Son, Thailand)

Cross-posted from http://lawolf.net.

Rating:

On our first day in Mae Hong Son, a crazy lady in the morning market realized, as we were inspecting her “for rent” sign, that we were in search of an apartment. She didn’t speak any English, so she dragged us by the arm to a small restaurant on the main road, where she enlisted the help of the chef to serve as translator for our housing negotiation. We decided that her apartment was too far away from town and too expensive, but we took note of the restaurant location and decided to return for lunch.

It turned out to be the first of many meals at Som Tam Hut, a new, sparklingly clean papaya salad joint. We learned on that first visit that the tiny restaurant was owned by a pretty Thai woman, Lala, and her Dutch fiancé, Tobey, who was also the entire wait staff. Lala slaves away in the kitchen, pounding traditional Isan-style papaya salads in her big mortar and pestle. We learned later that she also sings at the only nightclub in town, which we still need to check out one of these days. Tobey is a friendly guy, who took an interest in our housing search and our volunteer work, and offered us some advice on places to check out in the area.

The menu offers a few varieties of papaya salads, although the most popular is the classic, Som Tam Thai. Lala makes hers on a spiciness scale with choices of: Zero => Mild => Normal => Spicy => Hot. Tobey and Lala were skeptical when we ordered ours “Hot,” but Lala agreed to prepare it that way. It certainly was hot, but also extremely delicious, with chili-lime-fish sauce dressing that dribbled down onto my chin and burned my skin. I loved it. The fresh shredded green papaya, crunchy peanuts, carrots, tomatoes, and secret formula dressing made a perfect combination. It wasn’t the first Thai papaya salad I had tried, but it was certainly one of the best-executed. We also tried some new things: Som Tam Fruit, which is similar to the traditional salad, but made with pineapple, tomato, rose apple, grapes, peanuts, chilies, and the same delicious spicy dressing; and eating sticky rice, with our hands, as a papaya salad accompaniment.

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The English menu (Thai menu here if that’s your style). I love #2 and #5.

Lala’s ingredients are always fresh – Kenny and I often run into her at the morning market – and she is not afraid to scratch certain items off her menu on days that she can’t find high-quality fruits and vegetables.

Ever since that first visit to Som Tam Hut, we’ve been telling ourselves we’ll branch out and try new things, but we we are so addicted to the Som Tam Thai and Som Tam Fruit (with a side of sticky rice, of course), that we haven’t actually done it yet. Once when Daniel was visiting we all shared a side of fried chicken, which was, well, fried chicken. It was a bit greasy and seemed out of place next to our healthy delicious salads. We come here so often that we were the first farang to fill up a buy-10-salads-get-one-free card, and we’re well on our way to completing a second.

Som Tam Thai
Som tam thai

Som Tam Polomai
Som tam polomai (fruit)

Lauren with som tam Kenny with som tam
Happy som tam consumers

Chilies

Som Tam Hut
Singhanart Bamrung, near the intersection with Khunlum Paraphat
Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Tues-Sun, 11:00am-7:00pm

EnergySavvy

I’m still roaming around the world on my sabbatical (currently in Thailand), but I was excited to hear from my good friend Aaron today. He and his fellow green startup-ers have officially launched EnergySavvy, a portal for homeowners to get information about making their homes more energy efficient. The site will inform you about government tax rebates for home efficiency projects, and connect you with contractors who they have pre-screened and who can make those projects a reality. You can go there right now and answer a few questions to get your home’s energy efficiency score and then start using their tools to improve it. Of course, I’m homeless right now, so no score for me. ;) But I know I’ll be an active EnergySavvy user when I get back to Seattle.

On my sabbatical this year, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn about many ways that innovators are using technology to make people’s lives better, and this is another fabulous example. Plus, it features a cute orange dinosaur!

Dosa Corner (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

Cross-posted from http://lawolf.net.

Rating:

With all due respect to Khmer food, Phnom Penh seemed like a great place to sample some international fare. We passed by Dosa Corner, in BKK1, during our walk down to Tuol Sleng, and decided that we would return later for dinner to satisfy our growing cravings for South Indian food.

The menu features a huge array of options, including many varieties of dosa that I had never encountered before. Ironically enough, we ordered 3 dishes, and none of them were dosas. Kenny was just dying for an idly, the waiter strongly recommended the kottu parota (a Tamil Nadu specialty), and we decided to round out the meal with a channa masala for some protein (even though we know this is more northern fare).

The kottu parota was good but certainly odd – it tasted like Indian pad see ew! We’re certainly spoiled for idlies after spending 6 weeks living across the street from Veena, but we enjoyed the PP rendition, especially the accompanying chutneys and sambar. The channa masala reminded me of the first channa masala I made when we were in Bangalore – which is not to say that it was bad, but it was very tomato-ey.

Overall, it was not an amazing dinner, but it helped indulge our South Indian nostalgia. It’s worth checking out if you’re in BKK1 and craving a dosa.

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Idlies

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Kottu parota – minced parota with egg, onion, and spices

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Dosa Corner
N. 5E, Pasteur (Street 51)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia 12302
+855 (0)12 673 276

Hotel Fanoos (Bangalore, India)

Cross-posted from http://lawolf.net.

Rating:

Hotel Fanoos is a hole-in-the-wall establishment in Johnson Market, a Muslim quarter of town, serving up delicious grilled meats from the tandoor, rotis, and shwarmas for rock-bottom prices. Sean took us on a walk over there one evening recently when we were working late in the Babajob office. I had been keeping a mostly veg diet, but breaking it with mouth-watering shwarma and bright green chicken hariyali kebab was so good I knew it had to be right. The roomali rotis were paper-thin and the hariyali was spicy, juicy, and delicious. The kebabs were not quite as tasty as those at Khan Chacha, but certainly the best I’d tried in South India so far.

Two weeks later, we were working late in the office again and craving kebabs fresh out of the tandoor. We made the 15-minute walk over, and again ordered our favorites: chicken hariyali, roomali roti, and chicken shwarma. While we waited for our order, Sean ventured through the service area upstairs to wash his hands, and when he rejoined us had a look of disgust on his face that I will not forget. Per his warning, I did not go check it out myself.

When our shwarmas arrived, we were all quite hungry and didn’t inspect them too closely before we started devouring them. Admittedly, we had all noticed that the shwarma spit was almost bare, and that our sandwiches were made with some of the dregs lying at the bottom. It hadn’t occurred to us until we had each finished about half a sandwich that these strips of chicken would be raw. But indeed they were quite undercooked.

At this point, we had mostly lost our appetites. We nibbled on the hariyali kebabs and rotis that we had ordered but didn’t feel inspired to finish them. We each took a precautionary Cipro tablet that night and swore that we wouldn’t darken Fanoos’s door again. Everyone was fine the next morning, so we congratulated ourselves on conquering Fanoos and thanked the Cipro for whatever role it may have played in our success. After all that, the truth is I’ll probably be back, but I’ll stick to the grilled items and pass on the shwarma.

Bottom line: this place serves mouth-wateringly delicious kebabs, but it certainly comes with risks, even for well-conditioned stomachs like ours. I generally have no problem eating street food, or even the raw vegetables and chutneys that everyone warned me about, but I don’t mess around with raw chicken. If you stick to anything cooked in the tandoor, you’re probably fine, and if you must try a shwarma just make sure there’s more than the dregs left on the spit.

We have no branches
They have no branches

Hotel Fanoos menu 
The huge menu of dirt-cheap deliciousness

Hanging chicken
Kebabs ready for the tandoor

Roomali roti and chicken hariyali
Delicous roomali roti and chicken hariyali kebab

Kenny at the Chicken CounterSean and Lauren eating shwarma
Happy, unsuspecting customers dining on shwarmas at the chicken counter

Hotel Fanoos
17 Hosur Rd, Johnson Market
Bangalore, India
+91 55362712