It is better to not judge new pan-Asian eatery SingKong by its appearance. Despite the inverted funnel lamps, gleaming, large glassed-off kitchen with tables curved around it, and generous windows inherited from its short-lived forebear, The Tasty Tangles, it is a somewhat characterless place.
Things get better as evening falls, when Bandra outside gets darker and the lights inside grow warmer, but we wish they’d replace the flat-screen TV with some edgy prints, or add more colour, some tablemats even.
SingKong (the name is a mash-up of Singapore and Hong Kong) succeeds mostly in its appetisers, and many are worth coming back for. No, not the inelegant sushi with over-vinegared rice and unbalanced flavours, but the dim sum — especially the edamame and water chestnut one. The soybean idea is borrowed but well-handled, its creamy and crunchy filling stuffed in a sheer, glistening wrap.
In the steamed tofu honey hunan, almost-bland bean curd is paired with a slightly sweet, umame-rich sauce strewn with slices of knockout chillies.
Get the galangal- and lemongrass-infused martini, or the mandarin mojito. You will need it when you ask for the ‘house screaming sauce’, and you should. This sharp, garlicky Sriracha-style condiment nearly incinerated my soft palate when I had it by itself, but it was excellent as a dipping sauce, especially for the lemongrass-scented lamb mince wrapped in pak choy.
Then there are the sweet, lush shrimp ‘nests’ sheathed in crunchy layers, spiked on sugarcane skewers, deep-fried and then dipped in an excellent garlic-and-chilly syrup. Get these; they are modestly described, excellently executed.
Not so thrilling are the pork buns, skimpy steamed bread with slippery, syrupy strips of mostly fat.
SingKong’s mains are more standard fare, pleasant not polarising. Even so, we recommend the more textural spicy chicken with cashew and coriander over the veggies in black bean chilli sauce, which rapidly became soupy as it cooled.
The kitchen sent over a small portion of their version of honey noodles after we decided not to call for dessert. (“We’re new, so we’re getting people to try things.”) The two-bite waffle cones with tiny scoops of vanilla ice cream drizzled with honey and sesame seeds made a fun, fitting finale.
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi
Right by Baba Ramdev’s medical shop in Tardeo is a place with just two tables that won’t be a hit with the fanatical vegetarian.
Such offal matters aside, this little eatery — the latest in a recent bunch of joints catering to the house-party crowd with belly-lining kebabs, rolls and ‘tawa’ dishes — does have a delightful way with paneer achari. The soft, large, smoky cubes are lightly coated with a lively masala that complements the fresh cheese very well. Much better than the paneer paratha, which was all stodgy dough and bland filling.
Most of Tawa Hut’s menu consists of passable food that tastes good when the eater is ravenous or tipsy: sweetish veg Kolhapuri, spicy but not very complex galauti, mutton sukka that had beautifully cooked meat but was anything but Malvani. The chicken biryani had whole spices and juicy, on-the-bone meat, but it also had that snatch of sweetness that pervades Tawa Hut’s gravies, even its bheja masala.
We called after our visit and prodded for descriptions of non-self-explanatory dishes and eventually deduced that the ‘washa’ fish on the menu was basa. After five more minutes of questioning, the voice at the other end said, “Look, we mostly have red or green gravies.”
Tawa Hut is that kind of place.
— Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi
(HT pays for all meals and events, and reviews anonymously)
Giving peace a chance
Kalabharati, the cultural wing of Karnataka Sangha, turns 20 this weekend, as does its free Sunday morning concerts initiative, launched by the Sangha to promote communal harmony through music following the communal riots of 1992-93.
The concerts have been an uninterrupted feature for two decades and have moulded a generation of music lovers.
This Sunday, the free event will begin with a sitar recital by young Chintan Katti, 23, son and pupil of senior sitar exponent Shashank Katti and brother of established sitar player Chirag Katti.
Chintan first performed at the age of 9, for the Disney TV channel for children. In 2010, he won first place at an inter-university competition in Hyderabad. He also plays in a fusion band called Urja (Hindi for ‘energy’).
On Sunday, he will be accompanied by Yati Bhagwat on the tabla.
Another youngster performing at the concert is Pritam Bhattacharjee, 31, a classical singer now based in the US. A pupil of Mewati gharana maestro Pandit Jasraj, whom he often performed with, Bhattacharjee has also performed jugalbandis with ace sitarist Shahid Parvez.
On Sunday, Bhattacharjee will be accompanied by Bhushan Parchure on the tabla and Siddhesh Bicholkar on the harmonium.
— Amarendra Dhaneshwar
It could be a scorched forest, a wrecked ship on the ocean floor or a star system in outer space.
Parul Thacker’s wall installation titled Black Hole — a finely woven web of charred black thread strewn with ash and positioned over black cylinders — is among seven photographs, drawings and installations on display as part of an exhibition titled Eternal Recurrence.
Thacker, 38, has studied textile design and weaving. In her art, she reflects in various forms her explorations in threadwork and pigment-making.
Typically, she uses a mix of natural materials such as thread and synthetic materials such as industrial paint in her works — as in the large, untitled diptych installation also on display as part of Eternal Recurrence, featuring a collection of assorted gray cylinders wrapped in handmade paper and embedded in nylon fibres and fishing net.
The twisted, handmade threads, coloured with natural pigment, radiate in different directions from each tube to the edges of the panel, resembling the towers of a futuristic cityscape or a collection of archaeological objects.
“Initiating fresh dialogue between materials and processes, I meld influences of contemporary ideas and re-contextualise elements of traditional crafts to attain high abstraction in form,” she says.
— Riddhi Doshi
Tonight’s gig at Blue Frog has a hopeful ring of ‘fresh’ to it. With four diverse and exciting artists set to take the stage between 10.30 pm and 1.30 am, clubbers will have to adapt quickly to the changing sonic weather in the room as the music shifts from folktronica to glitchphonic, drum ‘n’ bass and Indian percussion.Leading up to Melbourne artist Spoonbill aka Jim Moynihan, who calls his genre ‘wonkadelic glitch groove’, three artists will ease the crowd towards his style of glitch with jazz, hip-hop and big-beat influences.
The night will begin with percussionist Vivek Rajagopalan’s new act, Rhythm Lab, centred on a new drum kit featuring the mridangam and Marathi folk instruments such as chenda and tasha, all mixed live with the help of a looper.
Next, bassist Shri (Shrikant Sriram) will stage his current act, Shrilektric, where music is created organically on stage, from scratch. In this demanding showcase, Shri is often seen juggling bass guitar, tabla and flute, his music moving from eerie to intense, Hindustani classical to cutting-edge electronica.
Just before Spoonbill, Sohail Arora’s new solo project, EZ Riser, will take over the club. As one half of Bay Beat Collective, Arora launched his solo act in October 2012, focusing on new bass styles such as glitch-hop, bass house and IDM (intelligent dance music). His list of influences includes artists such as Koan Sound, Opiuo, Griz — and Spoonbill.— Bhairavi Jhaveri