Homegrown app Dine Inn turns living rooms into restaurants for aspiring chefs SINGAPORE — From Monday to Friday, Ms Linah Lim works as a field service planner at a manufacturing firm. But come the weekend, she does what she loves — entertaining customers as a private dining chef through popular homegrown app Dine Inn.
The app, which is part of the sharing economy, allows customers to opt to dine privately at the chef’s home, or receive the food as take-away, among other options. It’s aimed at customers looking for a unique, intimate culinary experience.
Ms Lim, who also goes by the moniker Chef Lina, graduated from noted cooking school Le Cordon Bleu London.
The 40-year-old worked for a year in a restaurant in London, but soon realised that it was not for her given the long hours and lack of freedom to create her own recipes.
“Working in a restaurant is different. You have to cook dishes that someone has invented. You have to follow their way and method. As a private chef, you can create your own dishes, something you can be proud of,” she said.
Ms Linah Lim, 40, known to app users as Chef Lina, studied at a London cooking school but quickly realised working in a restaurant was not for her. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY
Founded in Singapore in 2016, the Dine Inn app currently boasts a total of 800 home chefs and 25,000 guests — a big jump from its original user base of 200 home chefs and 6,000 guests. It operates in Singapore and Malaysia.
Speaking to TODAY on Aug 28, Dine Inn co-founder Luke Lee said that he expects this number to continue to grow as private dining becomes more popular in Singapore.
Budding entrepreneurs and hobbyists told TODAY that they chose to become home chefs over opening their own restaurant due to the flexibility and low start-up costs that Dine Inn offers.
Take Ms Namrata Shah, 42, and Ms Sheeda Sokhaimi, 42, for example. Family and friends had encouraged the pair to turn their love for cooking into a business. However, the high start-up costs in an already saturated market made them hesitant to dive straight in.
“In Singapore, with every few steps you take there is a restaurant. So starting a business can work but it can also fail,” said Ms Shah, who is also a homemaker.
With rising costs such as rent, utilities and overheads, apps like Dine Inn have become an increasingly popular option for both budding chefs seasoned operators.
Indeed, it was for this reason that Mr Lee and co-founder chef Eric Teo — with a combined over 50 years in the food and beverage (F&B) business — set up Dine Inn.
“One day, Eric Teo and I were talking about how at this rate, the Singapore F&B industry will be in a very dire state. Running a business has become unsustainable, with all the rent and overhead costs,” he said.
Dine Inn lowers the cost barriers to entry to F&B.
“The kitchens are already available and the good thing is that it’s island-wide. The sharing economy has really opened up a lot of opportunities for people who are passionate about cooking and want to share their food,” Mr Lee said.
HOW IT WORKS
When customers log into Dine Inn, there are four options: To dine at a host’s place, order takeaway, order a five-day tiered lunchbox “tingkat” delivery service or hire a chef for private dining. For takeaway and tingkat, customers can collect the food or get it delivered for a fee.
The chefs on the app are all required to go through a mandatory food and hygiene course. Mr Lee and Mr Teo also visit their homes to ensure that their kitchens are hygienic.
Dine Inn co-founder Luke Lee expects the number of chefs and customers to grow given the high costs of operating a restaurant in Singapore. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY
Mr Lee also told TODAY that the chefs are allowed to operate under the Home-Based Small Scale Business Scheme, which allows residents to conduct small scale home-based activities to supplement their income as long as they follow Housing and Development Board (HDB) rules.
FLEXIBILITY A PLUS FOR HOBBYISTS
Ms Raynne Ong, 41, said that she was apprehensive the first time she opened her home to guests on the Dine Inn app.
“The first time was a bit stressful because we realised we had to make the house presentable and we were worried it would be awkward. But it turned out quite well and warmed us up a bit,” said Ms Ong, who is a full-time real estate agent.
She enjoys sharing food ideas with guests and getting feedback. Ms Ong — who goes by the username Live2eatlovelaugh — is doing mainly takeaway orders to fit in with her busy schedule.
For stay-at-home mother Berlinda Ezekiel, 43, the option to accept only take-away orders at her own convenience was a key attraction. With an 11-year-old daughter, inviting strangers into her home would be difficult.
Ms Ezekiel specialises in Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. “I don’t advertise my food as being authentic. What I try to do is put my own twist such that the dish is still light and refreshing while maintaining the aromatic flavours from the spices.”
Her toughest critics are her friends and family but their harsh and honest criticism is what challenges her to be innovative with her recipes and motivates her to improve her skills.
“To me, this is the satisfaction (of being a home chef). Of course if there’s a monetary gain, it’s a bonus, but for me it’s more of the self-fulfilment that I can actually help to open people to enjoying new flavours,” she said.
‘A MINI HAWKER CENTRE WHEREVER YOU LIVE’
As the app grows, Mr Lee said that his ultimate goal is for Dine Inn to have a network of 3,000 to 5,000 home chefs across Singapore.
“We envision a day where you can wake up and order your favourite local food and pick it up from your neighbour. And instead of driving so far to a restaurant downtown, pay expensive parking and exorbitant corkage, you can choose to have an intimate private dining session.”
He said the priority now is for the home chefs to be able to tell their stories through their food and build a relationship with their patrons to keep them coming back for more.
“If there is no connection with the venue or with the chef, you probably won’t go and visit again. So the human angle is very important, because home chefs can really offer a unique culinary experience that restaurants cannot,” he said.
INVENTING NEW WAYS TO DINE
Other than offering home cooked meals via private dining or a tingkat service, Dine Inn has also started running private dining pop-up events.
The Private Chef’s Table is a private dining event that brings Dine Inn’s best chefs to guests through a shared open kitchen space. Held in conjunction with The Singapore Food Festival, the first run was held from July 5 to 28.
Initiatives like these provide home chefs on the app, such as Ms Ezekiel, who do not have the means to host customers in their homes the platform to try their hand at serving customers in a restaurant setting without having to sacrifice convenience and cost.
Ms Ezekiel does not have plans to move to private dining nor open her own cafe. But the Private Chef’s Table is a doable next step.
“Home dining is something that I’ll consider if I have a conducive home. Now, with a young kid it’s not ideal. The (Private) Chef’s Table is something I want to do and I’ll probably progress to it first,” she said.
A Short Background of Just How Indian Dining Establishments
A Short Background of Just How Indian Dining Establishments Developed in the UK
Indian food items is actually one of the popular options of disheses that can easily be actually found in outstanding dining establishments in the United Kingdom. All kinds of common Indian dishes could be found in Indian restaurants certainly there; coming from Mutton Quorma and also Biryani to Gulab Jamun as well as Palak Paneer. But how did this Cuisine gain such reputation in a land that was actually the moment not knowledgeable about such wealthy seasonings?
Possibly the structure for Indian food items in Britain was laid nearly 4 centuries back along with the formation of the East India Company. East India Company was actually formed to urge field in between Britain and also Indian Subcontinent. This triggered the dual exchange of social impacts on each disheses top indian restaurants london. The British troops and traders who got back house desired to possess even more of the fascinating Indian food that they had actually tasted in India.
Seamen from Bengal that manned the British ships likewise participated in a necessary duty in taking the Indian Cuisine to the United Kingdom. Most of these seafarers dropped out in London in search of better work options; these additionally included prepares that used to prep meal for the other seamen. Some of the very first outcomes that arrived out of the travelling was the posting of Indian recipes as well as the commercial distribution of the popular sauce grain in the late 18th century W1S 2PA.
Background tells us that the first appeal of the Indian curry was at the different coffee properties in London. Later on however an Indian entrepreneur introduced the initial Indian bistro in the very early 19th century. This was the 1st Indian coffee house in London that was indicated to offer top quality Indian eating adventure to the nobility top indian restaurants london.
It holds true that this first Indian bistro failed to survive for much more than 3 years, it carried out nonetheless set the pattern and also eventually because century many Indian bistros of moderate attribute grew so as to serve for the expanding Indian area. The very first effective Indian dining establishment to achieve excellent heights of attraction was actually constructed in 1926 at the Regent Street region. Cooks within this bistro were actually particularly employed from back house to supply genuineness to the dishes London.
Attraction of Indian Restaurants
The attraction of Indian dining establishments and preferences has been actually raising everyday. Currently these restaurants are accessible in virtually all spots and people are attempting to sample variety on Indian disheses. Right now Indian cuisines have ended up being much popular amongst British & Americans as a result of its controlled as well as sophisticated preparing approach. The application of a variety of seasonings adds preference as well as a various emotion London.
The raising need for Indian Food makes the entire globe recognized to the standard Indian dishes. The food uses extremely reduced body fat as well as reduced heat is actually utilized to prepare it in order that it keeps the all-natural fragrance. Likewise are actually a lot of vegan recipes to sample. Many of the Indian foods items has a considerable amount of vegetables since one third of the populaces are vegetarians. Many of the Indian dishes are not just abundant in taste but additionally helpful for medicinal worths since the flavors used in it have really good medical market value. For instance the ginger utilized to cook benefits the cough and fenugreek benefits digestion W1S 2PA.
The leading 10 Indian recipes most frequently purchased in restaurants are actually
Chicken Tikka Masala
The preference of India is differed as its wealthy cultural tradition. Every area possesses its taste. There are primarily four areas in these Indian cooking food styles; they are North Indian, East, West and also South Indian.
Before heading to an Indian bistro you should choose what type of environment you are appearing for. Normally Indian foods are actually offered in efficient price as well as you can easily regularly depend on the great high quality as well as company these dining establishments offer. A few pointers are going to assist you while buying food items in an Indian bistro are provided listed below.
Just before getting your menu, always speak with the dining establishment personnels to obtain a crystal clear image on the recipe that you want to possess. This will help to delight in a suitable treat. Many of people think that Indian meals are truly zesty which is actually certainly not constantly appropriate. There are actually lots of foods cooked with minimum seasoning and along with splendid preference. So, when you choose your food selection, select what type of food items you would certainly such as to possess.
OT: Mumbai restaurants
I’ve been editing the Mumbai section of my book “Take the High Road – A Primer for the Independent Traveler” in preparation of another visit, and since it’s a slow financial news day, thought I’d post some restaurant advice.
I particularly enjoyed writing the one about Bademiya. My wife limited her experience to naan bread and water, but I enjoyed both the food and the sort of edgy experience (it’s something like why people take roller coasters – you know you’re not likely to die, but it just feels like it while you are riding 🙂
Delhi Dorbor restaurant (10/14 Holland House, Colaba Causeway Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, near Regal Cinema), home of Mumbai’s best Biryani rice. We ate a great Indian lunch, with good service at a very reasonable price. This is a halal restaurant and also serves some middle eastern dishes. One of my personal favorites.
Copper Chimney restaurant (18th Hargovindas Building, K Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort). The food was outstanding, the prices in between those of the Taj hotel’s Indian restaurant and those of Delhi Dorbor and the service not terrible, but in need of some improvement.
Chetana (34K Dubash Marg, Kalaghoda), a traditional thali restaurant. This style of food involves a plate holding cups kept full of a variety of veggie dishes which are perpetually refilled by the waiters. The assortment is from a variety of regional areas. My wife was able to get a spice-free selection and mine had more taste.
Bademiya, (behind the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel on Apollo Bundar, Homiman Circle, Mohammad Ali Road (or just ask anyone as it is quite famous) but I do warn you that this place is not for the faint of heart (or stomach). Bademiya, famous for its kabobs, apparently started as a street pushcart in the 1940’s and has grown to be two long stands (one for meat and the other vegetarian). For those who don’t want to eat on the street, there are metal tables across the street, in what looks like an abandoned warehouse, (with the paint chipping and the plaster falling off the walls in a fashion where the negative ambiance makes you hope that simple antacids and stool tighteners will be all that you require to survive eating there). There, you will find laminated menus in English (like that really helps a lot if you don’t know the names of the dishes in the first place and wasn’t much of an improvement over a Hindi menu) and, of course, a long queue waiting for a table – as well as a “runner” who will take your order across the street to the stand and bring the food back. All kidding aside, the food is wonderful, the prices inexpensive and (aside from my not trusting the water), seems reasonably hygienic. This is a place for those who want to try Mumbai street food.
Social Offline restaurant and bar (20-22 B.K. Boman Behram Marq, Apollo Bunder), directly behind the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. It serves a good breakfast all day It also serves well as a bar to unwind in at the end of the day.
“Indian Summer” restaurant (80, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate) was a very tasty buffet (at about 960 rupees). On the other hand, it does use chafing dishes (which may not keep the food hot enough), so I would prefer to eat elsewhere.
PaPaYa (Modern Asian Bistro) in the Diplomat Hotel (24-26 B.K. Boman Behram Marq, Apollo Bunder), directly behind the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, serves a good variety of pan-Asian food, but there was no Indian food
Other restaurants worthy of mention include Zaffaran, which is a bit further into the city, and further away, in the city center, but still noteworthy, is the Tamasha restaurant.
Intercontinental Hotel Roof Bar. While this is not one of the world’s most luxurious hotels like the Taj Palace Hotel, it is a five star establishment where we took the elevator to the roof for photos of Chowpatty and the Queen’s Necklace from the top-floor bar
The following are quite expensive compared to the above, but all serve excellent Indian food:
“Masala Kraft”, the Taj Palace Hotel’s Indian restaurant. Predictably, the food was excellent and the prices high – the usual for a luxury hotel.
Dokshin Coastal, ITC Hotel – Expensive, but excellent southern Indian cuisine
Khyber, 145, Ground Floor, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda, halal meat and vegetarian in great ambiance. (on the same street as Copper Chimney and Chetana restaurants), very popular with tourists sent by hotel concierges.
Trishna, 7, Sai Baba Marg, Kala Ghoda, excellent fish and seafood restaurant
Luxuriate in the Artistic Haven of Leeu Estates, Franschhoek
When you arrive at the gate of a property, are greeted by name and “W e’ve been expecting you”, you know that you’re going to be in for a special stay. Leeu Estates, part of the Leeu Collection portfolio, is set at the foot of the Dassenberg mountains in Franschhoek and is owned by Analjit Singh, who has become synonymous with development in the area. Premium Status
The Leeu Collection is also known for its impeccable style and luxury to the nth degree and in fact, Leeu Estates is the . This was quality.
The grounds of Leeu Estates at Dassenberg are absolutely immaculate, not a leaf is out of place. The drive through the property to the reception area passes lawns, young vines and the ‘bokkie’ rose garden, all of which are perfectly manicured – nipped and tucked by a team of garden management who only operate at certain times of the day, so as not to disturb the guest experience. This is just one example of the degree that the team have gone to in order to ensure that guests have the ultimate stay. For the Art Lover
The rooms, some of which are in the main house, and others that are located in the gardens of the property, all overlook the lush green lawns, which are dotted with an enviable collection of incredible artworks – one of the hallmarks of the venue.
The main garden is home to Artemis, goddess of hunting and her pack of wild dogs; she is a bold presence in the space and is central to the other pieces of work dotted around the property both inside and out.
Art lovers will be entranced by this private collection that boasts pieces from notable South African artists such as Guy du Toit, Beezy Bailey and Lionel Smit, plus pieces from international artists as well. You can spend a good few hours just browsing the art inside and out… and you really should. Tastefully Luxurious
The interior of the hotel lounge, patio and communal areas are all beautifully decorated and manage to find a level of opulence through the selection of lush textiles and thoughtful finishings, while still remaining tasteful and comfortable.
Our suite was located inside the main manor house and was extremely spacious. A full lounge area to relax in, as well as a huge room and private patio. The patio has been built around an enormous tree that provides wonderful shade and the perfect spot to sit back with a good book, or as we did, with a bottle of wine and a board of local cheeses.
Every detail has been thought of and the cool, muted colour palette extends the feeling of ultimate relaxation. Collection Connections
One of the things that is a priority for the Leeu Collection is offering their guests premium dining and wine experiences. To this end, the group has joined forces with well-respected players in these industries, in order to be able to offer a complete experience.
On the wine side, they partnered with South African winemaking family, the Mullineuxs, forming Mullineux and Leeu Family Wines .
At Leeu Estates there is a working cellar that can be seen from within the tasting area and tastings are guided by a seriously knowledgeable team. During our wine tasting (offered to all guests as part of your stay) we were introduced to some of the collection’s most well-respected wines, including the Leeu Passant range that includes a heavenly Chardonnay and a Dry Red.
On the food side, you are spoilt for choice as a guest at the Leeu Collection. You can opt to catch a ride into town from the hotel and enjoy laid back very, top craft beer and casual bites at Tuk Tuk Micro-Brewery . If you are looking for something a bit more upscale, you can enjoy amazing cuisine at Protégé or La Petite Colombe . For an authentic Indian dining experience, you simply have to try Marigold .
Leeu Estates also has a world-class spa, as well as a well-equipped gym area, including a lovely yoga lawn. If you have the time (unfortunately we didn’t), then book in for a treatment or just relax at the spa pool.
The spa is designed in a way that best showcases the beautiful view of the pool area and is all round a calming, relaxing place to spend a few hours in. Breakfast at Leeu Estates
Breakfast is served in The Conservatory, an annex of the main dining room, which is a modern, glass-enclosed space that makes the most of the garden views (they also do an incredible high tea here). We enjoyed a variety of delicious options from local salmon trout and freshly baked ciabatta to fresh fruits, homemade granolas and yoghurt.
It simply wouldn’t be a trip to Franschhoek without indulging in some fine French pastries and the Pain au Chocolat and croissant we indulged in were some of the best I’ve had.
I’ll admit, it’s hard to leave the comforting embrace of Leeu Estates; nothing is too much for the attentive team of staff and the estate truly is beautiful. When he first visited Franschhoek in 2010, Analjit Singh described experiencing “a deep sense of belonging, of energy, a sense of place” and I must say I feel the same way about the area. It is my favourite corner of the country and a stay at the lovely Leeu Estates will most likely confirm it as yours too.
The great grub at this restaurant in Kanpur makes it a real “Treat”
The great grub at this restaurant in Kanpur makes it a real “Treat” Hey Kanpur, you’re in for a Treat at this place! 06 Sep, 2019 at 10:30 AM
With the changes that have happened over these past few months, Kanpur’s food scene has evolved like never before. The foodsploration experiences in the city, has become so much better than it was a few years ago. So when it comes to eating out with your friends or even going out with the family, the options are pretty diverse!
Yet, not many places in the city can boast of having a great vibe, good interiors, delicious food and still remain affordable! Who doesn’t enjoy a meal on a budget or a great hangout place, that also serves delicious grubs? With “Treat” in Kanpur, you get to experience all of this and much more, at one-stop! Now that’s a real Treat!
Treat is one of the oldest fast food joints in town, open since 1988 and with their growing popularity, they have opened a number of cafes in the city. Each of their cafe has a distinct vibe but the picnic tables, industrial furniture, classic decor and great food are the tell-tales of any “Treat” cafe/restaurant in the city. The Vibe
Treat has a pretty chill ambiance- the restaurants are designed in a classic way to emulate comfort and relaxation and yet remain uniquely memorable! The blue chairs, posters on the wall and the use of muted wood tones along the cafes, give them an open and inviting aura. We have to say nothing beats sitting here with a cold coffee in hand, laughter and great conversation in the air. For the Tastebuds
The grubs at Treat is some of the best you’ll find in the city, especially if you’re a fan of Italian, Chinese and Continental cuisines.
Their noodles are legendary and if you’re getting some, make sure to get the Chicken Chilly Garlic Chowmein! It is hot, it is savoury and it has perfectly diced chicken pieces for every mouthful.
The White Sauce Pasta is another must-have here- the smooth white sauce, the perfectly al dente pasta and the accompanying garlic bread is a wonderful treat to any Italian food lover in the city. They have a great selection of pizzas too, so if you’re looking for a pizza with an Indian flare, this is where you need to be.
They have a ton of other great options too, from burgers, sandwiches, to dosas and your everyday North-Indian delicacies. We have to say, the cold coffee and the dessert shakes here are pretty good too, so make sure you try them all. Knock Knock
The place and all of its outlets boast of pretty wonderful food. From the simple chowmein to the difficult-to-nail pizza, at Treat you can find it all and you’ll fall in love! As a cherry on the top, the outlet is pretty reasonable too, so be it a birthday party or a random session with your pals, you won’t have to worry about overspending here!
Checking in to Ceylon Inn
Checking in to Ceylon Inn The landmark of Sri Lankan cuisine in Tokyo By Angeli Rambukpota | Posted on September 6, 2019 L iving in a foreign country has its perks; there’s something liberating about immersing yourself in an alien environment that’s so removed from everything you knew growing up. Yet, when the homesickness creeps in, it’s only natural to look for ways to shush the occasional pangs of bittersweetness. You turn to any signs of familiarity, scouring community events , festivals or eateries to find that small piece of home away from home. A hallmark of the Sri Lankan community here in Tokyo is Ceylon Inn. The restaurant joins the throng of thrilling, not-so-hidden gems in Nakameguro, in a neighborhood that’s constantly thriving even during its non-cherry blossom seasons . Dining at Ceylon Inn is almost a rite of passage for Sri Lankan denizens in Japan — my parents, one of which is Sri Lankan, made the customary trek to the eatery right after they moved to Tokyo many years ago. Ceylon Inn, located a short walk from Nakameguro Station , is a humble establishment owned by a Japanese and Sri Lankan couple. The restaurant, which celebrates its 28th anniversary this year, is homely and inviting, lined with brick walls and short elephant statues surrounding the entrance like guard dogs. Inside, the semi-spacious eatery can house up to 20 seats comfortably. The restaurant walls are littered with tasteful wall hangings and Buddhist relics, nods to Sri Lankan culture expressed through traditional masks and paintings. The central bar, which connects to the kitchen, is reminiscent of a tropical, Hawaiian tiki hut, with a shaggy straw roof casting a shadow over the lineup of various liquors. While you can’t see the action in the kitchen, the aroma of spices and curry permeates the cozy room. Another feature of Ceylon Inn is its artistic tables which contain a window panelled display case of spices right under the table top. We ordered the cashew nuts curry (¥1,300), one of the restaurant’s popular curry dishes . Part of what makes this particular brand of South Asian cuisine distinctive is its use of unlikely ingredients, which draw inspiration from island life. Accents of Maldive fish flakes, fresh coconut shavings and cinnamon often blend to give Sri Lankan dishes an idiosyncratic flavor. Paired with a side of spiced saffron rice, Ceylon Inn’s vibrant cashew nuts curry is slightly sweet and mild with a hint of a kick, and rather filling despite the lack of meat. The complex flavoring demonstrates just how different the curry is from the majority of others available in Japan (e.g. Indian or Japanese curry-rice). In Sri Lankan cooking, it’s not just a matter of highlighting one identifiable sensation; just when you think you’ve nailed what it is you’re tasting, you’re hit with another sensation, spice replacing butteriness undercut with sharpness and then creaminess in the end. As the flavors bleed into one another, you’re left digging for answers, trying to uncover just what it i s you’re tasting. It’s not until your spoon hits the bottom of the bowl with a resolute clink that you realize the depth and complexity of the sensations in your mouth cannot be sufficiently surmised under one flavor; it’s rather ineffable. Kottu roti (¥1,200) also ranks as Ceylon Inn’s top ten dishes. According to the store owners, it’s the one dish almost all Sri Lankans order when they stop by. Kottu roti (chopped bread) is a type of street food reminiscent of fried rice. In the capital city of Colombo, almost every corner is littered with at least one kottu roti joint, with the sounds of rhythmic chopping and energetic hissing of oiled-up ingredients hitting the white-hot pans. Kottu roti is essentially the Sri Lankan version of Japanese teppanyaki (hot plate grill). Flat roti bread is minced into bite-size pieces and incorporated with slices of stir-fried cabbage, onions, leeks, carrots, scrambled eggs and chicken. Once tossed together, the dish is molded into a square, resembling a prism. Flavorful without being overbearingly greasy, kottu roti offers a variety of textures to enjoy, from the mochi-like chewiness of the bread to the crunch of vegetables. Definitely worth ordering for a large gathering given its rather hefty portion. In a city packed with an abundance of curry restaurants, Ceylon Inn carves out a space for the often underrepresented South Asian cuisine. Offering an impressive array of Sri Lankan dishes which play proper tribute to authentic Sri Lankan tastes and presentation, Ceylon Inn is a place steeped in culture and great food — a whisper of home for Sri Lankans and non-Sri Lankans alike. Ceylon Inn 11:30am – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 11pm (Tues – Sat) 11:30am – 2:30pm (Mon)
Brimful of Dishes on the Northwest Side
The regional cuisines of India were, through circumstance, not something I explored a lot while living in the Bay Area. That changed for the better when I moved to Central Ohio, where the dishes of the numerous Indian restaurants here have quickly become favorites for me and my spouse.
For the most part, the Indian restaurants here, from basic curry joints to more fancy establishments and most recently Indian-fusion places (Indian-themed bowls, wraps and salads from places like Curry Up in the Sawmill area and Lewis Center’s Rollz Rice) aren’t chains. The Indian-fusion chain restaurant actually has become a more prevalent sight around the US as noted in this May 2016 Eater.com article, but Columbus’s biggest Indian chain arrival decidedly does not follow that fusion route in the Michigan-based Neehee’s.
Owned by the Patel Family, Neehee’s (which is a mash up of the owners’ daughters names) opened up their first standalone restaurant in 2009 in Canton. Their Columbus location, located in an area with its fair share of Indian restaurants, is the company’s third and the first in a wave of expansion of locations to surrounding Midwest states.
Neehee’s uniqueness is pretty evident from the beginning. Its roughly 140-item menu (all easily scrolled through via large interactive screens as you come in) focuses on vegetarian and vegan street food specialties – even the “Burgers” are centered around a Vada (a potato fritter) as the patty. Add in the ice cream counter, and you have a place that acts as something of a one-stop shop for the diner. For me, it reminds me a bit if you plopped a bit of Dosa Corner, Layla’s Kitchen, and Mardi Gras Ice Cream into a brightly-decorated, electronically-enhanced warehouse-sized space.
The service has been efficient on all our visits, with dishes like their chaat snacks, the Desi-Indian dishes like their Garlic Babycorn, and the signature dosas and chutneys coming out in fairly quick fashion. Prices are very reasonable as well, with most dishes coming in at $10 or less.
Their take on Pista Kesar ice cream was pretty good, but I must say their version falls just a touch short of the version that Mardi Gras on Hard Road produces.
Neehee’s philosophy has been to make prudent substitutions as needed (like trading butter for oil and lowering the heat levels) for more accessible yet otherwise traditional dishes. We thought this might be a good place for those reluctant to sample the cuisine to give it a test run, and our instincts were spot on – a story in IndianScene.com earlier this year noted that almost sixty percent of the restaurant’s customer base is non-Indian.
The large space makes Neehee’s a better bet than most to handle a large group of folks on short notice. And for vegan and vegetarian folks (or even folks like us who are trying to incorporate more vegetables in the diet), this eatery offers a very much appreciated and reliable option.
These first few visits to Neehee’s will not be our last, but it may be a little time until our next visit. After all, we do love our spicy heat, and there are plenty of Indian restaurant riches in the metro that we would love to revisit or sample for the first time. I’m pretty confident, however, this location will be drawing in the customers just like the Patel family’s original corner shop which preceded Neehee’s itself, which cranked out samosas and squeezed sugar cane juice to an ever-increasing customer base.
6080 Sawmill Rd ( Google Maps )
Dublin, OH 43017
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Maldives: A Blissful And Mesmeric Place For Vacationers
by Arena Beach Hotel Hotel Services Geographically, the Maldives can be described in three words – ‘Sea, Sun and Beaches’. As a tourist destination you can think of a tropical island paradise, replete with crystal clear waters, exquisite food, culture and serenity. The country is ideally located in the blue waters of Indian oceans and is completely comprised of coral islands. It is a place for backpackers who are in search of white sand beaches full of marine life and various adventurous marine activities. Several islands are popular for their unique hospitality and offerings. These islands offers all the necessary amenities to stay comprising of 4 star hotels in Maldives , budget hotel in Maldives, world class cuisines and marine sports like snorkeling, diving, etc. Islands And Beaches Full Of Adventurous Activities The tiny island nation comprises of a several large number of islands out of which only a few are inhabited. The sun kissed beaches of Maldives are dotted with lofty palm trees, providing you with breathtaking sea views. One can find several activities to indulge upon while in Maldives like: Swimming with Manta ray is one of the most unique experiences Go for scuba diving and explore the rich underwater marine life Surfing is yet another favorite sport to enjoy Shopping for local handicrafts is must for shopaholics Enjoy exquisite cuisine in Maldives both in restaurants or befriend a local resident Boating and fishing activities, even during night hours Travel Options Available In Maldives Maldives entire economy depends on tourism, this makes it imperative for them to develop world class hospitality infrastructure. Travelling around Maldives can be done through water or Air. There are both private and government operated ferry boat services for water travel. In case of private boat services, accommodation and sightseeing are available. Private operators provide full luxury onboard with food. Air based travel facilities are more costly, but takes minimal time in island hopping. The Maldives hotel near beach ranges from budget to luxury huts. Several islands have their own huts build up right into the ocean front. Some of these cottages have glass flooring to see through at the marine creatures. One can also enjoy beach hotel in Maafushi, to just relax under the sun while enjoying in peaceful surroundings. What Maldives Offers To Trippers? Tourist on Kudahuvadhoo Island may go for mysterious mounds, temples, old Buddhist architecture and of course watch dolphins. Visiting a Mirihi island to get star rated diving experience, best cuisines and relaxation is a must. The white sand beach here worth a stroll once in a lifetime. Maafushi is meant for peace loving tourists and is surrounded by sea in all directions with a walk over tiny island. The place has budget hotels and inns to stay overnight. There are many souvenir shops present in Maffushi for shoppers, library for book readers and floating bars to quench your thirst. To conclude, everything cannot be described in words just visit Maldives to experience its beauty. A must visit place for tourists who are in a hunt of tranquil, exquisite and rapturous environment.
Food outside the box
‘I am trying to put Singaporean cuisine into the international market, by trying to methodically reimagine or recompose it into modern sensibilities for the modern taste and sense.”
So says Jimmy Lim Tyan Yaw, winner of Miele’s One To Watch Award at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019. Lim is chef-patron of JL Studio in Taichung, Taiwan.
He is aware of the challenges he faces in achieving his ambition for Singaporean cuisine. Not least, what it actually is; every Singaporean chef, he acknowledges, has their own style and perspective on what constitutes modern Singaporean.
“But for me, because I am in Taiwan, we have a different clientele. This is a good way for me to bridge it; turn it into a new language for non-Singaporeans to understand,” he explains. “If I was in Singapore and producing such food, it may not have suited the local palate. When I am in JL Studio, the food is a link, a new language, for people to get to know Singapore or Southeast Asia.”
He defines his own cuisine as Singaporean that has been “rethought, recomposed and reimagined”.
“When I started, it was about rethinking original or traditional dishes like chilli crab or laksa. I was looking at reconstructing and recomposing it. But these last few years, I have been concentrating on Taiwanese ingredients and how I can change and reinterpret them on a plate,” he says.
Boneless beef short rib, fish sauce caramel, green sambal, jicama and petai. Foodie Collection
As for how he ended up in Taichung, Lim explains that he’d never specifically planned JL Studio for Taiwan’s second city. It happened organically.
“I have been in Taiwan for a long time,” he says. “In Taichung… seven or eight years. When the opportunity came knocking, it was natural.”
Knowing the city, its people and the markets, Lim recognised that Taichung made the most sense. A lot of his produce comes from nearby, a hugely important factor for Lim; part of JL Studio’s philosophy is to minimise its carbon footprint.
“Everything is nearer. Whenever I can get ingredients from near the restaurant, I choose that producer. Around 90% of my ingredients are from within Taiwan,” he stresses.
“In Taiwan, I am exposed to a lot more ingredients than if I were in Singapore. In Taiwan, produce is seasonal and this forces me to think, change and adapt to the seasons. There is more space to experiment with… a larger spectrum of ingredients than if I were in Singapore.
“In the first couple of menus, I was a bit restricted. But slowly when I got more confident… I became open to trying new things and not to put a limit on it.”
Rose kueh — nasturtium, fermented cabbage, spring onion and ikon bilis. Photos courtesy of JL Studio
The reason he chose to do modern Singaporean cuisine, apart from the fact that he is Singaporean, is because no one really thinks of Singaporean cuisine in terms of fine dining.
“The only one doing it is Labyrinth in Singapore,” he explains. “I didn’t want to create a name that was bombastic; I wanted it simple enough for people to understand. Singaporean cuisine is very vibrant. The spectrum of flavours is very wide, so there is a lot to offer. The country too has a lot of different flavours, cultures and influences, like Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian. It’s a fun cuisine once you go in depth. Sometimes, though a dish is of Chinese heritage, it may have Western cooking techniques. I learnt that the Hainanese were cooks during British colonisation and learnt the techniques then.”
Lim had a great deal of experience to bring to bear when he started JL Studio. Before ending up in Taiwan, he worked in kitchens in the US and Europe. Being an alumnus of Noma made chef Lim look at things from a new perspective. He recently demonstrated his unique take on things in Bangkok, during a guest shift at Charoen Krung’s 80/20.
“Working [in the US and Europe] really opened my eyes with regards to running a kitchen from the chef’s perspective and from a business perspective,” he says. “In the US, the management is what I look up to. The way they manage and run a restaurant is tip-top. In Denmark, they open up the possibilities of thinking outside of the box. The question is: why should there be a box? The ideas, the new ways of thinking are what I picked up from there. When you think of recipes, it has to be influenced by the ingredients. You cannot curate the same dishes in another country, because the philosophy of time and place doesn’t exist anymore.”
And this is what he strives for in his cooking: that ying and yang balance which is essential in Asian cooking.
“After I moved to Taiwan, I relearnt Chinese culture. Though I am Chinese, in Singapore we are more Westernised. In Taiwan, I learnt more about my heritage and that food heals the body. This is what I incorporate into my cooking — the properties of the ingredients. For example, if the ingredients have too many heating elements, I will add cooling elements. This means that after an entire tasting menu, diners will leave in a good state of mind and body, not feeling too full or bloated.”
His current favourite dish is the shroom kut teh, a new twist on the traditional bak kut teh.
“Sometimes a particular dish is driven by the ingredients sourced. The shroom dish came about when I visited a mushroom farm. Mushrooms are meaty and then I thought about adding texture, which is when the abalone came in, along with the aiyu jelly.”
Shroom kut teh: abalone, local shiitake and abalone mushroom, burdock. JL Studio
Generally when Lim sets out to achieve something, he succeeds. However, there is one dish whose execution has so far eluded him: his late father’s fish head curry.
“I have still to recreate it [successfully] because whenever I make it there is always something lacking,” he admits. “Maybe it’s his love? Or could it be because he was the one always making it? I don’t know. The memory sits with me but I don’t want to put it on the table yet. I am still searching for that missing ingredient and flavour. If it does make it to my table, it will be an homage to him. I need to work hard on it.”
A man after my own heart, he says that his favourite tool in the kitchen is his hands.
“I like to use my hands a lot, even when I am eating. I also like guests eating with their hands. Hands go back to when you’re young and when you used them to explore food. You can’t take away this instinct for eating, the most primal way to nourish yourself. You don’t get the same effect eating with chopsticks or cutlery,” he says.
What’s next for Asia’s One To Watch?
“I feel honoured by all the attention. Business has increased, which gives me room to breathe and not worry about the business aspect of JL Studio. It’s also taking me places to see, experience and interact with different chefs and different kitchens. It also influences my food… especially if I go to a country I have never been to,” says Lim.
It’s not all roses, however. He is frustrated by the prevailing Asian attitudes when it comes to fine dining, even going so far to say that it is more difficult to run an Asian fine dining restaurant in Asia than a French one.
“People need to be more accepting of Asian cuisine,” he says. “We don’t grow up eating foie gras or caviar, so why do we expect Asian fine dining restaurants to have it? I find this amusing. It is how we look at our cuisine and heritage. Do we want our cuisines and heritage to go to the next level or do we want them to remain at this level? A lot of people are not willing to pay for the premium, they don’t understand it. Diners in Japan and Korea are so welcoming of their modern cuisines. But not in Southeast Asia. I hope that people become more supportive of this movement, no matter the country or restaurant.” 0
The perfect weekend Ft. The Forest club resort – TheVogueAndFit
Welcome back guys , lately I have been travelling continuously but inspite of packing unpacking and again packing schedule I had to take you guys through this beautiful property- The forest club resort that i visited in karjat. The forest club resort is located just 1 hour 30 mins ride from Mumbai and 2 hours 30 mins ride from Pune.
The place is surrounded by yearlong greenery and beautiful weather. It has its own beauty during all the seasons of the year and best during the rainy season. The place is blessed with amazing views and an Infinty pool worth dying. Love how the environment is damn positive and electrifying.
The rooms are divided into different categories. They are – deluxe room, premium rooms and executive pool access rooms. There are total 44 rooms available in the property. The executive pool rooms comes with an opening that leads to a swimming pool. Every room has different openings and mesmerizing view.
The food section is something which I adored a lot for this property. They treated us with varieties of cuisine and the taste was just delicious. They have all varieties which includes South Indian, Punjabi and many more. The staff was courteous and kind enough to help us with the food and explaining the varieties.
The place is stacked up with amazing facilities and amenities. From conference rooms to swimming pool to recreation area, Forest club resort is an all together an amazing experience to cherish. The rooms with direct access to pools gives you feel of Maldives.
Next time looking out for a property to spend quality time with your family near Pune and Mumbai? Forest club resort is your destination. For more Fashion, Travel, lifestyle & fitness updates follow – Vikram Soni @thevogueandfit. Till then Stay Vogue, Stay Fit with TheVogueandFit . Love,