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Friday, December 23, 2016

Chp 641. Northeastern food in Pune

A review on a restaurant I have visited five times the past one month.

As I have mentioned in my previous post about demonetization, I had gone many times to the HDFC bank near our office to withdraw money, only to see a really long queue or "no cash" signboard, and be disappointed and head back to office solemnly.

It was during one such futile attempt to withdraw money that I noticed a new restaurant had opened up right above HDFC bank. I decided to check it out. I love eating at new places, especially the ones near office where I can spare a quick 1-hour lunch break for a fulfilling stomach experience.

The name of the restaurant is "Mineority". A play on the words "Mine" (as in miner, mining) and "minority", I guess.

The first thing I asked as I entered the place was whether debit cards were accepted. The waiter replied, "Yes sir, but only Indian cards, not international". He probably thought I was a foreigner, or maybe it was just a normal formality reply and I was over-thinking much :)

The place was really cool and unique. Very interesting decors and arrangements.

Yuss, those are actual books with a portrait spray painted over them.

A mining themed restaurant, awesome, it was my first. And then when I looked at the menu, I exclaimed in surprise and joy to see a couple of Northeastern dishes! That was when I assumed the restaurant got the "minority" part of its name, because of its minority community indigenous dishes? The menu had a lot of interesting items, ranging from all across India like Bihar and Kalimpong to International destinations like Ethiopia and Kenya!

The waiter told me there was "Happy hours" on the drinks menu, but since it was my lunch break and I had to head back to office, I politely declined (now you don't see me doing that very often :P ).

As I glanced through the menu, mouth watering and stomach pounding, my eyes were locked on the Mizo fish!

"Grilled bhetki fish, miso paste from Mizoram, kuchumber, with steam buns."

I didn't know we Mizos had a miso paste! :D But I was dying to find out. Miso is Japanese stuff, a fermented soybean paste to be precise. But since we Mizos use a lot of fermented soybean in our indigenous dishes, I was assuming that was why they included it in the ingredient. Plus "Mizo" and "Miso" both rhyme pretty sweetly too :D

While my order was being prepared, I was given this cute little side dish to munch on - a mix of muri and chanachur with pudina chutney.

I had written many blog posts in the past where I talked about "bekang" which is our Mizo fermented soybean. It can be made as a side-dish chutney or added to main dishes like our Mizo bai etc. Much as we Mizos love bekang, it also has quite a pungent smell, and my non-Mizo friends would call it "stinky beans" (and an untrained nose might even find it repelling as well). But it is delicious as hell. I was surprised and impressed the restaurant was going to serve me something like that in public :)

But when my dish finally arrived… man it was not what I was expecting at all.

I hardly found any traces of fermented soybean in the dish. Instead, the fish was all buttered up… I mean the amount of butter used was crazy, and that gave it a really awesome taste. The fish melted right in my mouth, it was grilled to perfection. But sadly, no it wasn't an authentic Mizo dish.

We don't eat any of our dishes with "steamed buns" either. Not even chapattis, rotis, naans etc. We just eat everything with rice. And of course in my later visits, I learnt that I could have asked for rice instead of steam buns. *slaps myself with a large trout, a Mizo trout*

It wasn't very filling as well, but I guess the Rs. 550 price tag filled me up :D Plus taxes, don't forget the Service Charge, VAT and Service Tax. The whole thing crossed 700 bucks and the bill was served in a neat contraption –

Overall, was it tasty? Definitely yes. Very tasty, something totally different from the food you'll find in other restaurants. Was it authentic Mizo? Nopes. Was it worth the price? Urrrmmm… hard to say here. If it was any other restaurant, I would say no, but the place kinda gave me this whole "fine dining" vibe, and for such a place, I guess it is ok.

On my second visit to Mineority (which to be honest, I was actually going again to HDFC bank but there was a "no cash" sign and so I decided to go upstairs to the restaurant to vent my frustration), I tried their pork dish.

Guwahati gateway pork - Succulent stir fried pork, onion, Himalayan garlic with buttered kasundi rice.

Now I'm not an Assamese food expert, though I had my fair share of Assamese cuisines cooked by my chef friend Gitika Saikia, and so I was just going to enjoy the pork dish and not judge whether it was authentic or not.

The waiter again told me about the "Happy Hours" on drinks, and again, I had to forcibly decline because I had to get back to office. Yeah it would have been great to gulp down a cold pint or two because I was so frustrated about not being able to withdraw any money.

Finally the dish was served.

The aroma of the stir fried pork was just pure yummm.

The "buttered kasundi rice" was also something I was having for the first time.

Great combination indeed.

My only disappointment was that there was no fat at all. The pork dish was just pure meat. But still, yup it was truly delicious.

On my third visit to Mineority, the waiter didn't even mention about the "Happy Hours" offer. He handed me the food menu and the drinks menu, and I politely returned the drinks menu to him. He smiled.

I went for the "Evergreen chicken" - Assamese green chicken curry made with fresh mint and wild coriander, matchstick yam fries, with aromatic sticky rice.

The so called "aromatic sticky rice" and the "buttered kasundi rice" I had the other day, looked the same, and I think they tasted the same as well :D But it was an awesome combo and I cleaned out the plate like how my dog used to do to his bowl :)

On my fourth visit, the waiter didn't even hand me the drinks menu. He gave me only the food menu :D

I was quite hungry that time. One thing I want to mention - Mineority states on their menu that one main course "serves a minimum of 2 people" - that is completely false. I don't eat much, but one main course is definitely not enough for two people, in fact if you're hungry, one main course may not even be enough for yourself.

And so that day, apart from one main course, I ordered extra chapattis.

The dish that I decided to try out that day was the Shillong mylliem chicken.

Succulent stir fried chicken, khasi pepper, onion, Himalayan garlic, ginger, with garlic pav.

Not to make the same mistake I made with the Mizo fish, I immediately requested for rice instead of the garlic pav, and the waiter noted that down.

My mouth watered. FINALLY, some spicy northeastern dish was on its way, I thought. I was assuming the "khasi pepper" mentioned above was going to be some hybrid version of the "ghost pepper", also known as bhut jolokia, or red naga chilli, or u-morok (known by different names depending on which northeastern state you're from). The world's spiciest chilly at one point of time, currently third or fourth spiciest today.

Sadly, I guess "khasi pepper" is just some normal pepper used by the khasis, because when the dish finally arrived, there was nothing spicy about it :(

But it was tasty nonetheless. It went well with the rice, and also with the extra chapattis I ordered.

The fifth time I went there was this week. Can't believe I've been going there for five times in just one month! I was so comfortable with the people who worked there that I high-fived the valet parking attendant, fist-bumped the doorman, and chest-bumped the waiter. Ok just kidding on all that, but it definitely felt more homely than the first day I went there.

I sat at my favorite table, and ordered the "Arunachali Thukpa" even without glancing at the menu :)

"Chicken or pork?" The waiter asked.

"Pork of course!" I replied.

I love thukpas. I always order one every time I visit a Tibetan restaurant in Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Shillong etc.

Here's the description of Mineority's thukpa from their Zomato page - "Arunachali Thukpa – Hearty and healthy clear stew, red amaranth dumpling, fresh greens, with choice of chicken or pork".

I was wondering if they were going to put dumplings in it instead of the usual noodles?

I got my answer when my food arrived.

There were neither noodles nor dumplings in the so called thukpa!

I mean… can it still be called a thukpa without that?

Taste wise, it was fine. Not that great. Not bad either. The pork pieces added to it also felt forceful, like they didn't belong there, they just didn't blend with the soup. It was basically just a vegetable clear soup with pieces of pork thrown into it at the last minute.

And how much did this cost?

700 bucks for that single thukpa. The most expensive thukpa I’ve ever had, lolz. VFM? Not worth it at all.

And with that, my five days experiment with Mineority's northeastern food was over. Here's my overall feedback –

1. Mizo miso fish - Try it only if you're looking for something that is different and tastes really good as well. Avoid if you're looking for an authentic Mizo cuisine.

2. Guwahati gateway pork - Very tasty and well prepared. Go for it.

3. Assamese evergreen chicken - Good stuff, but quite common, didn't feel very northeastern to me. Go for it.

4. Shillong mylliem chicken - Not spicy as I assumed it would be. Still, very tasty. Go for it.

5. Arunachali thukpa - Avoid it, unless throwing away 700 bucks for a bowl of veggie clear soup is your thing.

In all my five experiences, the waiter and staff were extremely courteous to me and the service was extremely fast. I received all my orders in under 15 minutes. The place was never crowded, maybe one or two tables occupied in all my visits, probably because it was late lunch hour. And all five times, the main reason I went to this place was to withdraw money from the bank below, which unfortunately I never could.

For more reviews and feedback on Mineority, you can check out their zomato page here. All photos above were taken with my OP3.

Cheers for now, and hope you found this review helpful.


Sree...its me said...

Sir why are you still using debit card and not credit card?

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

Key takeway- it wasn't a Mizo dish.

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