Friday, August 1, 2014

Annalakshmi Indian Vegetarian Singapore: Eat All You Can, Pay What You Like

Its an Indian vegetarian restaurant in Singapore like no other. Annalakshmi serves great Indian vegetarian buffet lunch and dinner and does not ask for a fixed price for the same. You are at liberty to pay what you think is the right price and they never question your judgement. Actually, this "eat all you can and pay what you like" concept would only be half as interesting if the food at Annalakshmi was not as delicious as it is. Its mostly South Indian food but somehow tastes way better than the typical South Indian food that we are used to having in common South Indian restaurants. Even someone who never tasted Indian food before will love the food here. Annalakshmi operates from more than one locations in Singapore but the one that I visited is in Chinatown. To get there, take Exit "E" from Chinatown MRT and when outside, turn left. After a short walk, you will come at a road crossing from where you need to go left on the Havelock Road. On that road, its another 5 minute walk to a shopping mall called Central Square on the right side of the road. Annalakshmi is on the ground floor of this mall behind the front row shops. The restaurant opens every day from 11.00 am to 3.00 pm for lunch and 6.15 pm to 9.30 pm for dinner. It is advisable to call ahead for reservation (phone: 6339 9993) to avoid long wait for a table. Also on some days they have private functions when general guests are not allowed. Keep reading for food pictures and what is the right price to pay here...




Sunday, July 27, 2014

Perfect Chennai Airport Transit Hotel: Hotel Mahalaya Residency

A transit hotel that is really close to the airport, provides clean and spacious rooms, a free breakfast, free pickup & free drop from/to the airport and costs under 50 USD per night is a real bargain particularly if it happens to be in a metro city like Chennai. Meet Mahalaya Residency (114, GST Road, Pallavaram, Chennai-600043, Phone: 044-22647171,72). I stayed here before my morning flight to Singapore and Hotel Mahalaya Residency proved to be a good decision in every respect. Except for the Onion Bhajji that I ordered in my room being too oily, I have not been able to find anything to complain about. The breakfast was buffet and really nice. I suggest you save time for this breakfast, there was aloo paratha, idli, uttappa, wada, sambar, chutney, boiled eggs, cut fruits, juice, tea, coffee, toast & butter (see breakfast buffet pictures below). Keep reading...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bagdogra Airport Transit Hotel: Airport Summit Hotel & Spa Review

The nearest airport from Gangtok on the day of writing this article is Bagdogra in West Bengal which is about 5 to 6 hours' drive from Gangtok. To catch a flight from Bagdogra while returning from a holiday in Sikkim requires either to wake up very early and take a cab to get to Bagdogra for the return flight or to stay overnight at Siliguri or somewhere near Bagdogra Airport for the next morning flight. A transit hotel near Bagdogra Airport would thus be a real blessing. Fortunately, there is one such blessing and its called Hotel Airport Summit & Spa and is located in a shopping mall in Upper Bagdogra on the highway leading to the airport (Airport Summit contact numbers: 0353-6512555, 083-888-77-888). The hotel reception and the rooms are on the 3rd floor which is accessible by a lift at the back of the building. An auto rickshaw ride to / from the airport costs INR 150 only. The hotel will arrange pickup/drop by cab at a higher cost. The name has the word "Spa" in it which is a basic massage service which I availed of in one of their group properties in Gangtok (Read more about the Summit Spa here). I have stayed in Hotel Airport Summit once and it is not bad. An Executive Room without breakfast cost me around INR 2100 after a discount given by my booking site. Keep reading for pictures and more...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Body Massage in Gangtok: Summit Spa in Hotel Ttakshang Residency

The only well known place for getting a body massage in Gangtok is the spa located in Hotel Mayfair near Ranipool a little outside of Gangtok. But there are some problems with that. One, it takes INR 300 to 400 one-way to get there from Gangtok by taxi. So if you are not staying at Mayfair, it proves a little cumbersome. Two, their prices are really high. That is why, having an affordable massage service close to M. G. Marg sounds like a blessing, sometimes even too good to be true. I got to visit the "Summit Spa" at Hotel Ttakshang Residency (Kazi Road, near M. G. Marg) because with my two nights booking at the hotel, a one-hour body massage came complimentary. That was in the March of 2013. Later, I went to this spa again in 2014 even though I was staying in a different hotel. The "spa" is as basic as it gets. They do not even have shower facilities. But the quality of the massage is excellent. The masseuses are girls from Bhutan who have got their training by working in reputed massage joints in Bhutan. Keep reading...

Golden Dragon Bar & Restaurant: Good Food and Entertainment on M. G. Marg Gangtok

If I were to decide which one is the best restaurant on M. G. Marg Gangtok, I would most probably choose Golden Dragon. And why not, it has a huge dining hall, serves veg & non-veg Indian and international food, has a well-stocked bar, a small dance floor with Karaoke every night and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There's more. They have an open balcony overlooking M. G. Marg where they keep a few tables too. One needs to climb a narrow staircase to get to the restaurant but that would be OK if one gets a table right away. I guess with the number of tables they have, that should not be a problem. There is a separate bar counter with an LCD TV if one needs to wait for a table here. The Karaoke (7.00pm to 10.00pm) every night tells me that Golden Dragon must be popular with the locals and with the variety of the food they serve, a tourist from anywhere will find something of his or her liking here. Golden Dragon is located above the Bata showroom. Keep reading...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cafe Tibet: Excellent Coffee and Snacks Near M. G. Marg Gangtok

Drinking a hot & tasty cup of coffee in a hill station is a always a delight. I got to enjoy this treat in Cafe Tibet which I found while walking from my hotel in the Development Area (Hotel Nettle & Fern), towards M. G. Marg (Tourist Office end). If you are anywhere on M. G. Marg Gangtok, just ask for directions to the Development Area and you will reach Cafe Tibet on the way in about 5 minutes by walk. The cafe has a nice big hall with a few round tables. One side of the hall has windows overlooking the hills. Here, on a clear day you will be able to get a glimpse of Kangchenjunga's peak. Atmosphere here is very relaxed which is perfect for enjoying your coffee while watching the nice view. The coffee is terrific and delightfully cheap. I saw a crispy fried savoury snack dusted with powdered sugar at the counter. The staff said it was "Peni" or "Feni". Whatever was its name, it was the best thing to have along with that great coffee (see picture below). I think I paid INR 40 or something for both. Honestly, I have not had such a great value coffee and snack in a long time. There was no printed or displayed menu which I wish they had. Tourists do not know about this place but I am sure it must be a local favourite. A walk from M. G. Marg to this nearby gem is totally worth the effort. See pictures below...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Roll Corner: Rolls and Snacks on M. G. Marg Gangtok

There is a nice little outlet called Roll House on M. G. Marg, Gangtok that has been selling really tasty rolls and momos for quite some time now. Roll House sells tasty and ready to eat food, and its located on a street that has more number of tourists than any other place in Gangtok at any point of time. Now that is a sure shot recipe for success. And as we all know, success in business attracts competition. Roll House got it a few months back and its called Roll Corner that opened shop in an alley a few yards away from Roll House, on the same side of M. G. Marg. After seeing Roll Corner, the first thing that came to my mind was that these two establishments need to trade names. Because, Roll House is much smaller in size than Roll Corner when logically speaking, it should be the other way round. But apart from the size of the shop, as of now, Roll House fully deserves its bigger name because they still sell the best rolls in Gangtok. Roll Corner will eventually catch-up. I hope this "Roll House - Roll Corner" did not confuse you. In this article, we are talking about Roll Corner. Keep reading...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Khan Chacha's Biryani House M. G. Marg Gangtok: Good Style, Horrible Biryani

It gives me absolutely no pleasure when I have to tell the truth about a bad eating joint that could have been really good had it been under a competent ownership or management. On M. G. Marg, Gangtok's Tourist Centre, I have found three restaurants that really are a blot on the good name that Sikkim has earned for itself in the field of tourism - Rasoi Veg Restaurant, Apna Dhaba, and Khan Chacha Biryani House (New Market Beside Star Hall M. G. Marg Gangtok Sikkim Phone: 99330 06060). The last one is a recent addition to the countless number of eateries on M. G. Marg. Apart from "Biryani", Khan Chacha serves kebabs and rolls. Much of the food here is non-vegetarian. There are a total of four vegetarian items - Veg Roll (30/-), Paneer Roll (50/-), Paneer Cheese Roll (60/-), and "Veg Biryani" which is not on the menu but served when ordered. (See menu pictures below) The reason why I wrote the word Biryani in quotes is that what they serve here in the name of Biryani is some undercooked, completely tasteless and unhygienically cooked colored rice that can be called inedible at best. Keep reading...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mid Range Hotel Near M. G. Marg Gangtok: The Nettle & Fern Hotel Review

The Nettle & Fern Hotel (Jiwan Theeng Marg, Development Area, Gangtok, Sikkim (Phone: +91-3592-209377) is a decent mid range hotel where you get a deluxe non-view room for under INR 2500 per night including breakfast. Most hotels in Gangtok have this type of accommodation, some rooms with a view of the hills and others facing the city. But there is something that makes Nettle & Fern unique, its in-house bar & restaurant which is deigned like an American diner. The seating arrangement, the walls decorated in the Rock & Roll style and a lively bar counter are what make this basement restaurant look and feel like an American diner. Its not entirely a happy story though which I will explain later in this page. The hotel is located at about a 10 minute walk from the M. G. Marg, Tourist Office end. If you need to tell a cab, say "Development Area". Its a nice and clean area and cabs go right upto the hotel's gate. Speaking about the hotel gate, it closes at 11.00pm after which you need to call the guy sleeping inside on his cell phone to wake him up to get the gate opened. Coming to the accommodation, the non-view deluxe room I got was large with a King bed, a small but clean bathroom, a window overlooking the road outside, a small LCD TV on the wall, a small cabinet and a tea-coffee maker with some supplies. The bathroom had a water heater which worked well. Sleep quality was good. Keep reading for pictures and more about the property...
Blog by: Narinder Singh