‘Birds of same feather flock together’. I got a firsthand feel of this popular saying when a likeminded (Ex) IT fellow happened to reach out to me to have an interactive session over our common passion – Food. The fellow happens to run a food joint which is gaining popularity speedily in and around Dutta mandir area of Viman nagar. Now this street can very well be called as Eat street for the sheer number of food joints it has and yet we had our fellow friend open up his first venture along with his partner in a lane besides HDFC bank. The entrance could sometimes be difficult to capture but they have taken care of this by putting out a bright standee at the entrance of the lane to redirect the hungry hippos that find solace only in some quality food. Out friend an Ex IT employee was passionate about food and not to forget marketing and this was what drove him to start out an outlet by the name of North 2 South. The basic idea behind the outlet is to offer brilliant dishes from across the country in most authentic way possible; to satisfy to the relentless craving of the non Puneite palette tips that are always on the lookout for food that can remind them of their native place. And when that is your motto then what better name than to call it North 2 South. Their specialty you ask? Well they take great pains to ensure that the last dish on their menu is made as genuine as it is available in the place where the dish is famous. Each of the ingredients is handpicked and constantly improvised to ensure that the taste it generates is undeniably one that can be called authentic by one and all. Food can be very subjective matter. A preparation can be appealing or disgusting or just about okish but to be able to call authentic is certainly a privilege and seeking that special privilege is what drives our fellow friends.
Well so there we were, me and a fellow blogger friend who we address as Magnet (….reasons undisclosed) for brain storming with the owners of the place over some of their popular dishes. Now while we had a very healthy discussion on marketing ideas and how the recipes could be improvised and made more appealing; I will skip directly to the part where we hogged on some nicely done recipes and the overall experience.
Ambience: the place although medium sized; hosts around 10 tables, 4 of which are placed outside in the veranda. They have two sit out areas, an enclosed one and a relatively open air outside veranda. The moment you step inside the enclosed premises, you see bright yellow colored walls with assorted hangings which range from sticky post it notes to photo frames to rolling pins. Yup, they have decorated the ceiling part of their place with wooden rolling pins or the belan as that is what they like to call in as their logo. Can we see a mascot too? Well we will leave that to them. J The photo frames obviously showcase some of their popular dishes. The sticky notes that jazz up the left wall are from numerous satisfied customers who have complimented and wished them luck. Now this place if you happen to read notes should surely be called something like a ‘Kulcha palace’ for the sheer variety and the good response that they have garnered from their assorted kulcha preparations. 90% of those sticky notes say ‘best kulchas in town’, ‘loved kulchas’ etc. etc. But the store has a lot to offer apart from Kulchas. They have also started a Gelato franchise in the recent past and would like to expand on it as much. (Hey anybody interested in Gelato franchise can surely contact them)
Food: At first we were greeted with a glassful of Lassi. It was super thick and nicely done, just the way I love it. The sweetness was just enough to suit people at large, not too sweet yet pleasing every sweet tooth out there.
I even ended up giving a suggestion to add Sauf and some roasted badam/ kaju chips to enhance the flavor a notch further.
Next in line came the Amritsari Kulcha. Ohh my bad sorry rather wood baked cheese amritsari kulcha. Now don’t fret at the name of cheese amritsari kulcha, the mozzarella cheese was added just enough to give it a mild cheesy and sticky texture and it was ensured that the cheese doesn’t overpower the basic taste. And still if you don’t like cheese in your kulcha well, you have other 29 varieties to satisfy your taste buds. This was accompanied by choole amritsari style. Now the people from North would be able to mark the difference spot on as they know and rather must be regretting the fact that when you order for any chole based dish or kulchas for that matter you always end up having the regular delhi chole bhature variant and are often left disappointed for the want of amritsari style. Well you guys could be in for a pleasant surprise that they serve Amritsari styled chole which are made using minimal to no oil and without onion or garlic to keep them real bland. Any folks from Amritsar who would like to vouch for the recipe in here? There was also a tangy onion chutney to complete the dish. The kulcha was undoubtedly by and large signature dish for the night. I score them a 8 on 10.
So, as I was saying there menu has large assorted varieties of kulchas, dosas, uttapas and not to forget Combo’s. There are over 18 Uttapas, 24 Dosa and approximately 30 varieties of Kulchas to choose from. With menu that elaborate; you are sure to be spoilt for choices. When you run a place like N2S you also have to come up with uniqueness and some USP’s right? Well they have a plethora of combo’s to choose from the best one being there N2S combo which gives you Aloo amritsari kulcha, Punjabi Chole, Masala dosa/ Uttapa, Sambar, dahi wada and some assorted chutney that complements the mains; all this in just one combo. And just in case you still need more in your combo; well you can always add buttermilk or a lassi to your combo to make it go full circle by paying a nominal price. The rates are so moderately priced that you don’t mind paying those for the treats you end up having.
Post Amritsar our foodtrip took a U turn to go all the way-down-south. Next; came what is yet another chef special and certainly one of their popular variants called the Tadka Dosa. This dosa is unique in recipe for the sheer number of spices that go in to make the special masala that gets spread up onto this. As the name suggests the dosa is rather a spicy one and makes use of over 39 different spices/ dry masalas to make that perfectly balanced mix which gives you a taste to remember. I am sure you can’t have just one of these so order 2-3 right at the beginning to avoid discontinuity in your gorging. The Sambar that is served alongside is also made of the freshly ground spices and masalas. Anyone who loves there sambar can vouch for this blind folded that the moment you tend to use readymade sambar mix you bid a farewell to authenticity and the entire concept of sambar. The taste of sambar comes from the right blend of masalas and the vegies like drumsticks; tomato etc. that go in and that are boiled for hours. The more you boil the better taste it develops. They could have done with more boiling and we rather got a freshly brewed sambar but it was good none the less if not the best. The story behind this one particularly is that the owners rather one of the partners; who also happens to have about 8 years of culinary experience having learnt his ways from some of the celebrity Chefs in and around Pune have gone places just to find the right kind of sambar. They have tried sambar from Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru before finalizing on Bengaluru styled recipe. Then there was also freshly made coconut chutney which is sure to swoop hearts at the blink of an eye. All this would have not made the right kind of impact if the dosa would have lacked the perfect crispiness that it had. I like my dosas paper thin crispy and hence the dosa became my heartthrob for obvious reasons. A cake walk score of 9 on 10.
Tawa soyabean chaap came in as next contender. I don’t know if it was for the two amazing dishes that we had just finished or what but I rather found this one a bit disappointing. Soyabean by itself will seldom have a taste and then the thick masala that was used to prepare this could be improved. I also found it pretty dry when served with a nan. The platting was certainly decent with green chutney and onion rings going on the sides of the dish, but the dish as a whole could use some fluidity and enhanced flavors. I would rather rate it a disappointing 6.5. The nan however was nicely done. A suggestion here would be to try making use of curd and sour tasting ingredients like lemon juice or a tamarind water balanced with some opposite flavors.
The last on the mains was tamarind rice that came decked up in all orange – auburn glare and accompanied by a contrasting white curd chutney. The platting was rather neat and eloquent with just two onion rings and a leaf of coriander alongside a dried chilly. Although the traditional tamarind rice (or at least what I am used to having from my numerous experiences in Hyderabad) is yellow in color and rather too sour as compared to what was served. The owner quickly admitted the fact and agreed to have toned down the sourness 2-3 notches down to suit to a large audience. They do often ask the customers how would they like their dish served so you might end up getting a sourer authentic version if that suits you. Tamarind rice would get a 7 from me.
Ohh wait for it there are deserts that are lined up next in line. Then we were served with their yet another special – fried ice cream. Now this one can always surprise you in each of our visits as they keep changing the crispy coating of friend stuff that encapsulates the ice cream scoop within. We were given one which uses the Corn flakes, or rather fried corn flakes as cover. All this topped with a generous pour of chocolate sauce gives it an utter Yup feeling. Another customization? Well just go and ask them to change vanilla scoop with one of the gelatos.
As mentioned previously, they had started Gelato counter within the premises and were quickly to present some of the choicest flavors onto our table. I don’t know if they really have this knack learnt and practices over years of reading your mind or palette rather quiet literally speaking or it was just sheer stroke of luck in their favor that they were getting the right kind of dishes to strike a chord. The ice cream/ gelatos (if you prefer calling that) were served in 3 variants: Roasted almond (my fav), a regular dark chocolate and a triple chocolate. While the other two would be well known to you, the triple chocolate is made as a blend of regular dark chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate chunks. The chunks gave it a crispy texture along with the adequate bitter and sweet flavors already present. The white chocolate tones down the bitterness a bit and as such dark chocolate fans might want to stick to rather traditional variant but this indeed is a death by chocolate category any day. Magnet was undoubtedly hogging onto it as if it was the last cup left in the universe. Overall the desserts get a good 9 on 10.
Service: The service was very courteous and prompt. Not just to us but the other customers that walked in as we were busy chatting with one of the owners. They also deliver with the help of Swiggy in and around Viman nagar. But the real fun would always be in eating it piping hot, echo me?
We had real good time learning from the journey of these two young entrepreneurs and also with all the delicious dishes served not to mention. The overall rating would score a neat 8.5 from me.