LARRY’S CHINA RESTAURANT

By :- Bhavna Mathur

Chinese cuisine in India has never before had such electrifying innings than now. Lending to its exotic taste are the many varieties of greens, vegetables, tangy sauces and innumerable cooked, steamed and fried options to choose from.

Be it the enduring memory of steamed, soft dimsums or the melt-in-the-mouth garlic mushrooms.
Larry’s China, the Chinese Restaurant at Vivanta by Taj- Ambassador, Sujan Singh Park, New Delhi, offers a burst of flavours for the foodies, through the extensive array of lip-smacking appetisers, beverages, ever-refreshing Chinese tea and the innovative menu dishes.

Done up in vibrant hues, the bright interiors cast a spell with vintage artefacts, including a small, old-world typewriter in miniature form, edgy paintings and the works. Not to be missed, the live singer belting out Classic English songs in the evenings.

The true flavours of indulgently cooked exotic vegetables,Tiger prawns, and other sea-food are remarkably drawn out. A Sprinkle of sesame seeds on the yummylicious honey-chilli potatoes always give my sons immense joy, just as savouring the entire meal with my parents, over the years, has etched itself as a moment or rather moments worth cherishing for a long long time.

The Curries, mostly done in soya sauce, Chopsueys, Fried rice andwhite sauces lead us on, towards an excitingGastronomic expedition. Non-vegetarian options laid out by the Chef were tender, just as they were meant to be. The crispiness too, when required helps one dig in with relish.

Adding a dash of charm to the entire experience are soups which are light and tasty, the unforgettably irresistible date pancakes, combination of litchi with vanilla ice-cream and the very refreshing selection ofmildly-flavoured Teas.

JAPAN-A RISING SPECTACLE

By :- Bhavna Mathur

The Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, is acountry with wonderfully varied charms and technological sophistication. ‘Nihon’ meaning sun origin signifies the fact that Japan lies towards the east of China. Hence, from the time of the Sui dynasty (589-618 A.D.), to facilitate correspondence with China, Japan came to be known as’ Nihon’ (‘The Land of the RisingSun’- in English).

Myriad visions unfold when the New Year marked by ‘Shimenawa’ decorations (twisted straw ropes for good luck) at entrances, takes you along, to explore Tokyo as it is. My husband and I, along with our two young sons enjoyed this trip to the hilt.

Courtesy, Cleanliness, Punctuality and Work ethics emerge as an inspiring cornerstone of the way of life here. Manners and customs in Japanese society have a tremendous significance. So before visiting, make sure that you have read about these. The Geisha enigma too needs some homework on our part, so that we can fully appreciate it.

Shintoism and Buddhism echo the essence of religious history and rituals, along with Christianity.
The evenings in Tokyo would always remain a memory to cherish, lit up with colourful lights, offering a wondrous view of the skyline, dotted with skyscrapers beaming with mercurial flashes of dazzling illumination.

The 333m tall Tokyo Tower takes on the city’s skyline as does the 634meters (2,080 ft) tall Skytree, with its broadcasting, restaurant and observation tower. Opened on 22 May 2012, the lightning rod acts as a radio transmitter and serves as a signal lamp for Air Traffic and Earthquake pickup. While Skytree became the second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa, Tokyo Tower, 13 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower in Parisbuilt in 1958, is a communications and observation tower. Painted in white and international orange, it hastwo observation decks. The second deck Main Observatory is located at 150 meters (490 ft), while the smaller Special Observatory reaches a height of 250 meters (820 ft). The tower is also used to broadcast signals for Japanese media outlets.

The Sensoji temple is dedicated to Avalokitesvara (Bodhisatva Kannon). According to legend, a statue of the Kannon was found in the Sumida Riverin 628 by two fishermen, the brothers Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari. The chief of their village, Hajino Nakamoto, recognized the sanctity of the statue and enshrined it by remodeling his own house into a small temple in Asakusa .The villagers could now worship Kannon. The first temple was founded in 645 CE, making it the oldest temple in Tokyo. The Nishinomiya Inari shrine is located within the precincts of Sensō-ji.In the early years of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu designated Sensō-ji as tutelary temple of the Tokugawa clan.

The Kaminarimon (“Thunder Gate”) is the outer of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensoji (the inner being the Hozomon) in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. During World War II, the temple was bombed and destroyed, only to be rebuilt later as an endearing legacy for the Japanese people.

Mount Fuji located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active strato-volcano, it last erupted in 1707–08. Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometers south-west of Tokyo. Mount Fuji is snow-capped for several months in a year;known even for its mythological reasons, Mt. Fuji is visited by both tourists and climbers. It is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku and was added to the World Heritage List on June 22, 2013.

The region around Mt. Fuji resonates with the Heritage imagery because of the Sengen shrines, two lodging houses, Lake Yamanaka, Lake Kawaguchi, eight Oshino Hakkai hot springs, two lava tree molds, the remains of the Fuji-kō cult in Hitoana cave, Shiraito falls, and Mihi no matsubara pine tree groves.

The present Imperial Palace takes one back to the era when it was called the Edo Castle. The modern palace where imperial court functions are held is located in the old Nishinomaru, while the residence of the emperor and empress is located in the Fukiage Gardens.

The palace is generally closed to the public. Each New Year (January 2) and Emperor’s Birthday, the public is permitted to enter through the Nakamon (inner gate) where they gather in the Kyuden Totei Plaza in front of the Chowaden Hall. The Imperial family appears on the balcony before the crowd and the emperor gives a short speech.Nijubashi Bridge or ‘double-level’ bridge is the highlight here.

Meshed intricately with the rhythm of life are the efficient Tokyo metro services.Cutting through the main islands of Honshu and Kyushu are a network of high speed train lines that connect Tokyo with Japan’s major cities. Japan’s high speed trains (bullet trains) are called Shinkansen and are operated by Japan Railway (JR). Clocking a dizzyingly fast speed of 320km/hr, Shinkansen captures a powerful moment in the context of progress. The Japan Rail pass also makes it a cost-effective way of travelling. Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo-Nagoya-Kyoto-Osaka) is the oldest and most popular.

Backstories of Samurai warriors reveal the turmoil and unrest in the history of Japan as does the civil war. But what the citizens frequently over-indulge in, even now is Football and Sumo, the national sport. In this the wrestler uses the body as a landscape to defeat the opponent. Whenever they appear in public, they are required to wear traditional Japanese dress. ‘Kimono’, a traditional Japanese dress is a T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimono are wrapped around the body with and secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back. Kimono is worn with traditional footwear and split-toe socks (tabi).Types of Kimono depend on whether a woman is married or unmarried. Men, too dress up in Kimonos at weddings or at tea ceremonies. Talking of tea, we are not alone in waiting in eager anticipation for the best metabolism booster-Tea. “Matcha’, the Japanese tea-tasting ceremony in a tea house is an example in expressing hospitality and imbibing the sensibility of tradition.

The byword of creative imagination and enterprise is The Rainbow Bridge.It is a suspension bridge crossing northern Tokyo Bay between Shibaura Pier and the Odaiba waterfront development in Minato, Tokyo. The vastness of the Bay remains below this marvelous bridge ,which is 798 meters (2,618 ft) long with a main span of 580 meters (1,903 ft).Officially called the “Shuto Expressway No. 11 Daiba Route- Port of Tokyo Connector Bridge,” the name “‘Rainbow Bridge” was decided by the public.

The towers supporting the bridge are white in color, designed to harmonize with the skyline of central Tokyo seen from Odaiba. There are lamps placed on wires supporting the bridge, lit up in three different colors, red, white and green every night using solar energy obtained during the day.

The spectacular Tokyo Dome, flanked by a state –of-the art indoor stadium, has quite a handful of shopping, entertainment and eating options around its premises.

The tour around Nikko national Park makes for an unfailingly pleasurable trip.The first temple in Nikko was founded more than 1,200 years ago along the shores of the Daiya River. However the dying wish of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1616 led to the construction of shrines. As a result, Nikko became home of mausoleums of Tokugawa Shoguns. These are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Unlike most Japanese temples and shrines, these are gilded, ornate, with multicolour carvings, and show heavy Chinese influence. An overriding connect with Gandhiji’s three monkeys in India, are the distinctive three wise monkeys here. With plenty of hiking opportunities for those seeking adventure, Mt. Nantai, Lake Chuzenji and several lakes, mountains and waterfalls unravelling incredible scenic beauty, nature spreads out across 13,000 hectares of lush terrain. Ski slopes and spas too fill in, providing a wholesome experience.

Low-floor, low pollution bus services add to this gloriously real, country experience. National Western Art Museum, Ota Memorial Art Museum, The Stripe House Art Museum, Tokyo National Museum and Japan Folk Crafts Museum provide an enriching insight into the history, culture and artistic ethos of Japan.

Tokyo City area offers endless possibilities for recreation and comforts for the disabled. There are special bicycle paths for the public and innumerable high-end international stores and global restaurant chains.Local supermarkets cater to a diverse spectrum of customers while the cuisine front has been inundated by Lebanese, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, and Vietnamese along with Japanese cuisine. If Sushi and Miso soup need no introduction, lush fields and rich customs announce the pride of place Japanese rice holds on the food map.

Districts like the Sports goods district, Akihabara-electronic goods district have convenient transportation links with the rest of Japan. Disneyland offers a thrilling spectacle of amazing rides, parades and fantasy. Tokyo Big Sight, also known as Tokyo International Exhibition Centre also attracts its share of visitors. And who can forget the Doraemon Museum, an exciting haven for children fascinated by the rice-cake eating Doraemon who loves inventing new gadgets every now and then. My boys reveled in these, not to forget the thrill they got travelling in efficient trains. I admired them for memorizing some train routes we frequented, within Tokyo city.

There are festivals to drive out evil spirits, another to seek blessings to protect from disasters, spring festival, music and dance festivals, afestival to mark the coming-of-age of children into adulthood, those that mark Lord Buddha’s birthday, birthdays of other deities, festivals with paper lanterns or those that celebrate the benevolence of nature.

Natural beauty, cutting-edge technology, tradition, modern cities, fast trains, visit Japan for a mesmerizing experience and so much more.Before we could realize, it was time to say Sayonara (Goodbye); but we looked forward to say Konnichiwa(Good day or hello) sometime soon again….

FINE DINING- A PRIVILEGE

By :- Bhavna Mathur

Fine dining can easily be categorised as an exercise riding on privilege. While even visiting The Leela Palace Hotel, ChanakyaPuri is a visual treat, having a meal at JAMAVAR(which bears its name to a kind of Kashmiri embroidery) is like getting a remarkable sense of taste stirred with luxury, unplugged.

While the best in vegetarian and non-vegatarian North Indian and South Indian cuisines serve upthe culinary interests of visitors , for those wishing to try out delicious food alongside a relaxing, aesthetically pleasing ambience, it is Jamavar which redefines the ultimate five-star experience.

The image Jamavarexudes is that of a sleek restaurantpunctuated with cutting-edge artefacts to match. The décor done up in ethnic motifs is brought to life with exquisite Chandelier illumination.

Efficient, courteous staff and a style drenched in a worthy mix of Indian culture and International glitz, add to the vibrancy around, with trendy crockery contributing to a unique, effortless charm.

For starters, the good old PapriChaat comes in a special twist, done mildly with sweet tamarind chutney. The large glasses bring innovative Punches and mocktail concoctions that guarantee a refreshed you.

While the food is well-flavoured, the ‘piece de resistance’ is the grand ice cream bowls adding new depths to the chilly vibe, complete with cubes of ice, scoops of your favourite ice cream and delicate garnishes on the top, to keep up the good mood.

LEELA PALACE, UDAIPUR

By :- Bhavna Mathur

The magnificence of the Leela Place, Udaipur is truly captivating. The lush, plush environs offer many leisure opportunities,alongwith a panoramic view of Udaipur city, by Lake Pichola.Each of the tastefully decorated 80 rooms offersa view of the lake.

The comfortableInteriors evoke the charm of royalty and express to the guests, the splendour of India’s rich history. Watch the famous Picholalake sparkle in the gleam of sun beams, making the impressive structure radiate a mesmerising vibe all through.

The Amphitheatre illuminated with flaming ‘Mashaals’ of the old-world ,recreates the thrill of Folk Arts of the region, right next to ‘The Dining Room’, which gives the guest a chance to try out a range of cuisines. These include North-Indian, Rajasthani,Chettinad, Chinese and Continental options.

The levels of spice are moderated as per the choice of the Guest. Dive into the lavish mood and warm hospitality which combine to give the guest an experience of a lifetime.

HARI GARH, RESTAURANT

By :- Bhavna Mathur

The magic of the legacy of Udaipur is enough to keep you enchanted for a long time to come. And yet savouring the best of heritage, cuisine and culture is always an opportunity worth pursuing.

A majestic beautifully carved wooden door welcomes at the Hari Garh Restaurant entrance. Spread over a fairly modest area, the highlight is the spectacular Lake Picholaview for diners. Not to forget the bang on the lake-bankseating, in traditional ‘Baithak’ form.

In the evening, myriad lights adorn the parapets of ‘GangaurGhat’ on the other side of the lake caressing the water with their reflection. The City Palace Museum blends history, architecture, shopping and heritage and is a structure of prominence on Lake Pichola.

The food was delicious, the usual North Indian and Rajasthani fare. There are a variety of appetizers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian to choose from. The Indian breads on the serve were tender, yet crusty. Beverages and desserts complete the meal. Evenings in this dimly lit restaurant round off on a solemn note.

NIDHIVAN, SAROVAR PORTICO, VRINDAVAN

By :- Bhavna Mathur

Brajbhoomi, the land where Lord Krishna spent his childhood and youth reverberates with the vibrations of piety and positivity.

It is in Vrindavan that temples and Ashrams dedicated to Lord Krishna abound, giving devotees an opportunity to gain knowledge about the life and teachings of Lord Krishna, by way of Jhankis, idols, icons, souvenirs and local sweets and treats.

Gods and Goddesses from the Hindu Pantheon are also worshipped in the more than 5,000 temples of Mathura and Vrindavan.

The NidhivanSarovar Portico offers luxury in the vicinity of sacred temples for the traveller looking for comfort with leisure. The attractive rooms and suites, flexi check-in, check-out, Business center, free Wi-fi and fine dining options are some of the facilities worth experiencing.

The flavour of Sattvik vegetarian cuisine can be enjoyed at ‘Tripti’ Restaurant. Authentic BrajkaKhana, with Kanha’s favourite milk butter and ghee products is relished in this holy land, by people from all over the world.
Spa, Salon services and venue for weddings additionally lure customers looking for quality services within a reasonable budget.