Shiok and Moss are closing on 31 March

(I'm not sure if anyone is even on LJ any more, but here goes anyway...)

My restaurant, Shiok and cocktail lounge, Moss will be closing at the end of March, 2010. 31 March will be our last day of operations. This is not a decision I've taken easily, but it's been made necessary for both business and personal reasons. (If you're interested in FAQ-style pages, I've set one up here.)

That means we have another 9 days before it's hasta la vista, baby.

I thank you all for your support and patronage for the last 6 years. I've enjoyed having you over and serving you South-east Asian food and cocktails. Saying more would turn into some Hollywood-style speech that I would rather avoid. :)

As a special parting gift, we're going to have unlimited Happy Hours on our domestic spirits and cocktails till 31 March. That means that lunch or dinner, you get one free drink for every one that you order. So do make the most of it and drop by.

Or just visit Shiok for old times' sake and say hello. 


Workshop on starting a restaurant

I'm doing a 2-day workshop on starting your own restaurant this Saturday at Shiok, my restaurant.

The workshop will give an overview of the restaurant business, types of restaurants, government regulations and paperwork, menu planning, financial planning, staffing, equipment, etc.  

If you know somebody who would be interested, please do let them know.

The full details are here:

Terrorism and fear

Last week saw some serious drop in business across malls, restaurants, hotels, airlines, and other such places. I expected a small drop because of the Bombay terrorist attacks, but in fact it turned out to be about 40%. As I waited for guests, I decided to phone and ask fellow restauranteurs how things were going. The word "dead" was the usual reply. The clubs, already hurt by the clamp on nightlife in Bangalore, got hit more. When I enquired at one well-known club, I found that they had gone to another club to figure out how much business they had, and both were doing very little.

Then a fellow chef friend showed me an SMS he had got. Apparently it was doing the rounds in Bangalore. It warned people not to go to movies, malls, and restaurants till 07 December because of some alleged army intelligence that there was going to be a terrorist attack. And people were relentlessly forwarding it to everyone they knew.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of fear that terrorists try to create. That's their line of business - to disrupt lives of citizens and make them afraid for their lives. And when people forward such messages without having any first hand knowledge, they actually do the terrorists' work for them. Fear propogates, and thanks to technologies like the Internet and SMS, it propagates faster.

I for one refuse to forward such messages. I will not live my life in fear. I will not let the bloody terrorist have the satisfaction of seeing that his work has been successful. And the rest of us should not either. For how long will you keep it up anyway? Statistically, you are more likely to die in a car accident than a terrorist attack. Do we then stop using our vehicles too? And for how long will we let fear haunt us? A week? A month? A year? What happens after that?

So don't be a victim. Go out, watch movies, try restaurants, have a drink at a bar, and go on with my life just as before. It's a sad day when the terrorists physically kill a couple of hundred people, but kill the spirits of hundreds of thousands. Don't be part of that statistic.

Mall and hotel "security"

As expected, shopping malls and hotels now appear to be increasing their security by making you stop your cars and checking in your boot for explosives and arms.

I guess the terrorists will now find it harder to carry out their activities.

OK, who are we kidding? The majority of the "security" business in this country is laughable. They are more for casual deterrence than any real security. C'mon, these fellas get paid 3000-4000 per month. They come from some village for a job, get put into a uniform, and thrown into an office or mall. If it's a half-decent agency, they might give them some basic lessons on how to maintain an attendance register and seat guests. All those 20 year olds or 60 year olds you see at bank ATMs... they're not going to put any credible defence against anything more than a drunk guy. I could blow hard on some of them and they'd fall over. I asked my last agency's guards (a well-known player in the market) whether they got any self-defence lessons, and they said no. If somebody comes with just a hockey stick, those guys are going to be useless.

Which is why it annoys the hell out of me to see all the pointless security theatre in hotels and malls. While I wait for some clueless guy to look at the underside of my car, I try to think of all the ways I could create havoc in that place if I were a terrorist.. the number is frightening. Observe the procedures for one day and you can figure out numerous ways to smuggle in bombs, weapons... pretty much anything. Do those guards even know what to look for? Do they know that C4 looks like modelling clay and can be just tossed into your glove compartment? Or that using a metal detector inside a hunk of metal known as a car is ridiculous?

No, they have next to no training. They've just been told to look under your car with a mirror and look in the boot. Perhaps they expect to find one of those movie bombs with big red digital timers.

It's like copy-protection and product activation in software. The pirates crack the package anyway, and all it does is annoy legitimate users. Similarly, all this "checking" in malls and hotels only irritates genuine customers and visitors. Troublemakers - at least the ones with an IQ above 90 - will find one of the ways out that are readily apparent.

The problem is that some people might actually believe they're safer now. The reality is very different.

Shiok and Moss are re-opening today

Hi folks. I'm happy to let you know that we're re-opening Shiok today evening at its new home on Inner Ring Road. We are also launching our new cocktail lounge called Moss on the first floor of the same building. Please do visit. You can find a map here. Our web site will be updated over the weekend. This is just an informal post to all my friends.

If you're wondering what the two new places look like, check out some photos: (warning: 2 MB file)

I look forward to seeing you all soon. :)

PS: There's a 20% discount on everything until this weekend.

We have a winner

I had posted a while back about naming my new lounge and offering a prize for the winner. After much deliberation, I am happy to announce that madhav is the chosen one. The new lounge will be called "Moss", which was one of his suggestions. It fits in well with the whole nature theme we have going on. More importantly, Google says there's no bar with the same name out there (at least in the first couple of pages of results.) He wins a special meal + cocktails at my new restaurant when it opens.

Congratulations Madhav! :D

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Murphy's Law is a bitch. My new restaurant and lounge project are taking longer than I planned due to various little things screwing up.

The latest blow comes in the form of the morons at Airtel, with whom we had lodged an application for phone line transfer about a month ago. The engineers came for a site inspection, and left. Now, four weeks later, we're being told that they can't shift our phone lines to the new location because they don't have any trenches in the Ring Road area, and can't provide phone lines there.

This is a serious pain in the ass. It means we have to get another line from either BSNL or Tata Indicom, and give up the phone number we've used for the last 4.5 years: 4116 1800, a number that is listed in various directories and web sites, not to mention in the phonebooks of all our customers. There's so much potential business that could be lost right there. And Tata Indicom says they don't offer a "hunting" facility: Having one number act as a front to 3 different lines, a feature we used for the Airtel number. I'll have to get multiple phone numbers instead. :(

Anyway, painting work has started, so we should be getting done in another two weeks. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that nothing else gets screwed up.

New phone recommendations?

I've always been a fan of Nokia phones, and three out my last four phones have been Nokia. I like the interface design, which is important for me.

My current phone is a Nokia 6300, which replaced my trusty 6110 that lasted 4 years. I bought it only because I wanted a cameraphone to take casual snaps.

Terrible idea. The 6300 was slim and pretty, but the battery life was terrible. My 6110 went five days without needing a recharge; the 6300 barely goes two. (Nokia used a cheap Chinese battery and all my friends who bought this phone have the same problem.) The camera was pretty bad too. It would constantly take pics with a low colour temperature (giving pics a blue tint), unless you manually set the white balance first.

All this I could live with, but recently it has started showing a weird bug. If the phone is on the charger, and it rings, it will just hang when you pick it up, or some time during the conversation. All keys stop responding, the screen light goes off. Then I have to take the battery out, put it back in, and then switch the phone on. It's extremely frustrating.

So I need a new phone. I like Nokia models. Does anyone have any recommendations? The problem with moving to a model from another company is transferring all your contacts. With a Nokia phone, I can just back up from the current phone and restore to another one.

I don't need any fancy stuff. A simple phone with a half-decent camera is enough, and it should fit into my shirt pocket. Budget ~ 8-10K ideally, will spring another 2K if it's worth it.

Help me name my new cocktail lounge

As some of you may know, I am in the process of relocating my restaurant and lounge. The reasons are that my rent period at the current place is expiring, and the Bangalore Metro station is going to be constructed right next to the present site.

I've found an excellent location for the new place on Koramangala Ring Road, right before the tech parks where 60000 people work, so it should get me some decent business. I've taken two floors in a new building: one for my restaurant and the other for my cocktail lounge.

Here's where I need help. I'm still wondering what to name my new cocktail lounge. My old cocktail lounge was only about 500 sq ft, so I never bothered to give it a separate name. The new place, however, is three times bigger, is on its own floor, and even has a separate entrance. The look is very different from the restaurant below. While the restaurant will keep its focus on fine dining South-east Asian food, the lounge will serve a predominantly starter-oriented menu with dishes from all over the world (but the Asian influence will be there), or "whatever I feel like making for you". :)

We wanted the lounge to be an after-hours hangout/escape for all the people who work in the offices and tech parks in the vicinity. We've gone with a "natural" theme for the place - walls with moss and white colours, wooden seats with cushions, white marble tables. It has a waterfall of sorts on one wall, and a place for a singer in another corner. Lighting is soft, and we'll play mostly jazz, R&B, and retro music. The seating capacity is 60-62.

So do you have any ideas for a name? It needs to be simple, not pretentious, and not some foreign name nobody can pronounce right.

Winning suggestions will get a meal cooked by yours truly personally, and a few drinks to go along with it.

(The new place will open in mid-July. The old Shiok will close on 16th June.)
chef outfit

Herbs and Spice - new site and shop

Bangalore folks have probably heard of the European restaurant "Herbs and Spice" in Indiranagar. It's run by Manjit Singh, a friend of mine. Manjit has just started a delicatessen in Whitefield with the same name. It sells their well-known desserts, as well as quiches and gourmet sandwiches. (The sandwiches will be introduced soon.)

Since Manjit changes his restaurant menu twice a week, I suggested that he start a web site to make his customers aware of the day's menu. And I adapted WordPress to do just that. So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

The header images are from photos I've shot (full set is here.) Some stuff still isn't updated (like the "about page") but the main purpose is fullfilled. :)

Thanks to the calendar view, you can also check out previous menus.

So if you visit Herbs n' Spice, tell Manjit that I asked you to check out his site.