Monday, April 2, 2012

West or Far East?

Appraising two different cuisines in the UNYP neighborhood

By Baia Dzagnidze

The overwhelming number of dining choices in the I.P Pavlova area offers an opportunity to sample different kinds of cuisine. Taking advantage of this, this issues Lunch Crunch column focuses on two different parts of the world – Mexico and India. The food from those countries is very different in several ways, most importantly in the choice of spices, which make all Indian cuisine so authentic and diverse. Also, the choice of meat and other ingredients is catchy. You can taste seafood with an Indian touch, while the Mexican restaurant offers pork, chicken and beef, along with beans and other typical vegetables.

Garden part of the restaurant
  • Type: Restaurant
  • Address: Jugoslávská 18
  • Open Hours: 10 am –  2 am Monday to Friday; 11 am –  2 am on weekends
  • Special Offers: Daily specials starting at 99 CZK from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Price: Tacos starting at 109 CZK; meals from 179 to 299 CZK
  • UNYP Benefits Program Member: No
  • Webpage: http://www.mezcal-restaurant.cz/index.php
Located approximately a 10-minute walk from UNYP, Mezcal offers a variety of typical Mexican dishes.

After walking through a narrow hall with a bar, stairs lead you to the tables. The seating is mixed with both smokers and nonsmokers; however, as spring is here, you can enjoy your favorite dish outside in the restaurant garden. The atmosphere is pleasant, especially in the garden, which is furnished with comfortable bamboo tables and chairs.

After taking a seat in the garden, I was given a menu right away. Even though it was lunch time, the place was not too busy and I did not have to wait for a table. My order was taken and served quickly.

The menu offers a big variety of typical Mexican dishes: tacos, burritos, quesadillas and fajitas, to name a few, with choices of meat and other filling. Mezcal has special offers every day of the week, with prices starting at 99 CZK. That seems quite reasonable at the first glance; however, what I got on my plate was not what I was expecting.

Pork neck steak - Ranchera
My choice was a Ranchera – pork neck steak. Exactly the same dish is offered on the main menu, with green beans backed on bacon, for 109 CZK. The special that I was served was only two pieces of steak with barbeque salsa and a freebie extra, a couple slices of bread. The small quantity of food was disappointing. But after the first bite, I was pleasantly surprised. The steak was quite good, soft and juicy, easy to cut, with a decent amount of blended spices.

The service itself was also quite good, starting from a welcoming “dobrý den” from staff members at the entrance of the restaurant, and continuing with a warm smile from the waitress throughout the service.

Mezcal is not recommended for lunch. You are served food completely opposite what is described on the daily specials menu, and the small amount you get is not worth the price. Ordering from the regular menu can be a bit expensive for a student budget.

Golden Tikka
Pleasant interior
  • Type: Restaurant
  • Address: Kateřinská 42
  • Open Hours: 11:30 am – 11 pm from Monday to Friday; 4 pm – 11 pm on weekends
  • Special Offers: Lunch menu starting at 89 CZK till 3 pm on weekdays
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Price: Starters from 60 CZK; main courses from 150 CZK
  • UNYP Benefits Program Member: Yes
  • Webpage: http://www.tikka.cz
    On weekdays Golden Tikka offers a lunch menu with affordable prices for a student budget,  starting from 110 – 150 CZK, including a side dish of rice or naan (a special Indian bread). The daily specials menu is quite rich in terms of choices, presenting several varieties of meat and vegetarian dishes. In fact, the choice is so big that you can get confused about what to order, especially if you are not familiar with Indian cuisine. However, the staff is helpful and willing to guide you.

    On a recent visit at 2 p.m., the place was completely empty. So my friends and I sat in the garden, and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with cuisine we had never tried before. Our order was taken quite fast and served immediately.

    As I am not familiar with Indian cuisine, I ordered a meal that looked appealing to me. My choice was Chicken Madras – tender chicken cooked with south Indian spices. The presentation of the dish is very traditional, as it comes in a special Indian pot. Madras sauce is hot curry sauce, red in color with heavy use of chili powder. Even though I love extra spices and hot food, this was too much even for me. So, a useful tip: If you decide to order a spicy dish, ask for the milder version.

    Chicken Madras with rice
    The dish itself tasted very good; the chicken was perfectly cooked and inculcated with the sauce. The sauce had a sweet and savory taste at the same time, as well as a decent amount of paprika spice.

    The service is satisfying – fast, warm and professional. Staff members wear a uniform, a white shirt with printed Indian vests.

    A good spot for an authentic Indian lunch, Golden Tikka is very highly recommended.

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