Jesse’s Blog

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Delhi

Delhi is a great city, but when you first arrive here it can be a bit frustrating to find all the things you need to make yourself comfortable. Usually you can ask around, but sometimes it takes a lot of searching to really find what you are looking for.

Here are some hard-to-find things that have made my life normal in Delhi:

A Real Musical Instrument Store – Onstage is a company that has several branches in Defence Colony and Noida Sector 18. After searching dusty back alley shops in vain for quality music equipment, the amazement and relief that swept over me when I entered OnStage for the first time was indescribable! Quality instruments (albeit at inflated Indian prices), good service, and good prices on everything else.

Tex-Mex that isn’t Indian - For my first 2 years in Delhi I craved a good burrito with tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole and an authentic margarita to wash it all down. Frankly, this didn’t exist. Until Sancho’s came along! Located in South Extension Part II, Sancho’s menu doesn’t have a single Indian item on it. It’s a favorite local hangout for Americans like myself, and compared to other restaurants in Delhi, it isn’t excessively overpriced and has a great bar.

Some people might advise you to try Amigo, a new “Mexican” restaurant next to Smokehouse Grill in GK-II. Those quotation marks are around Mexican for a reason. Everything aside from their guacamole is overpriced and under-satisfying. The dishes I tried tasted like they were prepared by a chef failing miserably to appease two different palettes, one of which he obviously doesn’t understand at all. I’ll let you guess which.

Real Beef – Most Indians will tell you that you can’t get real cow meat in India. That’s not actually true. There are a few high-quality ways to get beefy: restaurant-prepared food or delivered directly to your door ready-to-cook.

The best-prepared steak I have had in Delhi is in the middle of the pack when it comes to price (about 700 INR after the ridiculous 22.5% VAT and 10% service charge all the restaurants attach to their bills). Just head over to Smokehouse Grill in GK-II and order the Tenderloin Fillet. It comes with potato wedges, asparagus, and some great sauce on the side.

The real secret, however, is “The Meat Man”. This guy is akin to the alcohol smugglers during prohibition. While not technically illegal, he understandably wants to keep things on the down-low. Althought I haven’t had time to try him personally, he supplied some amazingly tasty beef to Sancho’s last year. If you’d like his contact information, send me a message! What do you get? Commercial-quality fresh beef of any shape or form (ribeye, fillet, sirloin, ground beef, etc) delivered on ice from Calcutta to your door for about 300 INR per kg. So I hear. Minimum order is 500 INR.

posted by Jesse at 1:15 pm  

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shanghai Redux

Shanghai Redux-7

Following our company grand opening celebration, the rest of the week was a blur of working by day and partying by night. Shanghai Redux-26Part of the reason for this was that my visit happened to coincide with ChinaJoy, a game industry trade show aimed at developers in China.  We met up with friends and colleagues for more than a few drinks, discovered some awesome new places to hang, and even tried the Chinese version of some American hangouts. Who would have thought that singing and dancing in a conga line at Hooters would ever happen, let alone be so much fun??

Achievements this trip:

  • Shanghai Redux-2Found awesome unlimited food and drink Japanese restaurant near our office:

大渔铁板烧(百联中环店)
上海市普陀区真光路1288号百联中环购物中心4楼

Da4 Yu2 Tie3 Ban3 Shao1
4F, No.1288, Zhen Guang Rd., Putuo District, Shanghai

  • I_Love_ShanghaiChecked out MUSE, a popular night club in Shanghai. It was huge, packed, and pulsating with some great mashups mixed by a badass DJ. They make a mean mojito.
  • Battled my addiction to bubble tea. I’m down to one serving per day.
  • Met cool new friends!
  • Got even better deals on cheap knock-off merchandise than I did last time – from the same merchant!

Check out the pics!

posted by Jesse at 11:16 pm  

Monday, July 7, 2008

Holy guacamole, real Mexican food in Delhi!!!

Aqua July 6th-5

If there was one culinary staple still missing from my India experience before yesterday, it was authentic Mexican food. Some of you may recall our attempts at dealing with this deficiency on our own. That’s all good and well but, honestly, it’s a little tedious and time-consuming to make homemade Tex/Mex night a regular event. Enter Sancho’s, a great new Mexican restaurant at South-Ex II here in Delhi.

Aqua July 6th-4 My friends and I were simply blown away by how great this place is. There are no compromises, and not a single Indian item on the menu (to me this is a sign that a restaurant is the “real deal”). The chips, seven kinds of salsa, guacamole and margaritas were fantastic. I could easily go back 3 nights a week for that alone. The entrees we ordered were exactly what we hoped for, right down to the nice little details like shredded/pulled chicken in my burrito (the first time I have seen this in India). They even had churros for dessert! As if all this weren’t enough our bill was sent to the table in a sombrero. Unfortunately, the head chef (a Mexican-American from Texas named Jorge Romero) has Sundays off so we couldn’t thank him, kiss his feet, offer our first-born children, etc.

A friend of mine is the house DJ at Sancho’s on Fridays and Saturdays (not that I need more reason to go), so it looks like this will be a weekly indulgence for me. If you live in Delhi or are just traveling through, you owe it to yourself not to pass this place up, hombre!

Sanchos-2 Sanchos-1 Sanchos-4 Sanchos-3

posted by Jesse at 7:34 am  

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Shanghai – Day Four

Note: If you are reading this on Facebook it seems my photos and links aren’t being displayed! You’re missing out on all the great images! Read it on my blog instead: http://jesse.rapczak.com

I’m making progress with the studio infrastructure but not as quickly as I would like. We had some incorrect hardware and were missing a few things. I have also hit a bit of a snag when it comes to training the artists, since there is no up-to-date Chinese documentation for our primary software package. We met with the company today and they are pointing us in the right direction.

Coffee ContraptionWe went for lunch today at the great cafe in the center of the software park. I swear I have not eaten food in Shanghai yet that didn’t taste great. We topped off our lunch with some of the famous coffee at this cafe which is made in some sort of weird contraption that looks like it was salvaged from the lab of a mad scientist! I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but I couldn’t stop drinking this stuff.

Shanghai-111 For dinner we hopped in a cab and headed over to a Hot Pot restaurant (Huo Guo in Mandarin). I watched Sarah and Renzy play some games on the way. I hadn’t seen this before, but maybe I have just been in India too long. The games are Flash-based with a touch screen, and seem to contain a lot of advertising. Sort of like the mini games you get on the net for various product launches and what-not. Most of it was in Chinese, except a version of the robot arm game where you try to pick up prizes from the bottom. I entertained myself by taking pictures.

Shanghai-113 The first Huo Guo place we arrived at was closed so we hopped back in the cab and found another place closer to my hotel. Huo Guo is a special kind of meal where you choose a sort of “soup” that you cook other things in right at your table. The soup we had was fish and tofu… something my brain said “no” to, but I figured it was about time I tried something I didn’t like. Silly me; It was great!

Shanghai-117 The way it works is simple: you pick up some uncooked meat and hold it under the surface of the soup until it’s cooked and ready to eat. Then you dip it in some garlic/ginger sauce to cool it off slightly and add a bit of extra flavor. It’s all very fun and the result is uniquely satisfying. If you have a chance to try it don’t pass it up!

I’m increasing my Mandarin vocabulary on a daily basis. I find it’s best if I write stuff down so I can refer back to it later – sort of like flash cards minus the part about the cards and the flashing. I can’t believe I’m almost halfway done with my first trip to Shanghai! I’m going to be sad to leave and I already can’t wait to come back. We have good people here and we’re going to be very successful. This is just one of those things that feels “right”.

posted by Jesse at 10:37 pm  

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sushi, Iron Man, Parties, Sports, and lots of etcetera

Aqua-7 This past weekend was a lot of fun. We started off Friday night with sushi at Tamura. The summer months are running the temperature through the roof so the amount and type of fish freshly available is dwindling, but everything is still top notch. We had a great group of 9 people this time. It’s becoming quite the tradition!

After dinner 5 of us headed over to PVR Priya to catch the premiere of Iron Man. I loved it. The story and effects were great, as was the acting. Definitely not what I expected from a “comic book movie”.

Aqua-10

On Saturday Albert and I went to aikido (more on that in an upcoming post), and then headed up to The Park to meet with Cait, Denise and Sahana who were poolside at Aqua. We got a huge “brontosaurus” burger as usual and then got a little carried away with the camera. We topped the night off with an awesome rooftop party in GK-I Enclave, where I met a lot of really great new people and saw some old friends.

On Sunday Albert and I got up early and drove home to enjoy some Noidation, the term coined by Cait and Denise used to describe partaking in the luxurious splendors of our apartment complex. We got some sun by the pool and tried to read, but it was so hot that the glue in my book binding was melting! We gave up around noon-thirty and headed back to GK-I to meet up with everyone at Le Cafe and actually do some work. I brought my laptop and settled in for a few hours (they have wifi but I prefer to just tether my BlackBerry to my laptop and use the GPRS).

Le Cafe is a badass contemporary hangout which serves some damn fine food (except the Turkey Club and the Hanoi Chicken – but I suppose no place can be perfect). In case you want to try it (and you should), it’s right in GK-I N block market on the very top floor corner above a 3-floor clothing store (some famous Indian designer). If you can’t find it, just ask. My favorites are the Pumpkin Ginger Soup with Bacon, Udon Noodle Salad with Chicken (add mushrooms and avocado), and a special order salad that I have no idea how to get unless Sahana is there. The Asian Sesame Chicken Salad is also scrum-diddly-umptious.

Shooting at SFSC-4 Amy and I planned to play tennis at Siri Fort Sports Complex but by the time we got there and played for only 15 or 20 minutes we were kicked off. Apparently you have to book the courts in advance, unless you want to play on a clay court. The clay courts were all filled and we don’t like them anyway, so we tried the shooting range. As lame as it seemed (air guns and all) we had a LOT of fun. We got a few bulls-eyes between the two of us!

Albert and I stopped by Le Cafe again on the way home. We couldn’t resist more of their great food. Unfortunately I got the Turkey Club – which I now know to be extremely lame. The Pumpkin Ginger Soup w/ Bacon more than made up for it.

posted by Jesse at 12:07 am  
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