Moto Store and Cafe Ulsoor Bangalore

Food tastes better when you eat it with fellow motorcyclists ‘ – With the increasing number of people taking up motorcycling in India, motorcycle-themed cafes have become the ideal hangout for motorcyclists and motorcycle clubs to host their members.

Moto Store and Cafe was started in 2015 by fellow motorcyclists Nakul, Abhijith, Vishal and Aashish. They sell a full-range of motorcycle gear and accessories store along with a cafe serving delicious pizzas, nibbles and coffee.

Margarita Pizza

Simple flavors (tomato + cheese) come together on a wheat-based thin crust pizza base to make this delicious pizza – an absolute must try!!

Margarita Pizza at Moto Store and Cafe Bangalore

Healthiest Margarita in town !!

Curd Crunchy Roll

A beautiful assortment of soft center made of curd with spices, chilies wrapped in a deep fried crunchy outer cocoon with rich mayo and mint chutney – slurrrrp!!

Crispy Crunch Curd Rolls at Moto Store and Cafe Bangalore

Crispy Crunch Curd Rolls – Delicious!!

Veg Exotica Pizza

A delicious wheat-base pizza with exotic veggies such as olives, bell pepper and jalapenos.

Veg Exotica Pizaa at Moto Store and Cafe Bangalore

Veg Exotica Pizza

Nachos with Salsa

The perfect snack for those hours and hours of talk with fellow motorcyclists.

Nachos with Salsa at Moto Store and Cafe Bangalore

Nachos with Salsa – the perfect snack during a MotoGP race!!

Useful Information:

  • Timings: 11 am to 11 pm
  • Pet Friendly & No Liquor
  • Smoking Allowed (Separate section for smoking)
  • Ample parking for motorcycles (Psst! – I wish you guys would wash and detail the motorcycles while we relish the food upstairs)
  • Mode of payment: Cash and Cards [They even accept credit (motorcycles) :P]
  • Only Veg food

PS: They are soon launching ‘Moto Breakfast‘ – an easy to carry breakfast for motorcyclists for those weekend getaway rides  :)

Delicious nibbles to munch and great place to meet fellow motorcyclists – A perfect place to watch MotoGP over weekend with buddies!!

Ride De Bhutan

Bhutan is easily the 2nd most likely place to tour on every Indian motorcyclist’s bucket-list next to the breathtaking Ladakh and I had to explore for myself the much-heard hospitality of the Bhutanese, their food and why they measure success with GHI (Gross Happiness Index) as opposed to GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Until 2014, Bhutan & Nepal were the only countries an Indian motorcyclist could enter via-land, the recent inclusion being Myanmar that has opened up access to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia etc.

KTM Duke 390 touring in Bhutan

Serene Bhutan – best relished on a motorcycle :)

 

Original RedBull or Thai RedBull in Bhutan with my Arai Quantum 2 helmet

The Original RedBull – 3 times stonger than the Indian version :D

Motorcycles:

  • Hero Impulse
  • Hero Karizma
  • KTM Duke 390
Hero Karizma, Hero Impulse and KTM Duke 390 at Dochula in Bhutan

Flawless Performance -Not a Single Breakdown during our ride :)      At Dochula Pass (10,171 ft)

Ride Preparation:

We kept the motorcycles stock since the chances of things going wrong reduce drastically – additions include:

  • USB Charger
  • Auxiliary Throttle & Clutch cables that ran in parallel to the OE (in order for us to switch)
  • Tyre Slime
  • Rotopax Fuel Can of 8 liter capacity for the Duke 390

Securing Immigration & Motorcycle Permits:

Phuntsholing is the only entry point from India to secure the permits for us and the motorcycles – both of which ‘CANNOT’ be applied in advance or online. They need to be secured in person at the Immigration Office for the traveler and the immigration permit should be produced at the RSTA (Road Safety & Transport Authority) office to get the motorcycle permit.

Immigration Permit for Indian National:

The process is very simple and there is NO fees required to secure the permit/visa.

Documents Required:

  • Original Passport or Voter ID
  • 2 passport size photographs
  • Photocopies of the above (carry at-least 3 copies)

Note: In-case one doesn’t have the above documents – he/she has to go to the Indian Embassy to secure an ‘Identification Slip’ that should be produced at the Immigration office.

Fees: Nil

Procedure:

  • Step 1 : Fill the Immigration Form (very basic form- easy to fill)
  • Step 2: Stand-in-line for Document Verification & Fingerprint + Retina scan check
  • Step 3: Receive the Immigration permit document for valid for 7 days (In order to extend this – one has to do that in Thimphu)

Time Required: 2 to 3 hours

Note:

Get the Immigration permits stamped at the check-posts and DO NOT forget to surrender the original immigration permit while exiting Bhutan – in-case you dont surrender , a heavy fine would be imposed the next-time you enter Bhutan

Motorcycle Permit:

This can be applied at the RSTA (Regional Safety and Transport Authority) office only ‘after’ the Immigration permit is done – One complete day is required to complete both the immigration and motorcycle permit.

Documents Required:

  • Registration Certificate (Original & Photocopy)
  • Insurance of the motorcycle (Original & Photocopy)
  • Emission Certificate (Original & Photocopy)
  • Driving Licence (Original & Photocopy)

Fees: 70 INR/BNT per motorcycle

Procedure:

  • Step 1: Fill the form with motorcycle details (Registration, Chassis number, owner details etc)
  • Step 2: Attach the photocopies of motorcycle documents (Registration Certificate, Insurance, Driving License and Emission certificate)
  • Step 3: Pay a fee of 70 INR/BNT as Road tax for each motorcycle and submit this to the RSTA officer

Time Required: 1 hour

Note:

  1. Recommend that the Immigration Permit holder and the motorcycle owner are the same
  2. Fill a single-form for multiple motorcycles if and only if all the motorcycles will exit Bhutan at the same time – if not fill out individual forms/each motorcycle
Actual Figure toys in Bhutan

Super Cool :)

Useful Information:

  • Currency:

Do not exchange INR to Bhutanese currency (BTN) – INR is accepted even in the remote corners of Bhutan, but the change tendered would be BTN. INR to BTN Conversion is 1:1 (which means 100 INR is equivalent to 100 BTN)

  • Riding in Bhutan:
    • Traffic Rules are actual rules that people follow unlike in India – No cutting lanes, speed limit is 50km/hr (speed interceptors on major roads such as Phuntsholing to Paro and Paro to Thimphu) jumping signals and yes always stop to let the pedestrian cross the road.
    • Helmet for the pillion is mandatory
    • Overtake Indication: Switching-On the ‘Right’ indicator means you are asking the vehicle behind to overtake (which is the vice-versa of how we do in south-India)
  • Generic Stuff:
    • Get a local SIM (TashiCell) – Indian SIMs do not work unless you have an international roaming and having a Bhutanese Mobile Number is required to call hotels for accommodation  – A copy of the Immigration permit is required to secure a local SIM card
    • Smoking is an absolute NO in the public – consequences of public smoking start with being jailed
    • Food: Extremely spicy – insist on less spice while ordering.  Try the cafes in Paro & Phuntsholing – you wont be dissapointed :)
    • Shopping – Sports Shoes, the most varied collection of sports shoes from Nike, Adidas, and Asics can be found in Thimphu (Norlim Zam street) and prices beat any of the mega-discount deals of Indian e-commerce sites. North Face, Patagonia & Timberland fans, Norlim Zam is the Wall Street for adventure gear and boots.
    • Tiger Nest Monastery, Paro – absolute must-visit – worth the trek (one can also hire a donkey to ascend halfway – rates are regularized at 660/person)
Trek to Tiger Nest Monastery, Bhutan

Yours Truly, Vaishak and Vijay – Trek to the Tiger Nest Monastery

  • Stay:
    • December is the off-season (so accommodation doesn’t need prior booking). Highly advise to call the next place of accommodation to ask for a discount and they do offer them (Use your Bhutanese SIM to call instead of your Indian number – in North Bhutan they don’t answer calls from other numbers.)
    • Ask your friends/acquaintances who will visit Bhutan to take pics with the hotel owner (This helps to make a case and bargain – which works only in off-season though). However during the Tourist Season (Sept to Nov and March to June) – Prior booking is a must.
    • Average Cost of stay (for 3 guys/night) – 2,000 INR
Punaka to Wangdue Phodrang - KTM Duke 390

Beautiful Vistas – Enroute to Punaka

Motorcycle Transport:

We got our motorcycles transported via GatiKWE from Bangalore and thanks to the immaculate packing and assistance from Mr.Yatish (manager at GatiKWE warehouse in Peenya, Blore) the motorcycles reached Siliguri  without any damage.

Highly recommend to approach him for transporting motorcycles from Bangalore – Mr. Yatish can be reached at +919845348829 or +918867705999

Route:

Although our original route included Sikkim, we couldn’t go beyond Gangtok – since the Home Ministry office which issues motorcycle permits to North & East Sikkim was closed for a week (Dec 12 to Dec 18) due to Buddhist festival.

Bangalore > Siliguri > Darjeeling > Gangtok > Sevoke (along River Teesta) > Mal Bazar > Jaigoan > Phuentsholing > Paro > Thimphu > Punakha > Wangdue Phodrang > Trongsa > Jakar > Trongsa > Wangdue Phodrang > Haracha > Sarpang > Gelephu > Bongaigoan > Guwahati > Farakka > Kolkatta > Bhubaneshwar > Puri > Srikakulam > Vizag > Araku > Rajamahendravaram > Kurnool > Bangalore

Total Distance: 4,500 kms

Fantastic road from Wangdue Phodrang to Gelephu in Bhutan

Motorcyclist’s Delight -Wangdue Phodrang to Gelephu Bhutan

Brioche Cafe Paro Bhutan

The hardest thing to find in Bhutan is ‘good coffee’ and the easiest has to be ‘great hospitality and warmth by people’. During an evening ride in Paro town, a cop riding an Axxo 250 dirt-bike stopped me and insisted on accompanying him for coffee & a snack – I couldn’t say no.

We rode to Brioche Café, small place situated in old town Paro started in September 2013 by Rupa who also happens to be a pastry chef at a popular 3-star hotel in Paro.

Most of our conversation was around motorcycling and on road conditions and weather further north (Bumthang), we also bumped into Mr. Dave Peel, a helicopter pilot from New Zealand who flies for the Bhutan Government and a KTM fan.

Cappuccino and Apple Pie:

I am a core chocolate fan – non-chocolate pastries don’t excite me, but the apple pie here is absolutely delicious due to the not-so secret ingredients ‘local-grown apples and cinnamon’.

The best cappuccino so-far in Bhutan – close to some of the best-brew in Bangalore!

Apple Pie at Brioche Cafe Paro Bhutan

Appled !!

Chocolate Tart:

OMG – chocolate never tasted better (can’t blame the altitude, can I? :P)

Chocolate tart at Brioche Cafe Paro Bhutan

Best Tart in Bhutan!!

Useful Information:

  • Location: Tshongdue, Paro Bhutan (old town Paro)
  • Contact Number: 0975 – 17741231/0975-17633741
  • Timings: 9 am to 11 pm (local time), Open all days
  • No pets allowed
  • Accept both cash and cards
  • Ample parking for motorcycles

Great conversation with new people over a good cappuccino and delicious pastries has made Brioche Café one of my favorite places in Bhutan.

KTM Duke 390 - Enroute to Gedu from Phuntsoling Bhutan

Warmth in the air at 6,600 feet !! En-route to Gedu from Phuntsoling

Kizom Cafe Phuntsholing Bhutan

The joy of crossing an international border on a motorcycle from Jaigoan in India to Phuntsholing in Bhutan was augmented further with the discovery of Kizom Café.

Kizom Café was started in November 2013 introducing continental pizzas to Southern Bhutanese & travelers heading to Thimphu and has since then transformed into one of the must-visit food places in Phuntsholing.

Baked Alaska

Ice-cream + sponge cake + meringue (cream made using only egg whites & sugar) – I bet you won’t find a better dessert than this in Bhutan :)

Baked Alaska at Kizom Cafe Phuntsholing Bhutan

Baked Alaska – Yumminess !!

Veg Pizza with Bhutanese Chili

Spicy for my palette – Keep a dessert handy before you try this ! – thoroughly enjoyed the spice.

Veg Pizza with Bhutanese Chili at Kizom Cafe Phuntsholing Bhutan

Spice Kicks!!

Cashew Caramel Tart

Caramel and cashew – two of my favorite entities in a tart – I couldn’t resist, but to order :P

If you are a fan of chewy tarts – do not miss this one.

Cashew Caramel Tart with Cappuccino at Kizom Cafe Phuntsholing Bhutan

Chewy Delight!!

Useful Information:

  • Location: Tshela Building, Phuntsholing, Bhutan (the lane opposite the Immigration Office)
  • Contact Number: 0975 – 77141616
  • Timings: 11 am to 8 30 pm (local time)
  • No pets allowed
  • Ample parking for motorcycles
  • Accept both cash and cards

Pizzas, fresh-baked breads and pastries are their forte although I wasn’t impressed by their coffee (but highly effective to control the sugar high :P).

KTM Duke 390 touring in Bhutan

Serene Bhutan – best relished on-board a motorcycle :)

An awesome start to my culinary adventure in Bhutan on a motorcycle !!

Komala Refreshments Cox Town Bangalore

South Bangalore boasts of being home to some of the best South-Indian breakfast such as Brahmin’s Coffee Bar, MTR, Thindi Beedi (Food Street at VV Puram) whereas East Bangalore is known for meat-based delights.

However Komala Refreshments in Cox Town has been a beacon of delicious south-indian food since 1981. Expect a waiting period of at-least 15 to 20 mins during the mornings and to share the table with strangers – a wonderful platform to strike a conversation :)

Although most of the stuff on the menu is delicious, my personal favorites include:

Vada:

Rather they should be called mini-vada –  crunchy, yummy and a minimum of 4 should be consumed :P

Vada & Filter coffee at Komala Refreshments Wheeler Road Cox Town Bangalore

Delicious Combo !!

Masala Dosa:

The most sold item on their menu and very delicious :)

Masala Dosa  at Komala Refreshments Wheeler Road Cox Town Bangalore

Crispy Masala Dosa!!

Filter Coffee:

No South-Indian breakfast is complete without this – Ask them to make it ‘strong

Useful Information:

Komala Refreshments Wheeler Road Cox Town Bangalore

Komala Refreshments Wheeler Road

Sharon Tea Stall Tippasandra Bangalore

Nothing lights up a gloomy rainy evening than a nice cup of chai, what adds to the experience is when the chai shop guy acknowledges you with a smile and your favorite cup of chai even before you order :)

Started by Mr. Daniel Jebaraj in 2007, Sharon tea stall serves about 50+ varieties of beverages from exotic tea flavors like blueberry, hibiscus, peppermint to milk tea such as vanilla tea, masala, elaichi, chocolate tea and also some interesting coffee brews such as chukka coffee, ginger coffee etc

I am yet to try all the 50+ varieties and their coffee variants but my personal favorites till date include:

Mud pot tea:

This brings back so many memories of my travel in trains serving matka chai – the flavor of earthen pot infused in tea :)

Mud pot tea at Sharon Tea Stall Tippasandra Bangalore

Mud Pot Tea & Chaklis :)

Honey Ginger Lemon Tea:

One of the best forms of lemon tea I have tasted – the right balance of tea, spices and sugar (Most of the other places kill the taste of non-milk tea with excessive sugar)

Honey Lemon Ginger Tea at Sharon Tea Stall Tippasandra Bangalore

Mini Delights :D

Masala Elaichi Tea:

I can drink this all day long – such harmony of simple spices coming together !!

Masala Elaichi Tea at Sharon Tea Stall Tippasandra Bangalore

Masala Elaichi Tea with Salt Biscuits

PS: I highly recommend to try the tidbits such as mini-samosas and chaklis

Useful Information:

5 Breakfast Ride Getaways from Bangalore – 3rd Edition

There is no joy better than discovering new food places on a motorcycle and with the deteriorating quality of breakfast served at regular chains such as Kamats, A2Bs etc these traditional/family-run breakfast joints uphold the promise of authentic and delicious South-Indian breakfast.

Presenting the third edition of 5 breakfast ride getaways from Bangalore:

1) Idly Mane, Harohalli

Run by a husband and wife, Idly Mane serves ‘soft-as-butterthatte idlis along with chutney and sagu (potato-based curry)

Thatte Idli at Idli Mane Harohalli, Kanakpura Road NH209

Thatte Idli at Idli Mane Harohalli

2) Subbanna Mess, Melkote

This is ‘a typical brahmin mess’ serving all 3 meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner) throughout the year and one has to remove footwear before delving into food (symbolic of hygiene and respect to food)

  • Must try – Sakkare Pongal + Puliogare + thatte idly
  • Timings – 6 am to 12 pm (only breakfast) – they are open till 11 pm , Open all days
  • Distance from Bangalore – 130 kms
  • Location – Subbanna Mess, Melkote, Karnataka
Puliogare and Sakkare Pongal at Subbanna Mess Melkote

Puliogare and Sakkare Pongal at Subbanna Mess Melkote

PS: One has to remove footwear to eat the food in the dining section (They also have a separate verandah where one doesn’t need to remove their footwear to eat)

3) Shri Janardhan Hotel, Ramanagara, Mysore Road

This place is for the sweet-tooth foodie – breakfast + mysore pak or badam halwa + filter coffee is the recommended course of action :p

Masala Dosa at Hotel Shri Janardhan or Mysore Pak Hotel at Ramanagara Karnataka

Masala Dosa at Mysore Pak Hotel, Ramanagara

4) Shree Veerabhadreshwara Bhavana, Halagur

Discovery of this place is dedicated to a dear friend Praveen. This is your typical hanchina-mane (tiled house) serving breakfast in Halagur, a bustling town on NH209 before Malavalli.

  • Must try – Masala dosa + pakodas (their norm is 2 masala dosas in a single plate : D)
  • Timings – 6 am to 11 am and 3:30 pm to 7 pm, Open all days
  • Distance from Bangalore – 90 kms
  • Location – Shree Veerabhadreshwara Bhavana Halagur, Kanakpura road, NH209
Masala Dosa + Pakoda at Shree Veerabhadreshwara Bhavana, Halagur,NH 209

Masala Dosa + Pakoda at Shree Veerabhadreshwara Bhavana, Halagur

5) Harsha Café, Mandya

One of the most popular breakfast places in Mandya, Harsha Café serves delicious south Indian breakfast and snacks throughout the day.

  • Must try – Set dosa + coffee
  • Timings – 7:30 am to 8:30 pm
  • Closed on Friday
  • Distance from Bangalore – 100 kms
  • Location, Harsha Cafe VV Road, Mandya
Set Dosa at Harsha Cafe, VV Road Mandya

Set Dosa at Harsha Cafe Mandya

All the above places don’t accept cards (cash only) and do not have dedicated parking for motorcycles.

Don’t forget to check out the First and Second edition of breakfast ride getaways from Bangalore!!