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Thursday, July 12, 2012

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I spent May and June in Bombay, on work. My team at work turned out to be fantastic and it almost became a paid holiday (wait, is my Boss reading?). In the 58 days I spent in Bombay, I ate in 27 different places. This is - by far - my best average over a sustained period of time.
So, I thought I will take a break from the book promotion and write about food instead. As I started to write, I realised I could not remember some of the food. Basically - If I could not remember the food, then it was not all that great.

ITC Grand Central, Parel - Landed up here for a alumni meet and managed to eat just before they wrapped up the buffet. After the uncountable bottoms ups that are mandatory when you meet old friends, I don't recall the food too much. The black daal was fantastic. They probably imported it from Bukhara Delhi.

Taj Exotica, Goa - Stayed here for a holiday and crammed ourselves with the Goanese delights. 5-star kitchens usually temper the local flavours but Exotica didn't do that too much. Oh - and their breakfast buffet was to die for. The amount of eggs and bacon I had was quite unbelievable.

1000 Oaks, Pune - This was the nostalgia trip. My wife had done her Master's degree in Pune and we had to order the Barman's Pitcher in what was easily the most crowded nightspot I have seen in my life. People were standing on each other's feet, sitting on random stranger's table and the glass panel in front of the DJ looked to be under serious threat. The Barman's pitcher turned out to be Rooh Afza but the other cocktails were good, the music fantastic and the atmosphere electric. Highly recommended.

U-Turn, Khar - It is a sasta-sundar-tikau joint in the vicinity of the better-known WTF. Its entrance through a hotel has got to be the shadiest I have ever seen in a bar/pub. The rooftop ambience was much nicer. Ended up having lots of snacks and Bacardi while conducting deliciously inane conversations with college friends. IPL on the giant screen was almost not needed.

Blue Frog, Lower Parel - This is the place to be. Known for live gigs, it also has a menu serving cocktails and snacks. Who knows, maybe even main courses also. But I was there when Leslie Lewis was performing live and we were bidding farewell to a colleague. Which led me to an excess of LIIT and no recollection of the food.

Royal China, Bandra - My friends took me to this place, which managed to get us all excited by giving us an iPad to order. We tapped on the dishes we wanted to eat, sent them to a 'shopping card', saw the bill amount and 'confirmed the order'. The tastefully dressed (read: short skirted) ladies who seem to exist only within the borders of Bandra lived up the ambience but the food didn't stick too long.

Busaba, Lower Parel - Again, one of those places that are very nice without being memorable. Had a Khao Sway which was decent (though I like my wife's version better). It also made me realise that I have eaten too much at too many great places to get excited by just a good meal. (#WriteLikeVirSanghvi)


Pali Hill Cafe, Bandra - This is supposed to be one of the 'cool' places, frequented by models. It sports a 'chic' run-down look, complete with an unobtrusive entrance near Pali Naka. The food was good without being spectacular and therefore, led to the feeling of overpricing.

Moshe's Cafe, Lower Parel - Located under a staircase of Palladium Mall, this is a coffee shop - the most over-priced one in the city, even by Bombay's exalted standards. I had a Rs 45 chocolate tart, which was about the size of a small pani-puri. The coffee and tea were good by general standards and passable considering the price they charged.

Indigo Deli, Lower Parel - Brilliant food. Understated ambience. I went with the intention of having a light meal and ended up polishing off a juicy tenderloin steak and half of my wife's Caesar salad. Me having a salad - yes, the place is that good!

Cafe Zoe, Lower Parel - This place was made famous due to a raid by ACP Vasant Dhoble (of Mumbai Moral Police Force) and the celebrity junky that we are, we had to be there. The food - though a little expensive - turned out to be fine. The best part was the space. Located inside one of those mill compounds, Zoe has a huge bar-cum-dining area on the ground floor AND a large dining area on the mezzanine.

Bungalow 9, Bandra - One of the those sprawling Bandra bungalows converted into a sprawling restaurant  serving people who seemed to have walked straight out of the supporting cast of Dil Chahta Hai. Had a great time withe some colleagues. Don't remember the food, though.

Candies, Bandra - Old favourite. What do I say that @FinelyChopped has not said already? I went there with Abhishek and we ended up eating pretty much everything that is usually left in Candies after 8 PM. And we had a delightful conversation on the lack of canons around Bollywood.

Touche, Pune - This is supposed to be Pune's 'sizzler place' and part of my wife and her friends' nostalgia trip. Either nostalgia puts a rose tint to everything or my wife's taste has evolved over the last decade (thanks to you-know-who), this was a bit of a let-down. Puneites don't share my sentiments, though. They were packing it in.

Jumjoji, Bandra - Claiming to serve authentic Parsi food, they also offer a warning: "Offer open till Parsis last." A small restaurant (almost like a largish drawing room in a 2BHK flat), their food is excellent. Their Patrani Machhi is so good that we had one each. Yes, one full fish each. The Salli Boti was great too. Only their desserts weren't too great. But only a pig like me would attempt dessert after the amount of food I ate.

Arsalan, Khar - Mutton Biriyani and Chicken Chnaap for 4 people = Rs 730. You already know how good the biriyani is. Even Imtiaz Ali does. He was there partaking the pleasures.

Pal's Fish Corner, Bandra - I don't know where this restaurant is. I don't even know if they are restaurant or just a takeaway joint. I happened order in from them once and asked for Bheja Fry. Their Bheja Fry is prepared by batter frying little balls of brain. OH MY GOD. I cannot describe it. I cannot forget it. Let me just say, it is like an orgasm in your mouth.

The Golconda Bowl, Bandra - I wanted to have a meal here since I love Andhra food and @FinelyChopped recommended it heartily. Just when I had given up hope and it was our last evening out at a friend's place, they made my day by ordering in from this place. Their Patthar ke Kabab is to die for, to live for, to dedicate books to, to sing odes to.
Sing with me: Patthar ke kabab, tujhe maine mohabbat ka khuda maana... Don't laugh. It is that good.

Masala Craft, Bandra - It could be a typical office lunch place but it is much better than that - including a semi-open seating area. A competent Butter Chicken and a very good Yellow Daal should make you think it is a home-style place. Their Butter Naans convince you otherwise.

Diva Maharashtracha, Mahim - A sister restaurant of Goa Portuguesa, they serve the delights of Maharashtra from Kolhapur and Malwan. Mutton from the former province and fish from the latter (Hirva Rassa, to be precise) are most recommended.

Zaffar Bhai's Dilli Darbar, Mahim - Located a stone's throw from my office, their Mutton Biriyani was my standard lunch option. I had their number of speed-dial and ended up having their huge portion singlehandedly at least once every week. Their rolls aren't bad either.

Gajalee, Lower Parel - Old favourite. Opened with a Tandoori crab and followed it up with some fish curry. Since I was in the company of Bongs, much joy permeated through the table as we checked the size of the crab to be cooked. In hindsight, we consciously (and gleefully) ordered the death of a live being for the express purpose of our pleasure. But then, our ancestors didn't get us to the top of the food chain for nothing.

Jai Hind Lunch Home, Lower Parel - Great food. Cheap food. Sea food. Need I say more. Jai Hind Lunch Home has many branches spread throughout the desire, offering delicious pomfret, bangda and prawn within an arm's length of desire. They do home delivery. Their Fish Ambotik Curry had a low-profile brilliance that was quite memorable.

Mahesh Lunch Home, Fountain - The stunner. Their Butter Garlic Crab should be made mandatory for all last meals before execution.They also have a mean Tandoor Liver. Not to mention a Prawn Harimirch. We went there twice and both times, I wanted to die with a morsel for their food in my mouth.

Goa Portuguesa, Mahim - An old warhorse of the Mumbai eating scene, it has aged a bit since I came here last. Their Sorpotel is still very good as is their Bombil Fry (served with tartare sauce). Their decor is still garish but with all that pork and prawn around, who cares about the orange walls?

Martin's Corner, Goa - The old favourite of Goa. Their Lobster Thermidore is brilliant but too little (food) for too much (money). Otherwise, it is brilliant. Oh, did I say their pork is also brilliant.

Mum's Kitchen, Goa - This is Goa's best restaurant. There, I said it. The fabled shacks, the better known places, the model hangouts all pale in comparison to this place in Miramar. They are terribly full all the time and their servers never have time. But when a place is this good, you don't complain about the slow service. Waiting only makes the heart grow fonder.

My Favourite 5 Dishes (in no order):
- Pork Vindaloo - Mum's Kitchen
- Patrani Machhi - Jumjoji
- Bheja Fry - Pal's Fish Corner
- Butter garlic crab - Mahesh Lunch Home
- Patthar ke kabab - The Golconda Bowl
(Biriyani from Arsalan has not been considered for this list since it has now been inducted in my Hall of Fame.)


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