Mumbai’s restaurants serve up some pretty interesting extremes. Sample some of these unusual distinctions
The area with the most Indian cuisines
Jawaharlal Nehru would be proud of Fort. Its restaurants serve 19 different Indian cuisines – the best example of gastronomic national integration in Mumbai. Results from burrp.com show that along with many coastal and north Indian cuisines, you’ll also find restaurants that offer Gujarati, Hyderabadi, Rajasthani, Malayali and Parsi fare. Pop in to Ideal Corner for a dhansak, Taste of Kerala for Chicken Nadan Curry or the Sev Tamatar ki Subzi at Chetana.
The oldest wine on sale
The Sahara Star’s 26-year-old Chateau Lascombes, 1987, from Margaux in Bordeaux, France is possibly the oldest wine you can buy in the city. Unfortunately, this particular vintage is not highly rated and the wine may be already over the hill. A far better bet would the one-year-younger Chateau Latour, 1988, from Pauillac, also in Bordeaux. It’s available at Indigo, Colaba, is now at its peak and good to drink for another decade.
The single largest dish for one
Know a big mouth? Send them to Sundance Café to take on the Sasquatch Burger. Twenty ounces (567 grams) of tenderloin beef is sandwiched between 250gm burger buns, which also contain crispy-fried bacon, fried egg, guacamole and melted cheese with lettuce and pickled cucumber. The burger weighs about 1.5kg, making it Mumbai’s largest burger. It’s also the largest dish for a single person – though the restaurant now allows guests to share. If you finish it by yourself within 30 minutes, you don’t have to pay.
The city’s fishiest zone
No, it’s not Sassoon Dock, though the odour of dried prawns tends to linger in the air around midnight every day. With 22 eateries serving seafood, according to data from burrp.com, the pin code 400064 or Malad West is the piscine paradise of Mumbai. However, not all the outlets are restaurants; some are takeaway places, while others sell pre-packed seafood products like fish fingers and kebabs. The pin code with the greatest density of seafood restaurants is actually 400028, Dadar West. Little Malvani and Gomantak eateries dot the neighbourhood, making it very fishy indeed. Get your hands dirty digging into the crab biryani at Saibini Gomantak, or the mori masala and surmai fry at Gomantak Boarding House.
The dish with the most ingredients
Another tie here – between the Lagan ki Nihari (63 ingredients) at Neel in Mahalaxmi and the Barah Masale Ke Halim Ke Kebab (55-60 ingredients) at Masala Kraft, The Taj Mahal Palace. Neither of the chefs knows the exact number of ingredients that go into the masalas which form the base of the two gravies, especially since many spices are likely to be repeated.
The largest open-air restaurant
In a city that likes to gobble up every open space, alfresco restaurants are always welcome. There are a fair number across the city, but none compare to the vast expanse of Skky at the Ramada Hotel, Powai. The restaurant lets large water bodies cover almost a third of the 8,500 sq ft space, creating little alcoves that fit just two tables each. As you sit back and revel in all that space, you might want to order the innovative dragon-shaped tempura prawn fritters with yellowfin tuna and grilled eel, glazed with teriyaki and topped with tobiko and Japanese mayonnaise.
The oldest place to still get a drink
The Harbour Bar at The Taj Mahal Palace, which opened its doors in 1933, is the oldest licenced bar in the city. It still has the original licence permit, bearing the number 001, fortuitously salvaged by one of the bartenders during the 26/11 attacks which devastated the bar and the adjoining Golden Dragon. After the attacks, the bar was transformed from a dark old-boys gymkhana space into a cosy, warm setting flooded with natural light. Their signature cocktail ‘Since 1933’ marks the opening of the bar and coincidentally the end of Prohibition in America.
The dish that takes the longest to cook
A dish that takes 24 hours to cook? Too many contenders, even in jaldi-fast Mumbai. One that needs 48-hour prep? Peking Duck at Grand Hyatt. But what takes four and a half days? It’s the sankri ke kofte at Tuskers at Sofitel – a vegetarian dish for which Reshmapatti chillies are first marinated in mustard oil for 64 hours, following which panch poran is stuffed in to these chillies and further marinated for 48 hours. But the winner, with an eight-day preparation period, isn’t even in a five-star hotel. It’s the roast chicken at The Table. The bird is soaked in a brine solution for the first day. Then it is air-dried in a chiller for one week. In the kitchen, it is first cooked sous vide (in a vacuum sealed bag at a constant temperature) for one hour, and then roasted for another hour. Each portion consists of half a chicken served with potatoes fried in duck fat and boiled broccoli.
The topmost place to dine
The alfresco terrace lounge Aer at the Four Seasons and the business lounge, Point of View at the ITC Grand Central, may be the highest places in the city to drink and dine. But neither are restaurants. At 72 metres above sea level, Seasonal Tastes, located on the 18th floor of Goregaon’s The Westin, is the highest place to get a meal. It beats Souk at the Taj Mahal by a healthy five metres. So what should you try out while you’re enjoying the view? The all-day dining restaurant features a large buffet from four live kitchens in addition to its regular menu. Highlights include the sushi, Hainanese chicken rice, peri peri roast chicken, spicy nachos, rattan manjusha and chicken tikka spring roll.
The booziest dish that’s not a drink
The red wine risotto with goat cheese at Taj Lands End’s Vista has 250ml of merlot. Woodside Inn’s beer battered onion rings contain 250ml of beer. However, the alcohol evaporates in the cooking process and what you’re left with is only the flavour of the alcohol. The winner, a dish that containing the equivalent of three small pegs, are the chocolate cigars with prune and Armagnac ice cream served at Amadeus and Churchgate’s Umame, which contain 60ml of Armagnac and 30ml of Cointreau. The prunes used in the ice cream are soaked in Armagnac, while the chocolate cigars have a filing of chocolate mousse flavoured with Cointreau.
The shortest distance an ingredient has travelled
Almost all the hotels situated on large properties – Renaissance, ITC Grand Maratha, Sahara Star, The Taj Mahal Palace, The Leela – and even those with just garden space like Trident, BKC, and Westin have a herb garden. Amadeus uses Kalamanci lemons grown in the restaurant garden. However, no one gets closer than Worli’s Two One Two Bar & Grill, which grows the mustard cress used in their garnishes in the kitchen itself; on a shelf, near the wood-fired oven where the pizzas are made.
The sweetest section of the city
It’s 400050 or Bandra West. Burrp.com lists 86 eateries that either specialise in desserts, confectioneries, cakes or devote a substantial part of their menu to sweet affairs. From mithai to muffins, cookies to cupcakes, Bandra’s got most places to take care of your sugar fix. You could nibble on a macaroon at the newly opened Le15, linger over a chocolate mousse at Candies or pack a slice of Hungarian Coffee Cake at the American Express Bakery.
The longest distance an ingredient has travelled
Two ingredients make the longest trips to get to your table. The Alaskan King Crab (which travels approximately 10,320 km), and Chilean Sea Bass (fished approximately 14,000 km in the cold waters of Antarctica). Both are easily available, for a price. Amadeus at the NCPA serves the sea bass. At the Taj Land’s End, Ming Yang serves the South American fish, while all-day dining place Vista puts out the crab. Zodiac Grill and Wasabi at the Taj Mahal Palace & Towers serve sea bass, as does Koh at the Intercontinental, Marine Drive.
And here’s the brilliant layout in the print version
Mumbai’s Extreme Restaurants
Published HT Brunch, April 21