Food & Drink

From where to buy sake to the newest restaurant reviews, we scout out the best of Mumbai’s culinary scene.

bpb Review: Saizen, Colaba
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:55


Saizen is a good restaurant masquerading as a gimmicky one, with a kitchen that goes to great lengths to jazz up sushi: rolls are buried under mountains of crushed tempura and mottled with chilli, set on fire and hybridized beyond recognition, in one instance even served alongside a plastic plant that looks like it belongs on the dashboard of a Padmini taxi. That the sushi manages to shine through despite the theatrics is a wonder.

Case in point: our table dismisses Tekka Maki as too spicy until one diner asks for a milder version; the resulting roll showcases tuna so fresh we are convinced that at the beginning of dinner service, it was still ten thousand leagues under the sea. Also lovely are Spider Rolls, served in a delightfully creepy formation, wrapped tightly around soft shell crab and crispy tempura with a dab of too much mayo. The only disappointment is unagi nigiri, the eel draped over it rubbery rather than melt-in-your-mouth.

It’s Raining Zen

Vegetarians, don’t miss To Die For, cold sushi that comes on a bed of flames (“it helps excite diners,” explains our server), a medley of avocado and cheese topped with thin, glazed skins of tofu, complex and toothsome enough that even the most carnivorous sushi-ites at our table lobby for the last piece. Less successful are Mountain Crunchy Rolls, OTT combinations of too much crunch, veggies and sauces. “I don’t know what just exploded in my mouth,” a friend remarks. “I do,” retorts another. Yes, we are adolescents.

Rock Salt and Rolls

The menu at Saizen is extensive and offers solid non-sushi options as well, including some of the best pan-fried vegetarian dumplings in the city, fat and juicy and bursting with goodness, served along with piquant dipping sauce we could eat by the spoonful. Prawn tempura is long-stemmed, glistening with spicy mayo and gone in sixty seconds, as is a wide-lipped bowl of warm edamame hummus served with pita chips. Like nothing we’ve tasted before but instantly addictive, it is the culinary equivalent of a new best friend. If you insist on sticking with the theme, wash these down with blah sake cocktails (we preferred Green Fizz, a cheery concoction of gin, apple and sparkling wine), but stay far away from green tea mochi for dessert: dear reader, the less said about this unhappy ending, the better.

Final Note

All this is served against wincingly-bright lights and a jumble of nondescript, mismatched furniture, some of which we recognize from The Pier and Tetsuma. The chef too is a Tetsuma veteran, who cooked at Kofuku in Bandra before bringing back serious sushi to South Bombay at affordable prices. We plan to go back, and you should visit as well: for a restaurant this good, Saizen has too many empty tables.

Getting there: 41/42 Minoo Desai Marg, behind Radio Club, Colaba, call 65081100, Rs 5,000 for a big meal for two with cocktails.


Served with a Side of Nostalgia: The B Road Paani Puri Guy
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 09:55


He is Marine Drive’s version of the Soup Nazi, orchestrating the flow of patrons with the flick of a finger, moving them up and down the ranks with military precision (left for potato, right for chickpea; left when you’re starting out, right as you get done), all the while ladling up crisp little puris with big flavors, just the right amount of imli and paani and carbs. Disobedience of any sort is sure to warrant a stern look or even a time out, but not if you’re us: us he knew when we were little and so we get a break, an extra puri, sometimes even a smile. 

Ask people that grew up around these parts and they’ll remember the B Road Paani-Puri Guy, who would stand opposite Yankee Doodle under a cheery umbrella and calmly cater to upwards of 200 customers everyday. The BMC shooed him off in the early 2000s, breaking countless hearts and as one uncle lamented, driving down real estate prices in the neighborhood. Much to our delight, the stall is back, this time with a BMC license and under the same family management, and the chaat is exactly how we remember it.

Come here for lip-numbingly, eyes-wateringly puchkas and made-to-order ragda patties that cooked on an open stove, but leave your squeamishness at home. The guys here wear no gloves and have no compunctions about kneading bare finders deep into the potato or dipping into cold paani. They claim they use only Bisleri though, and this Scouter has never gotten sick eating here, despite her embarrassingly low, just-returned-from-America immunity to street food.

He’s here everyday starting at 5:30 pm until supplies last, which is never later than 8 pm. He also does take away, but the food’s not nearly as good even if you live just across the street. If you happen to miss him, comfort yourself with a paper cone from the Bhel Guy down the street, another re-return from our childhood who doles out crispy sev puri and the yummiest green chutney, but is really no match for the explosive carousel of the paani puri guy, each puchka served right before you swallow the last one, balanced precariously between a bad-tummy and just-healthy-enough, filled to the bursting with paani, sea breeze and childhood nostalgia.

Getting there: At the corner of B Road, opposite InterContinental Hotel, Marine Drive, Mumbai 400020, Rs 40 for a plate of paani puri.

Floyd Cardoz’s The Bombay Canteen At Kamala Mills
Monday, 15 September 2014 11:21

We’ve been talking about it for a while now – New York celebrity chef Floyd Cardoz’ new restaurant that’s due to open in Mumbai. We have the details: it’s called The Bombay Canteen and good news for Lower Parel corporates, will open in Kamala Mills at the end of the year.

bpb spoke to Sameer Seth, one of the partners over the weekend, who told us that The Bombay Canteen will “celebrate the bounty of India through its food and beverage menu.” While Chef Cardoz is the culinary director on the project, Thomas Zacharias (ex Olive Bar & Kitchen) will preside over the kitchen that will serve regional Indian cuisine.

While Sameer isn’t saying much about what the space will look like, he did tell us that the guys from Busride Design Studio (who else!) are the ones working on the interior design.

Canteen-age dream!

Getting there: The Bombay Canteen, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel.


Sweetish House Mafia To Open At Lower Parel
Monday, 15 September 2014 10:52


Having a crumby Monday? Listen to this: Bombay’s best cookie maker Sweetish House Mafia is (finally) opening up a bakery at Lower Parel.

Sweetish House Mafia (SHM) was launched last year by investment banker-turned baker Neha Sethi, who started by selling cookies out of a Tata Nano. Her transition from wagon to warehouse begins on September 19, and we’ll be there for cookies with chocolate chips the size of marbles.

The New Space

Bright blue with a white picket fence, Sweetish House Mafia is located right by Café Zoe at Mathuradas Mill Compound. The 400 sq foot space with counter seating, will serve seven cookies on any given day – 6 regular and 1 special of the week. In addition to our SHM favourites – S’mores and Sea Salt Chocolate – new flavours will include plain chocolate chip, oatmeal, Snicker Doodles and a bunch of eggless versions. And to club with cookies, Neha will also sell cold coffee, milk shakes, green tea and hot coffee.

Here’s our favourite bit – the space opens at 11 am and shutters only go down at midnight, should party people over at Zoe or Blue Frog have late night cookie cravings. Soon, Sweetish House Mafia will also start delivering to Lower Parel offices. We think your mom just got bumped off speed dial for your fitness trainer.

Getting there: Next to Café Zoe,  Mathuradas Mill Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.

Saizen: New Japanese Restaurant In Colaba
Friday, 12 September 2014 10:45

What: New Japanese restaurant Saizen, 41/42 Minoo Desai Marg, behind Radio Club, Colaba, call 65081100.

Why: If you were waiting with bait-ed breath for a Japanese restaurant by the sea, you can now exhale. Launching today and replacing its lackluster predecessor The Pier, Saizen aims to be reasonably priced compared to other Japanese restaurants in the city (phew!) and will serve a range of salads, sushi, sashimi, fusion rolls and sake cocktails.

When: Get in the moshi moshi pit starting September 12.

bpb Sneak Peek: Uzo, Worli
Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:06

In some parts of the world (read: anywhere the Twilight movies were released), ‘Isabella’ is the most popular name for baby girls. This nugget of nomenclature is offered up by the only male at our table, who proceeds to consume several cocktails by the same moniker, relishing fat grapes swimming in cold rum and juice, served in a macho snifter by eager-to-please waiters. Around us, warm lights dangle from wood beams, the long bar gleams and what seems like a playlist from American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest pours out of concealed speakers. Dear reader, we are having a good night.

Shaken and Stirred

Our venue is Uzo, the soft-launched new bar that replaces Vinoteca at Worli, backed by an investor from Café Zoe. The menu offers a full bar and a short list of “Uzo Cocktails”, none of which feature Uozo but include Isabella and also an aromatic and bracingly sour Kafir Lime martini; too-sweet peach martinis; and a truly rancid concoction of gin, chocolate and cream that no amount of fiddling by the bartender can redeem. At Rs 450 a pop, most of these are worth the cost – Uzo isn’t where you come to for a serious cocktail, but to drown out a bad day at work.

Food follows a similar pattern, well-priced bar snacks served in large portions with plenty of condiments – plus, three different kinds of fries! We zero in on the version garnished with sea salt and malt vinegar, a sophomoric treat that sneaks into the bar with a fake ID.  If fried is what you’re hankering for, also try flaky jalapeño samosas served with piquant sriracha mayo; and lamb pate that ends up closer to Kakori kebabs, plump, tender and spiced liberally with cloves. We pair these with lackluster Greek salad of feta, peppers and wilting lettuce, quickly abandoned in favor of less healthy but more gratifying mains.

Pasta Tense

Here we go old school, picking deep dishes of fettuccine in lemon butter sauce and a huge roast chicken. Fettuccine is soggy and pale, brightened briefly by a dollop of sundried tomato pesto, not the best way to squander your carb allowance; but the chicken is perfect, in parts charred and glistening, cushioned on a cloud of mash and sticky with gravy. 

Because Uzo doesn’t serve dessert yet, we order pork belly bao instead, trendy, tightly-packed sliders in thick skins featuring strips of succulent meat and creamy dressing, ultimately too bready.The last of these languishes as we go around the table for a final round of useless facts – apparently BMWs in China, the tallest man in the world and a neighbor’s dog are all called ‘Bao’ – until the abovementioned male reaches over. “I’m going to do bad things to this bun,” he says. It might be the best line of the night. 

Getting there: Ground floor, Sunville Building, Annie Beseant Road, Worli, Rs 2,500 including taxes for a meal for two with many cocktails.

When Restaurateurs & Chefs Crave Street Food
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 10:54

The city’s dishiest restaurateurs and chefs surpass the usual Bade’s, Ayub’s and Elco to tell you where they get rolls at 5 am, how to find an aunty behind a paan shop who only sells vada pav in the evening, and where to eat authentic Tunde kebab in Mumbai.

Riyaaz Amlani, Owner, Impresario Hospitality (Salt Water Café, Smoke House Deli, The Social)

Lucknowee: One of my favourite places to eat street food is at Lucknowee at Doo Taanki. Lucknowee has been around since 1937 serving the best Awadhi and Lucknowi food in Mumbai and the reason I love going there is because it is the only place where you find the authentic Tunde Kebab parathas of Lucknow and of course, the Murg Musulam is too die for.

121-129, Maulana Shaukat Ali Road, Do Taaki, Byculla.

Ashish Sajnani, Co-owner, Please Don’t Tell

Ashok Vada Pav: I never liked vada pav, before I tried this.

Off Cadel Road, Kirti College Lane, Prabhadevi

Sindh Pani Puri: It’s the best pani puri I have ever had. And the best part? It’s always chilled.

Camp Road, Chembur

Pankil Shah, Co-partner, Neighbourhood Hospitality (Woodside Inn, Woodside All Day Bar & Eatery and The Pantry.)

Prakash: Because they have THE best Sabudanawada in the city!

Shiv Sena Bhavan, Next to Kithe Hall, Gokhale Road, Shivaji Park, Dadar (W)

Zaffran: For the yummy late night Chicken Bhuna Roll

Branches in CST, Bandra, Malad, Lower Parel, Ghatkhopar.

Kakori house: Always works for those Galouti Kebab and Black Dal cravings

Branches in Hill Road, Andheri E & W, Mahim

Mr. Mihir Desai, Co-Owner, The Big Bang Bar & Café

Ram Sham, Santacruz: They serve the best pani puri in the city.

North Avenue Road, Santacruz (W)

Maruti Pav Bhaji: The pav bhaji here  - super spicy - is amazing.

Bajaj Road, Opposite Vishwakarma Baug, Vile Parle (W)

Viraf Patel, Chef and Co-owner, Café Zoe

Kathi Kabab Roll: I usually get the extremely spicy Tikka Roll and the BBQ one. The guy makes his own barbeque sauce.

Shop no 1, Bara Building, SB Marg, Lower Parel, opposite High Street phoenix. Call 9819284454,view the Facebook page here.

Pooja Dhingra, Owner and chef, Le 15 Patisserie

Maharashtra Chana Bhandar: For bhel and sev puri

3, Pali Naka, next to Janta, Bandra (W), call 26004652.

Suren Joshi, Co-owner, Pali Village Café & Pali Bhavan

Sheetal Restaurant: These guys deliver rolls 24/7. They even recognize my voice now! I call and they send my order of Reshmi Chicken Roll and breast chicken piece cooked Afghan style right over.

648, Rajasthan Building, next to RTO, off Linking Road, Khar (W), call 26497938/26460643.

Antonia Achache & Jeremie Sabbagh, Co-owners, Suzette

Modern Juice Center: We love the chicken shawarma rolls and fresh juices here!

Near Radio Club, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba, call 22812457.

Mitesh Rangras, Co-owner, Lemon Leaf (formerly Lemon Grass)

Kanpur Dugdhalaya:  A must visit for what is definitely the best Kothambir wadi in the city.

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Rd, Radhika Saikripa Co-op Society, Naigaon, opposite Chitra Cinema, Dadar (E)

Just a few blocks from Dudhalaya, behind a pan shop, an aunty sells home made vada pavs, which is available only in the evening and gets sold in almost two hours flat. Look out for her when you’re in the neighbourhood!

Sahil Timbadia, Co-owner, Jamjar Diner, Bonobo & Cafe Nemo

The chat vendor (sev puri, bhel puri, pani puri) in the lane opposite Portuguese Church is consistently very good.

In the lane opposite Our Lady of Salvation Church, SK Bole Road, Dadar (W)

Also for a momo fix, the vendor outside the Worli nature's basket outlet is a great option for freshly steamed momos served with a piquant chili relish.

Dev's Momos, Abdul Guffer Road, outside Flora restuarant, off Worli Seaface.

However, both these vendors set up shop only in the evening.

bpb Review: Brewbot, Andheri (W)
Monday, 08 September 2014 10:45

Stuffed to her gills after an awesome Onam Sadya by Poppaddum yesterday, this writer rolled back home, hoping to spend Sunday like it should be spent – doing nothing.

After several hours of doing just that however, the prospect of being served beer by robots made us get up and head to Andheri’s new pub and brewery, Brewbot. Call of duty!

When In Foam

Okay so we didn’t expect real bots, but we did hope for freshly brewed beer, which unfortunately, will only be served when they get their license in October. For now, they are open to the public – located on the same street as Boveda and The Little Door - with a fully stocked bar and kitchen.

We ventured over on opening night and encountered a super packed joint, full of what we assumed were friends and family of the owners. Made up of some predictable décor elements like exposed brick walls and retro TV sets with plants in them, this two storey bar has a separate dance and al fresco section.

With opening night comes a set of hiccups, and after having to locate a table on our own, we waited a good twenty minutes until someone took our order. Brewbot’s thick menu offers a range of cocktails and spirits along with Italian, Lebanese and Continental mains, in addition to salads, pizzas and burgers.

No Major Ale-ments

Still sulking slightly over the unavailability of fresh brews, we remedied this disappointment with more alcohol. Beer n’ Margarita, strong and shandy-like in terms of taste with tequila, triple sec, fresh lime and Corona, got us started. This, along with a Long Island Sunset featuring spiced rum, peach schnapps and cranberry mix, which our dining companion described as a ‘tall glass of Benadryl’.  Both were fairly lackluster, but the appetisers made up for it. The assorted plate of crostini with mushrooms,bocconcini, pesto and zuchhini helped to soak up excess alcohol. The Charboiled Prawns topped with an orange chilli dressing were succulent, with the prawns absorbing just the right amount of zest from the dressing.

For round deux of our drinks, we switched to regular spirits and got the Big Bot Burger, with a tenderloin patty, onion jam, Monterey Jack cheddar cheese and rocket leaves sprinkled with mustard on the side. Juicy and well done, the burger was served minus fries, but we didn’t mind considering how heavy and decadent the patty was. That we added bacon to it meant a nice, crunchy texture as well. A must order for those looking for a good beef burger this side of town.  Our Chicken Roulade came quickly too, and was given a thumbs up by our Master Chef-loving companion, who thought the chicken was cooked to a perfect consistency. However, this writer didn’t care too much for the spinach and vegetable stuffing.

Adding to the growing number of bars in Andheri West, Brewbot definitely stands out for its good food and just-born buzz. But with serious competition down the road, a price adjustment on the menu, improved cocktails and prompt service would go a long way in not bot-ching this up. An actual robot at the bar would be fun too!

Getting There: Brewbot, Morya Landmark One,  in the lane opposite Infinity Mall, call 4003 4448 / 4449. Rs 200 for a Kingfisher pint, Rs 150 for a small Antiquity, Rs 300 for a small Absolut. Meal for two with one drink each, approximately Rs 4,300.

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.




Uzo Replaces Sula's Vinoteca In Worli
Friday, 05 September 2014 10:58

What: Uzo Bar & Kitchen, ground floor, Sunville Building, Annie Beseant Road, Worli, view the Facebook page here, Rs 200 + taxes for a Kingfisher, Rs 300 + taxes for a small Absolut.

Why: If you haven't taken a pitcher at all the new places yet (Yuuka, PDT, Café Nemo, The Guppy Pop Up at Olive, Terttulia), you better get cracking because there’s a new one on the list. Uzo replaces Sula’s Vinoteca at Worli, bringing you a bar with yes, ouzo-based cocktails, and a kitchen that emphasizes on bar snacks. Started up by Aditya Dwivedi (one of the investors at Café Zoe), this all-day space will feature lunch + jazz music in the day, and a more hyper scene at night with commercial English music and well-priced booze.

When: It’s currently open to the public, but official launch on September 12. 11 am onwards.

bpb Review: Yuuka, Palladium Hotel
Thursday, 04 September 2014 10:39

Two really nice dresses. One return ticket to Delhi. My share of the rent.

There are many things that Rs 16,000 could have been spent on this month, but instead it bought three bpb people one lunch at Yuuka yesterday. Sitting prim and pricey on the 37th floor, Yuuka is the brand new Japanese restaurant at the Palladium Hotel, manned by Chef Ting.

But before the billfold sighs and dress goodbyes, there were three courses and a rounds of drinks at Yuuka. We got a table by the big windowpanes and tall, tall bamboo shoots that appeared to be on growth hormones. While the wooden interior is kind of generic, the high ceiling and flood of light will make you like the space instantly. And in this flood of light it’s impossible for the Secret Scouters to be secret, we discovered, after being spotted by someone from their marketing department. Note to self: invest in wigs and a prosthetic nose for next review.

Maki To Your Heart

The cocktails at Yuuka – all priced at Rs 1,200 + taxes – are nicely mixed concoctions of the usual Asian restaurant ingredients: lychee, ginger, Japanese single malt, green tea. These could however, be heavier on the booze, we discovered, as we sipped the Lychee Martini, Cucumber Sake and Ginger Manhattan.

A few sips later, the appetisers began to arrive, starting with the theatrical Salmon on Fire. Here, four thick bands of the freshest salmon, slick with citrus ponzu, are draped over a stick and a fire is lit below for just a few seconds. This plus a salad could be a quick, light lunch on its own.

The Okonomiyaki, a savoury pancake was dense and slightly chewy, and smothered under too much mayo for us to taste the wild mushrooms and zucchini that it kept within. Also, someone at the table remarked that it looked like a plate of Aloo Tikki Chaat.  From the rolls we picked the Soft Crab Maki, Pearl Explosion and Tiger Tear Maki. Of the three, the vegetarian Tiger Tear (avocado, habanero, cream cheese) was the most fun to eat, offering spicy, crunchy and creamy flavours all at once. The Pearl Explosion with potato and rice was less appealing as it was too starchy and better doused in soy sauce, while the crab maki rolls’ ingredients of egg, soft shell crab, unagi, cucumber chives got on well together, they could been bound tighter and neater.

High Rising Sun

Mains were kept simple with the highly recommended Ting’s Spicy Fried Rice and the Katsu Chicken. The small portion of rice was barely spicy and fairly standard. The Katsu Chicken came with strips of succulent fried meat (with no trace of oil) that sat in a shallow puddle of sweet onion sauce, wearing a fried egg as a hat. You’ll like this if you prefer your meat fried and not doused in too much gravy. 

Now we don’t usually order dessert with green tea in it, but we’re glad we made an exception this time with the Green Tea Cake. Made up of forty elegantly stacked thin layers, this cake doesn’t overwhelm with its green tea flavour, and is served with rum soaked raisins. This immediately took us back to Lady M’s Green Tea Cake in New York that one of us Scouters had made a weekly ritual.

Despite the course that came after this – the bill – the cake and its forty layers make us think fondly of our meal at Yuuka. But considering Kofuku’s sushi platter is tasty, cheaper and closer to the office, we’re not sure when we are going to return to this Lower Parel restaurant.

Getting there: Yuuka, 37th floor, Palladium Hotel, Lower Parel, call 61628422, approx. Rs 16,000 for a meal for three with one cocktail each.

This review could not be conducted anonymously but bpb paid for its own meal.

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