A playhouse for palates
The much-loved and popular casual dining restaurant of Delhi opens its flagship venture in Bandra on May 2. With a name that literally means a playhouse, Kanika Sharma finds out the mischief behind this Asian cuisine restaurant
Ever fantasised about going to a restaurant (and hip ones, we mean) in your pj alterego — the nonchalant self who is too cool even without the shebang of designer wear and whatnot. Mortifying? Well, as a budding teenager-to-be of twelve, we remember that heart in the mouth moment when busy slurping over two globs of rasgullas, we caught our crush suppressing his laughter over our faded sheep-printed pajamas.
Suave, earnest and absolutely hands-on, Rahul Khanna and Kabir Suri of Mamagoto waive off our past demons when they say, “this is a place you can chill out at and dine in your shorts too.” Hallelujah! Having dined at a New Delhi branch, the cavernous Bandra space, gulped us in.
Cooled, sated and wide-eyed, the grey grungy walls “styled like a New York art gallery” (in Suri’s words) accompanied with the kick-ass canvas prints heartened one to “play with food” a.k.a. mamagoto. Shaped like an L, the haunt offers a motley of seating spots — red upholstered chairs, bang opposite the bar that are majestic. For cat-like personalities, cubbyholes such as “the jail” table prove to be ideal, and for open-space lovers, a glass veneer that has conveniently framed creepers, thanks to the neighbouring pizza joint, give the semblance of an al fresco.
Tipped between generous and contained amounts of alcohol (no licence yet), coolness and experimentation, Suri informs, “this is our flagship store. I was into hedge management in New York and then went to London where I involved with restaurants: Zuma and Roka. Rahul was studying hospitality at Laussane Hotel School in Switzerland.” Jayanti Duggal, the tang in the sauce, has helped both men in their base kitchen operations banking on her 25-year experience in the catering business. We gawk when we hear that the Bandra chef had been hired one year in advance!
Without much ado, we began relishing the piquancy that had infused the air. Picture us gnawing at the delicious Canadian Pork Spare Ribs (Rs 1,195) with a Japanese twist to it. The peanuts’ crunch and the evanescent pork were yum. Next, Hot Basil Chicken Cups (Rs 270) were primarily lettuce leaves holding minced chicken with crushed pepper and bird’s eye chilli that were lukewarm in comparison. Ready to bow to our new favourite summer binge — Krabi Style Glass Noodle Salad (Rs 275) popped in our mouths with its electrifying lightness.
Coal Fried Eggplant (Rs 295) was another surprise. Mirin and Japanese pepper were welcome flavours in our food travels, too. Absolute winners were Rock Shrimp Tempura (Rs 395) and Chiang Mai Train Station Noodles (Rs 275). Between our mouthfuls, we sheepishly meet Suri’s gaze who says, “Chiang Mai is a complete meal for one. But the Rock Shrimp Tempura is our favourite.” Light and cottony with divine homemade chilli mayo and Ponzu pepper powder; it made our day.
As we tucked into the Caramel Sponge Cake with Toffee Sauce (Rs 285), the excess sweetness cut the luxurious nature of the dessert. Khanna plans to expand to at least six other city spots with an eye on Bangalore and Dubai, too.
At 133, Gazebo House, ground floor, Hill Road, Bandra (W).