Food nirvana: 7,000-sq-ft full of only kilo-plus crabs in Mumbai

Updated: Jan 15, 2019, 19:13 IST | Hemal Ashar

Exclusive >> From how it will replace a 25-year-old jewellery store in Khar to the quality of the fare that will be on offer; all the dope on Dharshan Munidasa's Ministry of Crab, launching in February

Food nirvana: 7,000-sq-ft full of only kilo-plus crabs in Mumbai
Chef Dharshan Munidasa (centre) with Mahela Jayawardene (left) and Kumar Sangakkara

After much conjecture and buzz, the high-profile Ministry of Crab, with its flagship restaurant in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is all set to open in the city at the Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri (TBZ) West End building on 14th Road, Khar, sometime in February. Vijay Zaveri, the owner of TBZ West End, confirmed the location to mid-day.

Zaveri said, "The TBZ jewellery showroom used to be on the ground floor for the past 25 years. It has now moved to the third floor of my building and Ministry of Crab is set to open in its place. I think they are looking at a February opening, I do not have all the details as I am not associated with the restaurant in any other capacity except as owner of the space."

The TBZ West End building in Khar. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The TBZ West End building in Khar. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Location, baby
Zaveri added, "The space is approximately 7,000 square feet and the venue is already well-known because of the TBZ showroom, so it is a high-visibility location. I have been following reports about the excitement this brand has created. It is going to make this suburb a major seafood destination. It is a great brand and much loved in Sri Lanka. Mumbaikars, too, want to try something new and are ready for different cuisines or food cooked in a different way."

The Ministry of Crab is owned by celebrity chef Dharshan Munidasa and Sri Lanka cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. The restaurant website says the Colombo restaurant, a, 'celebration of Sri Lanka', is housed in a preserved 400-year-old Dutch hospital. When asked about the location in Mumbai, Munidasa, who spoke to mid-day over the phone, said, "I do not have the ground details." However, a representative of Gourmet Investments Pvt Ltd, which is a franchisee of Ministry of Crab, said, "We would not like to reveal any details as yet."

Date fate
All through last year and even before that, the Ministry of Crab has been whetting the city's seafood appetite with claims it was 'soon' opening in the city. In 2018, this 'soon' seemed to have solidified with reports stating it would open mid-2018 as the Sri Lankan cricketers were keen on launching during the Indian Premier League season. The venue though had always remained top secret. The crustacean also refused to crawl to Indian shores on the said date and 2018 went by without a Ministry of Crab on the horizon.

Last year, Munidasa was at a Lower Parel venue where he told this paper, "The trouble with India is sourcing ingredients; we have to ensure we get high-quality catch. I have been to Sassoon Dock at 6 am once."

Munidasa had also said he had tried the crab delicacies at Trishna, Mahesh Lunch Home and Gajalee. "They were very good. But my challenge is to source 150 crabs weighing 1kg each!" Challenges aside, former Sri Lankan captains Jayawardene and Sangakkara will be hoping for a great Indian innings.

Rhea Dalal

Mumbaikars review the colombo restaurant
Rhea Dalal,
food blogger and Parsi cuisine caterer
'When my husband and I were going to Colombo a couple of years ago, a lot of people told us that eating at Ministry of Crab is a must. There was huge hype, it was like you literally had to jump through hoops to get into the restaurant. But, when we got there, the food did not live up to all that talk. I have travelled fairly extensively on our West coast and have had the freshest seafood; the restaurant did not match up. It was strictly okay. The below par service, too, was shocking for a world famous place'

Smita Deo

Smita Deo,
Author of 'Karwar to Kolhapur via Mumbai', a food book
'We had to pull strings in Mumbai for a table at the restaurant in 2015. The ambience was pleasant though not extraordinary. The food was strictly okay, I think the place was overrated and over hyped. There was no choice for vegetarians, which was very disappointing. We have many vegetarians here, so it will be interesting to see their Mumbai menu. Sustainability will also be a factor, as we see many places opening in a blaze of publicity doing well at first, but declining later'

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