Mumbai Food: All-veg restaurant in Girgaum has fusion food
An all-veg restaurant in south Mumbai takes fusion food to a new level with dishes that champion diverse flavours
There is always a sense of trepidation in asking a hard-core meat lover to swap his kebabs and rogan josh for a pure vegetarian meal. Plan it for a Sunday afternoon, and the pressure on the fellow diner is more than what the chef deals with inside his kitchen. It is under these circumstances that we head to Happy House Kitchen (HHK), a newly opened all-veg restaurant sitting atop the elevated turn at the junction where Chowpatty transforms into Walkeshwar.
Refired rajmah kaise-diyya. Pics/Snigdha Hasan
"That's a lovely view!" remarks our companion before we enter, as a flight of pigeons lifts into the air from the Chowpatty Bandstand, and we heave our first sigh of relief. The chic interiors done up in pastel colours and the chequered floor remind one of a typical Parisian café; the only difference is that instead of clear windowpanes overlooking the street, the glass here is frosted. Which is a pity, considering the view, but some might like it for the privacy it offers.
Broccoli, corn, and cheese dim sum
The menu is extensive, and to keep room to try a dish from most sections, we skip the soups and salads. We struggle for a bit while picking between Korean bao bhaji and sabudana arancini from the three pages of small plates, but instantly settle for avocado hummus (Rs 329) when our partner makes the suggestion.
If it's not good, we can duck the blame, you see. A pretty-as-a-picture plate of small khamiri rotis - their Indian twist to pita - humus in its guacamole-green goodness, with sun-dried cherry tomatoes on the side arrives. The sprinkling of toasted black sesame and paprika on the humus is a welcome addition and it doesn't take us long to mop up the generous quantity with the soft rotis. But the seal of approval comes when the partner says, "We can come here just for this." The warm-but-not-intrusive staff, and the fairly prompt service tick a few more boxes.
Chipotle dal makhani
Heaving the second sigh of relief, we march ahead confidently to order the next dish from the menu, which quite clearly, aims to beat the stiff vegetarian competition in the neighbourhood with its edgy, fusion dishes - even if there is khichiya on one of the pages for some familiar comfort. From the kaise-diyyas (we'll pardon the pun only if the dish is worth it) section, we order the refired rajmah option (Rs 339), and choose the broccoli, corn, cheese variant (Rs389) from the dim sums. Our vegetarian benchmark for quesadillas are the ones served by Shivaji Park's iconic Ovenfresh, a dish we have never tired of. HHK's kaise-diyyas is vastly different, but pack a punch with the beans, chutney and guacamole. Plus, full marks to the chef for going easy on the cream.
The dim sums are in keeping with the disappointing trend in the city, where a huge cane basket reveals a sparse serving three or four pieces. The four dips - peanut, soy, schezwan and spring onion-garlic - are delicious, as are the delicately folded dim sums. But we could have done with some more.
For the mains, we opt for chipotle dal makhni (Rs 369), from the NRI specials, and order a multi-grain roti and rice to go with it. "Mexican body with an Indian soul," goes the description, and fittingly, there's a tomato salad and Bikaneri nachos churi served on the side. The simmered black dal itself is laced with chipotle chilli and unsalted French butter. We love the thought, but would still prefer the original maa ki daal. Our partner, on the other hand, loves the twist, and it's evident that the mutton and chicken fix - albeit temporarily - has been forgotten.
There's just about enough tummy space for dessert. And we quickly settle for glass tiramisu (Rs 299), a dish that, going by our previous experience in the neighbourhood, not many eateries have been able to master. It arrives on a coffee-dusted plate, and one bite in, we know there couldn't have been a happier ending to a meal that won over palates and dietary preferences that diverge like two roads in a wood.
TIME: 11 am to 12 am
AT: Girgaum Chowpatty Bandstand, Loyalka Marg, Dadi Seth Lane 1, opposite Kilachand Garden, Girgaum.
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