Mumbai Food: Bandra eatery serves New York-styled food at a pocket-friendly price
A visit to an eatery modelled on a typical diner in New York reaffirms that it serves great food at reasonable prices
Okay, so we have never actually visited New York yet. But given the amount of American entertainment that has seeped into our brain over the years, we do have a fair idea of what life in the Big Apple looks like.
For instance, the picture we have of a typical roadside eatery in the city is painted with red leather sofas and metal chairs in a cosy space, chequered tiles on the floor, and a serving area with the kitchen partially visible where wholesome no-frills food is prepared. And that’s pretty much what we get when we enter New York City Diner in Bandra on a weeknight. Except that a huge TV screen on one wall has Kumar Sanu telling an interviewer about his life in Bollywood, breaking into song once in a while.
Southern fried prawns
The place is empty. So, we settle down on the lone sofa and learn about how Sanu first worked as a waiter in a Chembur restaurant when he shifted from Bengal to Mumbai. The manager hands us the menu, and we discover that it’s expanded from the time that The Guide first visited this joint. But it’s still an out-and-out homage to American food. While sections like “From the halal carts of New York” remain unchanged, the mains now include “Retro Americano meals” from which we choose southern fried prawns ('259). We also ask for salad Anthony Bourdain ('250), not just because the manager recommends it highly, but also because it’s what we had in mind anyway since we are die-hard fans of the late celebrity chef, who redefined what it means to be cool.
The salad arrives first and has a surprising layout. You’d normally expect the portion of ham in one to be shredded and tossed with greens before a bit of dressing is drizzled on top. This one, though, lets each ingredient flourish on its own. Two whole slices of chicken ham are folded and topped with a couple of slices of tomato and the most delectable poached peaches you can hope to have. They sit on a bed of romaine lettuce before the dressing and some chilli flakes are sprinkled on top. There’s also a bit of soft homemade cheese on one side to accentuate the flavour. And they all come together so beautifully well that we can picture even Bourdain going, “Mmmm,” if he’d ever had the chance to sample the item.
The southern fried prawns, meanwhile, is a meal in itself. The plate is loaded with subtly flavoured Continental rice, crispy garlic bread and a light salad of carrots and lettuce. The deal also includes a triangular slice of pudding that’s served after you’re done. But the star of the show is undoubtedly the prawn. These six full-bodied crustaceans have been batter-fried so perfectly that each juicy bite makes for a welcome explosion in our mouth. So much so that we have hardly any space left for the pudding and thus put it away after a bite, since it’s anyway the only disappointing part of our entire experience.
So the point is that, overall, NYCD is one of the best places for VFM food that we have been to in Mumbai in a while (a word here for the cold coffee that, priced at '190, is a chocolate-y delight). The eatery is in fact so good that the proprietors of Candies, located 10 feet away, might want to pull up their socks to prevent loyal customers from gravitating to the formidable competition next door. And will we ourselves make a third visit to the place? You bet we will, though we’ll miss having the gregarious Mr Sanu around when we drop in the next time.
The Guide first reviewed New York City Diner in October 2018. We conduct select, anonymous follow-ups to assess maintenance of standards.
Time 11 am to 11 pm
At Shop no 20, ONGC Colony, opposite Lilavati Hospital, Reclamation, Bandra West.
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