Mumbai Food: Cuffe Parade restaurants turns 25
As a city restaurant completes 25 years, we speak with patrons about what the eatery means to them and their favourite eats
Our colleague has a thought-provoking WhatsApp status. It reads, "People make places." It's true, isn't it? Chai can be 30 minutes away from a click of your finger. It can arrive in oddly shaped cardboard boxes along with peppy thermos glasses. But we will still settle for the saccharine-sweet version served in questionably washed cutting glasses because it's familiar. We know the chaiwallah and he knows us. For all of us at this newspaper, our chai is as good as Chiman, the resident chaiwallah. Indeed, people do make places, and what better way to understand a 25-year-old Asian restaurant than through its people?
So, a few days ago, when Cuffe Parade's iconic Thai Pavilion celebrated its silver jubilee, we decided to connect with Joe D'Mello, food and beverage supervisor, who also completed 25 years of service on the same day.
"You know the famous singer Hariharan?" D'Mello inquires humbly. "He has two boys. Back in the day when they'd come to dine here, his boys would hold my finger and roam around the restaurant. I used to take care of them. One of them [Karan Hariharan] is a singer now. So, a few weeks back he was performing in the banquet, and he came all the way here to say hello, and asked, 'Joe uncle, you remember me?' I was confused. Then, he told me he was Hariharan's son. I couldn't believe how big he has become," D'Mello shares, giving us a peek into the generations-long legacy of the eatery.
Another time, a customer made D'Mello utter the name of a dish, gai haw bai toey, repeatedly. "She really liked the way it sounded," he recalls, adding that his favourite dish from the haunt is the light and piquant John Dory, a fish preparation. And this legacy has engulfed more than one family. So, we spoke to some of Thai Pavilion's oldest patrons and this is what they had to say.
Time 12.30 pm to 2.45 pm, 7 pm to 11. 45pm
At The President, Cuffe Parade.
John Dory rules
Ex-lawyer and socialite Kajal Anand can't get enough of the John Dory. Prepared with lemon and garlic, the dish is a hit with fitness enthusiasts especially.
Anand tells us, "This is my absolute favourite restaurant in Mumbai and I have been coming here since it opened. The food is amazing. I can say it is better than what I've eaten in Thailand."
Brand consultant Nisha Jamvwal loves the simple Thai green curry made with tender chicken pieces cooked in Thai herbs and coconut milk.
"This hotel is the same for me today as it was on that magical day years ago, when I came here for my first date," she shares, adding, "I love the fragrance of Thai food, the coconut flavour, and the sweet and sour taste."
Lamb all the way
Thai is veteran actor Suniel Shetty's preferred cuisine. Understandably then, Shetty is a committed patron.
Mana and Suniel Shetty
"I am an obsessive Thai food eater and I love this restaurant. I have been coming here for almost 20 years," he reveals, listing crispy lamb, a spicy dish of fried lamb juliennes, as his favourite.
Som tum matters
Rasik Patel is a thought leader and mentor, for whom the restaurant feels like home despite its luxurious setting. "From the butler to the chef, everyone gives you personal attention.
They accommodate my needs, making my experiences amazing. The food is authentic, and I love the som tum here," he admits, adding, "The ambience is perfect for a family dinner as well as a romantic date. It's a great venue for a meal."
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