Mumbai food: Is the new Mani's outlet in Chembur worth a visit? Find out
The new outpost of Matunga’s famed South Indian culinary landmark scores high on food but the service needs a shake-up
Eighty-year-old Mani’s Lunch Home shut its Matunga outlet earlier this year, only to move to a larger space (about 1,000 sq ft) in Chembur. The new space is upgraded in every way, from the prices to the interiors. However, the food retains the same familiar flavours.
At Chembur, the snaking queues and half-hour wait time are indications that Mani’s is slowly reaching the level of popularity it enjoyed in Matunga. We arrived late on a weeknight to find customers thronging the entrance, patiently waiting their turn.
Ghee Paper Roast Dosa
We were lucky to find a table in 10 minutes, which we shared with a couple. After placing the order, we took a quick look around. The interiors are stark and sterile — white walls, metal chairs, white tables and glass partitions. The only decorative element was a wall that’s painted with mythological figures. The restaurant can pack in 60 to 65 guests at a time.
Rave about rasam
About 20 minutes later, time we spent reminiscing about earlier meals at Mani’s, we realised that nothing had come to our table. After much confusion and requesting two different waiters, we finally got Filter Coffee (`25), Rasam Vada (`55) and Ghee Paper Roast Dosa (`190).
The dosa was massive, and spilled out on both ends of the table. It was as promised: paper thin, crisp and laden with ghee. The accompanying ‘masala’ was a delicious, spicy potato and onion mixture tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves. The vada was soft and made a delicious combination with the light and fragrant rasam.
The filter coffee was disappointing. It was milky, semi-sweet and made us miss the version we’ve enjoyed at Café Madras.
A complete meal
The Veg Thali (`80) made us glad that we had been judicious about eating the dosa. The thali had a spicy beetroot and coconut sabzi, a creamy dal and gourd sabzi, a light as soup rasam, sambhar that had an overpowering taste of coriander seeds, dahi and a delicious, semi-dry bhindi and coconut sabzi. This was served with pickle, papad and two rotis; a big mound of rice arrived five minutes later.
It’s a given that Mani’s will serve delicious food. What marred our experience was the shoddy service. A meal that should’ve taken us 20 minutes ended up with us occupying a table there for an hour.
We did justice to (almost) everything we ate. As we were leaving, the owner KS Narayanaswamy wished us good night, and remarked disapprovingly, “You wasted half your paper dosa.” We muttered sheepish apologies, promising to return and this time, wipe off everything we ordered.
Time: 7.30 am to 10 pm (shut on Mondays)
At: Ground floor, Komal Building, Road No 2, near Chembur Station, Chembur (E)