Mumbai Food rewind 2017: Dishes and places that ruled this year
2017 will be remembered as the year craft brews turned crowd pleasers, Goan food appealed to vegetarians and Massimo Bottura wowed Mumbai
Back with a bang: Pot Pourri
If you've grown up in the '90s, you'd know the popularity that the Turner Road landmark Pot Pourri enjoyed. After shutting down in 2009, it made a comeback last month in a Chembur mall.
The new avatar strikes all the right chords - it has millennial-favourite music, delights in flavours with crowd-pleasers like Goan-style sausage poutine and roasted vegetable lasagne, and the best part, offers both food and drinks at VFM prices. Packed to the hilt on weekends, you'll also spot tables crowded with patrons from across generations. One hit comeback, this.
Time: 12 pm to 1 am
At: 2nd Floor, Cubic Mall, Vasant Vihar Road, Chembur
Best bar in the city: Toit Taproom and Kitchen
It's only been a month since Toit Taproom and Kitchen took over the space left vacant by blueFROG in the mill district of Lower Parel. But the popular Bengaluru brewpub, which took a while to open post the announcement, is an instant hit with Mumbai's beer lovers, even those who haven't visited the original.
The sprawling space is not only a looker - with interiors that are an ode to Chettinad homes - but also guarantees delicious craft brews such as the fragrant basmati blonde and lip-smacking cocktails that appeal to non-beer heads. What makes this brewpub stand out is its well-thought-out bar eats, including calamari 65 and authentic Kerala beef fry, making it the perfect bar to enjoy a boozy and pocket-friendly nightout.
Time: 12 pm to 1 am
At: Mathuradas Mill Compound, Lower Parel
Home chef find: O'Tenga
This summer, tired of complaining about the lack of Assamese restaurants in Mumbai, Priyangi Borthakur and Joyee Mahanta, who are friends and hail from the northeastern state, decided to start a delivery kitchen in Andheri that helped bring the cuisine out of pop-ups and onto our desks.
From the traditional khar bhaat, where rice is served with alkaline liquid filtered from burnt banana peels, to xaak bhaji (lightly seasoned leafy greens), tenga (tangy curry) and meals featuring pork, chicken and mutton dishes, the seasonal menu includes a variety of options for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
With all the dishes made using traditional recipes passed down via generations and ingredients sourced from their native towns, can it get more authentic than this?
Log on to: O'Tenga's Facebook page
Tastiest vegetarian menu: O Pedro
Think Goan food and you're immediately salivating over sorpotel, vindaloos and fish curries. But O Pedro, a restaurant by The Bombay Canteen folks that can put anyone into a susegaad state of mind with its veal tongue prosciutto and aunty Castro's fish mousse, does a fine job of introducing vegetarians to the sunshine state's cuisine, beyond the continental shack fare.
From Saraswat Brahmin-style Panaji green watana rassa, best mopped up with their savoury banana bread, to roasted corn dangar and veg kheema and doll curry featuring soy kheema-stuffed bottle gourd, a separate menu offers a variety of delicious veg options.
And we've seen porkatarians leave the flavour-packed Margao choriz and bacon pulao unattended to dig into that creamy and comforting Portuguese tomato rice and house-made cheese. And for that, take a bow, Mr Pedro.
Time: 12 pm to 1 am
At: Unit No 2, Jet Airways-Godrej Building, BKC
Best concept: Arth
We witnessed quite a few innovative concept-driven restaurants this year. Like, Farrokh Khambata's Izaya that marries Japanese robata grilling techniques with Thai and Malay flavours.
Or Avik Chatterjee's Poh, an experimental Asian restaurant with a yao dian bar (like a traditional Chinese pharmacy) holding a chest of drawers that open to reveal the ingredients to be used in your cocktail order. But the one that stood out was Arth for its ingenious gas-free kitchen helmed by acclaimed chef Amninder Sandhu.
From mutton kakori kebabs to bird in a nest, where tender, black sesame chicken sits on a nest of yam idiyapam, each dish is prepared using age-old techniques, like slow-cooking and smoking, over a charcoal- and wood-fired sigri as well as in a sand pit. That it features gold-embellished interiors designed by Gauri Khan completes the royal, sensory dining experience.
Time: 12 pm to 3 pm; 7 pm to 12 pm
At: Pinnacle House, PD Hinduja Marg, Bandra West
Exciting new cuisine: Slink & Bardot
With its charcuterie, cheese plate and that oh-so-warm gratin dauphinois, Slink & Bardot arrived as a breath of fresh air - or should we say, glowing like a girl just French kissed - on a foodscape sagging with kaffir lime-flecked oriental offerings.
Launched by Canadian restaurateur Nick Harrison and French chef Alexis Gielbaum (left in pic), the restaurant offers French small plates with some lip-smacking concoctions. That the casual dining experience is non-intimidating and competitively priced makes the trip to off-the-mark Worli Village, where it's located in place of Cafe Nemo, worth it.
Time: 7 pm to 1 am
At: Thadani House, opposite Indian Coast Guard, Worli Village, Worli
Cocktail experiment done well: G&T
We enjoyed interesting boozy night-outs courtesy restaurants that decided to have fun with cocktails, be it concoctions served as three-course meals at Kode, LIITs that swap colas with botanical extracts at Verbena or bloody Marianna with Goan chorizo-infused vodka at Lady Baga.
But what we'd gladly suffer a hangover for are the gin and tonic cocktails by Toast & Tonic. Like, the citrus-y herbalist with basil and orange tonic water, and Gin-tleman's Tonic starring elderflower and grapefruit tonic water and rose petal and cucumber ice.
Time: 12 pm onwards
At: Jet Airways-Godrej Building, BKC
Best VFM and late-night takeaway: ToGo
Launched in Bandra, the delivery kitchen offers a variety of meals under '250. It scores for its extensive, daily-changing menu packed with Indian, Asian and continental fare.
Sent across in sturdy containers, dishes like veg stroganoff with rice and stir-fried veggies, and fish tawa masala meal are satiating. Plus, you can place the order until the wee hours of the morning.
Time: 11.30 am to 4 am
At: Pali Hill, Bandra West.
Cool street find: Suraj Lama's Momos
While Andheri's takeaway and delivery joints offer Delhi-style tandoori momos, it's time to celebrate the authentic version, which was made available in the bylanes of Versova and Seven Bungalows, courtesy Suraj Lama. The former driver to Sonakshi Sinha quit his day job to launch a pop-up momo stall every evening on his bicycle.
Hailing from Mirik village in Darjeeling, Lama uses his mother's traditional recipes, without any artificial colouring or preservatives to prepare the dumplings. A plate of six vegetarian momos costs '50 while the non-veg version is priced at '60.
Tastiest firang pop-up: Garima Arora
Mumbai-bred, Bangkok-based chef Garima Arora, 30, presented her first pop-up on the home turf, in collaboration with the Mahalaxmi fine-dine Masque. She quit journalism in 2008 to find cooking as her calling.
After working with the biggest names in the business - Rene Redzepi's Noma in Copenhagen and Gaggan Anand's eponymous restaurant in Bangkok - she launched Gaa early this year. The one-night pop-up, extended by a day on demand, offered simple yet flavour some dishes featuring seasonal ingredients, reflecting her cuisine philosophy of celebrating local produce.
Pair up, stand out: This year was filled with collaborative pop-ups, like The Bombay Canteen's tie-up with the Bengaluru Oota Company to introduce the city to flavours of Karnataka, Magazine Street Kitchen's showcase of Goa's acclaimed chef Bawmra Jap and Masque bringing down Bangkok's Suhring Brothers to offer modern German fare. Pack-a-Pav also roped in chefs Kelvin Cheung to curate its limited-edition menu.
Cheers to the homegrown: While foreign properties made a mark (read: Nara Thai), restaurants offering specialist cuisines from other cities also lit up Mumbai's F&B scene. We're talking about the Brazilian bonanza Boteco and German eatery Mahlzeit from Pune, and Delhi's Lady Baga offering a Goan shack experience.
Hail the south: The spotlight shifted to south India. Khar's Curry Tales presented home-style flavours from the west coast up till Kerala, Madras Diaries offered a meat-free version of kothu roti, Mahim's Thangabali packed a menu from all the four states and Lower Parel's South High proved that you can enjoy meals on a banana leaf outside Udipi joints too.
Customising is the key: From Food Darzee's keto-friendly dishes to Pod Supply's meals to suit your fitness requirement and dairy-free items at Vegan Burger Kitchen, several delivery kitchens catered to all kinds of dietary requirements.
Bonbon love: Entisi and La Folie du Chocolat infused bonbons with oddball ingredients like ginger and yuzu.
Star chef in the city
Massimo Bottura, the man behind Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Modena, Italy, visited Mumbai on a maiden visit to India, and wowed his fans with inspiring talk sessions and an exclusive dinner showcase. He even obliged by tasting regional Indian fare.
Hall of fame: A salute to names who lit up the culinary scene in diverse ways
When sushi met burrito: Expat Japanese couple Yugo and Martha Tokuchi showed us how sushi needn't be a boring maki roll by launching Yugo Sushi in Bandra. It offers over a dozen sushi burritos with fillings ranging from salmon and prawn to more oddball ones featuring tandoori sauce or butter chicken.
The thaal is for all: Limited to the home dining scene until last year, the Bohri thaal enjoyed its moment in the sun with the opening of The Tha'l Co in Bandra, which offers 33-inch platters heaving with authentic dhungareli tangdi, dal chawal palidu and other specialties from the community.
Best culinary debut writer:âÂÂÂÂMorvarid Fernandez, 61, for her culinary gem, 'Seasoned' For Family And Friends (Notion Press), replete with vignettes from her life in provincial India, and contemporary and old-world recipes that are an ode to her Iranian, Dutch and Irish lineage. She lives with her husband and daughter, David and Katrina, and the family runs the forest eco-lodge The Hermitage in Karnataka.
Activated charcoal: It was alright till the ingredient was used in juices but we had a problem when it turned up in our ice creams and tikkas. Do away with it, please.
Rest In Peace
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A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli