On a misal
We tried a sample from a new breakfast-oriented joint in Bandra that serves local fare. Our verdict: fun, but not fantastic
Yeh Bombay mein sab vada pav kyun kha te hain? For a non-Mumbaikar, at first glance, this may not seem like a wholly misplaced stereotype. The streets, the railway station platforms and the city, in general, are replete with thelawalas serving the popular snack. But, a few months into your stay in the maximum city and you'll surely discover an expanse of Mumbai's foodscape that extends far beyond the peripheries of vada pav. Interestingly, in 2015, at the FoodieHub Awards in London, misal pav was recognised as the world's tastiest vegetarian dish. The accolade was consigned to Dadar's iconic Maharashtrian joint, Aaswad, where the misal is truly deserving of praise.
And if vada pav is the fish and chips of Maharashtrian snacks, misal is its English breakfast counterpart. A tangy broth, brimming with crunchy farsan, topped with chopped coriander and onion and a generous squeeze of lime — it's the kryptonite to the true-blooded city foodie. You can now try it at a place dedicated entirely to the breakfast favourite, Misal Man, a small and nondescript joint that opened six months ago.
At noon, the place — comprising an open-air space matted with artificial grass, and an indoor space with three tables — is empty as a drum. The kitchen is open, and much like the street vendors, who reach into large aluminum vessels filled with all the ingredients of the snack, assembling it together in lightning-fast speed, here, too, the staff resorts to pre-prepared integrants. An hour later, the order comprising a poha misal (Rs 65), black rice bowl (Rs 95) and a classic red misal (Rs 140) are still in place in their take-out packaging.
Black Rice Bowl
The classic misal paired with multi-grain pav is palatably spicy. It's topped with crisp farsan and papad. The non-traditional choice of pav somehow works well, but it will be fair to say that the dish doesn't leave you pining for more either. The poha misal is an intriguing concoction of two breakfast staples from the country. Here, regular poha is tossed with the mixed sprouts that go into a misal. The idea is nice, but the dish itself is a bore — it's lacklustre in terms of flavour. But perhaps the biggest letdown is the black rice bowl. Four hours after consumption, we're still not sure why it's called "black" rice. Even after drowning the mixture of plain, boiled rice, sprouts and onion in misal, it refuses to perk up.
If you are a Bandraite seeking a different kind of breakfast snack, give this place a shot. But if you prefer the real deal, head to the Dadar landmark instead.
AT The Misal Man, Mangal Kunj, Linking Road, Bandra West.
TIME 9 am to 8.30 pm
Misal Man didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
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