The best of 2018: Places to visit, dishes to try

Updated: 30 December, 2018 10:15 IST | SMD Team | Mumbai

From our archives, here are the best places to visit, dishes to try, people to meet - all that made news in mid-day in 2018

Siddharth Menon and Taaruk Raina in
Siddharth Menon and Taaruk Raina in

Journey with Genie
What: Aladdin at the NCPA
Where: NCPA Marg, Nariman Point
When: Till January 13

Aladdin, the musical, which was produced by BookMyShow in the middle of last year, continues to go strong. Puranjit Dasgupta, who plays Genie, says he doesn't watch the film too often. "Genie was scripted around Robin Williams, not the other way around. Genie is a very interesting character; Aladdin and he share a bond. Aladdin is played by two actors: Siddharth Menon and Taaruk Raina. The young heroes say that the best part about the play is that it's the story of hope — an underdog who finds a full life.

Rahul Chemburkar

Drink with the community
What: Restoration of Mumbai's pyaavs
Where: Anand Vithal Koli Pyaav on Gokhale Road and Sir Cowasji Jehangir's Pyaav in Kalachowki
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Around two years ago, conservation architect Rahul Chemburkar started the Mumbai Pyaav Project on social media to campaign for the restoration of the 30-odd colonial-era water fountains (pyaavs). Having restored the Kothari Pyaav this year, Chemburkar is now focusing on the Anand Vithal Koli Pyaav and Sir Cowasji Jehangir's Pyaav.

Prithviraj Kapoor

Turn time
What: Kisaan at Prithvi Theatre
Where: 20 Janki Kutir Juhu Church Road
When: June-July 2019

Kunal Kapoor, who runs Prithvi Theatre today, is reviving seven of his grandfather, Prithviraj Kapoor's, plays. The first one, Deewar, directed by Sunil Shanbag, was staged in November, and the second one, Kisaan, directed by Abhishek Majumdar, will be staged in the new year. "These are things [issues] we're still dealing with today," says Kapoor. "That's why I think they have a life. Definitely, we need to adapt them, [just] like Shakespeare. Prithviraj Kapoor would have 50-60 people onstage; his plays would go on for four-and-a-half hours. That's not feasible today. So, you need to edit them and bring them up to speed. The idea is [to have] a director's interpretation or his approach to the classics."

Enjoy still art

Enjoy still art
What: Dutch photography at CSMVS
Where: Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation, CSMVS, Fort
When: Till February 10
Entry: Rs 85

Still/Life at JNAF presents the Dutch obsession with the humble, the boring, the drab. Sixteen photographers are represented in the show, with 48 photographs and five videos, with a thread of irony binding them all. Marcel Feil, curator of the show, says about the Bouquet series (pictured above), which is a shot of cutouts of flowers and fruits, "For most people, these are visually related to the Dutch painterly tradition of still-life painting in the 17th century, with flowers and fruits. But, it's not what you think it is. The original paintings are appreciated because of their naturalistic qualities. In the 17th century, when an artist decided to paint fruit, it was quite exceptional, because fruit in itself is not so special."

Areez Katki

View Parsi art on Instagram
What: Areez Katki's textile exhibition
Where: Instagram account @areezkatki

Auckland-based textile artist Areez Katki's debut solo exhibition was inspired by the fabrics he found in his Parsi nani's house in Tardeo. "I'm here on an artist's residency, to finish my first body of work," he says. To open on February 2, 2019, at Malcolm Smith Gallery, in Auckland, it will carry Mumbai in its threads, as Katki carries his heritage in his heart. "I have attached this great romance to this house and this colony and this community." His designs will appear on rags, towels, doilies and tablecloths.

KR Meera

Expand your author list
What: English translations of South Indian literature
Where: Oxford University Press/Penguin India/Amazon Westland

Book lovers have clearly surprised the publishing world with their insurmountable appetite for South Indian literature. It's no surprise why several new translations, including that of KR Meera, Perumal Murugan and Sangeetha Sreenivasan were so warmly received. In 2019, will see more translations and writings.


Head for a cosy concert
What: Baithaks in a Borivli home

Co-founded by five music lovers, Hamsadhwani is a series of baithaks held in a Borivli home. For instance, their inaugural baithak in August 2017 was led by Aditya Khandwe, shishya of Padma Shri recipient Ulhas Kashalkar. Khandwe says, "In an auditorium, the music may not reach every person, but in chamber music, if it's set up as intimately as Hamsadhwani is, then the game changes because the music reaches every individual." To ensure that, Amritha and Raghuram have converted a 3BHK house into a music venue.

Invest in heritage

Invest in heritage
What: Art Deco furniture
Where: Moorthy's, Block 5/1, Suryodaya Mills Compound, Tardeo

The antique stores of Mumbai — Moorthy's in Tardeo, Phillips Antiques in Colaba, Camelot in Kemps Corner — specialise in restoration and resale. But, what they have started paying particular attention to, because the Indian buyer has furniture from the Art Deco and mid-century period, antiques as young as 100 years old. In 2018, Moorthy's launched Pooranawalla, a dedicated space that will only sell Art Deco and mid-century furniture. As RK Moorthy, owner of Moorthy's, says, "Mid-century furniture is commanding absolutely fantastic value in some of the auction houses."

Saif Ali Khan with wife Kareena Kapoor and son Taimur Ali Khan

Get regular updates on Taimur
What: Follow Taimur Ali Khan's life
Where: Instagram

We agree that Taimur Ali Khan could easily be the cutest star kid around. But that's not all that is making him so popular. Crazy fan accounts and paparazzi photographers, are fuelling his celebrity status. They stake out his haunts, and post details about his outfits. There is even an Instagram account dedicated to his nanny. With Taimur returning the love, the New Year is going to be special.

LGBTQI community

Laught it off
What: Stand-up comedy by LGBTQI community
Who: Navin Noronha
Log in: (for new show details)

If Hannah Gadsby's stand-up special Nanette was radical, our comedians from the LGBTQI community aren't too far behind. Navin Noronha, who is Mumbai's first openly gay stand-up comedian, has been discussing everything from religion to homophobia. Noronha started out with his show Coming out Soon, and will continue to regale us in the New Year with his special, The Good Child.

Recall Gobhai

Recall Gobhai
What: A Mehlli Gobhai retrospective
Where: NGMA, Sir Cowasji Jahangir Public Hall, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort
When: March 2019 (dates to be decided)
For: Rs 20

One of India's greatest abstractionists, who passed away in 2018, Mehlli Gobhai's canvasses showed little but spoke a lot. Shireen Gandhy's Gallery Chemould will be presenting a retrospective of his works in March 2019, along with curators Nancy Adajania and Ranjit Hoskote at the NGMA.

Buy yourself bite-sized food

Buy yourself bite-sized food
What: Miniature art became the new IT trend
Where: Instagram

They are artistes who are all about the littlest of details. Their palm-sized collectibles are not only cute, but explore new materials and the need to innovate. In 2018, internationally, and in India, works by miniature artistes — everything from food to TV show memorabilia — became the new hip collectibles to go online shopping for. In a time and society, where extra large is the order of the day, and miniature art is a refreshing genre, 2019 promises to see more of it.

Play for kids

Play for kids
What: Theatre for toddlers
Where: Shows at Bandra and Goregaon (venue not decided yet)

When Shaili Sathyu's Chidiya, Udd was staged in April this year, it created ripples in the theatre scene. The play explores the relationship between a bird and little child. Sathyu's next series of shows will be staged in February.

Turn 150 in style

Turn 150 in style
What: 150th anniversary of St Xavier's
Where: St Xavier's High School, Dhobi Talao and Cooperage Football Ground
When: Jan 3, 2019 and Jan 5, 2019 respectively
For: Rs 1,500 to Rs 7,000
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Here's a chance for proud alumni of two of the city's most prestigious educational institutions — St Xavier's High School and St Xavier's College — to join in their sesquicentenary celebrations. At the college alumni reunion at Cooperage, the meet and greet function, will be followed by a cultural programme and dinner.

Give musicians hope

Give musicians hope
What: Where corporate bands go to play
Where: Facebook

The aim of The Hope Circuit is to "give corporate bands the limelight they deserve," says musician Howard Pereira, the man behind the initiative, where a corporate band opens for a well-established band at Hard Rock Cafe every month. The bands that play are from all corporate sectors, banking being the most popular one. Most have learnt music growing up and gave it up for many reasons, monetary being the primary.

Hearing impaired

Learn music despite obstacles
What: Music for the hearing impaired
Who: Arvin David
Log in: 9987885955

For the last few years, 30-year-old Vashi resident Arvin David, who runs the music company Connect, has been introducing students with hearing loss to the beats of the djembe — a rope-tuned goblet drum with origins in West Africa. To accomplish this, he invented the "vibration box" — a two-seater box, made with wood of a particular thickness and width, inside which speakers are placed. David's djembe is connected to the speakers via a wireless microphone. He is not alone. Breach Candy resident Nicole Fernandes recently started an electronic keyboard tutorial on YouTube, Music For The Deaf.

Kirsten Varela

Head to this park, not a gym
What: India's first calisthenics park in Malad
Where: Elysium Calisthenics Park, Malad
For: Monthly membership for Rs 1,000

Kirsten Varela has turned his backyard into a no-frills calisthenics park and christened it Elysium, a place of perfect happiness. "The best part about calisthenics is that it's mainly 90 per cent upper body," he says. "Calisthenics is mixing your body with movements like mobility, stability and just trying to create a beautiful movement."

Let love find you on an app

Let love find you on an app
What: How LGBTQ is finding love on dating apps
Where: Tinder/OkCupid/Delta

This year saw the launch of apps like Delta, which are LGBTQ friendly, and Tinder also opened up its platform to be more inclusive. As they opened up to us, members of the LGBTQ told us why dating apps, which helped them personalise their needs, gave them an opportunity to look for exactly what they want.

Dip into memories of India

Dip into memories of India
What: The Generation 1947 Project
Where: The Citizens Archive of India
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If your grandparent or relative lived in pre-Independent India, and had interesting stories to share from that era, it's time you nominate them for the Citizen Archive of India's Generation 1947 project. The project will record and archive stories of Indian citizens who've witnessed India through two centuries, using oral history and material memories.

Get Insta help

Get Insta help
What: Giving advice as a social media influencer
Where: Instagram

They are very young, but that doesn't stop them from giving their thousands of followers advice on issues ranging from exam stress to mental health to suicide. India's young Instagrammers, themselves vocal about their problems, make themselves relatable to their followers. They address the fans' issues through their posts, live streams (where they take questions), YouTube channel, and also private messages. As we enter 2019, they get even more important than ever before.

Sanskrit film

Watch a Sanskrit film
What: Punyakoti, India's first crowdsourced Sanskrit animation film

Punyakoti — the first crowdsourced attempt at making a full-length 2D animated film in Sanskrit — has reached its post production stage and will release in 2019. Over 100 people from across the country have collaborated on the project, including actor Revathi, music maestro Ilaiyaraja, National award-winning editor Manoj Kannath and puppeteers Anupama and Vidyashankar Hoskere.

Build your own 'woke' army

Build your own 'woke' army
What: LGBTQi community gets warriors in uniform
Where: Bombay International School, Gilbert Building, 2nd Cross Lane, Babulnath
Call: Humsafar Trust on 26673800

Sensing the growing homophobia in schools, former student Kabir Karamchandani formed a support group titled Garv in February to address the issue. While the 20-year-old may be miles away, pursuing his higher education in Oberlin, Ohio, his legacy is being carried forward by a dedicated team of 'woke' boys and girls. Interestingly, the Garv initiative might be included as a case study in a large scale survey conducted by Humsafar Trust on bullying in schools.

Enjoy a good rap

Enjoy a good rap
What: Diss Rap is the rage
Where: YouTube

In October, the Diss track trend hit India when Mumbai underground rapper Emiway took on popular singer Raftaar. When rapper Raftaar said in an interview that there was no money to be made in underground rapping and named Emiway, the 22-year-old Mumbai rapper released a diss track called Samajh Mein Aaya Kya trying to address the issue. Then Raftaar released a song, then Emiway released another... well, you get the drift. What makes it good for you is that you can follow them and enjoy some quality music.

Ameya Davda and Devak Davda

Keep the extras somewhere safe
What: Private, lockable and secure self-storage units
Price: Rs 299 onward
Call: 9930832832

One man's problem could well be another man's opportunity. And entrepreneurs Ameya Davda and Devak Davda's startup, Space Valet, know that well. This year, they launched a service that aims to be a one-stop storage solution that offers private, lockable and secure self-storage units of various sizes to stash your belongings. You browse the website and find a suitable storage plan, then order as many boxes as you need, and then pack and label your belongings.

Go back to an old favourite

Go back to an old favourite
What: Ludo makes a raring comeback

What is it about Ludo King that has made it beat Temple Run, Candy Crush and Pokemon Go, to become the No. 1 free game on both Google Play Store and App Store? We dug deep to find out how this trend has seamlessly penetrated the lower rungs of the socio-economic segment, galvanising a strata that hadn't warmed up to digital games. Raamesh Gowri Raghavan, an ancient Indian games researcher and professor of archaeology at Mumbai University, believes the game has an innately competitive element which makes it addictive.

Follow the line

Follow the line
What: Lokesh Padmashali draws portraits with a single line
Where: @lokeshpadmashali

Lokesh Padmashali takes 30 seconds to make a portrait. "A single line has endless possibilities," he says. A graphic designer employed at a design firm in Prabhadevi, Padmashali has mastered the technique of making a single line bend to his wishes. On his Instagram account, the artist has a virtual sketchbook, on which he has uploaded his sketches. The portraits are of friends and celebrities, and showcase the deft ways in which a line can twist and turn continuously.

Bring home a robot

Bring home a robot
What: Miko, an interactive robot
Buy on: Flipkart, Paytm Mall,,
For: Rs 19,000

This year, Pramod Rathi picked up Miko, an emotionally intelligent robot, at the IIT-B Techfest to address the relentless questions fired by his kids. His review? "My children took to Miko immediately. Also, unlike its Chinese counterpart, Miko has an adorable voice that's not robotic. We can relate to it." Miko is built to engage children between five and 12 years of age. To ensure an age appropriate discussion, it comes with a filter that ensures the answers are child-safe.

Play statue

Play statue
What: Two sculptors carry forward generations-old skill
Where: Sequeira Art Works, Vasai
Call: 9764838600 (Benzoni)

Go-to sculptors Mingleshwar and Benzoni Sequeira are breaking new ground in design while ensuring that their three-generation-old skill retains its traditional origins. The duo is known for iconography, statues and restoration across not just Mumbai but also across the globe. Prominent contributions in the city and suburbs include a 15-foot cross at Salvation Church in Dadar, crucifix at Mount Carmel Church in Bandra, restoration of St John the Baptist in Thane, among several others.

Eat like Bappa

Eat like Bappa
What: Veggies for Ganesha
Where: Ranbhaji Mahostavs across the city

Little did people know that Lord Ganesha eats veggies. In several households, the Lord is greeted with a rushi panchami veg mix, which includes yam, pumpkin, okra, snake gourd, ridge gourd and sponge gourd cooked with aloo (colocasia) and amaranth leaves. Next year, when Ganeshotsav is around the corner, look out for Ranbhaji Mahostavs, organised across the city, to know what you have been missing out on.

Mike Harrington

Tickle your funny bone
What: Mike Harrington, an expat comedian
Where: Commonly performs in Hamster Comedy, Powai; Workbay, Bandra West; Canvas Laugh Club, Lower Parel; and The Looney, The Lover and The Poet in Khar West

Thirty-three-year-old New Yorker Mike Harrington is a corporate consultant by day and stand-up comic by night. He moved to Mumbai about a year ago and has successfully cracked the local audience up with his infectious humour. Harrington's stint with comedy started three years ago in Hong Kong, after attending a bunch of open mics there. He now performs at various locations across Mumbai.

Keep an eye on the weather

Keep an eye on the weather
What: Mumbai to get a grid of mini-weather stations
Follow: Ankur Puranik on Facebook

Technocrat Ankur Puranik is spearheading an initiative mooted by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region to create a grid of mini-weather stations by roping in other weather enthusiasts. The weather bureau currently receives updates only from Santacruz and Colaba. But the new initiative will allow every area in the city to have its own weather station.

Buy a cane chair, help out

Buy a cane chair, help out
What: Visually impaired group manufactures furniture
Call: 9892845345

For the last 27 years, Maharashtra Andha Audyogik Utpadak Sahakari Sanstha (Maryadit), a Maharashtra-based cooperative society run by the visually impaired, has been maintaining and manufacturing furniture at all state government-run institutions. Their handcrafted cane chairs and tables, and upholstery can be seen at the BMC office, Bombay High Court, sessions court, sales tax, excise and police departments. If recruitment is through word of mouth, so are contracts, which means you can order from them, too.

Makarand Deshpande

Celebrating the golden milestone
What: Makarand Deshpande's 50th play, Epic Gadbad

Makarand Deshpande, the maverick playwright, finished his 50th original script, Epic Gadbad, marking a milestone in a glorious journey onstage. A farce, it is a conclusion to his previous play, Shakespearecha Mhatara, which was a hilarious take on King Lear. While it was first staged at Prithvi Theatre in July 2018, the playwright has plans to bring it back to the city in 2019 as well.

Indulge in Marathi theatre

Indulge in Marathi theatre
What: Aranya Kiran
When: January 9, 7 PM
Where: Sathaye College, Vile Parle East
Entry: Rs 200
Call: 9820045867

In 2018, the iconic theatre group Awishkar Theatre brought Aranya Kiran directed by Ajit Bhagat. The play, staged 10 years after the death of its late director-playwright Chetan Datar, is set in the Mahabharata. It revolves around a self-questioning Lord Krishna (played by Sushil Inamdar) in Dwarka. The string of monologues with various lead characters — wife Rukmini, brother Balaram, foster parents Nand and Yashoda and lastly, mother-like Gandhari — interrogate Krishna's trickery, political moves and worldview. The play is still being staged and the next show is in January itself.

Fix it quickly

Fix it quickly
What: Four Mumbaikars with niche expertise in heritage conservation
Call: 22002026 (Tehmi G)

Vasudev Patkar, sculptor and plasterer; Tehmi Ghadialy, porcelain and glass restorer; Mohammed Damani (in pic), an antique clock repairer; and Swati Chandgadkar, a stained glass restorer, help the architects and conservationists conserve the city's past.

Second innings

Second innings
What: 44-year-old Marathi publishing house to get bigger
Where: Granthali Vishwastha Sanstha, Ground floor of Woolen Mill Municipal School, Matunga West

A publishing house that started a reading movement back in the '70s, is set for a new innings to revive the language of its people. The publishing house was launched in 1974 by journalists Ashok Jain, Dinkar Gangal, Arun Sadhu and Kumar Ketkar, who created an informal organisation to spread the culture of reading among Marathi speakers. Over the years, it has seen several members come and go and even survived a slump.

Make magic with paper

Make magic with paper
What: Create a pop-up book
Entry: Rs 1,500 onwards
Log in:

Samir Bharadwaj conducts paper workshops across Mumbai where he teaches how to neatly slice paper, and fold it just right, so that you can create your own automatons and pop-up books. Even if you don't become skilled at it, hand-eye coordination in adulthood is good for you.

Enjoy Art Deco on Insta

Enjoy Art Deco on Insta
What: Art Deco typography
Where: @storycityindia

Kahaani Designworks has culled 26 letters of the English alphabet of the original Art Deco typeface by looking at the buildings. Ruchita Madhok, principal designer, says, "They are all geometric, not cursive, resembling the style of the building."

Keep a secret

Keep a secret
What: Open air concerts at the NCPA
Where: NCPA, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point

The NCPA opened its 'secret garden' for open-air concerts in October. The garden is designed to provide an outdoor experience whether it be a jazz night with wine and cheese or a chamber orchestra. More such concerts will be held in 2019.

Go for a surf in Virar

Go for a surf in Virar
What: Mumbai Surf Club
Where: Rajori Beach, Virar
Entry: Rs 750 for a 1.5 hour session
Call: 7507788465

Suyash Rawat, a 32-year-old emergency medical practitioner, has set up Mumbai's first surf school, along with Krishna Lamani, who previously worked as an instructor at the Kovalam Surf Club. Rajori beach enjoys a kilometre-long stretch of grey sand and is a perfect place if you are still at an introductory stage. Call a day prior for weather conditions.

No guilty pleasure

No guilty pleasure
What: Svami Tonic Water
Where: Available in 80 restaurants across the city, and at retail outlets
For: Rs 85

When Aneesh Bhasin, co-founder at Svami, told us his tonic water has 50 per cent fewer calories than Schweppes, its main competitor, we knew the way we had our gin and tonic was going to change forever. Made from quinine sourced from Congo, cucumber and lime from India, and grapefruit from the US, Bhasin has increased the carbonation over the months because "Indians like their fizz". Svami is getting ready to launch more flavours, and a ginger ale by February.

The backstory behind booze

The backstory behind booze
What and Where: White Lady cocktail at The Bombay Canteen; Chanel No. 6 at House of Nomads; Sherlock In A Pickle at London Taxi; and Red Monsoon at Hakkasan

This year, Yash Bhanage, co-owner at The Bombay Canteen, and his research team soaked themselves in the history of single screen theatres as inspiration for cocktails. Not just them, several other bartenders tried to create a story out of their cocktails. For instance, Jiaan Kris J Lam, House of Nomads, created Chanel No. 6 (in pic) as an ode to the fashion house, and Ami Shroff at London Taxi, whipped up a Sherlock-inspired drink which stood out for its prominent notes of gherkin, tea and rose. Order a glass.

Why Japanese cuisine is Mumbai's new favourite

Why Japanese cuisine is Mumbai's new favourite
What: Japanese fare beyond sushi and ramen
Where: Harajuku; Hello Guppy; Yuuka at The St Regis

At, Harajuku, on Chapel Road, co-owner Saleha Bawazir wanted to bring the street food of Harajuku to Mumbai. So, the restaurant offers a wide range of sweet and savoury crepes; Dorayakis, palm-sized treats comprising a sweet filling sandwiched between two round cakes, among other things. Vikram Khatri, executive chef at Hello Guppy, also overhauled the menu to introduce a range of new items including caramelised popcorn with crispy bacon, beetroot rice cracker and tuna nachos pizza. "Everybody knows about sushi and ramen. It was time to educate people that there's a lot more that comes from Japan," he says.

Put your gluttony to test

Put your gluttony to test
What: Dara Singh thali
Where: Mini Punjab, Adi Shankaracharya Marg, Powai
For: Rs 1,200 for veg, Rs 1,600 for non-veg
Call: 9699958688

Inspired by the legendary wrestler, Mini Punjab introduced The Dara Singh thali on its menu this year. Not for the weak-hearted, it packs in the best of unlimited eating. It features 33 items, and includes aloo paratha, chur chur de naan, makki di roti, murg mussalam rice, lamb yoghurt curry, chicken Amritsari and more. If you're in for a man-versus-food contest, here's your best bet.

A pop-up on conflict

A pop-up on conflict
What: A pop-up dinner that explores border conflict, the people and their food
For: Rs 1,800
Call: 9137081628

Ragini Kashyap

Development consultant Ragini Kashyap, who started Third Culture Cooks — a multinational supper club — likes to tell a story with a bite. Her venture, Bordered dinner, explores border conflict by pairing food with peoples' stories and history. We sampled the Tamil-Sinhala conflict in Sri Lanka, and returned knowing a lot more about our neighbour's culinary diversity.

It's vodka and it's gluten free

It's vodka and it's gluten free
What: Tito's Handmade Vodka
Where: Mumbai Duty Free
For: Rs 3,650

If you are severely intolerant to gluten, there is a chance you have stayed away from vodka, which is made from wheat, barley, or rye. Well, Tito's Handmade Vodka that is produced in Austin at Texas's oldest legal distillery is now available in Mumbai. The drink is made using corn. Tito Beveridge, who came up with the recipe, distilled the corn mash six times, because it was believed that corn retains some of its smoothness even after distillation. The process of making the corn-based vodka is similar to that of the making of single malts and high-end French cognacs.

Husna Jumani

Nepalese pepper wins
What: Chefs choose their spice heroes
Where: The Clearing House
For: Price on request
Call: 22657007

It's not every day that you come across pepper in your pannacota, which is why pastry chef Husna Jumani's timut-infused creamy Italian dessert is noteworthy. It's the pronounced flavour of the Nepalese pepper — spicy with hints of grapefruit — that propelled her to pick this as the hero ingredient. However, it is an acquired taste, she warns.

Think Switzerland

Think Switzerland
What: Du Rhone arrives in Mumbai
Where: Vasant Villa, Shop No. 6, G Deshmukh Marg, Peddar Road
For: Starts at R800
Call: 23533300

The ingredients of Du Rhone might be a well-kept secret, but not its stellar reputation. So when the 140-year-old gourmet chocolate brand opened their first store in May this year, we were the first to rush for a blind tasting evening. Our favourite was the Coline which is a dark ganache with 70 per cent cocoa beans from Brazil and Papua New Guinea.

Gourmet meals on wheels

Gourmet meals on wheels
What: Hello Green
Call: 7710950000

The last one year saw a rise in the number of gourmet delivery joints in the city. The menu at these kitchens range from Bento Buddha bowls to coconut-panko crusted shrimps with orange and ginger dips. The food, then, is the biggest selling point. We'd recommend the Mis Malaysian Seafood Bisque from Hello Green.

The Maharaj is alive and kickin'

The Maharaj is alive and kickin'
What: The freelance maharaj
Call: Om Maharaj (veg dishes): 9930086726; Lallan Maharaj (non-veg dishes): 8286868020

The wandering Maharaj is invited for weddings and funerals, casual get-togethers and Diwali dos, any affair in which the party size is too significant for a regular cook, and when guests need to be impressed. Om Maharaj specialises in sweets, such as rasgulla and ghevar; and Lallan Maharaj, who has also trained in restaurants and five-stars for 13 years, can be trusted to pull off Italian and Chinese dishes convincingly. Lallan says, "In this line of work, the person who knows his job, doesn't need the title. I have not kept my name maharaj. It's all of you who call me maharajji. So, now, it has become a surname."

Healthy mixers

Healthy mixers
What: Milk soda cocktail
Where: Bombay Vintage, Madame Cama Road, Colaba
For: Rs 195 for mocktail (additional cost for alcohol)
Call: 22880017

Sean Pereira

From kombucha to vegetable broth, mixologists discuss what you can replace your calorie-laden mixer with. The almond milk soda cocktail at Colaba's Bombay Vintage has an interesting backstory. Here, Sean Pereira, bar operations manager, uses doodh soda consumed by farmers in Peshawar to keep themselves hydrated.

How autistic students turned chefs

How autistic students turned chefs
What: Autistic students run The SAI Canteen
Call: 9137051989.
For: Mini meal, regular meal and executive meal available at Rs 100, Rs 125 and Rs 150 respectively

A food service in Bandra has been made special by autistic students, who have donned chefs' hats to make the lunch break worthwhile. The students belong to the Support for Autistic Individuals (SAI), a charitable trust set up by Kamini Lakhani and her husband, Anil. The young autistic cooks need a fair amount of support. "It will take them anywhere between one and eight months for them to understand all the steps," says Lakhani.

Mandlik Road's glamorous comeback

Mandlik Road's glamorous comeback
What: Miss T in Colaba
Where: 4, Mandlik Road, Apollo Bandar, Colaba
For: Rs 4,000 for two
Call: 22801144

What can you expect when the power couple behind The Table teams up with the boys behind The Woodside Inn? Miss T, a gastro Asian cocktail bar and restaurant. Every cocktail we sampled was characterised by an adventurous, refreshing and comforting tag. The Quixotic (R850) came with peanut butter-infused Jim Beam bourbon, hints of saffron and orange bitters. In the food menu, we liked the chicken and tender coconut curry (R900) that came with pandan rice. The curry was light without lacking depth. We liked the food for its simple execution of flavours and lack of pretentiousness, which is just what an Asian meal should be.

A slice of Goa in Mumbai

A slice of Goa in Mumbai
What: House of Llyod opens in Mumbai
Where: 1st Floor, Hotel Royal Garden, Juhu Tara Road
For: Rs 2,200 for two people
Call: 7400092996

A slice of Goa in Mumbai

One of Goa's most loved restaurants, House of Lloyd, made its Mumbai debut this year. We met the chef for a taste of the Goa-inspired menu. He has selected the choicest of dishes including rassa omelette, pork chops and clams masala. Now you know where to head for a susegad experience.

Munching on insects

Munching on insects
What: Grasshoppers make it to Mumbai fine-dine
Where: Xico, 9A, Trade View Building, Kamala Mills Compound, Gate No. 4, Lower Parel
For: Price on request
Call: 8369486725

Chef Scott Linquist (who runs the Miami favourite Coyo Taco) and Jason Hudanish introduced chapulines or grasshoppers as an off-the-menu dish at Mexican restaurant Xico. The grasshoppers don't have a distinct taste and the texture is close to crunchy prawns. A rich source of protein, you can either eat the dried grasshoppers directly, or on tortilla.

Rainbow hustle

Rainbow hustle
What: Navi Mumbai cafe hires transgenders
Where: Third Eye Café, Shop No 20, Palm Beach Galleria Mall, Sector 19D, Vashi, Navi Mumbai
For: Rs 900 for two
Call: 9619204894

Shunned by society, trans-women have found jobs sans judgment at Third Eye Café. We visited the restaurant to find a place that serves decent food, and the opportunity to the third gender to lead a respectable life. Spread over eleven pages, the menu offers Italian, Oriental and Indian cuisine.

Lankan street food with a twist

Lankan street food with a twist
What: Hoppumm
Where: Shop no. 8, Rafi Mansion, 28th Rd, Bandra West
For: Rs 800 for two people
Call: 9930825268

A hoppumm is a marriage between Sri Lanka's hoppers, a type of fermented pancakes, and South Indian appams, and three school friends from Bombay Scottish brought it to Bandra this year. Hoppumm is a 15-seater restaurant, exuding architectural influences from Sri Lanka. The highlight is the bowl-shaped Sri Lankan pancakes filled with a range of fragrant curries. To make it flexible, they offer combinations where you can pair a base staple — hopper, string hopper (idiyappam), neer dosa, paratha or kothu roti — with a flavourful filling.

A Puneri milkshake in Mumbai

A Puneri milkshake in Mumbai
What: Mastani, a Puneri milkshake, named after Peshwa Bajirao's lover
Where: Karandikar Mastani House, 135/B, Vartak Road, Parle Kalpataru CHSL, Satsang CHSL, Park Road, Vile Parle
For: Rs 120-Rs 140
Call: 97694 93735

Mastani is a milkshake that comes topped with a dollop of hand-churned ice cream. Some people also add fresh cut fruits, dry fruits and whipped cream. It is believed that when guests tried it for the first time, they would exclaim 'masta'. It has become a part of Pune's food heritage, and you can now try it at a tiny dessert parlour in Vile Parle called Karandikar Mastani House. A simple store with a couple of chairs, this Mastani house offers eight flavours starting from mango to the interesting Irish pudding Mastani.

Tracking the rise and rise of Chembur

Tracking the rise and rise of Chembur
What: Why Chembur is the new happening suburb

Chembur, the eastern suburb which last made headlines for a culinary reason in November 2016 when Matunga's iconic eatery Mani's Lunch Home moved here, is now in the midst of a hospitality boom. Want to spend a day indulging your cravings? Do it with as few steps as possible as you start off with Pot Pourri, Theobroma, then 99 Pancakes, Keventers, London Bubble Co, The Koffee Works, Wok Hei and then China Villa.

Ajay Chopra

The iron man
What: How chefs use non-kitchen tools to test
Where: For coal-pressed quesadilla, Empresa Hotel, 344, SAB TV Rd, Laxmi Industrial Estate, Shastri Nagar, Andheri West
Call: 45424242

Did you know that the hair dryer, apart from blowing hair, can be used to relight charcoals on the grill, soften chocolate and frost cake? Chefs across Mumbai are putting non-kitchen items to good use. The stand out was Empresa Hotel chef Ajay Chopra's ingenious hack of using a coal iron to press a quesadilla. Book a table to see for yourself.

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First Published: 30 December, 2018 10:00 IST

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