Enjoy Delicious Cuisines at Mumbai's Finest Restaurants
Enjoy Delicious Cuisines at Mumbai’s Finest Restaurants

Our food critic Kalyan Karmakar ranks the five best new eateries he dined at last year

Fatty Bao



Chef Manu Chandra brought his popular Bengaluru-based Asian restaurant, Fatty Bao, to Mumbai’s swish suburb of Bandra. The queues see no end here, even though it has been a few months since it opened. The menu has dishes which are high on flavour and seem to have hit the sweet spot with its loyalists, many of whom keep coming back. In a city where new restaurants are shy of putting pork on the menu, Fatty Bao has some brilliant pork based dishes in its double cooked Sri Lankan pork belly, bacon fried rice using British bacon, pork belly ramen and chorizo oysters.






Like Fatty Bao, this too is from AD Singh’s stable. The franchise was launched in Delhi, Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Hyderabad before it was brought to Mumbai. Perhaps there was a desire to get everything just right before coming to the city of Irani restaurants, on which Sodabottleopenerwala has been modelled. The response from some Irani café loyalists has been as expected, where they feel that the food doesn’t measure up and is too expensive. A comparison is not really fair though, since with its large space, suburban location (Bandra Kurla Complex), long opening hours, clean loos, air conditioning and valet parking, the ambience is very different from that of the decaying Irani cafes of old Mumbai. The menu is not limited to Parsi dishes and features things like Goan sausages and boti kebabs, ambience is very different from that of the decaying Irani cafes of old Mumbai.




The Bombay Canteen


New York based chef Floyd Cardoz was once a Bandra boy. After achieving international acclaim, he returned to Mumbai to launch The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai’s erstwhile mill area of Lower Parel. Cardoz is still based in New York, but has chef Thomas Zacharias and his team manning the kitchen here. Bombay Canteen has made regional street food sexy among an upscale, young Mumbai audience, which would otherwise flock to Western restobars, cafes and delis in the city. The menu keeps changing here, but a couple of good dishes to look out for are the tandoori quail and the pulled pork tacos or theplas. The restaurant is packed at meal times and getting a table is still pretty tough.




Pa Pa Ya



Pa Pa Ya was launched by Jiggs and Zorawar Kalra’s Massive Restaurants, which had earlier brought Masala Library to Mumbai. The latter eatery redefined the high end Indian food scene in the city, but Pa Pa Ya is younger, more high octane, serves pan Asian fare and is located in a mall, unlike Masala Library. It’s gotten off to a flying start, and people can’t seem to get enough of their edamame burgers, sushi matrix platter, pork belly and laksa. Insiders say that there is a ten-day waiting period here for dinner, and lunches get pretty busy too.




Social Offline



After launching in Delhi and Bengaluru, Riyaaz Amlani of the Impresario group brought the Social Offline concept to Mumbai’s Colaba in 2014, with three other large Social outlets opening at Todi Mills, Palladium and most recently in Khar. The Social concept acknowledges the fact that a lot of people work out of cafes these days, and offers a shared working space during the work day, which is pretty unique to the city. In the evening, it turns into a casual pub. The food has some full flavoured fare, including regional Indian dishes such as Punjabi parathas and samosas, Irani kheema ghotalas, baida rotis, Mangalorean chicken kori roti and Parsi dhansak, most of which you would not expect to find in modern restaurants in Mumbai. These jostle for space with Asian laksas and Thai ‘thalis’, and most Social outlets are packed at all times.


Three interesting trends have emerged from these launches, which are relevant to the restaurant scene in Mumbai. The first is with respect to communication and social media. Each of these big launches, barring The Bombay Canteen, leveraged social media to spread the word, with food bloggers, Twitter and Instagram influencers rubbing shoulders with mass media journalists at the media launches of these restaurants. The Bombay Canteen joined the wagon later, with blogger lunches to introduce menu changes; their chef Thomas Zacharias runs a popular Instagram account.


The popularity of Pa Pa Ya and Fatty Bao is also significant. For long, eating international food in Mumbai meant heading out to Chinese joints. These two restaurants have built on the start given by Mamagoto in making pan Asian food trendy in Mumbai and in breaking the hold that Chinese restaurants have on the city. The most significant trend, though, is that symbolised by three of the biggest launches, The Bombay Canteen, Social Offline and Sodabottleopenerwala. Each of these offer simple and traditional regional Indian food, and city hipsters who for long have looked to the west when it came to trendy eating out experiences are now lapping up this food too, thanks to the trio. Indian food is sexy again in Mumbai, and that’s a wonderful thing.

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