5. Hemant Oberoi
This eponymously named baby of Chef Hemant Oberoi, leading light of the Taj hotel chain’s culinary journey now striking out on his own, is a darling of BKC business tycoons, Bollywood biggies and Kuwaiti royals alike. The opulent ambience is old-school five-star combined with stylish accents (designer Shailesh Rajput’s light installation featuring white doves and flying fish in the centre of the ceiling is a stunner) put together by the very talented architect Ashiesh Shah. The menu too exhibits an artistry that comes from years of chef’s experience and exposure to the world’s most evolved cuisines.
GO FOR IT! The three-melon gazpacho with coconut snow, the almost lighter-than-air Dariole made with Brie, the Quinoa Risotto, the Asian-style Chilean Seabass and the unique Chocolae Shawarma with rose ice-cream.
Where: 5, Ground Floor, Jet Airways Godrej Building,
G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East.
Showcasing rustic-opulence by Gauri Khan, this multi-level restaurant and lounge literally gives new meaning to Indian cuisine. The gas-free show kitchen presided over by Executive Chef Amninder Sandhu allows you to enjoy the sight of gleaming copper vessels in which innovative dishes are prepared via traditional cooking methods using wood or charcoal. This imparts a signature smokiness to the ingredients sourced from as far away as Majuli, Shillong, Khonoma, Alleppey, Mangalore, Guntur, Rishikesh and Kashmir! The drinks too infuse Indian ingredients into classic cocktails quite cleverly.
GO FOR IT! Morels stuffed with mushroom and walnuts; Rhododendron Seekh with pomegranate, yogurt and mint; Potli Kebab with pistachio and Alu Bukhara (plum); Soft-Shell Crab crusted with ginger, red chilli and curry leaf. Mains are interesting too – Bird in a Nest is chicken served with black sesame and purple yam idiyappam; Mama’s, pressure-cooked mutton with Koni Joha rice (a special aromatic rice found in Northeast India); or Beeh Dodah which features lotus stem, fenugreek, coriander, garlic chive and jowar roti. A good way to taste a variety is to go for a ‘thaal’ tasting menu.
Where: 604, Pinnacle House, PD Hinduja Marg,
15th Road, Off Linking Road, Bandra West.
3. Jia – The Modern Oriental Kitchen
Pan-Asian is the new Chinese. And Neville Vazifdar, the man behind the traditional Cantonese kitchen of Royal China, recognising the need to include sushi and Thai in an oriental menu, came up with Jia in January last year. Fresh ingredients such as Berkshire Pork from the UK, Thai chillies, Italian truffles from Italy, Japanese edamame combined with traditional techniques and international trends make this beautifully designed high-end restaurant a popular choice.
GO FOR IT! City’s best Edamame Truffle Dumplings, Jia Special sushi roll (truffle, avocado, asparagus tempura, topped with togarashi and a special sauce), silky Cheung Fen, and Forest Honey-Baked Chilean Sea Bass
Where: Ground Floor, Dhanraj Mahal,
Near Gateway of India, Apollo Bunder, Colaba.
2. Shizusan Shophouse & Bar
Reminiscent of the 18th century colonial shophouses of South East Asia, this two-storey space in High Street Phoenix very quickly became my go-to place for leisurely lunches, post-PVR drinks or date-night dinners. An Asian dream come true for its creator Romil Ratra, Director of Phoenix Mill’s Bellona Hospitality, and his foodie-in-arms Marketing head, Deepti Dadlani, it has the powerhouse talent of Chef Paul Kinny helming the kitchen. Hand-painted frescoes, apothecary-style cabinets, wood and leather sushi bar, Shizusan has all the design drama one wants and then some. The food and drinks match the bold and beautiful interiors creatively curated by Patch Design Studio.
GO FOR IT! Apart from the usual sushi, dimsum and authentic Asian curries, pick from the soupy Xiao Long Baos, Black Pepper Lobster, Japanese Okonomiyaki pancakes, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Taiwanese Miso Milk Broth, Singapore Chilli Crab, Filipino Adobo Pork Belly and vegetarian Kung Pao Red Pumpkin, Jajangmyeon Noodles and Lotus Stem.
Where: Ground floor, Skyzone, Highstreet Phoenix,
462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.
1. Slink & Bardot
From the outside, this little cottage in the Worli fishing village seems an unlikely place to sample small plates of sophisticated French fare. But once you enter the space transformed by the magical mood board of Pavitra Rajaram, head of visual merchandising for my favourite home design store Good Earth, it’s all glamorous whimsy, which, much like their drinks menu, veers from ‘light and fruity’ to ‘dark and broody’. Downtempo Jazz and over-stuffed sofas are the backdrop to some stellar modern Parisian plates, a procession of which make their way to your table to give you a picnic of a meal that’s as light or as heavy as you want it to be. Chef Alexis Gielbaum’s chef whites, the man behind the eatery’s modern French menu, and the mesmerising musical playlist belongs to manager Nick Harrison, the mood invites you to muse and meander and – most importantly – mingle. Another feather in the cap of restaurant biz wiz Riyaaz Amlani and his Impresario group, which has helped polish this little gem.
GO FOR IT! Life’s a picnic with their Provençale Vegetable and Goat Cheese Terrine and Charcuterie platter. Tomato and Mozzarella Tarts for vegetarians are what the Pork Rillettes on baguettes are for meat eaters. Sitting in an English Garden Waiting for the Sun is a gin-based cocktail that fits the vibe perfectly.
Where: 329/A, Thadani House,
Opposite Indian Coast Guard, Worli Village.
Tel: +91-9967115800, 022-24301127;
The other noteworthy newbies…
So many fab places opened recently that I wish I could do a list of the 100 best instead of having to pick just the top 10. The Quarter, started at the newly refurbished Royal Opera House by restaurateur Nico Goghavala, Ashu Pathak (of Blue Frog fame), musician Ranjit Barot, and investor Nakul Toshniwal, is one to keep track of. Not quite fully functional (the café and live performance venue are open, but I’m also looking forward to the wine and mozzarella bar and the al fresco dining), this one has all the makings for magical Mumbai evenings. Nara (Thai) and Cin Cin (Italian) have opened side by side in BKC and show great promise. The Fatty Bao’s extension into an Izakaya and Noodle Shop in Andheri showcases Chef Manu Chandra’s brilliance with Asian yet again, while his Toast & Tonic, imported from Bengaluru into BKC, is bursting at the seams with his innovative translation of traditional ingredients into a culinary language that the modern dining enthusiast understands. Xico’s the place to get your guacamole made tableside when in Lower Parel, while it’s the avocado toast with sprouts at Plenty in Fort that gets my thumbs up. For an excellent variety of dishes across various cuisines that don’t create skid marks on your credit card, Gymkhana 91 (the owners actually run real gymkhana canteens and know their onions) and D:Oh All Day (by the super team behind Indigo and Indigo Deli) are really worth a dekko. Carouse is the new party place on the block at Raghuvanshi Mills, trying to give the fantastic Trilogy at Hotel Sea Princess in Juhu, now refurbished, a run for its money. The hyperlocal The Bandra Project and The Runway Project by the PizzaExpress guys (Ramit Mittal and Deepinder Batth of Gourmet Investments) have menus by Maria Goretti and Chef Vicky Ratnani. The group has also just announced that they’re bringing Darshan Munidasa’s Ministry of Crab from Colombo to Mumbai soon. Both quirky-casual North Indian (Café Delhi Heights and Basanti) and South Indian (South High, Dakshin Rasoi and Madras Diaries) have found their footing too. Good old Copper Chimney can’t be called a newbie, but it has made a comeback to Kala Ghoda, though this time, it’s in a more Instagram rather than telegram avatar! A new Social graces Vikhroli, while Indigo Deli has travelled to Kurla. The new buzzy Farzi Café in Phoenix Mills is quite a hit, while the Pa Pa Ya at BKC has set tongues awag with its first-of-its-kind-in-the-country ‘kinetic ceiling’ that moves sinuously overhead. And after O Pedro, Goan/Portuguese seems to be the flavor of the season, with the Olive Group’s newest – Lady Baga – making quite the entrance at Kamala Mills, while Chef Gracian de Souza’s Porto & Poie is waiting in the wings at Juhu to wow us in the new year. Pan-Asian gets a new address with Keiba replacing Olive at the racecourse, with Chef Seefah Ketchaiyo of Bandra’s The Blue fame consulting on the menu. After Andheri and BKC, it looks like South Mumbai is getting a shot in the arm as far as new dining options go. There’s Continental comfort food at The Bakehouse Café, especially their black rice risotto with asparagus and mushroom, teatime treats at Tasse de The, and al fresco dining at Goose & The Gridiron opposite Sterling cinema. Olive Café and Hello Guppy are headed in that direction too, Goyaa is planned in Byculla East, while The Indigo Burger Project and Neel are all set to make Nariman Point go weak in the knees. But needless to say, wherever you are in Mumbai, there seems to be F&B excitement brewing.
Bon appetit for 2018, dear readers!