The Slow Food website will soon be featuring a new section entitled Slow Food Planet, which, slowly but surely, will collect and post details about restaurants, hotels and food and drink producers the world over. The end-result will be a huge, genuinely global guide for gourmets and travelers alike. This vast and ambitious project will be made possible by our international network of convivium leaders and collaborators, including the members of the Slow Food Award Jury, all ready and willing to supply us with the necessary firsthand information. The ‘Sloweek’ section of our site will serve as a test bench to develop and hone the Slow Food Planet system. Today we begin with the tips of Vinod Advani, our man in Mumbai, formerly Bombay.
Neighborhood by neighborhood, cuisine by cuisine, here is a rich selection of establishments we think you’ll enjoy.
International dialing code: +91
Local dialing code: 22
Hotel President, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai 5.
Cuisine: Italian . Prices : Medium to expensive.
The first Italian eatery in the city and still the best. Pastas, pizzas, carpaccio and bitter chocolate icecreams. They either import different pastas or make them in-house. Hugely popular, especially the pizzas. Veg Margherita with basil. Pollo alla cacciatora done in mushrooms, olives and red wine, and also Lasagne à la bolognaise. Mamma mia! Open round the clock.
2) THE THAI PAVILION
Hotel President, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai 5.
Cuisine: Thai Prices : Medium to expensive.
Chef Ananda Solomon has spent a month every year in Thailand over the past 10 years, and it shows in every dish served here. In the peanut-laced raw papaya salad. In the chicken and prawn dishes cooked in soya, sugar and roasted chillies. Seafood in lemon sauce. Red and green curries. Made with galangal ginger, lemon grass root, coriander root, garlic, sweet basil leaves, lemon rind. Desserts? The water chestnuts in rose syrup, and coconut cream. Authentic Thai and great tasting too.
1) DELHI DARBAR
Holland House, Shahid Bhagat Singh Rd, Near Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai 39.
Ph: 2020235, 2025656, 2848231.
Cuisine: Punjabi, Moghlai Prices: Medium.
This North Indian restaurant has for 40 years served good staple Moghlai food. There is also a mezzanine floor, and the restaurant is always packed. Heavily spiced, sometimes with fiery chillies, the favourites are White Mutton, Dabba Ghosht, Palak Ghosht and Arab Chicken Makhanwalla. Bheja Masala, Gurda Kaleji Fry and Khichda.
2) LEOPOLD CAFÉ
Colaba Causeway, Mumbai 39.
Ph: 2873362, 2020131, 2828185, 2848054.
Cuisine: Continental, Indian, Chinese, Tandoori Prices: Cheap
Great café, loads of atmosphere and very popular with backpackers and hip travellers. Beer on tap all day to watch Mumbai walk by. Reasonably priced sandwiches, Iranian chicken, Tikkas Chinese noodles, Mutton Masala, Chicken Chilly Boneless. Open from 8 am till midnight.
Hotel Taj Mahal, Apollo Bunder, Mumbai 39.
Cuisine: Indian Prices: Expensive
This 25-year-old restaurant hasn’t changed at all and is a rare jewel in the crown of the legendary Taj Mahal Hotel. An elegant showcase of Indian food, dance and music. The rich orange and dark maroon interiors are decorated with temple paintings. It’s named after the southern Indian city of Tanjore or Thanjavur. The live Indian music and dance has been the strong point of this restaurant for the past 25 years. Specializing in North Indian food, they also serve South Indian fare. Good value-for-money buffet spreads every afternoon.
Vasta House (Noble Chambers), SA Brelvi Marg, Near Horniman Circle, Fort, Mumbai 1.
Ph: 2870335, 2881457,
Cuisine: Mangalorean (coastal cuisine) Prices: Medium.
Seafood in its infinite variety. Lobsters, king crab, jumbo prawns, oysters, clams, mussels, squid, Bombay duck, pomfrets, surmai. Mostly cooked in thick coconut gravies with red chillies. You could ask for steamed or grilled seafood. They would be happy to oblige.
Mayfair, Veer Nariman Rd, Chruchgate, Mumbai 20.
Ph: 2821259, 2044693.
Cuisine: Continental, Indian Prices: Medium to expensive.
It’s been around for nearly 50 years and has changed its look several times. Used to be only continental, but over the years has given way to a menu which serves at least 50% North Indian cuisine. Whatever you order, you won’t be disappointed. Chicken makhanwala, kababs and parathas are outstanding. In the continental section: ‘Chicken Chasseure’ and ‘Roast lamb with mint’ are favourites. The restaurant is on two levels and is always full of clients.
2) INDIAN SUMMER
80 Veer Nariman Rd, Churchgate, Mumbai 21.
Cuisine: Moghlai, Indian Prices: Medium to expensive
Very unusual recipes which are variations on the Moghlai theme. Kababs are fab. Like the Ajwain Lobster Angare, Chicken Reshmi Kabab and Jhinga Yamini. Veggies are not neglected. The tasty Shyam Savera (a combination of paneer and tomato enveloped in crispy spinach), Paneer Mussalam and Dal Sailana. Good value-for-money buffet spreads every afternoon.
3) PEARL OF THE ORIENT
The Ambassador Hotel, Veer Nariman Rd, Churchgate Extn, Mumbai 20.
Cuisine: Hunan, Cantonese, Szechwan, Japanese, Thai, Oriental, Korean Prices: Expensive
Every tourist with a reasonably charged credit card must come here. Not really for the food, but for the 3600 view of Mumbai from this revolving restaurant. From a height of 130 feet, the city sprawls for miles on all sides, except where the ocean glimmers. Chinese dishes from different regions are quite passable, but the Japanese cuisine has an Indian understanding to it. Some dishes are drenched in fiery red chillies.
Nagin Mahal, 82, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate.
Ph: 2042618, 2853137
Cuisine: Cantonese, Hunan Prices: Medium
A 60-year-old restaurant with a fine Chinese kitchen. A cheerful ambience with Chinese lamps and art décor. Food is as authentic as it gets in China. Chimney soups, Dim sums, seafood. Yum.
145, MG Road, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai 23.
Cuisine: North Indian, Moghlai, Tandoori Prices: Expensive
Décor wise, this is the most stunning restaurant in all India. Arches lead you to alcoves on multi levels. Different dining rooms have paintings by India’s most prominent artists. The food? North Indian and Moghlai which means heavy spices and fiery hot gravies. Kababs, Mutton Ghosht Curry, Rotis, Naans. Veggies have a good choice too.
2) WAYSIDE INN
38, Kaikushroo Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai 23.
Cuisine: Continental, Parsi Prices: Cheap
It’s a heritage restaurant. More than 80-years-old. An institution unto itself. Food is still quaint British. Which means fish and chips, beef steaks, soups, grills, mutton cutlets and salads, as well as macaroni in heavy cheese sauces! But enter inside and you are stepping into Mumbai’s history. Parsi food like Chicken Dhansak is served on Tuesdays.
Vinod Advani, a journalist, lives in Mumbai, where he edits the Sunday Times of India f&w pages.