Innovation and emotion are the two things needed in the culinary world. Perfect wood-fired steaks, accurately arranged salad plates, pastoral bowls of curry and some out of the box baos; we bring you six of the most exciting and exhilarating new restaurants in Mumbai right now.
Pancakes in the shape of a bowl, made from rice flour and coconut milk, hoppers are classically served with curry or vegetables. A prized essential of Sri Lankan cuisine, Hoppumm is a great place to get them fresh, along with a broad swathe of Sri Lankan comfort food like curries, polos rolls and elumas pattis. Go for the black mutton curry and string hoppers--rice flour cut into thin strips and steamed. The mutton is tender, the gravy full-bodied and the delicate string hoppers melt in your mouth. I finished my Hoppumm adventure with a cream cheese & fresh fruit hopper, my belt slightly looser. It’s not strange that I dreamt of my next order there that night.
Where: 5, Cambata Building, Maharshi Karve Road, Churchgate; Tel: +91-22-22886012; Timings: 11.30am–3.30pm, 7.30pm–11.30pm; closed on Mondays; Meal for two: INR 1,500 (exclusive of taxes)
No words, just signs. Actually that’s the only way of placing your order at Ishaara, a unique dining experience in Mumbai. The service staff has speech and hearing impairment here. Patrons are welcomed at the door by a host who explains how the restaurant works. Among the most inventive Indian dishes, the chicken nukti boti kachori promises a unique blend of textures, while the chicken Malwan curry is touted as a must-try item. It’s also a predominantly cool dish to order in sign language! What they are eventually up to is home cooking, but prepared with the ingenuity and care of chefs who have worked in some of the best kitchens. At Ishaara, silence is a leading feature but makes for the most real lesson.
Where: 3rd floor, Palladium, High Street Phoenix, Tulsi Pipe Rd, Lower Parel; Tel: +91-8657531988/89; Timings: 12pm to 12am; Meal for two: INR 1,800 (exclusive of taxes)
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Boo Kwang Kim, the Executive Chef, was raised eating the judiciously cooked dishes from his mother’s Korean kitchen and uses the familiarities as the mainstay of everything he does in his kitchen. Boo’s cooking is now brighter and not so exacting. As at old-school trattorias that do a handful of things exceptionally well, there’s usually a crispy calamari that’s even more memorable when dabbed with aioli and in Boo’s case, its soy sauce aioli, cirrus and marinara. Mac and cheese roll, here is with cheddar, parmesan, bread crumbs, truffle oil, BBQ jackfruit, apple slaw and pickles. Boo’s Korean fried chicken bao is one you won’t want to pass up, with sesame soy, bok choy and kimchi. The bar offers all your old favourites but with a dirty twist. I highly recommend the Dirty Mary with vodka, mustard, tomato juice, tamarind, honey and celery stick. The final measure is The Dirty Boo. It’s worth a try to see a guy who has found his happy place turning out waffle, pancake, churros, dark chocolate sea salt ice cream, chocolate, donut, whipped cream so decadently well.
Where: 9A, Trade View Building, Kamala Mills Compound, Gate No. 4, Lower Parel; Tel: +91-22-24978910, +91-8433988818 and +91-8433988838; Timings: 5pm-1am; closed on Mondays; Meal for two: INR 1,800 (exclusive of taxes)
With the launch of Mumbai’s largest floating restaurants Queensline Neverland and Queensline Sea Yah, guests can now experience dining on water in Mumbai. Purists will enjoy the warm and inviting dining room that features leather chairs and dark wood, transporting you to the golden age of cruises. Others can enjoy al fresco dining on the waterfront on the lower and upper decks. Either way, it will be a meal with a view, starting with complimentary sparkling wine. The menu offers definitive global dishes with a modern twist and a Southeast Asian bent. The rich flavours of these dishes, and not to mention dessert, like the chocolate envelope and tiramisu, will have you swooning in no time. Bringing an astounding and satiating array of seafood, meat and other selections, Queensline is the picture perfect setting for a romantic dinner at sea.
Where: Board From the iconic Gateway of India in Mumbai; Tel: +91-22-66661936, queensline.in; Timings: Special sunset hour & dinner cruise; Meal for two: Starting from INR 4,000. You can further augment the experience with additional upgrades.
A little familiarity with the busy lanes of Istanbul to the bustling streets of Jeddah and the diverse markets of Marrakech, helps to decode the menu, which blends Mediterranean, Indian and Middle-Eastern culinary experiences that one can enjoy whilst overlooking the Arabian Sea. Street foods like lemon garlic shrimps on Zaâlouk chicken, shawarma, barbecued duck and fried fish to pide sit alongside manakeesh and Mumbai-style mixed seafood chutney cheese sandwiches to Arayes (char grill sandwiches from the Levant region). There are also beautiful Middle Eastern desserts. The Baklava lollipops--rich dry fruits with layered phyllo pastry served as a Popsicle—are delicious.
Where: Sea Palace Hotel, Ground Floor, P J Ramchandani Marg, Apollo Bunder, Next to Radio Club, Colaba; Timings: Noon onwards; Tel: +91-22-22881011; Meal for two: INR 1,800 (exclusive of taxes)
Tucked away at The Orb, paying homage to an island bar alongside a performance section with a creative drinks menu by celebrated British mixologist Richard J. HargrovesIt, this chic casual place doesn’t shy away from a dramatic entrance or the lights, reinterpreting the life cycle of a dragonfly. The usual fare is offered but venture further and you will be rewarded with the likes of avocado tempura with refreshing truffle mayo. Chef Sagar’s clever and enjoyable creations are backed up by thorough preparations. From Thai basil green curry dumplings, broccoli toffee to his famous puffsomes to the carbonara dumpling and the signature sushi, the entire meal is one surprise after another. Sagar exploits superior seasonal ingredients, and his implementation is always spot-on, emphasising the flavours with his own techniques.
Where: The Orb, Next to JW Marriott Sahar, Andheri (E); Timings: 7pm- 1:30am; Tel: +91-8657598230/31/32; Meal for two: INR 1,800 (exclusive of taxes)
The writer is a freelance food and travel writer