Saturday, August 02, 2008

Where and what I have been eating!

Blogs about food and eating joints are very common and usually written by true foodies. I am not someone who claims to be gastronomically inclined, and infact most of my friends disqualify my culinary existence as being irrelevant - as I am a vegetarian. But this does not mean that I do not enjoy my food. The variety, the tastes, the experience, the presentation, the ambience of the surroundings and ofcourse the company, do hold a lot of importance in my eating.
Having experienced a bit of both Singapore and Dubai, but having tasted very little of what they have to offer the foodie, as a consequence of being a vegetarian, living in Mumbai now, has been an explosion on the taste buds. Mumbai has, amongst the best restaurants in India which showcase a variety of cuisines from around the World. But what Mumbai also has, is a unique culinary charm of its own. From eating the famous Jumbo Vada Pav for Rs.7/- at Dadar Station or the sweet, sour and spicy Papdi Chaat at Kilash Parbat near Juhu, the city is a haven for people who enjoy street food.

Tyler Cowen from Marginal Revolution recently rated Paris and Buenos Aires as the best places in the World to be explored by walking; and I am sure if a poll was taken about the best places in the World for street food, Mumbai would rank at the top.

Apart from the street food, what Mumbai also offers is a dining experience which is steeped in popular culture. Like any bustling metropolitan, its restaurants and cafes are unique to the city and have a bunch of loyal customers who are both influenced by and contribute to the building up of popular culture around these places. Over the last few weeks I have been ‘eating around’ the city at some of these unique places and savouring the delights they offer.

First up, Leopold Café in South Bombay. This café is on the famous Colaba Causeway, a bustling alleyway in the southern sections of Mumbai. A bustling little place with its unique ambience, dim lighting and the whole Shantaram hustle. Even without its newly acquired importance among foreign tourists who come to soak up the experience from the book, Leopold nevertheless serves good grub. I had a superb cheese omelette and some cold ice tea, and was nostalgically reminded of Koshy’s in my home town of Bangalore. Both these places cater to our Indian hangover from the British Raj and I, for one am not complaining.

Next, I recently had lunch with colleagues from office at The Sports Bar in Lower Parel. Located in the Phoenix Mills shopping complex in South Central Mumbai, this hangout is a good place to chill out with friends on a lazy evening. It is made up in the likenesss of famous European sports bars, where rowdy crowds drink lager beer and cheer for their soccer teams. With televisions showing cricket matches, sports memorabilia in shelves on the walls and a worn out pool table, this is also a place for the advertising crowd from nearby offices to hang around. I went there on a Friday around lunch time and found the place bustling with activity, mainly an office going crowd who were celebrating promotions and discussing business over a beer. They have a good buffet served at lunch time and the pasta chef insists on sprinkling a whole lot of grated cheese on your pasta, instantly giving the place my thumbs up!

Lastly, the famous Chowpatty area in Mumbai is know for its eating hangouts. I haven’t been to most, and I intend to do so very soon. But I did hang out with a few friends at the New Yorkers restaurant in this area recently. Getting to Chowpatty from the Grant Road station, one does come across a Café New York on the way and some of us mistook this as the designated meeting point. But once we all made it to the place on Chowpatty we had a good time. To be frank I wasn’t very keen when my friend had suggested this place, as the New Yorkers in Bangalore had failed and closed down. But, a purely vegetarian restaurant on Church Street in Bangalore was not a good idea to begin with. I was not disappointed by the Mumbai version. Mexican food was the order of the day amongst us friends and we ordered stuff which had names like Tostedoes Ole and waited for it to be good when it arrived, and it was. Achar (pickle) Pizza, a fusion food on the menu also turned out to be something really worth trying. But what finally took me to sheer eating pleasure was the Sizzling Chocolate Brownie we had for dessert. Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla ice cream, on top of which a sizzling, smouldering chocolate sauce is poured is hardly something a chocoholic like me can withstand, and I greedily dug in.

This hardly qualifies as a blog post on the variety of culinary experiences one can have in Mumbai, but rather just a small appetizer. As and when I try out more, I shall definitely write frequently on this topic because I have realized as I write this piece, that writing about food lets me experience the same pleasure I had while eating! And then again, maybe not SO good after all…

1 comment:

Blogger By Chance said...

Slurp Slurp....Mouth Waterin Andy !!

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