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Jan 5, 2004 11:11 AM


  • c

One day in Bombay/Mumbai. Any recommendations?

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  1. The best restaurants in India are invariably in the best hotels. Check out the flagship restaurants at the Taj and the Oberoi. Both have spawned some of the best Indian chefs in London in the past.

    20 Replies
    1. re: Tony Finch

      "The best restaurants in India are invariably in the best hotels"

      no, not really. you can count on the best hotels to have competent cooking but its never going to be the best. this was even the case when the five stars stole all the big name lucknowi chefs in bombay, for example.

      if you crave north indian, then

      1. copper chimney (worli or flora fountain) for punjabi food
      2. delhi darbar (colaba or bombay central) for moghlai/punjabi

      are two of the more standard choices - both better than any five star - that come to mind. my personal favourite for gujju thali is

      3. thacker bhojanalay, dadaseth agiary road

      but it does take some finding. also consider the mangalorean - mainly seafood - trishna in flora fountain.

      1. re: Tony Finch

        I would respectfully disagree. We recently spent a week in Bombay at the Taj. We ate most of our meals out because there was such a wealth of excellent and economical restaurants all over the city, and also it allowed us to explore the many facinating neighborhoods there. The few meals we ate at the Taj--one of the most divine hotels I've had the pleasure of staying at-- were expensive and, really not very memorable although the service and ambiance was. We took a spin through the Oberoi one day which was full of non-Indian tourists, and thought none of the restaurants looked worth spending our time or money. If I had one day in Bombay I would begin the day with a South Indian breakfast of Idlis, dosas, or appams with sambar, coconut chutney and lime pickle. I can't really reccomend a place as we had just come from the South, so were frequenting other types of Indian spots. For lunch I would head for a Gujuarti thali place--there are many --Rajdhani comes to mind--it's near the market. For dinner, Mangalorean seafood--we loved Mahesh Lunch Home in central Bombay. The pomfret (pompano) and prawn dishes were sensational. There's a dwindling number of Parsi cafes that are fun to visit--we had a nice lunch at Jimmy Boy's located near Nariman Circle. For late night snacks--Swaati Snacks for behlpuri and chaats--located next to Chowpatty Beach and the divine Bade Miyan, a kebab stall on a street behind the Taj--it's a Bombay institution.

        1. re: JoanB

          nice report!

          as a mumbai ex-pat, i think you did well. for the next time, you've got to

          a) eat a frankie
          b) eat pav bhaji (preferably in tardeo)
          c) get the gujju thali at thackers club in dadeseth agiary lane
          d) eat kebabs in muhammad ali road - you'll never crave bade miya again.

          1. re: howler

            Hey at least I did (b). Where were you when I posted in October for reccomendations for Bombay? I would loved to have heard from you!

            1. re: JoanB

              "Where were you when I posted in October for reccomendations for Bombay?"

              hey, you should've checked via the search engine/google for earlier mumbai posts ...

              anyway, sounds like you did just fine ... friendly locals help you out? and are you going back soon? did you enjoy the pav bhaji? i think there was a year i ate the dammned thing practically every night - we'd play our guitars till about two in the morning and then run off to tardeo for pav bhaji ... amul butter in packets sizzling on the stove, then frying the bread and then the bhaji itself, perfectly spiced ... as a sidenote, my mom never 'got' pav bhaji. reared in the tradition of cooking vegetables with elegance and grace, she couldn't understand the charms of this over-spiced mashed vegetable creation.

              did you try any of the street food sorta things? the other great classic out of bombay is vada pav (a potato vada tucked inside some plain bread, usually smeared with red chutney). its a risk, because the great ones have to be bought from the street, but still.

              managalorean food is fabulous, but my kick is goan. trouble is, no really good goan in bombay, really shocking since i've eaten great food in small goan restaurants in goa and they do have a restaurant culture, unlike most of the rest of india.

              but i digress.

              1. re: howler

                Howler, I'll be in Goa in a few weeks and should be able to go out for some meals outside my conference (staying at the Taj Fort Aguada). What restaurants can you recommend there?

                I'll be in Bombay too on this trip and I'm looking forward to trying some of the places mentioned earlier! Thanks guys!

                1. re: Julie

                  aaah you lucky person ... the weather should be great and the christmas rush should be over.

                  i can't remember any specific names, but that's ok because the places to go change regularly ... but if you want to avoid the sanitised nonsense in the aguada, go ask the concierge or a head waiter in the taj where to go out and eat. the place you have in mind, tell him, is where the locals all go, and its basically someones dining room and has a name like 'michaels' ...

                  he isn't going to believe thats what you REALLY want, but insist. NOT in the main towns - i'd avoid mapusa, panjim, colva ... tell him you dont care for baga, calangute, donna paula or any of that stuff, you are looking for a SMALL place, where basically someones grandmom does the cooking in the back and where you can get real fish curry etc. there's one surely a couple of miles down the road, where is it? insist on that - its got to be home cooking, its got to be the extension of someones house and its got to have curries.

                  you'll do very well.

                  1. re: howler

                    Thanks. I'm always very wary of asking hotel concierges this question because they tend to send you to the most touristy, bland places. I'll work hard on it. I confess I have absolutely no idea where the Ft Aguada hotel actually is, so I don't know what towns and villages I'm close to. But I'll find out soon enough!

                    Also heading to Pune on this run so in the off chance that you have ideas about that city, let me know! Thanks!

                    1. re: Julie

                      "I'm always very wary of asking hotel concierges this question because they tend to send you to the most touristy, bland places"

                      yes, and its worse if you are obviously a 'foreigner'. they wont/cant believe you are really interested in THAT sort of place .. but you should try.

                      you might actually have a better chance with the receptionists ... they'll invariably be women, and they'll twig to what you want a lot faster. but you've got to explain the vibe: its basically somebody's house, its got great curry, NO tourists, just locals and its somewhere just down the road.

                      as for pune - thats my other city in india - thats where my moms family is from. i'll ask around - i only eat at home when i'm back home, so to speak. i'll check and see if anything remains of osho ...

                      1. re: howler

                        Yes, I am most definitely a foreigner in India (although I have been to more Indian cities than probably 95% of the Indian population!) It's a great thing when I get to go to "house" restaurants, which doesn't happen that often because I am usually traveling with people who want to take me to the more flashy, expensive spots. I recall one unbelievable home cooking place in Calcutta...sadly, I hear it's now gone.

                        If you get good info on Pune do let me know. I'll probably just be there for a day, but there's no excuse to pass up a chance for great food anywhere!

                        1. re: Julie

                          here's the skinny: theres two recommended places you can score maharastrian (my community, and pune is the old capital city of maharastra) food -

                          1. shabari, which is close to ferguson college. ask the rickshaw guy to take you to ferguson college and then ask any store, passer by etc where shabari is - they'll know for sure.

                          2. krisha: law college road, close to the film institute). an upstairs/downstairs deal; downstairs is idli/dosa (avoid) - upstairs is where you want to go.

                          neither place has a menu - the concept is maharastrian thali, so to speak. you sit and they bring you everything - all those delcious aamtis, bajra chapattis, plain chapattis i think i'm going to cry.

                          this is cuisine which you will NEVER get in any restaurant, not even in bombay, so make the most of it. at a pinch, shabari should be better.

                          1. re: howler

                            You're a prince! Thanks! I'll report back if I get to these!

                            1. re: Julie

                              'if i get to these'

                              ?!!! lady, i would KILL to get either if that was my only source for the cuisine.

                              btw, are you a very early riser on the east coast or do you live here in the u.k./europe?

                              1. re: howler

                                Very early riser on the East Coast.

                                As for the likelihood of getting to these restaurants in Pune: the tricky part is that I am there for only one day, one free meal really, and will be traveling with a total stranger who (1) may or may not be a Chowhound type, and (2) may want to exploit the fact that he's traveling with a client to eat at the most expensive restaurant in town. This happens, despite my entreaties to the contrary, a depressingly high proportion of the time. I've also found in India that people are very unwilling to take a flyer on places they've never been to--which means I've been to the same places for lunch in Bombay about 20 times already. I cannot get out of this rut, because I have very little control over where people drag me.

                                1. re: Julie

                                  "may want to exploit the fact that he's traveling with a client to eat at the most expensive restaurant in town"

                                  man, i understand that vibe .. i'm usually the client too; for example, in manhattan its always jean georges, lespinasse etc and in london its always the connaught, the square etc.

                                  but you MUSTN'T miss the chance in pune ... explain to the companion how impressed you'd be at shabari, and how disenchanted you'd be at the blue diamnond or whatever. be firm. in any case, your next stop is bound to be mumbai and its a quick three hour drive down so - assuming you want to, of course - you can always stay back for the next meal and later re-join your companions. think fresh chapattis off the griddle lovingly daubed with ghee .....

                  2. re: Julie

                    hi - i don't know if you've left yet, but i have some goa recommendations (i was just there).
                    for authentic goa style food, skip "souza lobo" and ask a cab driver to take you to "starlight diner" in arpora. incredibly cheap and very authentic and fresh goan food.
                    there is a shack on the aguada beach, maybe the third shack after the holiday village turn off - which had amazing fried prawns and goa curry. (make sure you ask for the "normal" curry or they'll give it to you tandoori style)
                    also, i know you didn't go to goa for italian or french food, but i had two wonderful meals at le restaurant francaise and fiesta. both have real charm and the food is world class.
                    have fun!!!!

                  3. re: howler

                    Not correct, Howler. Martins opposite the now- defunct Strand theatre in Colaba and City Kitchen near Flora Fountain do a banging job of dishing out Goan standards such as cafereal, sorpotel, vindaloo, Goan fish curry (with the thin gravy) and Beef Chili Fry.

              2. re: JoanB

                Joan B...The South is where we're headed after our day in Bombay and I'd love to hear anything you (or anybody else) has got to say about that. Sent you a separate email--please respond to my email address listed here...

                  1. re: JoanB

                    I would second Mahesh Lunch Home in Mumbai as one of the best places for fish that I have ever had in India. Was there beginning of this January and the pomfret (or Pompano as it is called in the US sometimes) was amazing. If you are in Mumbai I would highly recommend it. My understanding is that these guys are known for the freshness of their fish and get first dips from the local fishermen for prime catch.

            2. well, where are you staying? and how good is your transportation? and whats your thang? for example, i head for gujarathi thali almost immediately.

              1. In addition to Chimney Corner which another poster mentioned, I have two seafood favorites: Excellensea, a freestanding restaurant, and the Konkan Grill in the President Hotel. For a change of pace, Indigo, near the Taj Hotel, offers pretty good continental (vaguely Italian) cuisine with a sophisticated atmosphere.