[Cheadle, Greater Manchester] Aamchi Mumbai
I don’t think we’ve ever been to a restaurant on its first night, preferring to let things settle down a bit before a visit. But this place offered something new and we really didn’t want to wait. So, what’s new, I hear you ask. Well, what they offer is traditional Mumbai street food. And that’s definitely new for South Manchester/North Cheshire.
I liked the menu. No, I mean the actual menu. Not just the food offerings. Spread over several pages, it’s designed almost as a magazine with the various food sections interspersed with short articles about Mumbai , its food and its culture. It’s not the only thing which has seen considerable thought being given. There’s comfortable, modern furnishings. And very contemporary crockery and cutlery. And, in another move away from your high street curry house, most of the servers are young women and, indeed, not just women from an Asian heritage. It really all was rather promising.
There were mini pappads to start – a single bite of crisp pastry topped with tomato & onion. And chutneys, of course – excellent tomato and coriander ones, along with a more classic mango and a yoghurt based raita.
Then on to the street food which replaces much of the usual starter section. There was a vada pav - or spicy potato barmcake as we’d say in these parts. Yes, pretty much just that. Really nicely spiced potato – turmeric, I think and mustard seeds and a little background chilli heat. It’s served up on a soft bread roll. I’d not eaten it before and really enjoyed it – it’s a little dry and needs balancing with a dollop or two of the chutneys. The spiciest thing on the menu is misal pav – a lentil based curry to which is added noodles, etc such as you might get in a Bombay mix. It gives it an interesting crunch. A cracker of a dish.
For mains, one of us ordered aloo gobi – and it was good version of the Punjabi classic. A definite “bite” left to the cauliflower and good assertive saucing, which seemed to have a slight edge of sweetness. Chicken Malvani originates from the coastal region, south of Mumbai (so Google tells me). Still moist chicken, a good gravy, well rounded in its spicing with nothing overly aggressive. There was also a very decent tarka dahl which hadn’t been cooked within a inch of its life. Lemon rice was superb. Tandoori roti were perfect – nice & crisp round the edges, just as they should be.
So, a really good meal. Service suffered a tad from first night jitters – for one server it was her first night of working in any restaurant. But she’ll be fine – she has the great gift of a very natural smile. I really wish them well in this new venture – we’re ready for more of this traditional, regional food and Aamchi Mumbai is going to be a very worthy competitor for the other similarish places in the SK8 postcode – places like the Indian Tiffin Room and Seven Spices. Yep, we liked it a lot.
This place sounds terrific, John. We're suffering a real slump in our area. The good chef at our local has left, and our last meal close to home was not good. So we tried what's supposed to be the best alternative and found that very so-so and ridiculously expensive for the quality produced. I might have to move North.
Forgot to mention dessert. There's a short listing of Indian ones and a couple of oddly placed Brit ones. So, falooda, then. Something else I've never eaten before - described on the menu as an Indian version of knickerbockerglory, which it ain't. But it was a pleasant end to the meal. Very summery and almost a milkshake, the tapioca "pearls" reminded me of the tinned sago pudding of my childhood.
Aamchi (our) Mumbai sounds terrific! By the way, you nailed the vada pav- it's exactly as you describe, and does need generous chutney to fulfill its potential. Make sure you try pav bhaji, our 3am food.
My other road side favourite is ragda patties - potato cakes over chole with all the requisite chutneys. One of the most moreish things in the world.
A return visit. Place was packed - you wouldnt have got a table as a walk-in. Really pleased how well it's taken off.
For Mrs H & I, there was bhel puri and sev puri to start, followed by butter chicken and malai kofta and, for dessert, rasmalai and baraf gola. And, as there were four of us, we were able to sample a range of other items - dal makhani, tadka dal, plain and lemon rice, paratha, roti and kulcha. All good.
I've reflected overnight and think I've got to add a note of criticism to temper my enthusiasm for this place.
There are service issues.
This first is one for the kitchen and it's one of timing. It happened with the starters - two came out but there was then a few minutes before the other two arrived. Happened again with the desserts - three came, one followed. No apology so, presumably, a sufficiently regular occurance for the servers not to mention it.
And second, there is a complete excess of the "how is everything". Even in America, it would be excessive, here it has a negative intrusive effect. What's worse is that the servers seem to lurk nearby waiting to pounce to ask the question. Not always quite near enough that you know that's what they are about. And, of course, while they're lurking they can see that you're enjoying your food and your evening. Go away and leave us to do just that, please - we'll let you know if there's an issue - like where's the other dessert?
The website still needs some tweaking. For example, I can't access the menu page in Firefox, but can in IE.
We need to make a return visit to the nearby Indina Tiffin Room for a food comparison.
Pleased to report that we revisited last night and the various service issues appear to have been addressed and resolved. Including a redesign of the website.
Food, of course, remained top notch. Bhel puri was everything you'd want of the dish. I enjoyed the pav bhaji (thanks, howler) - the owner explained how it's done by his favourite Mumbai street seller - mashing the veg and offering a taste to get the balance right for you. I loved it.
For mains , we both went with "mixed vegetables Kolhapuri" - a good mix of cauliflower, potato, chickpea and paneer, in a well made sauce - a good spice kick without anything being overly dominant or aggressive. Daal makhani was comforting. Rice was well flavoured, with the inclusion of crisp curry leaves (at least I think they were curry leaves). Roti were suitably crisp.
Another new development is takeaway/home delivery which probably means the end of us getting takeaway from the local "any protein with any sauce" places.