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Vietnam Girls

Nan Tien Temple, Australia

Nan Tien Temple, Australia

Suwon, South

Pham Ngu Lao Backpacker District, Saigon

The Gods of
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The Gods of
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Photo copyright The Hindu newspaper
m a r c h - 1 3 - 2 0 0 8
Sugar in the Milk, on Internet radio at the Kitchen Sisters
I RECEIVED an email this morning concerning the broadcast, next week, of a radio program in America on the topic of Parsi food. The email read: "We thought you'd be interested in The Kitchen Sister's upcoming Hidden Kitchens piece. Hidden Kitchens is an award-winning radio series that explores the ways in which food, community and culture intersect. Our latest story, Sugar in the Milk: A Parsi Kitchen Story, will air on National Public Radio's Morning Edition in the United States on Thursday, March 20, and explores the world of Niloufer Ichaporia King, a Bombay-born Parsi who is preserving her vanishing culture through her cooking.
"The piece will also be available online after the initial airdate at: www.hiddenkitchens.org..."
a p r i l - 2 5 - 2 0 0 7

I READ AN INTERVIEW TODAY IN THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER WITH CAMELLIA PANJABI, CREATOR OF THE MASALA ZONE RESTAURANT CHAIN. There might not be any Masala Zones in Mumbai (would Masala Zone work anyway?) Nonetheless, Panjabi has done more work than most, to educate the rest of the world, about the amazing and perhaps infinite wealth of Indian cooking. Especially regional cooking. As the interview in The Guardian reads:

"Credited with introducing regional Indian cooking to the UK, Panjabi is a legend throughout the culinary world. Born in Mumbai (she will not reveal her age), Panjabi studied economics at Cambridge and went on to become the marketing director of India's most prestigious hotel group, Taj Hotels, of which she remains a director. She is also one of the directors - along with her sister and brother-in-law - of Masala World, which owns Chutney Mary, Veeraswamy, Amaya and three Masala Zone restaurants in London. I catch up with Panjabi, who divides her time between London and Mumbai, at the Masala World head office. She is quick to tell me why many Brits have Indian food all wrong. "There is no such dish as curry," says Panjabi. "It is a sauce, not a meal."

Over the last 20 years, she has travelled around India introducing little-known dishes - such as lamb with turnips and watermelon curry - to eateries in high-end hotels there. She also brought Szechwan and Thai cuisine to India. "The most popular cuisine in India for eating out and takeaways is Chinese," says Panjabi, "but most people order chicken manchurian, which does not exist in China; it's like chicken tikka masala here."

In 1982 she set up the Bombay Brasserie in London, serving straightforward Indian dishes, such as aloo tuk (potatoes with yogurt and tamarind), and paneer goli kebabs (cottage cheese and potato balls with pomegranate and fig chutney). In 1992 the restaurant served its millionth customer.

Panjabi has just sold the millionth copy of her seminal cook book, 50 Great Curries of India. "The story of the book is a fascinating one," says Panjabi. "I had tried to introduce proper regional Indian food to the hotels, but I was told, 'No one will order them.' I was convinced they would, and put real Indian dishes on the menu rather than meat swamped in curry sauce. But they didn't order them. I decided that I had to educate the public about real food before experimenting." So she began research for her book. "I tried all the top publishers in the country, and all of them said there was no market," she says. Did she ever lose faith? "Never," she insists. She guessed the book would appeal to both men and women but in different ways. "I knew curry-making was a macho thing men would want to do at the weekend," she says, whereas, "Women were hesitant to cook curry for dinner parties, as they did not want to get saddled with something they could not do..."

a p r i l - 2 5 - 2 0 0 7

e t h n i c + d i v e r s i t y

PART OF THE REASON MUMBAI SHINES SO BRIGHT IN THE FOOD DEPARTMENT, I AM SURE, IS BECAUSE OF THIS CITY'S ETHNIC DIVERSITY -- it is the melting pot of India, and dynamic racial melting pots always lead to dynamic cooking pots as well, in my experience. Now, for the first time visitor, Mumbai might not look multicultural at all -- everyone is kind of Indian looking. But within the Indian nation, there are numerous subnations, all as distinct from each other as Icelanders are from Russians -- your average Chinaman might have difficulty distinquishing an Icelander from a Russian but we all know there is a huge difference between them! So in Mumbai we have this huge mix of Indian nationalities, and all of them have different cuisines, which basically means that you can find any kind of Indian dish in the city, whether it is a sweet Gujarati thali or a hot Goan vindaloo, or a Tamil style cheese dosa. Sometimes in the true spirit of multiculturalism these styles mix together, and hybrid dishes are created. On top of all this, Mumbai has also attracted immigrants from outside of India -- the Parsi's are one case in point -- who have added their flavor into the Mumbai melting pot. What comes out of this pot is delicious, exotic, and one of the wonders of the foodie world. You have got to try it to appreciate it, and ultimately to love it!

It is one thing that Mumbai meals are almost uniformly exotic, ridiculously delicious and extravagantly cheap. Another drawcard is that the restaurants of Mumbai are often attractions in their own right, and oozing with beauty and an Arabian Sea kind of architecture. Welcome to the Mumbai Dining Challenge website, an attempt to categorize and immortalize the finest in Mumbai food and the finest in restaurant ambience and design style. Some of these places reviewed I have been to myself, others I have merely heard about. I am sure all of them are good (to varying degrees at least!) Let us break it down first on an ethnic line, and introduce the different styles of food which can be found in Mumbai -- Parsi, Goan, Gujarati, Indo-Chinese: you name it, Mumbai has got it, and in abundance!

g u j a r a t i + c u i s i n e

GUJARAT STATE IS FAMOUS FOR ITS SWEET, MOSTLY VEGETARIAN THALI CUISINE -- and if you cannot make it up north to Gujarat you should definitely sample the supply of Gujarati restaurants in Mumbai. Entering a Gujarati restaurant has been described like this: walk in (if you are a foreigner, expect to be stared at, but that is usual in Mumbai.) Sit down. In less than a minute you will be asked which thali you want -- ordinary, special, and so on. Seconds later, a large stainless-steel plate (thali) arrives along with six to eight small bowls (katoris) that rest on your plate. Thali literally means a meal served on a silver platter, and this is what you will get in a Mumbai thali joint. Expect to have each and every one of the katoris on your thali filled to the brim with a mouthwatering array of spiced vegetables, savories, dals, beans, rotis, puris, and so on. The sky's the limit, as long as it isn't meat. These katoris are bottomless in the western sense -- as you eat, they will be topped up by the ever diligent waiter. When all has been said and done and consumed, you might get a round of rice or khichdi, a simple lentil and rice mixture. Khichdi is eaten with kadhi, a savory curry made with yogurt using bay leaves, ginger, chilies and finely chopped vegetables as garnishing, onions and pickle.

Bhagat Tarachand: Enter either via Cotton Exchange lane from the Bhuleshwar end, or through the road from Jama Masjid and TBZ, Zaveri Bazar.
Recommended as one of the best Gujarati restaurants in Mumbai. As one reviewer has pointed out: "The Yellow Dal Fry" is a must-order and probably the best you can get ANYWHERE and at any price. The special chapatis are, again, piping hot and fresh, the best style you can ever get. You can even order a bottle of Chaas on the side. The Bajra and Makai rotis are exotic and thin, Sev Tomato Bhaji and Paneer Bhurji are also excellent. A dry side-dish is also recommended here - Bhindi Fry is another dish which is exclusively excellent."

Chetna Restaurant and Bar: Fort. Phone: 022/2284-4968.
A vegetarian restaurant out the back of the Prince of Wales Museum in Colaba. Lots of local officials go there for all-you-can-eat thali's, and the restaurant even boasts a book store and art gallery. Serves a diet thali (Chetna Lite), for those who do not want to put on too many pounds while in India.

Indian High Tea: Rampart Row, Fort.
Known for its evening -- and very Indian -- High Tea from 3pm to 7pm. As part of the deal you get three snacks and either tea or coffee for Rs 75. Also boasts a thali buffet lunch and dinner.

Friends Union Joshi Club: Kalbadevi.
An historic, 19th Century Gujarati thali restaurant. The simple but delicious thalis here are among the cheapest in Mumbai. The Shrikhand is also said to be very good.

Hiralal Kashidas Bhajiawala: C.P Tank.
Gujarati, Farsan and fast food in this 50-seat restaurant.

Kailash Parbat: Off Causeway Rd, Colaba.
Good Gujarati veg thalis at competitive prices.

Meghdoot Restaurant: Guru Prasad Building, Ghatkhopar (W).
Gujarati, Punjabi, Chinese and continental food dished up here.

Panchvati Gaurav: Opposite Bombay Hospital, Marine Lines. Phone: 022/22084877.
One of the choice Gujarati restaurants in Mumbai, where you'll pay Rs 105 to Rs 150 ($2.15-$3.15) for an excellent meal. A very new Gujarati thali restaurant, Panchvati Gaurav was carved out of the space left behind by an old Irani restaurant. The decor is a mixture of Gujarati and Rajasthani motifs with Warli paintings, but manages to come off well. Try it out.

Shagun Veg Restaurant: Shivlal Monthal Mansion, Central Mumbai.
A range of cuisines on offer here including Gujarati, south Indian, Punjabi, Chinese and even Mexican (which is in vogue in Mumbai at the moment!) Boasts valet parking and free home delivery.

Rajdhani: Crawford Market.
Rajdhani was set up as a modest Udipi restaurant by Ishwar and Jugaldas Barot in 1947. These days it is an Mumbai institution, complete with courteous waiters and that distinctive sweet Gujju taste. Your standard thali here has about 4 veggies, 3 daal/kadhi like liquid items, theplas, rotlas, chapatis, biscuit bhakris, various farsaan, dhokla, papad, dahi. Plain rice, and khichadi with rivers of ghee will surely follow. For desert expect pre-packaged gulabjamun, shrikhand, and rasagulla.

Royal Challenge: Eastern Expressway.
Located on the highway north of Teen Haath Naka, near the Nitin Company lot. Massive Gujarati thalis, the largest costing 150 Rs.

Swati Snacks: Tardeo.
One of the first to introduce Mumbaikars to traditional regional delicacies like panki chatni, fada ni khichdi, and so on, Swati Snacks is hugely popular in Mumbai. Started in 1962 by Meenakshi Zaveri, mother of current proprietor, 58-year-old Asha Zaveri, Swati Snacks began its life serving chaat and hand-churned ice-cream.
But 25 years ago, Zaveri junior took over and the scene changed. "I wanted to give my customers traditional food of different communities," says Asha. As you glance at the menu, it's evident that Gujarati food tops her menu.

Thackers: Marine St, Marine Lines. Phone: 022/2205-3641.
Boasts Surat-style Gujarati meals served on silver plates in a relaxed atmosphere.
Be adventurous when you try these and other Gujarati restaurants in Mumbai. Some of the delectable items you might encounter include the khaman dhokla, a salty steamed cake made from chickpea flour; doodha pak, sweet, thickened milk confectioned with nuts, and srikhand, a dessert made of yogurt, flavored with saffron, cardamom, nuts and candied fruit which is eaten with hot, fluffy pooris. Bon appetit!

Some other Gujarati thali restaurants in Mumbai, courtesy of MumbaiYellowPages.com:

Golden Star .......... 363 1983.
Natraj .......... 889 4286.
Purohit .......... 204 6241.
Status .......... 204 0345.
Thakker's Bhoj .......... 201 1232.

p u n j a b i & m u g h l a i + c u i s i n e

PUNJABI CUISINE IS CELEBRATED AND ENJOYED ALL OVER THE WORLD, AND TO MANY PEOPLE, IT REPESENTS ALL THAT IS GOOD ABOUT INDIA. Punjabi tandoori cooking is especially popular from London to Bombay, and you will find plenty of establishments in Mumbai featuring it on the menu somewhere. Huge earthen ovens are half buried in the ground and heated with a coal fire lit below it. Marinated meat, chicken, fish, paneer, rotis and naans of many types are cooked in this novel oven and the results are absolutely scrumptious!

Some of the Punjabi restaurants you should investigate when you touch ground in Mumbai, if you feel so inclined, include:

Copper Chimney: Various.
This chain has restaurants across Mumbai but the parent at Worli (phone: 4924488) is particularly well rated. Serves Mughlai and tandoori food.

Dhanesh Punjabi Hotel: Wadia St, Old Kurla Rd, phone: 511 0614.

The Mughlai cuisine of northern India is also well represented in Mumbai. Here is a short selection of places you can go:

Hotel Shashikant: Mahakali Caves, Andheri (W).
Mughlai, veg and non-veg, south Indian and Chinese food plus ice cream. Recorded music and fully licensed bar.

Kamal Chhaya Bar and Restaurant: Chenoy Estate, Andheri (W).
Mughlai as well as veg and non-veg food from north and south India, seafood and even Chinese food available at this Government approved venue. Enjoy a drink from the bar. Close to the Andheri Sports Complex.

Pakhtoon: Bandra.
Solzaire had this to report on a new restaurant in Mumbai called Pakhtoon: "Pakhtoon is a new place started by the chef of Sheesha in Bandra. The place serves good starters, kababs, tandoori stuff and the like. They also have Koliwada style prawns and fish but it is just so-so - definitely nothing compared to the real Koliwada stuff at Sion. The special Kababs are chicken breast filled with chiken keema - sounds weird but tastes good. The main course dishes are the usual Mughlai dishes with decent chicken, mutton, and veggie items.
The seating is limited, though they have a garden place for evenings. No alcohol served. The place however is quite dirty with unclean floors - hard for them given the dusty area they are in. Otherwise it is air-conditioned but not cool enough. In summary - definitely order for home delivery but avoid going there - maybe evenings in the open will be good.

Shalimar: Mohammad Ali Rd.
Chetanv says: "When you get inside and go up, there seem to be rooms after rooms after rooms. Its all pretty confusing, but just let the waiters guide you. Once settled, take some time to explore the menu. There are pretty good Tawa-taka-tak items and Raan dishes.
"We tried Paya Soup, Seekh kababs (sic), the obligatory Chicken Tandoori, Bheja Fry (which is called Tawa M???), Chicken Afghani.. "

Strike-10: Laxmi Industrial Estate, Andheri (W).
As the name suggests, this is an Indian restaurant in a 10-pin bowling alley! As well as a wide spread of Mughlai, subcontinental, Continental and Asian dishes, Strike-10 features a live band, video disco, cable TV, reality games and the ubiqitious pool and snooker tables (one of the most popular forms of entertainment in India and Nepal these days!) Amex and all the other major credit cards are accepted here! Open until 1.30am.

Delights of Chicken Afghani: This splendid dish is in a mild creamy sauce that has chicken pieces roasted in the tandoor in it.

Some other assorted Mughlai, Punjabi and tandoori places:

Nebula (Mughlai & Tandoori): Shivaji Park.
Pindh Da Dabha Mughlai & Tandoori: 3rd Road, next to Khar railway station (West).
Sasural: Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri (W). Phone: 2636 8222, 2632 4895.
Sunset Room: Sun and Sand Hotel, Juhu Beach. Phone: 2620 1811.
Time and Again: 9, Raheja Classique, Oshiwara Link Rd, Andheri (W). Phone: 2635 1119 / 20 / 21.
Venue (Mughlai and Tandoori): Vilas Centre, SV Road Near Santa Cruz bus depot. Phone: 26115842.

a r a b i a n & p e r s i a n + c u i s i n e

ONE OF THE REALLY INTERESTING ASPECTS ABOUT BEING IN MUMBAI IS THAT IT OFTEN FEELS SO, WELL, MIDDLE EASTERN AT TIMES. Of course, look at the map and you will see Mumbai is just across the water (aptly named the Arabian Sea) from the Middle East. But somehow I expected Mumbai to feel 100 per cent Indian, and 0 per cent Arabian. In fact there is a strong Arabian character to the city -- even the light on the Bay of Bombay looks Arabian at times, reminding of blissful winter days in Cairo and the Sinai -- and there is an Arabian element at work in the Mumbai restaurant scene. In short, Mumbai is a good place to try Middle Eastern cuisine!

Lebanese Point: Shiv Sadan, Lokhandwala, Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri (W). Phone: 2632 2227, 2632 5121.
Dishes here range from around 50R to 100R. Some of the highlights on the menu appear to be the Lebanese Barbeque in either chicken or mutton, farush mishwi (grilled chicken), chicken and mutton shawarma, sahan hommos maha and dazaz mahashi. Veg and non-veg rolls are also available, some stuffed with chicken liver and brains.

Persian Durbar: Moray Mahal, V Patel Rd, Bandra. Phone: 640 1326.

Pot Pourri: 4 Carlton Court, near Hong Kong Bank, Turner Rd, Bandra (W). Phone: 26429193, 26406010.

c h i n e s e + c u i s i n e

A RECENT STORY IN BRITAIN'S THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER DISCUSSED INDIA'S LOVE OF CHINESE FOOD: "In India, people often go for a Chinese. Or rather, an Indianised version of Chinese that some call Chindian. Dishes tend to be flavoured with spices not normally found in Chinese cuisine, such as cumin, coriander and turmeric. Given India's large vegetarian population, paneer, cauliflower and potato are also far more prevalent, along with garlic, ginger and chillis. Popular Chindian dishes include Manchurian chicken, which has a sweet and salty brown sauce, various Sichuan recipes and Hakka noodles. Narrow and flat, almost square in shape, Hakka noodles are made with durum wheat, with or without eggs. They are stir-fried with vegetables and mixed with a hot, vinegar-based sauce, and sold from dhabas (roadside stalls). The name comes from the Hakka people, the tribe of Chinese who first moved to Calcutta in the late 1700s. There is still a large Chinatown in Calcutta today.

"Indo-Chinese is very popular with middle- and upper-class Indians," says Tishani Doshi, a writer and dancer based in Madras. Much to her amusement, Doshi recently had her first Indian meal in Britain and was surprised not to have encountered a single dish she had ever eaten in India. "It's probably how a Chinese person would feel eating at a Chinese restaurant in India," she says. "I couldn't believe how heavy the 'Indian' food was in London, and it reminded me of the feeling I often get when I go for a Chinese back home: completely stuffed and slightly bloated. I can't imagine that Chinese people regularly eat anything that heavy..."

For the choice selection of Chindian restaurants in Mumbai, click here!

q u a r t e r + b a r s


Ambika: Opposite ticket window at Vikhroli (W) railway station.
According to Solzaire: "We landed up there for a quick drink before planned food at Priya. However, one drink became two and so on, so we decided to try out the food there. We didn't regret it.
"Oh yeah - there is no chakna (complimentary snacks served with the liquor - even the menu says so) - so you have to buy every item. That said, the prices of quarters and beer is one of the cheapest I have seen. The usual snacks are cheap at 7 each. There is a el-cheapo seating area in the front, an a/c section behind, and another a/c section on the first floor."

Chetan: Opposite Chetan West.
Another Quarter Bar Adventure, this time directed by the one they call CNB, from the same pooling site quoted above: "Chetan has some of the most amazing food for a quarter bar. It's very crowded. You have people standing beside lining to grab your seat as you get up. You will almost always have to share your table with someone else if your group is not occupying it completely.
"This is the only place I have found outside Sion Koliwada which makes the Hazara type prawns.
"Excellent! Small portions!
"Chicken Tandoori -- succulent. spicy (ed: that's what all you want from a chicken tandoori!)
"Surmai Rava Fry -- This is quite a standard and safe dish which can't be messed up. Chetan makes it slightly better then most."

m i s c e l l a n e o u s + c u i s i n e

IF YOU EVER TIRE OF INDIAN, CHINESE OR MIDDLE EASTERN CUISINE, THERE ARE PLENTY OF GOOD FOOD OPTIONS IN MUMBAI. This is a world-class city as I think I have already stated, and the range of restaurants and street vendors is almost endless. Here is a slice of the kind of miscellaneous food action you can find in Mumbai, from the ultra-cheap to the ultra-expensive:

Ankur: Fort. Phone: 265 4194/263 0393.
One of the best fish restaurants in Mumbai serving Mangalori seafood. Try the neer tella with meengassi (fish in spicy coconut gravy with steamed dosa), tiger prawns or Kerala lobster. Moghlai and Chinese food also available. Situated in an airy Swiss style chalet.

Athena: 41/44 Minoo Desai Marg, Colaba. Phone: 22/202 8699.
The World's Best Bars says: "Another Mumbai masterpiece, this one described as a champagne cigar lounge restaurant although that doesn't account for all the dancing. More wall-to-wall celebrities and stunners although the celebs tend to gather in the VIP room adjacent. It's a minimalist design space with low yellow sofas and opaque glass counters although it's hard to make this out in the perfumed crush. Your fellow Athenians are the moneyed Mumbai elite, dressed in the latest designer gear and flashing their credit cards like magic wands. But when you expect to pay 500 rupees for a martini, (close to ten quid) who can blame them. Music is house, ambient, techno and some funky Hindi soundtracks."

Caliente: Jony Castle, Khatau Rd, off Wodehouse Rd, Colaba. Phone: 22/2218-6717 or 22/2218-7729.
Said to be the first Spanish restaurant in Mumbai, occupying the first floor of an old apartment building. Interesting design -- one wall has been converted into a sheet waterfall behind glass, and the two dining rooms are sparsely furnished with blond-wood tables and rattan chairs. A variety of tapas is on offer -- jalapeno cheese poppers are delicious. Try the chicken paella, too. A handsome buffet lunch is available on Sunday. Reservations are essential Friday and Saturday nights.

Commissioner of Police.
For the cheapest food in Mumbai, dine with the cops. The canteen at this Commissioner of Police headquarters serves thalis for a measley 30 Rs.

El Mexicano: Hotel President.
Authentic Mexican cuisine, tequila flowing by the gallons and infectious mariachi bands.

Ghatkopar Fast Food Stalls.
According to the excellent Ghatkopar Eats website: "While you are in Ghatkopar you never have to worry where to get a little snack or in-betweens. There are stalls all over the palace - some of the most popular being the batata vada and sandwich stalls. There are some just outside the station on the east or if you get off the train on the west there are hawkers selling pav bhaji, bhajias and sandwiches all along the station road especially in the evenings. You will find the Jhunjunwala crowds on the extreme right hand side of the station while the SNDT favourites are the paani-puri shop, the sandwichwaala both near the M.G. road junction. Just a few steps ahead at the Cama lane junction are regular vendors selling the Kutchhi double-roti and idli-dosas. If you move down M.G. road eastwards you will surely come across more food vendors. One specialises in Bhel puri and one sells authentic Jaljeera from Mathura. There are several kulfiwaalas (ice-cream men) and one interesting chap specialises in malai kulfi from Mehsana. Not to mention the innumerable snacks available in the famous Hingwala lane. Often are seen food peddlers selling in Garodia streets especially the 60 feet and 90 feet roads. In the far west of Ghatkoar, on L.B.S. Marg and in Maneklal estate there are what can be described as shop stalls selling snacks, besides the street hawkers. These include all the common snack items ranging from pav vadas, samosas, idlis, sandwiches, bhajias and kachoris.
Ghatkopar being one of the most happening places in Mumbai, you are well advised to check it out.

Govinda: Hare Krishna Temple, Juhu Beach. Phone: 022/2620-0337.
I stumbled upon the ISKOM Hare Krishna Temple almost by chance one insanely hot afternoon in May, after completing a leisurely stroll along Mumbai's famous Juhu Beach. Actually, it wasn't that leisurely, as I was hassled and touted the whole way by a couple of teenage boys trying to sell me henna paint, and other crap which I didn't need or want. After setting off down some shady streets, I came across the Hare Krishna Temple, which is in fact the world center of the religion. I didn't know it at the time, but it actually boasts a feeding hall where commoners can gorge themselves from a 56-item all-vegetarian buffet (naturally, there is no meat and no onions and garlic either). Apparently everything is cooked in pure ghee (clarified butter), however, so expect the meal to be extremely heavy.

Hazara Restaurant: Sion, near GTB Nagar.
Here is a review from Vikram Karve on Sulekha: "You must have noticed a dish called Fish Koliwada or Prawn Koliwada on the menu cards of many restaurants. Recipe books too feature Koliwada recipes, and I've observed a few eateries featuring 'Koliwada' in their names. But have you gone to the one and only Sion-Koliwada (in Mumbai) from which these yummy seafood delicacies derive their names and actually tasted the genuine Koliwada style cuisine over there? No! You havenE½ft? DoesnE½ft matter. Come with me on a Foodie trail. I'll take you on a gastronomical trip to Sion Koliwada in Mumbai and, together, let us sample and relish the authentic Koliwada seafood delights on offer.
"To get there, just drive straight down Shahid Bhagat Singh Road from the Museum. Drive past Horniman Circle, Town Hall, Reserve Bank, GPO, Yellow gate, Dockyard Road Reay Road, Sewree and Wadala railway stations on the Harbour Line Stations. The road will keep changing its name -- DE½fMello, Barrister Nath Pai, RA Kidwai, Char Rasta -- and when it ends at Sion, turn right before the flyover, drive past Shanmukhananda Hall, and when you reach a T-junction, in front of you will see Hazara Restaurant -- our destination. Alternatively take the Harbour line train to GTB Nagar, ask around, walk through the hustle -- bustle and cacophony, and then let your nose guide you to Koliwada and Hazara.
"At the entrance to Hazara you will find heaps of marinated prawns and various types of fish of the season, like pomfret, rawas, surmai. You can have your seafood deep-fried in the huge kadhai of boiling oil or have it roasted on the coal grill or tandoor. You may see a few pieces of marinated chicken, but ignore them; at Koliwada you're going to focus on seafood!
"Every good eatery has a signature dish (unless it's one of those ubiquitous run-of-the-mill eateries proliferating all over the place which serve such uninspiring pedestrian fare that they are certainly not worth visiting). You must plan your eat and know what to relish in a particular restaurant.
"It's comical to see people eating 'Chinese' at Irani, Mughlai and pure vegetarian Gujju and Udipi restaurants and vegetarian dishes at Baghdadi, Olympia and Bade Mian. I've almost split my sides seeing a guy trying to order a pizza at Mathura Dairy Farm when there are excellent pizzerias in the vicinity at Churchgate.
"Whenever I go to a restaurant I make sure I eat the specialty cuisine of the place. If I don't know, I look around to see what the regular patrons are savoring, and I ask someone knowledgeable, a connoisseur, or even a waiter!
"The signature dish of Hazara is prawn Koliwada. Legend has it that prawn Koliwada was invented here. You order by weight, half a kilo for two is ample, and watch the prawns sizzle, crackle and dance in the hot oil. I love watching my food being made in front of me.
"You go inside. You can either sit with the drinking types on the congested, crammed, smoky and noisy ground floor, but it's best to sit comfortably in the "air conditioned" mezzanine floor where you can watch the goings on below while enjoying your food. The lip-smacking prawns are crisp, crunchy, scrumptious and zesty -- truly exquisite! Once you have savored Prawn Koliwada at Hazara you'll appreciate the difference between authentic prawn Koliwada and the stuff they serve you at various eateries.
"Next, let's have a roasted tandoori pomfret. It looks temptingly appetizing, and as expected, it's excellent.
"But the surprise piece de resistance is the succulent melt-in-the-mouth rawas Koliwada. It tastes blissfully delicious. You close you eyes and let the generous piece of rawas fish disintegrate, melt and dissolve on your tongue, and let yourself be transported to seventh heaven..."

Indigo: Colaba.
The narrow lane out front fills with a queue of cars at dinnertime -- this eatery and its laid-back lounge bar are a hit with foreigners. This small restaurant occupies an attractive, candle-lit old mansion on a side street in Colaba. A nouvelle Indian-Western-fusion cuisine is served in simple, woodsy-but-elegant surroundings -- much like dining in an old Goan home. Try the rawas (Indian salmon) pan-grilled, pepper tuna, filet mignon, tandoori rosemary chicken, or the goat cheese ravioli -- all pastas here are commendable. Save room for the tempting desserts. Reservations essential.

Leopold's Cafe: Colaba Causeway. Phone: 202 0131/287 3362.
A Mumbai landmark and extremely popular with tourists. Continental, Indian and Chinese food available. Apparently if you hang around there long enough and you are a foreigner you will get signed up by a talent scout for a Bollywood movie. When I visited in May 2005 I was impressed by the old world ambience of the restaurant, and the exotic clientele which included Africans in traditional garb, obviously on holiday in India.

Manora: MLA'S Hostel.
A sprawling canteen where a pan-Indian buffet lunch will set you back only Rs 50!

McDonald's: Of course, McDonald's family restaurants are all over Mumbai these days. While Micky D's might be the bane of the serious global foodie, it is interesting to check out the Indian McDonald's just to see how different they are to the American variant. For starters, you won't find any beef on the menu at an Indian McDonald's. For a time they were serving mutton in the Maharajah Mac, but it seems this exotic little burger has been discontinued. Instead, the meat is chicken now. From one site in the know: "Probably due to political reasons, the only meat they serve now is chicken and fish. Which is odd, because you can get decent steaks here in Mumbai, and even Domino's serves pepperoni pizza.
Some of the places you can find a Big Mac in Mumbai:
Lokhandwala Complex. Phone: 2630 1532.

Olive: Pali Hill, Bandra.
According to one visitor: "This Italian restaurant had recently opened when I was taken there by the locals who live around the corner from Olive. The place then was and still is an average Italian that one would find in any neighborhood in the five boroughs of NYC. But in Mumbai is has a very high degree of buzz -It is infested by Bollywood and models and starlets wanna be - eyecandy all around.
Eyecandy I can deal with well enough!"
The Guardian newspaper from Britain reported: "Saturday night at Olive and we could be in any ultra-hip bar in London or New York. Dining on oysters and Arabian Sea salmon in the restaurant are bankers and designer-suited city brokers. Sipping mojitos and martinis by the sunken bar are cover models and A-list actresses. And standing under trees in the courtyard, dozens of hip young things talking fashion and film.
"But we're nowhere near the western world. The DJ is spinning Hindi film theme tunes, half the diners are wearing turbans, and when you walk outside, past the valet parking, you could bump into a cow. Welcome to Bombay.
"Two year ago, places like Olive didn't exist. Today, this is just one of a dozen spots on a stylish restaurant, bar and club scene that has made Bombay the sexiest, liveliest and most surreal city on the subcontinent.
"'The transformation is amazing," says Aqeel Ali, aka DJ Aqeel, India's most celebrated private party DJ. "A few years ago, people would just go out for a bite to eat and a movie. Now they dress up in designer labels, drink in style bars, listen to dance music and go clubbing until dawn. It's a 24-hour western city.'"

Puneri Cuisine.
There have been many cuisines mentioned on this page, which shows what a diverse and culturally significant place Mumbai is. One more cuisine deserves a mention, one which has a place in the heart of all Maharashtrians: Puneri food, comprising delectable snacks and thali meals consisting of Peshwai specialities and the Maratha or Brahmin traditional fare. With Mumbai being a city with its own personality and many new varieties of food -rather fast food - have been automatically created to match the city's hectic workstyle. A direct result of this need are places like Khaudra Galli or Eater's Lane, where overnight transport runners, business couriers, people on night shifts and those who work late, pounce upon spicy vegetarian fare like Pav Bhaji, Wada Pav, Bhajias, Batatawadas or Sabudana Khichdi or Wada.

These snacks, popularised by fast food sellers, have become Mumbai's official cuisine together with hardcore Maharashtrian fare like Thalipeeth, Misal and other snacks from Pune. The sea beaches in Mumbai are lined with sellers of fast food, that is Bhel, Sev Puri, Dahi Puri, Kanjiwadas, Dahiwadas, Ragda Patties and so on. Ice-creams, hand-made or branded, are eaten to wash down these fiery snacks doused in hot chutneys.

Sayba: SV Road opposite the Bandra mosque, Bandra.
Try some Bengali food, renowned as the most enlightened cuisine in India.

Sanuk Thai: 30 K Dubhash Marg. Phone: 22044233.
Melonfire reports: "Situated next to Rhythm House in Bombay's Kalaghoda area, Sanuk Thai shares space with two of the city's better-known restaurants - the Wayside Inn on the left, and Copper Chimney on the right. And in a city with only four Thai restaurants, It's quickly carving out a place for itself as one of the better ones.

"The restaurant is quite large, with around fifteen tables on the ground floor (there are additional tables on a higher level) and is decorated with antique figurines and artifacts for that authentic Thai feel. The lighting is dim and mostly artificial - it's adequate for dining purposes, but this is not a place to visit if you plan to read a book with your meal.

"The menu is varied, with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Amongst the starters, I'd recommend the steamed wontons with garlic (Rs. 140.00), or the tempura fried prawns (Rs. 230.00); another long-time favourite is the chicken satay, marinated strips of chicken served in peanut sauce (Rs. 180.00). Vegetarians can skip straight to the salad section, which has some very interesting spicy cabbage and chilli (Rs. 140.00), while meat-eaters again get the better end of the deal with the chicken with roasted rice (Rs. 180.00) and the grilled red meat with cucumber and herbs (Rs. 180.00).

"Thailand is known for its fiery soups, and you'll find some of them here as well - try the tom yum phak (Rs. 110.00) or the tom yum ghoong rue pla (Rs. 150.00), both soups that give you a fairly good idea of why soup is so popular with Thai meals. With that out of the way, move on the main course; the baby corn with garlic and beans (Rs. 190.00) is fairly good, while on-vegetarians won't be able to keep from drooling when they try the stir-fried prawns in pepper (Rs. 400.00). Sea-food lovers should definitely try the steamed pomfret with lemon sauce (Rs. 600.00), while the more adventurous can try the soft chicken/pork/fish in hot sauce (Rs. 250.00).

"Most dishes are to be eaten with either rice or noodles - you can choose from steamed rice (the best, since it doesn't interfere with the flavour of the other dishes), fried rice, wet or dry noodles, and assorted vegetable accompaniments. Some dishes are also meant to be eaten with fiery Thai curry - the restaurant has green, yellow and red curries available, which can be prepared with your choice of meat (Rs. 250.00 upwards), and these are definitely worth trying for the full experience.

"The most disappointing area on the menu is the desserts section - there's hardly anything worth considering (unless you like fried lychees or fried noodles!), and even old standbys like chocolate mousse and tiramisu are missing."

Sheriff: 231, Link Corner Linking Road, Bandra. Phone: 26515959.
One of the many Mexican restaurants in vogue with the punters at the moment in Mumbai.

Shivsagar: Juhu Beach.
South Indian cuisine.

Songkrran: Near Hare Krishna Temple, Juhu Beach. Phone: 6245603
Located in a tiny one-way line near the Hare Krishna Temple, serves excellent Thai food.

Subway Sandwiches: For a complete guide to the Subway Sandwiches of India, click here.

Thai Palate: near National College Linking road, Bandra. Phone: 26423829.
As the name suggests, a great place to satisfy your palate with Thai food.

Thai Pavilion: Cuffe Parade. Phone: 2150808.
This is was the first Thai restaurant to open in Mumbai and is unarguably the best. Orchids on the table, spicy tom yum soup on the menu.

TiffinWallahs of Mumbai.
This could be a good take-out option for those working or living in Mumbai for an extended period, or for those tourists who simply want to try something different.
Much has been documented by the media about Mumbai's 5,000-strong dabbawallas -- the men who deliver home-cooked lunch to about 2 lakh office goers on each working day. But precious little has been written about the many women who cook the "homemade lunch" consumed by thousands of working women and men in the metropolis.
While many people who rely on the dabba service receive lunch from their home, there are others who order from restaurants and caterers or "tiffin services", and this is delivered by the same dabbawallas.
The price of a meal may vary, depending on the clientele and the demand for special food or items. For instance, Malati, who serves 50-odd customers, offers Punjabi, Gujarati, South Indian, Continental and even low-calorie meals. Her low-cal meals cost Rs 40 each, while her partly non-vegetarian and complete non-vegetarian meals are each priced Rs 50 and Rs 75 respectively.

Zodiac Grill: Taj Mahal Hotel, Colaba.
A luxury option for those who can afford it. The Taj also boasts The Golden Dragon, one of the first restaurants to introduce the fiery Szechwan cuisine to the Mumbaikars, and where the menu undergoes an innovative overhaul ever six months or so.

Contact the author Rob Sullivan at bunyarra@hotmail.com. Anticopyright February 2007.