Mumbai’s Newest Eateries Are Doubling Up Their Menus, Smartly
A recent slew of restaurants in Mumbai, is creating a more sophisticated version of the infamous ‘multi-cuisine’ haunt. With a focus on more than one — often niche — cuisine with complementary cultures or a shared history, the result is often a more nuanced and fuller experience — at times even educative. Moving away from the concept of fusion food, it’s a play at borrowing subtle, ingredient-lead inspirations from interesting cultures and combining it with genuine research, to create an experience meant for a more refined palette.
A combination of Bengali and French cuisines could potentially sound odd, but there’s a long colonial past that binds them together, and of course, the key ingredient that Shilpa Sharma and Poonam Singh’s restaurant is named after. “With over 217 years’ worth of history between these civilisations, it wasn’t tough to combine their sensibilities,” says Pritha Sen, a food historian the duo has been working with “The synergy between them lies in the versatility that mustard has played as an integral element in them both. The individual cuisines hold their ground very strongly because of it.” While French cuisine has found its global audience, Bengali food is still finding its niche. While chef Gregory Bazire runs the kitchen’s French side, Sen runs its Bengali part and one of the challenges she faces is balancing her act with him, “A beautiful aspect of French cuisine is the way it is plated — and Gregory is very good at it. But matching that immaculateness with Bengali food can be tough, but I take in my stride.”
Colaba’s newest eatery comes from a collaboration between two of Mumbai’s famed hospitality groups, Food Matters (Table, Mag St. Kitchen and Mag St. Bread Co.) and Neighbourhood (Woodside Inn, Bombay Vinatge, The Pantry). The Miss T, team ‘Neighbourhood Matters’ — their combined moniker — sought inspiration from food of the South-East Asian golden triangle, consisting of Burma, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. What brings the cuisines together is their proximity, which means there are similar ingredients cooked in different styles. Working with chef Bawmra Jap of Bomra’s Goa and chef Duc Tran of Mango Mango from Vietnam’s Hoi An, restauranteurs Jay Yousuf, Gauri Devidayal, Pankil Shah, Abhishek Honawar and Sumit Gambhir are catering to a more contemporary palette. “The golden triangle is bursting with flavours, and at Miss T we’re trying to present a more refined and nuanced version of them, where the tastes stand out and spices are balanced,” says Yousuf. The beverages too follow the vision. “With mixologist partners based out of Honk Kong’s Proof & Co., the experience carries a lot of South-East Asian tradition.”
When Japanese immigrants arrived in Peru, they began to cook using local Peruvian ingredients, but in Japanese traditional methods (not very different from Peruvian methods of cooking), and this gave rise to what’s known today as Nikkei cuisine. Even though it’s a small part here, at Koko — one of the earliest touters of this trend started by Ryan and Keenan Tham in Lower Parel — it’s one of the only places where it’s available in the city. With the help of chefs Michael Paul and Eric Sifu, the Tham brothers offer a variety of Japanese Peruvian dishes, served in Tapas style; so there’s space to taste an ample variety of food. Its defining quality doesn’t stand on tradition, but on evolution of ingredients and cooking techniques as that’s how Nikkei was born and stays authentic.
Tucked away in SoBo, Bayroute brings the best of the Mediterranean and Middle East regions under one (cosy) roof. Chef Ajay Thakur turned the previously ‘Moshe’ restaurant into this eatery, which aims to make you believe you’re in the middle of a souk. The food, borrows from the various cultures because of how closely they developed. The name itself, eludes to the trade of spices and herbs between them through the Mediterranean sea. The food allows for a fuss-free combination of breads, dips and meats, which don’t necessarily need to be in any specific order.
Located in Powai, Origami bridges the gap between the cultures of Japan and Korea. While Japanese cuisine has found many punters across the city, Korean food is still relatively unknown to many. Chef Vaibhav Shingre brings in authentic ingredients from their source like soy sauce from Japan and black bean powder from Korea. There are many similarities between the cuisines — while Korean food utilises more spice — making it easier for one to complement the other without either losing out on their vibrant tastes.