Mumbai’s Khana Khazana

I am a compulsive foodie. But then most Mumbaikars are. We love our food and are always on the lookout for new and exciting eating places. I am always excited about embarking on a new culinary journey. While new restaurants keep opening and people throng to these, there are some which have been around for a while and are wellknown because of the food experience they offer. These are some of my favourites. The list is long actually, but a few top of the mind.I am sure you love them as well !

It is a part of the culinary ethos of Mumbai. Every visitor to Mumbai wants to experience Leopold Cafe and more so after 26/11. Every evening is busy at this multi-cuisine café, where people are seen guzzling draught beer and munching sandwiches or enjoying a Chicken Stroganoff or Fried Fish n chips. The “beer tower” which constitutes two pitchers is hugely popular. I also enjoy their breakfast immensely although it is a huge effort to go there on a Sunday morning.

A legendary name amongst the gourmands, Sampan brings back to Mumbai the true flavours of the Orient. It reopened in 2009. The bespoke view of JuhuBeach that this restaurant offers, makes it special. I love their Cantonese food. They also serve several spicy Sichuan dishes – a style of Chinese cuisine originating in southwestern China, famed for bold flavours, particularly the pungency and spiciness resulting from liberal use of garlic and chili peppers, as well as the unique flavour of the Sichuan peppercorn. Chef Penpa’s cooking is the ultimate treat. Their dimsums are delectable as is the Sampan Chicken & Sesame Prawns Toast. But a must try here is the steamed clay pot rice.

If I am in town, I have to stop by at Café Samovar, JehangirArtGallery, Kala Ghoda. The place is abuzz with excitement at all times and the visitors are an eclectic mix. A quick lunch of home-cooked food, or a leisurely chat over tea and keema samosas. The options are many. Their Mutton Biryani, samosas, iced tea, Kathi rolls, Russian salad, are a class apart and the quality remains excellent even after so many years.

Oh! Calcutta may not be a very old restaurant in terms of the number of years of its existence but has definitely made its impact. Food lovers enjoy the food here and I am no exception. The Tardeo one is great but I prefer the express one closer home in Shastri Nagar Andheri West. The fish preparations, kosha mangsho(mutton), luchi, aloo dum, cholar daal are my all time favourites and absolutely authentic. Each time I feel nostalgic and crave for my comfort Bengali food, I head to this place.

I have a weakness for sea food and although Mumbai abounds in sea food restaurants, Pratap Lunch Home in Fort has always been special. The food is fresh and the preparations authentic. I have been going there for years now but they have never disappointed me. The Surmai tawa fry is delectable. Can’t have enough of it. The Mutton Pulao too is a must-have. Those fond of squids should try the squid chiily fry. The fish is fried to perfection and the masalas are as authentic as they can get. The food here is truly a treat for the taste-buds and worth going all the way to town.

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