There’s something so marvellously magical about the monsoons in Mumbai. Life takes on a wistful hint of nostalgia, peppered with petrichor – that fresh smell of the earth after it rains.
Truth be told, I could spend hours ensconced by the window, gazing out as the clouds pour down to the point where one can’t tell the sea from the sky. Simple pleasures rain supreme this season, from late-night drives soundtracked by raindrops and Ali Gatie, to consoling cups of kadak chai, but naturally paired with piping-hot pakoras or a buttery bun! In fact there are silver linings a-plenty from a foodie’s humble perspective, with no dearth of cosy boltholes to hide out in on a torrential afternoon…
An ode to the soul-stirring comfort of ramen, this trendy Japanese restaurant has garnered a cult-like following across the city, ever since it opened as a diminutive sixteen-seater in the bylanes of Bandra. While now housed in a larger space (for 54), its no less sought-after; so booking ahead is essential if you fancy your fill of their carefully-calibrated bowls of broth, slow-cooked and luxuriating in an entrancing melange of flavours from umami-rich miso to a meaty tonkatsu. Vegetarians/ vegans are well catered to as well, and there’s plenty by way of sushi, yakitori and small plates for an added boost.
Izumi, Sunrise, 24th Road, Off Linking Road, Bandra West
Wasabi by Morimoto, Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai
If you prefer your Japanese fix with a nonchalant hint of glamour. not to mention the city’s ultimate seaside view for gaping as the waves come crashing over Bombay’s most iconic landmark, then you know where to go. Wasabi by Iron Chef, Morimoto.
Under the watchful direction of Chef Masasan Kobayashi and Chef Sachin Poojary, dinner is always quite an event here, featuring textbook starters from wasabi tacos to rock corn tempura (a moreish lift to the ultimate rainy day staple!). We’re just as enamoured by the new menu, constellating on burrata-like tofu fresh in from Japan and charcoal-based cooking, lending shades of heat to fresh yellowtail and tender chunks of tuna! A tipple or two isn’t amiss after, at Harbour Bar downstairs. I’d recommend “From The Harbour” – an iconic gin-based cocktail ballasted by flaming cognac for a high-octane finish. Full review, here.
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001 | 022 6665 3366
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A Few of Our Favourite Things at #WasabibyMorimoto 📍@TajMahalMumbai. Yellowtail ceviche and tuna “steak” for him, impeccably fresh tofu “tartare” for me (the buttery texture was a revelation!) with a meaty rendition of nasu miso… And of course, all the classics to share from wasabi tacos to black garlic sushi! Compliments as always to the stellar team @Chef_Morimoto @sachin.poojary.752 , Wasabi is hands down still the best game in town. 👏🏻 #TheFoodieDiariesBombay
Nara Thai, Colaba
Chic interiors mix with colourful dishes at Nara Thai’s new outpost in Colaba. For R.R.M. there are few things as uplifting as the searingly-spicy Tom Yum soup here, while I always plump for the arrestingly-attractive blue pea rice, sopped up with intensely-flavoured curries. The icing on the cake is of course in the form of the magnificent layers making up Nara Thai’s signature Mille Crepe Cake, enriched by the lush sweetness of the season’s freshest fruits!
Nara Thai India, Amar Chand Mansion, Madame Cama Rd, Dr Ambedkar Statue Chowk Area, Colaba, Mumbai
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Splashes of colour on an otherwise grey day. The #monsoons have been a long time coming and now that they’re officially here, we really couldn’t be happier! Cue cathartic comfort food in colourful hues, kadak chai on the dot and well-deserved rainy-day staycations! #IfYouKnowYouKnow, the magic of Mumbai’s monsoons… 📍@NaraThaiIndia // #MonsoonDiaries #TheFoodieDiariesBombay
Sorrentina by Foodhall, Bandra
Of course when it comes down to it on a torrentially-rainy day, is there anything you can rely on more than good-old fashioned Italian food, loaded with carbs and comfort? I’m particularly partial to Sorrentina, tucked away at the top of Foodhall’s action-packed super-store on Linking Road.
I’ll warn you. It’s all-too-easy to get waylaid by the aromatic whiffs of their seasonal specials on your way up. Think freshly-grilled corn (rubbed with chipotle, honey butter and jalapeno!), fondue fries and inverted vada paos, dunked in kadak chai, tinged with saffron and cinnamon.
Do be sure to keep your appetite intact for what’s to come though. With ex-Oberoi chef Aabhas Mehrotra at the helm, you’ll find both authenticity and skill at Sorrentina in elegant spades. From the terrifically-truffled tajarin to the nostalgic pleasures of the chicken parm – each dish is the epitome of cathartic comfort, paired best with a deep glug of red!
Full review, here | Sorrentina by Foodhall, Second Floor, Foodhall@Linking Road, Plot No.106, Linking Rd, Santacruz West
Taj Mahal Tea House, Bandra
Set in a colonial bungalow, this inviting tea house presents a cosy picture to retreat to from the rain, complete with quiet alcoves, rocking chairs, Bombay Fornicators and heaps of books you can help yourself too, as you sip on Taj Mahal Tea’s signature teas. Steeped with offbeat ingredients, it’s safe to say that the blends here are out of the ordinary, featuring the likes of Kaffir Leaf Chai and Malabari Vanilla Coconut Tea.
Sanatan Pereira Bungalow, 36/A, St John Baptist Rd, Bandra West, 400050
Kala Ghoda Café, Kala Ghoda
The monsoons are of course, also synonymous with hot chocolate weather, so you’ll definitely want to savour the intensity of a snug cuppa cocoa at every chance.
Those who have been following this foodie’s diaries long enough would rightly guess my usual suspects in the inviting neighbourhood of Kala Ghoda – from the old-world charm of Kala Ghoda Café to The Pantry nearby, inspired by a French-Industrial aesthetic. There’s also La Folie du Chocolat, majoring in high-grade, single origin hot chocolates along with all manners of exquisite French pastries from LCB-trained Chef Sanjana! Explore more of Kala Ghoda, here.
Your Local Club
And finally there are Bombay’s gallimaufry of gymkhanas, with the very notion of club-food conjuring the highest degree of comfort – from an Indian twist on Chinese cuisine at C.C.I. slicked in oodles of oil, to Eggs Kejriwal at Willingdon Club sprinkled with heaps of green chilli. The Bar Nights at Bombay Gymkhana are always an inviting proposition too – providing shelter and sustenance, swilled down with pints and pegs!
For more cafes off the beaten path in Bombay, have a read here.
You can also find more reviews & recommendations in Bombay compiled here.