Global City Hopping: Mumbai

Trip: March 2017

City: Mumbai, India

Visited by: Francis Loughran

The team at Future Food have worked in India for many years. Our work has required us to visit my cities including Delhi, Channai and Bangalore. One city has stood out in culinary terms and that city is Mumbai. Last month, Francis Loughran spent three days in Mumbai as part of a research trip to look at food and placemaking for a new project in the heart of Mumbai’s business hub, Bandra Kurla. Here is the city as he experienced it, in all it's food glory. 

Mumbai is India’s top destination for gastronomic indulgence. A culinary cornucopia of flavours from all over India and the world collide here, elevating the metropolis to the proud status of India's foodie capital. The kaleidoscope of aromas, spices and tastes cover everything from Mughlai kebabs, Goan vindaloos (spicy Portuguese-inspired curry) and Mangalorean seafood to Parsi dhansak (hot and sour lentil and lamb stew), Gujarati and Keralan thalis (‘all-you-can-eat’ meals), world-class Thai and Indo-Chinese cooking. It also has a dizzying street food scene that is reason enough to visit Mumbai. My official tour guide for this spice market tour is Prashant Penkar, one of many chefs at the hyper-modern five-star Oberoi Mumbai, a hotel perched on the edge of the “Queen’s Necklace”, otherwise known as glamorous Marine Drive. 

Sharmajee's serves the best bhel puri in Mumbai ( image via Emirates )

Sharmajee's serves the best bhel puri in Mumbai (image via Emirates)

Markets in India are colourful and appeal to all senses - sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Visiting the spice market is a regular errand to collect traditional flavours for The Oberoi’s modern Indian restaurant, Ziya, which has served as one of the trailblazers for a new kind of dining in Mumbai. En route from The Oberoi to the Spice Market, a 30-minute drive in dense traffic to the centre of the city, we pass faded colonial mansions, brand-new shopping malls, several slow-moving construction projects and the famed Oval Maidan, the massive field where dozens of cricket games are simultaneously played.

Oval Maidan, Mumbai (image via  Flickr )

Oval Maidan, Mumbai (image via Flickr)

The culinary landscape in Mumbai is remarkably varied, and has undergone a significant evolution in the last decade. It’s even changed significantly since my previous visit five years ago, when the hottest place in town was the 50-year-old Trishna, an upscale local favourite for ­seafood.

But while old tradition-based institutions continue to thrive, and the crowds still line up at the 80-year-old Bachelorr’s for late-night ice cream and fruit, things are noticeably different since I first wandered the city’s cracked sidewalks. New boutique-style establishments are opening, particularly in affluent neighbourhoods such as Colaba, Nariman Point and Breach Candy.     

Milkshakes at Bachelorr's (image via  Great Indian Food )

Milkshakes at Bachelorr's (image via Great Indian Food)

One of the hottest culinary additions is The Table, operated by the American chef Alex Sanchez. Like many new restaurants, The Table serves up contemporary fusion cuisine to the city’s young and fashionable drawing influences from France to Thailand, in a space with chevron-patterned floors and massive concrete pillars. Havana, a brand new restaurant, is introducing Cuban cuisine. Floyd Cardoz, a Mumbai-born, New York chef is introducing his “Indian-inspired” cuisine with The Bombay Canteen. In this increasingly open culinary landscape, Indian chefs are finding more room for creativity. My favourite foodie spots for this magnificent city include:

1. Three Chicks and a Bear

"Burgers, shakes and fries including an ode to the Indian street food, the chaat burger"   

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2. Theobroma Café

"A boutique patisserie serving up French classics such as the lemon tart and croissants"

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3. Farzi Cafe

"A modern bistro offering molecular marvels as well as humble dishes from all around the country"

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4. Ziya 

"Located within the 5-star Oberoi Hotel, this restaurant serves up innovative creations based on classic Indian recipes"

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5. The Table 

"A popular and high-end restaurant serving up food of Michelin-star calibre. Find global dishes on the menu and plenty of international drinks to enjoy"

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6. Indigo

"A bistro nestled into a architectural bungalow space which serves up award winning eclectic Euro and Asian cuisine. Touted as the top choice for celebrities and politicians" 

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7. Neel Restaurant

"If you want to dine in an exquisite patio, head to Neel. It's an upscale restaurant serving delicious Indian dishes"

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8. Smoke House Deli 

"Delicious salads and sandwiches paired with high-quality cuts of meat. Opt for a tea time tray to try a bit of everything from the menu. Located in a number of spots around the city"

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9. Wasabi by Morimoto

"Located inside The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, sway away from Indian food at this restaurant and indulge in fresh sushi and some hard-to-find sake from Japan"

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10. Sharmajee's 

"If you're going to eat Bhel Puri - a crunchy, cold, sweet-and-sour mix of puffed rice, sev, chopped onion and potato, and tamarind chutney - then get it from here. You can find this street food stall of Chowpatty Beach, the one place you should eat this traditional Indian snack"

As the Future Food team continues to travel the world for business, projects and pleasure, we continue to experience and unlock the latest and most diverse culinary offerings from every corner of the globe. The Global City Hopping series is designed to share these experiences with you and open your eyes to what is happening in the food and beverage international scene.