There is something so mystical yet comforting about the tiny cafes and restaurants in South Mumbai. And even though a lot of the contemporary restaurants and new world cafés have popped up in town there are a few who have clearly preserved the old world charm in their décor, food and service. And amongst these the endangered Parsi restaurants and the quickly disappearing Irani cafes clearly stand out. So we decided to explore few of these restaurants and cafes during our one day long trip in South Mumbai!
We did have a long to-do or “to-eat” list…literally speaking, so we headed out from Andheri at 9 am and thanks to our quick and luckily not so crowded trains we were at Kyani & Co. at 10! In the lane opposite Metro cinema Kyani stands tall since 1904. The traits of an Irani café clearly make their presence felt.
Checkered table cloths, family section upstairs, small white cups filled with piping hot chai, wooden chairs and well bun maska. What really stood out were the ropes hanging from the ceiling near the stairs at the entrance to assist people who may find it difficult to climb the stairs…it just brought a smile to my face.
We called for bun maska, chai and akuri toast. Bun maska had nice soft bread with a tad bit of sweetness, slit and slathered with Amul butter. Perfect to be dunked in the not too sweet milky tea and start your day!!
Then came akuri on crunchy toast. Akuri was fluffy scrambled eggs with onion, tomato, chilies and coriander served on sliced pieces of toast. The eggs were perfectly seasoned for me but were a bit under seasoned for Mr.P. The ends of the toast were a little too crunchy to bite into but the rest was all good.
After Kyani we headed out to Ideal corner for some mutton cutlet and sali chicken but lunch wasn’t ready when we reached..they said it will be available from 12 pm onwards. So we decided to kill sometime at Starbucks at Horniman circle and considering that it is “A Tata Alliance” we kind off didn’t drift away from the Parsi factor :p
Back to Ideal Corner! It has a day wise menu so make sure you check it before heading out to Ideal corner in search for dhansak on any random day and then be disappointed.
We knew what we wanted so mutton cutlet, salli chicken, rotli and chocolate mousse was called for. Till the food arrived we looked around and did notice that there is something about these Parsi/Irani cafes and fans! There are soo many fans in one restaurant. But unlike the other places we visited Ideal corner was more furnished in terms of the colours on the walls, the tables and chairs. It didn’t have the old world look from the inside unlike the building it resided in. The food arrived under 10 minutes and the looking around stopped immediately.
The mutton cutlet was perfect with a nice crunchy crust on the outside thanks to the egg and flavorful melt in the mouth kheema on the inside. The salli chicken came with a chicken thigh piece drowning in gravy and crisp salli on top. We opted for rotlis instead of pav. The chicken was juicy and fell off the bone easily and was really well accompanied with a light, well spiced gravy. And thanks to the excess of gravy on the plate, I could dunk the mutton cutlet in it and enjoy it with kachumber. It tasted wonderful! Trust me!!
After wiping off the savories, not a single drop of gravy was left on the plate, it was time for some chocolate mousse. Served in a tiny plastic cup came dark chocolate mousse dressed with some dark chocolate shavings. Smooth and not too sweet is how I can describe this mousse…not very airy but still can surely give you that fuzzy feeling.
And look what we spotted while leaving Ideal corner!!
After Ideal corner it was time for Lunch 2.0. So we headed to Britania & Co. As expected there was waiting here but the members of the Kohinoor family are so chirpy and fully of energy that the waiting doesn’t get to you. We had been here once before and were seated upstairs which is a bit cramped so this time we requested for a table downstairs and our wish was granted!
During our last visit here we tried mutton dhansak with brown rice and patra ni machi. The dhansak, which is a mix of lentils, vegetables, meat and spices was nice and flavorful with succulent pieces of mutton and the rice was also well cooked and the grains separate. Though I did wish the mutton kebabs served with the dhansak were bigger. Patra ni machi was a big fish fillet covered in chutney and all wrapped up in patra i.e leaf. We did love the dhansak but were not too fond of the fish. The issue I had was that the chutney was a bit sweet and with the skin still on it didn’t look too appetizing. Also it’s a bit pricey.
So this time we called for Mutton berry pulao accompanied by rosy raspberry and followed by caramel custard. Most of us have these childhood memories which involved Raspberry soda. It just pokes the child in you. It reminds me of cough syrup and I am a big fan of cough syrup!! You can also called for the spicy ginger which is yellow in colour or ice cream soda.
The berry pulao was spectacular. Well cooked juicy mutton in brown gravy covered with aromatic basmati and topped with nuts, irani tart berries and super soft mutton kebabs.
Next up was the Caramel custard and it was yum. Creamy, silky, cold, not too sweet with a pleasant bitterness from the caramel. It was wiped off in a minute!!
After all the hogging we headed to Yazdani bakery for a cup of chai and another sweet – mava cake. Tucked in a lane it stands dressed all vintage.
It has nothing fancy to look at but that is not what we headed there for. Our mission was to sip on hot hot chai, tuck in cardamom flavored mawa cake and soak in the aromas of freshly made pav.
Sorry that I don’t have a picture of the chai and mava cake because the one I have is hazy thanks to me distracted by all the bread stacked neatly. I did take away mawa cakes and shrewsberry biscuits back home. The biscuits were buttery but had a bite…nice but I’d still head to Kayani’s in Pune to feed my shrewsberry cravings. Another unique dish that Yazdani has to offer is the Apple pie and the best part is that it doesn’t look like any regular apple pie. We skipped it this time considering the appetite constraints but next time it’s happening for sure!
Next on our agenda was Cafe Military but it was shut that day so we chose Cafe Excelsior.
A fellow blogger (@DelishDirection) recommended the chicken cutlet with gravy so without any second thoughts we went with that and we weren’t disappointed. Crunchy egg fried chicken cutlet with super flavorful well spiced gravy. The gravy was so meant to dunk the pav in..yumm!!
We had two more places to go to so we just stuck to this one dish and then headed off to Jimmy boy. Surprisingly it was empty but the server there informed us that they generally get a lot of office crowd, so that’s mainly the weekdays.
Considering that we avoided ordering dhansak at all the other places we visited, we finally called for Mutton dhansak with brown rice and ice cream soda (for the first time!). Ice cream soda is raspberry soda’s counterpart. After our first sip both of us couldn’t figure out what the taste reminded us of..apart from being very remotely linked to the actual ice cream soda ofcourse.
The dhansak arrived and we were still stuck and couldn’t figure out the source of the familiar taste. So well we started eating brown rice with mutton dhansak and kachumber. The mutton was well cooked but the dal was a little to too thick. The flavors were there but the consistency of the dal was why it didn’t hit the spot. Also unlike the basmati at Britania the rice grains here were different and more dry. Not bad but not memorable.
Halfway through the meal it clicked…the ice cream soda soooo reminded me of calcium sandoz. Yes! that’s what it was..and I could finally eat in peace. Well it wasn’t my first visit here so I’d already eaten lagan nu bhonu that Jimmy boy is famous for..so do try if its your first time here and also have an appetite..and not like us eating all day long. Other recommendations here would be the patra ni machi and sali boti ,that is if you fancy a slightly sweet gravy cause of the addition of apricots.
So getting back to what else we ate. We called for the mava cake. I love it cause its moist and soft and plus they serve it warm. Highly recommended!
After all this there was just one thing left on our “to eat” list and that was K.Rustoms ice cream! This place has been around forever. I have been here so many times but still haven’t tried all the flavors. You are seriously spoilt for choice here. 50 Rs. and you’ll get rich creamy block of ice cream sandwiched between two extremely thin wafers. Take tissues cause you will need them if you don’t eat fast. One thing I can assure is that you will for sure get the true flavor in which ever ice cream you pick. Nescafe is truly like frozen Nescafe cold coffee..no kidding! Mango is brilliant and so is the good old Kesar pista with generous amounts of pista.
There is a lot more that Parsi food has to offer but our humble stomachs couldn’t take it anymore and we had a long way back home. But all in all lip smacking food, generous portions, homely service and a trip down the old world is a day well spent.