Matunga is home to the Tamilians, but for Kerala one must head to Fort. A clutch of Kerala restaurants between Fort House and Citibank have lurked in my consciousness for years. If you were up really early and yearned for odd tubular mallu idlies called puttu, Fountain Plaza was your best bet (usually the follow-up to nightout drinking, it even inspired one of my friends to contemplate a mallu wife). Rahamaniya next door was a haven of soundly non-veg Moplah food. Recently, however, I was led further afield to a tiny lane near the Bombay Store that hid away two Kerala Thali joints - Latha and the more crowded, more colourful Hotel Deluxe that was our recommended destination.
We first headed into the first available entrance, colourfully festooned with Hotel Deluxe multicoloured signs. However, we were told that the downstairs is just biriyani-paratha - Thali is upstairs. This meant getting out of the restaurant, going next door and climbing up a baby doll pink flight of stairs while signs on the way prepped us for "seafod" and "vagitarian". That done, we sat down, ordered thali, biriyani and fish masala, and sat back to wait.
First came the banana leaf, then heap of red (or if you insist, white) parboiled rice. Pickles, salt and other sides magically appeared, vegetables were plonked on from the standard quatro of bowls on a handle while rasam and dessert appeared in tiny transparent nescafe-type plastic cups. An hour of satisfied munching later, we leaned back and pronounced the verdict.
Definitely a find. Everything was at minimum hugely, satisfyingly good with the occasional foray into the distinctly great - pachadi, fish masala in particular. It's messy, ambience-less eating (I'm not that great a fan of banana leaf and it's gravies running amok) but quite worth putting up with the slurps emanating from a huge ravan of a man at the next table.