Yauatcha

about B K C Rd, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India No comments:

Hakkasan created a bit of a flutter when it launched in Bandra, making much of its Michelin starred past. Dimsum wielding sibling Yauatcha took a few months longer and made less of a splash, but that's where I found myself a few days ago for dinner. And again today for lunch.

Yauatcha claims some fame for its dim sums, so after I manoeuvred past its colourful macaroon display, up the stairs to its high, whitemarbled bar dim sum was the first thing I ordered. A poached dimsum in schezwan sauce dutifully landed up (it would have been beautifully presented if the lights had allowed me to see much more than a dim outline). As the dinner progressed, crispy vegetable cheung fun, chicken soup dim sum, asparagus and a succession of others followed. Somewhere down the line, Singapore noodles and fried rice also joined in.

First, there was the drink. Bar prices have been floating up in Mumbai for a while, but this hipster hangout from London has clearly decided not to discriminate in the third world; the prices are firmly first world hedge-fund paradise.  At Yauatcha  the bar menu requires more than a mere expense account – a personal fortune or trust fund will get closer to the mark. Here it is not unusual to see four digit prices on small pegs, and once in a while even a fifth digit takes a bow. My Old Fashioned with a twist of aged aged tequila fell in low four figure territory; I nursed it the old fashioned way – very slowly.

Then there's the food. Yauatcha was much acclaimed in London for taking common street food to high society - and tries to do much the same thing here. Maybe the need for a long list of veggie dim sums crimps the chef's style (there being no such thing on the streets of China), but the menu somewhat lacks in spectacular winners. Most of what we tasted was quite nice, some even very nice, but nothing made me jump up and down with joy. The best dim sum of the day was the wonderfully unusual crispy cheung fun, but I thought the noodles and the fried rice were very nice too – indeed better than most of the dim sums. The raspberry delice at the end was beautiful to look at, and utterly delicious (though not remotely Chinese). The food prices are high (though nowhere near the stratospheric heights of the drinks) but that seems more for the ambience (and some ultra-attentive service) than the cooking.

Maybe I'm judging it too harshly. It is nice, refined food in a very nice atmosphere. The teas are wonderful. Some of the dim sums are very good, some main courses fantastic. If you work in BKC and stick to dry days, Yauatcha is a great choice for the splurge meal. If you expect the world's best dim sums a flight ticket to Hong Kong is still the way to go; it may even be a little cheaper when you factor in the free drinks in-flight.

Three Bodies

about Jai Prakash Rd, Versova, Mumbai 1 comment:

A friend of mine tempted me to Versova the other day with the promise of a new launch. One generally avoids going there if one can, what with Juhu chokepoint and the Metro digging things up but, as I reminisced fondly -  it was once a centre of much social life. Versova has long been a dining and drinking hub. The anchor was Legacy of China, but the entire strip always sported an eclectic collection of cuisines and drinking holes from Avadhi kababs to Kerala appams, from quaters of whisky to wine bars.

The three bodies in question were Prashant, his wife and I – and the launch in question was that of Trikaya, unrelated to the ad agency or  the buddha's three bodies. Around the bend from WTF, Mia Cucina and Urban Tadka, this is a pan asian restaurant recreated from the remains of a forgotten lounge. The brand is originally from Pune, establishing its first Mumbai footprint with a handsome dimlit blondewood space; a loaded bar armed with plenty of beautiful people. Running the show were brother, sister, friend trikaya along with a bar designer and some fairly competent service staff.

 

And what a bar.

Designed indeed, glowing with over 360 brands of alcohol, it is a thing of beauty. Stacked with aged tequila to obscure liqueur, small-batch bourbon to Japanese malt (yes, there are indeed such things), the bar is a worthy of powering the thick black cocktail menu. The mixes, surprisingly enough, used offbeat combinations to good effect such as in the "Waky Baky" – a combination of gin, banana liqueur and Lagavulin single malt that was really rather good. Fruit cocktails abound too but happily not the usual sugar loaded ones; most had actual fruit pulp involved.

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The food promises to be modern Asian; and the choices on offer varied between competent and great. The dullest of the lot – a pumpkin and peas starter that had all the visual appeal of dishcloth, tasted surprisingly pleasant while sea bass in spicy sauce was the prom queen of the starter show. Main courses came with the most wonderful burnt garlic jasmine rice I've had in a long while – fragrant and tempting all on its own. The chicken with kimchi was nice enough but the prawns in green curry did a better job of shining. The veggie options came loaded with mushroom, and the broccoli-laden burmese curry was worth a mention.

All in all, the real star is the bar. The food will do a decent job of not disappointing, but even the layout is one that invites confessions over cocktails.

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