Around the globe in five cuisines

Sunday, 4 May 2014 - 6:25am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Tired of the ubiquitous trio of Chinese-Italian-Mexican restaurants? Then make way for these Mumbai restaurants serving up dishes from exotic lands, says Raul Dias

The huge congregation of expat Nigerians that throng this modest little restaurant—set along the bustling 1st Marine Street near Metro Cinema in Dhobi Talao—for their daily mid-day meal is proof enough that here's a place that dishes out the real deal. Offering both, a regular run-of-the-mill Chindian (Indian-Chinese) menu and a Nigerian cuisine one, Green Onion prefers to highlight the former and only proffers the latter when expressly asked for. But nonetheless, it is the Nigerian nosh here that trumps all, despite the poor marketing of it. With cooks specially trained by a group of visiting Nigerian ladies and ingredients like the red palm oil, dried prawns and melon seeds intrinsic to West African cuisine, your taste buds are in for an exotic treat here. Green light (excuse the pun!) your culinary experience here by starting off with appetizers like akara which are fried bean cakes and yam fries called dundun. Similar to a tangy tomato pulao, the yummy jellof rice is a treat served up with a piece of deep-fried fish or chicken, accompanied by fried plantain slices. Made from a mixture of fine semolina, salt and water, the semovita fufu comes wrapped in cling film like a giant boiled sweet and serves the purpose of the meal's starchy component and works superbly with gravies like the goat ogbono made from mango seeds and the spicy tomato fish stew. For dessert, the fried dough called puff puff and the biscuit-like chin chin (not dissimilar to our very own shankarpali) served with ice-cream are the perfect ways to bring the curtain down on a meal that is unusual with a capital 'U'!

Don't miss this: The chicken eguzi which is a rich stew thickened and flavoured with melon seeds and bitter leaf, best had with the spongy gari fufu made from boiled cassava flour to mop up the fragrant eguzi.
Hotel Sapna Marine,
Near Metro Cinema, Dhobi Talao,
Marine Lines.
Phone no: 22194040

Although Tibet's nation status might still be a pipe dream for the many Tibetans who live in exile the world over, we are happy to report that the richly-layered cuisine of this north Asian country is not just alive and kicking at New Sernyaa here in Mumbai, but it is also well-preserved and showed off at its best at the restaurant's other branch as well. While the Spartan and simple looking flagship Andheri restaurant is steered by the genial Mr John, the fancier Malad branch is no less popular for its tasty Tibetan fare. Dig into a plate of the many types of momos offered here; from the chicken, lamb and prawn ones to the mushroom-saturated momo. But best of all is the vegetarian logo momo which is a dim sum-like steamed bun. Soups like the rare then-thup made from a Tibetan herb paste and the more famous chicken thukpa are great precursors to the mains. Other Tibetan dishes that whet the appetite here are the guema ja-sha sausages, the vegetable stir fry called sanan mot-shod, the lachung nyasha (celery-ginger-soy poached sliced fish) and the lamb stir fry dish or chang rasha that is best had with the bamboo fried rice.

Don't miss this: The absolutely divine tsang-gula gyadhuk which are Tibetan flat noodles simmered gently with chicken and pickled vegetables that add a tangy note to the otherwise mild dish.
185, Oshiwara Link Road,
Adarsh Nagar, Andheri (w).
Phone nos: 65741005, 9820531935
8, Ashok Enclave,
Chincholi Bunder,
Link Road, Malad (w).
Phone nos: 28765105, 9920274261

While the Germans may not be collecting any brownie points as far as their food goes, Imbiss is doing its best to promote the rather underrated cuisine that does have its finer moments of glory—especially in the porcine department. Yes, pork in its myriad avatars forms the cornerstone of German cuisine and Imbiss—which means a snack or light meal in German—celebrates the meat to the hilt. At both the Bandra outlet and the newer, more spacious Colaba one, one can partake in dishes like bratwurst sausages, German potatoes with bacon and eggs and smoked pork with rind at such reasonable prices that they would make a tight-fisted Ebenezer Scrooge blush! But what's interesting to note at Imbiss is that besides German cuisine, they also do a mean Danish pork chop with mushroom sauce, a passable Hungarian goulash and an almost-authentic Austrian Wiener schnitzel, thus taking you on a mini and highly unusual European food safari all in our very own Mumbai.

Don't miss this: The pork kassler which is a bacon doppelganger with its smoky taste and rich meaty appeal, best had with sides like cabbage slaw called sauerkraut and potato mash.
3, Pipewala Building,
Opp. Camy Wafers,
4th Pasta Lane, Colaba.
Phone no: 33488118
14, Ben O Lil Haven,
Waroda Road,
Off Hill Road, Bandra (w).
Phone no: 26414985

So mad and whimsical is this Khar west restobar that the guys behind it had to up the craziness quotient with a doubled-barrelled name. Meaning "crazy-crazy" in Spanish, Loca Loca's take on the cuisine of Castro's Cuba is a spirited one. Here you can take a bite out of the Caribbean country's diverse cuisine with dishes like the cocoa chicken that gives off a very subtle hint of chocolate, just enough to announce its presence without turning the dish into a dessert. Also popular among diners are the various varieties of Cuban sandwiches served here, the most requested for being the ham and egg sandwiches with the pulled pork sliders coming up a close second. Giving a distinct bite of heat to the palate is the jalapeno-redolent Cuban salad or Cuban chaat as it is referred to here as. And referencing the island's love for music and dance are the Cuban music rattles called maracas that lie scattered about the restaurant. All this along with a healthy selection of music that ranges from Cumbia to Nuevo Flamenco that plays all night long as you continue to sip on those lethal Cubanitos cocktails made from tequila and fresh fruit juices served in the now-commonplace jam jars with nifty stirrers made from sugarcane stalks.

Don't miss this: The chorizo omelette pizza speckled with spicy Cuban sausage and the awesome selection of Cuban beers will keep you wanting more and more of this vida loca!
Vora Building,
Opp. Mumbadevi School,
3rd Road, Khar (w).
Phone no: 9833243071

With the fiery hot bhut jholokia chilli aka king chilli lending itself to the name of this Manipuri restaurant, you can be rest assured that all your northeast Indian food queries will be addressed here. And the friendly staff at the two Kalina branches of King Chilli are only too happy to guide you through the nuances of this amazing and yet sadly ignored cuisine from our very own country. With quite a few of the dishes being off the menu, like the susa salad, it pays to have a little chat with your server before you order. Top of the list is the potato and chilli dish called ironba and the semi-gravy harsa chicken that is so deceptively spicy that you need to chase it with the mayangpai khamanat which is made up of mashed potatoes to which shiitake mushrooms and a Manipuri fermented fish called ngari are added for more heft. For all you spice wusses out there, the simple and mild tasting khaiko kasathei smoked chicken dish made with mountain herbs and tomatoes hits the spot as do the chicken pot rice and Manipuri fish curry.

Don't miss this: The alungsa which is a chicken stew, strewn with bits of offal like liver and kidneys, all simmered in a peppery gravy. And wash it down with the strawberry syrup-based mocktail hot lips that is spiked with—what else but the restaurant's name sake—the bhut jholokia chilli!
2, 132, Gwens Apartment,
Kalina Kurla Road,
Kalina, Santacruz (e).
Phone nos: 65606770, 65595777
Shop No.5, 179A,
Gabriel House, Kalina Kurla Road,
Opp. Monginis, Santacruz (e).
Phone no: 65564111

Others across the country:
Brazilian cuisine at Wildfire, New Delhi
Caribbean cuisine at Sue's Food Palace, Bangalore
Moroccan cuisine at Casablanca, New Delhi
Bangaldeshi Dhakai cuisine at Buzz, Kolkata
Uyghur cuisine from the Xinjiang area of northwest China at Ahoy! Asia, New Delhi
Iranian cuisine (not to be confused with Bombay Irani cuisine) at Shiraz Art Cafe, Chennai
Nigerian cuisine at Wazobia's Kitchen, Vashi

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