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Mumbai's best Indian seafood restaurant
Every Mumbaiker has a most-beloved coastal seafood restaurant. One of these should be yours
Mumbai's best Indian seafood restaurant -- Recommended: Gajalee
Gajalee began as a hole in the wall in Vile Parle turning out well-made fish and seafood dishes, home cooking for people who longed for food from their homes in Malvan, a coastal region of Maharashtra. Now it has restaurants in five locations in Mumbai, and one each in Mangalore and Singapore.
Gajalee has built its reputation on its tisriya sukka, or clams koshimbir, as the menu calls it.
Best Eats judge and food blogger Shanky says the dish borders on "greatness." The thick, hot and spicy coconut gravy just coats the perfectly cooked clams, doesn't overpower it. Diners have to scoop out the delicious nuggets from the shell before slurping out the remaining gravy.
Fellow judge and food blogger Sanjiv Khamgaonkar chipped in with his Gajalee staples.
"I love their prawn masala, fried bombil and crab curry, especially the crab curry," he says. "The sweetness of the crab gets infused with the spicy gravy and results in a sweet-sharp flavor."
Kunal Kapoor, filmmaker and Best Eats judge, says the fried bombil fish is his personal favorite.
The original Gajalee at Vile Parle remains the mothership and is still the best location.
"It's worth threading through
traffic-laden Hanuman Road for it," says Shanky.
"But be prepared to wait," cautions Khamgaonkar.
Kadamgiri Complex, Hanuman Road, Vile Parle (E). Tel: +91 22 2616 6470. Open all days from 11 am-3 pm, 7 pm-midnight. www.gajalee.com
Mumbai's best Indian seafood restaurant -- Recommended: Sachin
"First and foremost, their prawns, particularly fried prawns, are addictive," exclaims blogger Sanjiv Khamgaonkar.
"For me, they’re undoubtedly the undisputed number-one prawn dish in Mumbai," he continues. "What makes this a winner is the use of a light batter that doesn’t drown the essence of the prawn, and the sweet aftertaste."
A limited menu is scrawled on the board daily offering the day's curries, sukka and the catch of the day. The curries are balanced and flavorful, and the fish is fried just right, leaving the crispness and moistness intact.
Waiters arrive with platefuls of hot, fried fish, deliberately carrying trays close to diners' noses. Clever.
Sachin is a modest place. No fuss, just wholesome homemade cooking that’s tasty and down to earth. The style showcases all the intricate nuances of Gomantak cooking, the food of the Hindu Saraswat community that has its roots in the coastal regions of southern Maharashtra and Goa.
Don’t be fooled by its romantic sounding name, Gomantak food borders on the devilishly hot.
Corner View Building, Gokhale Road (North), Dadar. Tel: +91 (22) 2446 6625. Open: 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Thursdays closed. No credit cards.
Mumbai's best Indian seafood restaurant -- Recommended: Highway Gomantak
Another modest restaurant, Highway Gomantek serves traditional Goan food.
"It's even certified by Goans," says owner Ramesh Potnis, who started the restaurant after being passed over for promotion at a former job.
Potnis resigned in anger, got his wife and mother-in-law to rustle up ten dishes that the family ate at home and served them in the garden of his bungalow. As its reputation spread, Potnis expanded it into a full-fledged restaurant.
Best Eats judge Vikram Doctor is particularly fond of the chanak fish.
"It’s a lovely fish, large, luscious, moist flakes of flesh, and it is also not a fish that is being overfished to death like pomfret, which, frankly, I don't order anymore," says Doctor.
Chanak is not available everyday. Scan the blackboard to see if it's available.
Specials include prawns fry, tisriya (clams) and kolambi (shrimp) masala, fried mussels and a delicious fish thali.
44/2179 Pranav Co-op. Housing Society, Gandhi Nagar, Highway Service Road, Bandra (E). Tel: +91 (22) 2640 9692. Closed on Thursdays. www.highwaygomantak.com
Mumbai's best Indian seafood restaurant -- Winner: Konkan Café
This labor of love of noted chef Ananda Solomon gets top billing from Vikram Doctor, journalist, food writer and Best Eats judge.
Solomon spent months in ordinary homes in small towns and cities of the Konkan coast, learning local tricks and gleaning secret recipes from wizened old ladies.
"All the dishes on the menu are from their homes," Solomon says.
Solomon uses only the freshest produce the season has to offer. The spices are stone ground as they would have been in the villages. It’s all about flavor here and even the cooking is done in earthenware vessels.
"I’ve had some of the best coastal seafood here, and I linger over their seafood display for long, planning my meal, which is always a memorable experience," says Best Eats judge Sanjiv Khamgaonkar.
Asked to pick his favorite dish, Solomon cites the curdee mango.
Simple and easy to make, it consists of grated raw mango cooked with curry leaves, onions, green chilies and garlic. Small prawns marinated in turmeric and lime juice are added at the end.
Set in a typical Mangalorean-style home setting within the Vivanta by Taj-President Mumbai, Konkan Café is warm and welcoming.
"It's one of the least regarded, yet most outstanding restaurants in the city," says Doctor.
Our panel of judges agrees.
Vivanta by Taj-President Mumbai, 90 Cuffe Parade. Tel: +91 (22) 66650808. Open daily from 12:30 pm-3 pm, 7:30 pm-11:45 pm; www.tajhotels.com