You no longer need a boarding-pass to satisfy your palate. Just drive up to these restaurants and let your taste buds travel across the world
Aoi destroys the notion that tasting top-quality world cuisine would burn a hole in your pocket. The fare is contemporary, not classic, but if you haven’t tried Japanese food, this is a great place to start. There’s plenty to pick from, but we’d recommend the Sushi, and the Bento, a traditional tiffin meal with an assortment of dishes. For the best experience, try and grab a table by the open kitchen to catch all the action.
For a truly Arabian Nights’ extravaganza, head to The Souk, perched atop the new wing of the Taj Mahal Palace. This mid-eastern restaurant offers plenty of mouthwatering delicacies including various Mezzes, Humus, Baba Ganoush, Falafel, Sheesh Taouk, Moroccan Vegetarian Tagine, Baklava, Rose Petal Ice-cream, and Bastilla au lait. All this with a stunning view of boats bobbing in the harbour, and the live theatre of street-life playing out a hundred feet below you.
For a quick trip to modern-day Iberia, step into Arola, where two-star Michelin chef Sergi Arola serves up contemporary flavours of his beloved Spain onto your plate. To accompany his mouth-watering tapas, sample the most extensive collection of gins from across the globe, at Mumbai’s first gin bar. An absolute must-have is the Crema Catalana, a Spanish crème brulee, with cinnamon-flavoured foam and mandarin sorbet.
China House, with its no-frills name, is designed to replicate a typical Chinese home within the environs of a top-notch luxury hotel. This restaurant’s signature dishes like Hand-pulled Dan Dan noodles, Beggar’s Chicken, Black Pepper King Crab, Peking Duck, and Steamed Crystal Pawn dumplings make you wish you actually lived in a Chinese home. These delights are complemented by delectable wines and a host of irresistible desserts.
Nostalgic expat-Americans and recently-returned college students hooked on to refried beans now have a place to try authentic Mexican food. Patrons at Sancho’s rave about the Habanero Tequila Prawns and the Habanero Chicken, both with joyous robust flavours bursting on the tongue. And their dessert, Tres Leches, is the piece dé resistance that brings diners back again and again.
Celini takes a home-style cooking approach, remixing traditional Italian recipes with a contemporary twist. It flaunts a wood-fired pizza oven, rotisserie and charcoal grill, where Chef Alessandro Persico whips up a bouquet of smells right under your nose. No Italian meal is complete without a little red, white and rose, and the restaurant has an exhaustive wine list to pair the flavours in your plate.
Busaba restaurant in Colaba has its footprint all over the muggy tropics of South-East Asia. The menu swings from the hills of Burma (the Khau Swe is easily the best in Mumbai) to the delicately-spiced steamed fish from Mekong Delta. For variety you may want to sample the Korean Bibimbap, if your palate can handle so much nutritious goodness in one bowl. For those who like to experiment, the unlimited lunch (Monday to Friday) is a good option.
The menu, like the name, is elegant and concise. Divided into small and large-plate options, the emphasis is on the blend of spices. Start with Cheese Gruyere Puffs, perfectly baked, round, crisp and fluffy. The other treats? Fresh Garoupa swimming in Japanese spices, polenta in a pool of porcini sauce, chicken liver mousse with vanilla apple jelly. If you want to keep it simple, try the moist and meaty mini burgers served with tomato ginger jam.
Way back in the year 2000, Condé Nast Traveller listed Indigo among the world’s 60 hottest restaurants. Till date, the elegant restaurant continues to serve top-quality fare. The modern- European menu at Indigo makes clever use of local flavours to jazz up its dishes. No use of heavy spices here; as is done in Europe, each flavour is allowed to breathe, lingering on your palette long after you’ve cleared the bill.