My brother took me to Soam 15 years ago, and I fell in love with the food. It’s homely and exactly what you would find in a Gujarati home. It has all the favourites as well as the unusual dishes you probably haven’t heard of. It offers various khichdis, which are comfort food to most. Worth a mention, too, is the paanki, a very light rice pancake wrapped in banana leaf that has the most delicious fragrance – a must-eat.
Ling’s Pavilion, Colaba
Ling’s is an amazing Chinese restaurant in Colaba, executing delicious food that has not changed over the years. My favourites here are the Chimney soup, Prawns with Chilli and Spring Onions, and Steamed Ribs with Black Beans.
One Street Over, Bandra
I love everything about this cozy restaurant with a bar that serves excellent cocktails; it’s one of the few places that does them right in the city. The head chef Kelvin Cheung’s hospitality is warm and infectious, and his take on Chinese flavours brought from the USA to Mumbai is smart and fun. The energy is high and, if you want a fun dining experience with no fuss, this is the place. Come here with a group of people so you share the large and small plates. A standout dish for me is the kung pao broccoli with peanuts, chillies and hoisin sauce: it sounds simple, but it’s such an incredible burst of flavours.
Ashok Vada Pav, Prabhadevi
The boys at The Bombay Canteen took me to eat here, and I was completely blown away by the textures and how delicious this vada pao was. I had never heard of this place before, so I had zero expectations, but everyone who visits Mumbai should go here for real street food. Go around 5pm or 6pm to avoid the hassle of waiting in line. This place takes me back to my St Xavier’s College days when I would eat a vada pao by the train station before heading home. Having one satisfies that memory, but there’s always room for two vada paos.
Kailash Parbat, Colaba Kailash
Parbat reminds me of my grandmother; we would visit her once a week and then go to Kailash Parbat – back then, this was the only outlet. We would all order the dal pakwan every time, and enjoy every bit of it. Since then, I have tried other items like the samosas and the chhole batura, which are equally good, but, if you don’t have a large appetite, order the dal pakwan and pack the samosas to go. Order the kulfi to end your meal – that stands out for me.
BEST TIME TO GO: Mumbai is at its driest and coolest best between November and March, though the traffic and chaos are ever-present.
GETTING THERE: Most major airlines fly to Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport from all other major Indian metros and cities.
GETTING AROUND: Mumbai probably has the country’s best public transport system, consisting of trains, buses, and the metro. You could also flag down a taxi.
WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Residency, Abode, Sofitel BKC.