Saturday, August 22, 2009


A TRENCHERMAN'S "incomplete" and "outdated" Value For Money GOOD FOOD GUIDE to MUMBAI and PUNE


(Vikram Karve’s incomplete and outdated Good Food Guide to eating out in South Mumbai and Pune)

I love good food.

And I love walking around searching for good food – on my frequent ‘food walks’ as I call them.

Let me share with you, dear fellow foodie, some of my favourite eateries. Most of them are in South Mumbai, near Churchgate, where I lived for six of the best years of my life, a few (where mentioned) are in Pune which is my home town and where I stay now.

Read on.

Here is my very own Vikram Karve’s Value For Money Good Food Guide.

I’ve walked there and eaten there. It’s a totally random compilation as I write as I remember and I may have missed out some of my favourites but I’ll add them on, in subsequent parts, as and when memory jogs me and also keep adding new places I discover during my food walks and trails.

Try some places and let me know whether you liked it.

Vada Pav - CTO Vada Pav (Ashok Satam’s Stall) alongside the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) at Flora Fountain ( Hutatma Chowk). Or at Sahaydri at Churchgate. In Pune, the ubiquitous Joshi or Rohit or Siddhivinayak Vadewale but their vadas are not as crisp or zesty as Mumbai’s CTO vada.

Misal Pav – Vinay Health Home in Girgaum . Walk down Marine Drive, cross the road near Taraporewala Aquarium, take the lane between Kaivalyadhama Yoga Centre and Ladies Hostel ( it’s called Income Tax Lane), cross the railway overbridge, walk straight on Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, walk a bit and Vinay is to your right. In Pune try Ramnath on Tilak Road or Bedekar in Narayan Peth.

Kheema Pav – Stadium. Next to Churchgate Station. Kyani at Dhobi Talao.

Seekh Kebabs – Ayubs (Chotte Mian). Take the lane to the left of Rhythm House Music Store at Kalaghoda and let your nose guide you. Or else head for Bade Mian near Regal or Sarvi at Nagpada. Sadly there seems to be a dearth of authentic value-for-money kabab joints in Pune.

Jeera Butter – Ideal Bakery. Kandewadi, Girgaum. And try the sugarcane juice at Rasvanti next door.

Chicken Stew ( Kerala Style), Malabar Paratha, Mutton Korma, Fish Curry and Appams – FountainPlaza. In the lane off Handloom House. Fort. [Brings back nostalgic memories of Ceylon Bake House in Ernakulam Kochi (Cochin )]

Chicken Biryani – Olympia, on Mumbai's Colaba Causeway, is my all time favorite. In Pune it’s Dorabjee & Sons restaurant on Dastur Meher road off Sarbatwala Chowk in Pune Camp or Goodluck in Deccan. I like the Biryani at Blue Nile near GPO and George on East Street too.

Mutton Biryani – Shalimar. Bhendi Bazaar. I like the Chicken Chilly and Raan - it’s exquisite, like Karim’s of Delhi. And I love the Tikka Biryani at Noorani.

Dabba Gosht – Delhi Darbar, Grant Road or Colaba. In Pune try Sadanand at Baner.

Malvani Cuisine – Sachivalaya Gymkhana Canteen. Opposite Mantralaya. Nariman Point. Bombil Fry, Pomfret masala, Kombdi (Chicken) Vada and Lunch Thali.

Gomantak Cuisine - Sandeep Gomantak. Bazargate Street. Fort.

White Chicken, Dabba Gosht, Chicken Masala and Khaboosh Roti – Baghdadi . Near Regal. Off Colaba Causeway.

Nihari – Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar. Near Metro.

Nalli Nihari – Noor Mohammadi . Bhendi Bazaar.

Berry Pulao – Brittania . Ballard Estate.

Puri Bhaji – Pancham Puriwala. Bazargate street. Opposite CST Station (VT).

Kolhapuri Cuisine – I go to ‘Purepur Kolhapur’ at Peru Gate Sadashiv Peth in Pune for authentic Kolhapuri Pandhra Rassa, Tambda Rassa and Kheema vati. In Kolhapur it’s Opal.

Gulab Jamun – Kailash Parbat. 1st Pasta Lane. Colaba Causeway.

Rasgulla – Bhaishankar Gaurishankar . CP Tank.

Khichdi – Khichdi Samrat. VP Road . CP Tank.

Vegetarian Thali – Bhagat Tarachand. Mumbadevi. Zaveri Bazar. I like the Bhagat Tarachand on Laxmi road in Pune too. And of course, Samrat, Churchgate, Rajdhani and Golden Star. In Pune it’s the authentic Shreyas on Apte Road and Satara Road, Panchami on Satara Road and Durvankur on Tilak Road. Not to forget my favorite Mayur on East Street and Deccan on Jangli Maharaj Road.

Navrattan Kurma – Vihar. JT Road . Shanker Jaikishan Chowk. Opp Samrat. Churchgate.

Veg Burger and Chicken Cafreal Croissant – Croissants. Churchgate. Or Burger King at the end of East Street in Pune.

Tea while browsing books – Cha-Bar. Oxford Bookstore. Churchgate.

Just a refreshing cup of Tea, Irani style – Stadium. Churchgate. Goodluck, Pune.

Ice Cream – Rustoms, Churchgate and Bachellor’s, Chowpatty (green chilli ice cream). In Pune Ganu Shinde and Kawre on Laxmi Road. Or Gujar Mastani House on Satara Road near City pride for the unique delicious thirst quenching Mastani.

Pav Bhaji – Lenin Pav Bhaji Stall. Khau Galli. New Marine Lines. Near SNDT. Sardar, Tardeo. Sukh Sagar , Opera House.

Jalebi – Pancharatna Jalebi House . Near Roxy. Opera House.

Milk Shakes, Juices and uniquely flavored ice creams – Bachellor’s. Opposite Chowpatty.

Stuffed Parathas – Samovar. JehangirArtGallery. Chaitanya, opp FergussonCollege, Pune

Grilled Meat, Sizzlers and Steaks – Churchill. Colaba Causeway. Sundance, Churchgate. Sassanian, near Metro. Alps, behind Taj,Kobe and Sizzlers - The Place on Moledina Road next to Manney’s in Pune.

Sea food – Anant Ashram. Khotachiwadi. Girgaum. And so many places around Fort – Mahesh, Apoorva, Trishna, Fountain Inn, Bharat, Ankur .

Non Veg Multi Cuisine – Jimmy Boy near Horniman Circle, Polka Dots in Aundh, Pune

Apple Pie and Ginger Biscuits – Yazdani Bakery. Cawasji Patel Street. Between PM Road and Veer Nariman Road. Fort.

Cakes – Sassanian Boulangerie. 1stMarine Street. Near Metro.

Buns, Breads and Pastries – Gaylord Bake Shop. Churchgate.

Falooda – Badshah. Crawford Market. Shalimar, Bhendi Bazar.

Curds – Parsi Dairy. Princess Street.

Sandwiches – Marz-o-rin. Main Street. MG Road. Pune.

Chole Bhature – Monafood. Main Street. Pune. Darshan, Prabhat Road Pune.

Shrewsbury Biscuits and Choco-Walnut cake– Kayani Bakery. East Street . Pune.

Mutton Cutlet Curry, Kheema Pav, Biryani, Tawa Ghosht – Good Luck Pune
Veg Cutlet – Swagat Dadar TT Mumbai

Lamingtons, carrot cake, patties, samosas, cakes, soy milk – Spicer Bakery shop, SpicerCollege, Aundh Road and their outlet off Main Street in Camp

The mere thought of Shrewsbury biscuits and Lamingtons evokes in me a sensation I cannot describe. I am feeling nostalgic and am off to Pune - for Shrewsbury at Kayani, wafers at Budhani, Sev Barfi at Bhavnagri, Amba Barfi and Bakarwadi at Chitale, Mutton Biryani and Dhansak at Dorabjee, Misal at Ramnath, Kachori at Apsara, Sizzlers at The Place, Pandhra Rassa at Purepur Kolhapur, Mango Ice Cream at Ganu Shinde, Mastani at Sujata and Kavare, Bhel at Saras Baug, Canal, Kalyan and Kalpana Bhel, and on the banks of Khadakvasla lake, Pithla Bhakri, Kanda Bhaji and tak on top of Sinhagarh Fort, Chinese at Kamling (Oh no. Sadly it’s closed down so I’ll go across to the end of East Street to the East End Chinese takeaway next to Burger King. And Latif too has metamorphosed into a takeaway).

Of course, who how can I not mention the delicious vegetarian satiating fulfilling thalis at Shreyas, Durvankur, Sukanta, Janaseva and Mayur and the newly opened multi cuisine MoMo Café at the Courtyard Marriott in Hinjewadi near the IT park.

And guess what?

The moment I used to arrive by train in Pune, I used to walk across the station and enjoy a refreshing Lassi at Shiv Kailas. And then walk down in the hot sun to Main Street. One thing I miss is the non-veg samosas at erstwhile Naaz on the West End corner at the entrance to Main Street. The good old Naaz and Kamling are two places I really miss. Good Luck in Deccan and Blue Nile and George in Camp still go strong and their Biryani is as good as ever. But what’s happened to Sunrise, I wonder? The place is demolished; has the café been relocated?

Of course there is Nisarg for Seafood, Mainland China and Suonmoi for authentic Chinese, Soul to stir your culinary soul and many lovely places springing up all over Pune.

Now I am busy discovering [and rediscovering] interesting eating places in Pune. When I lived near Aundh, I liked the multicuisine Polka Dots at Parihar Chowk for it’s Roasts and Shepherd’s Pie, Chicken Teriyaki, and Puddings, Season’s and Sarjaa for family dining, a few down-to-earth takeaways and Maharashtra Café near Bremen Chowk look promising, Diwadkar for Misal and vada pav, Spicers for Lamingtons and cakes et al, Babumoshai for roshogullas and lavang lata, Shiv Sagar for Pav Bhaji, and the usual Udipi fare, a place called Thomson which serves non veg Kerala cuisine, Delhi Kitchen which I’m planning to try but did not venture into as it was deserted (crowded ambience and busy rapid turnover are the leitmotif of a good eatery), Diwadkars for Bhel, Vada Pav, Misal and Mann Dairy for a delicious lassi.

I foodwalked in Aundh and was thoroughly disappointed though the hills of Girinagar have only fauna and flora to offer. In Aundh there are all the usual fast food pizza and burger joints, some high-falutin restaurants and a few nondescript commonplace characterless eateries serving run of the mill stuff; but sadly there are very few authentic value for money down-to-earth no nonsense Spartan eateries around here where I can relish genuine cuisine to my heart’s delight.

Now, far far away, in the back of beyond, amidst green hills, lakes and forests, I can only nostalgically reminisce about my "good old foodie days" and relish those sumptuous delicacies in my mind's eye; and once in a while head for Pune to satisfy my gastronomical cravings.

Dear fellow foodies, please do send in your comments and let us know of your foodie adventures and discoveries so I can keep updating.

Meanwhile I keep exploring Pune for good food and shall soon come out with my very own authentic food guide to eating out in Pune. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating!

Happy Eating!


This is updated from an excerpt from my book Appetite for a Stroll

Monday, August 10, 2009



“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place!”

That’s the first thought that instantly comes to my mind the moment I enter Courtyard’s MoMo Café on Saturday afternoon.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is the title of my favourite Ernest Hemingway Short Story – the phrase depicts the café where the story is set.

Well that’s what MoMo Café is - a Clean Airy Well Lighted Spacious Friendly café with wonderful feel-good ambience and superb food, tasteful décor and pleasant aesthetics which make you feel fresh, cheerful, comfortable and relaxed. Yes, the bright vibes of the place certainly lift my spirits and make me feel good the moment I enter the lobby of Courtyard.

We walk in the spacious “courtyard”, past MoMo 2 Go, the “to go” grab and go deli, stocked with tempting baked delights, for those in a hurry.

Well, I am not in a hurry, so I leisurely stroll past the spic-and-span counter adorned with tempting goodies and the appetizing buffet spread. There are pickles, in traditional jars, a mix and match and toss your own salad counter, and soups and broths. Everything is so visually pleasing that I can sense the appetite being built up inside me.

It is heartening to see the immaculate open display kitchen – it always feels reassuring to see your food being cooked in front of you with impeccable standards of hygiene and quality.

I look around. MoMo Café is a happy place and the seating is comfortable, ample, user-friendly and well-designed.

It is a leisurely Saturday afternoon cosmopolitan crowd comprising a delightful assortment – joyful families, young IT executives, couples, singles, friends, business guests, eager foodies, relaxed tourists and cosy friends spending a leisurely afternoon over a chilled beer, a tasty bite and snug conversation. There is plenty of space, there is plenty of light, freshness in the air, and everyone, the kids and the adults, seems to be having a pleasant time, enjoying the food and the friendly atmosphere.

A discerning yet innovative menu features an imaginative choice of select dishes from a variety of cuisines, from the Orient and the Occident, ranging from starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas to Kebabs and an astute selection of traditional Indian dishes, sumptuous main course delicacies, and exclusive desserts to round off your meal. Despite the impressive array of multi-cuisine, it is a short and sweet uncluttered concise well thought-out menu – a sure sign of a restaurant that takes its food seriously.

We are wondering what to order, when Subhash, the Executive Chef, joins us, so we leave it to him to do the honours. He asks to select anything we fancy from the impressive array of dishes laid out for the lunch buffet and then we’ll try his recommendations from the a-la-carte menu.

I pick up some Seafood Broth – it’s non-spicy with a combination of seafood and lots of vegetables and nourishing, just like a basic Seafood Broth ought to be. The buffet seems to be very popular perhaps because the spread is so elaborate and I wonder what to sample. I start off with some bhuna gosht – it is excellent – succulent flavoursome pieces of mutton in luxuriant gravy. The scrumptious Mustard Fried Fish and Stroganoff tempt me to try out the whole buffet lunch but Subhash has already ordered a pizza from their wood fired pizza oven – I’ll only say this: The thin crust pizza is probably the best pizza I have ever tasted – it’s light, the crust melts in the mouth and allows the tongue to fully relish the taste of sauce, cheese and delectable toppings.

“Let’s have a Momo,” I say, harking back to mouth-watering memories of my Shillong days when I first relished the yummy wholesome Momo. At first I thought that maybe MoMo Café was a Momo place but Vyshnavi and Subhash educate me – the name MoMo Café exemplifies the concept of Modern Living and Modern Eating. But surely, isn’t it apt that MoMo Café has Momos on its menu – maybe next time!

Subhash orders Nasi Goreng for me and Conchiglie Pasta for my darling vegetarian wife. There is an interesting choice of wines, spirits and cocktails, but we prefer freshly squeezed orange juice as an accompaniment.

We are indeed fortunate to have an opportunity to interact with Subhash who is a veritable human encyclopaedia on wining and dining and all things culinary. The enlightening “foodie” conversation is sheer delight and Subhash’s sincere love of food, passion for cooking and impressive repertoire of culinary knowledge enhance the eating experience and make our meal even more appetizing and intellectually stimulating.

The Nasi Goreng, Spicy Prawn Fried Rice with soft fried egg and Chicken Satay, is lip-smacking and fulfilling. I have a bite of the vegetarian Conchiglie Pasta too, savouring its inimitable taste of spinach in basil flavoured sauce, as Subhash explains the intricacies – the foam and the way this delicate dish is made.

For dessert, we have Tiramisu, the pièce de résistance of the meal. MoMo Café’s inimitable signature Tiramisu is marvellous – a fitting climax to a splendid meal. Subhash tells us it is a non-alcoholic Tiramisu, to cater to children and local preferences, but let me tell you that it is the best Tiramisu I have ever had and the delightful symbiosis of delectable tastes lingers within me for a long long time.

I will cherish mouth-watering memories of this lovely Saturday afternoon forever. I am sure MoMo Café is going to be a hit, a boon to the foodies of Pune, due to its unique location, superb food, vibrant ambience, impeccable standards of hygiene and quality, and the warm and friendly service.

I am going to certainly going to eat at MoMo Café again. And this time I am going to check out the Indian Cuisine. I’ll start with melt-in-the-mouth dissolve-on-your-tongue Galawat Kebab, savour a Nalli Nihari – let’s see how it compares with the authentic versions of this luscious fortifying breakfast dish I’ve relished in the heart of Delhi and Mumbai. Then I’ll try some Dum Biryani and end with a soothing Kulfi Falooda.

A true Foodie eats twice, first in his mind’s eye, and then with his taste buds. So whenever a Foodie ventures out to a new place he builds up some expectations – MoMo Café certainly exceeded my expectations in all aspects and we thoroughly enjoyed the overall dining experience.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Dear Reader, if you enjoyed reading this, and want to relish more such delicious foodie adventures, do read APPETITE FOR A STROLL