Wednesday, June 27, 2007
a new experience in dining out
our son-in-law h took us and his parents out last week to one of his favourite restaurants in south mumbai.we were celebrating the arrival of 'ruhi' into our lives.the birth of our first grandchild. i had heard about this fancy place from our daughter l and how exotic it is. therefore, i looked forward to this visit with great excitement.
when i reached the restaurant a few minutes late,i found that they had all already occupied the best table on the first floor of 'busaba',the south asian restaurant. it specialises in vietnamese, thai,burmese and other east asian delicacies. 'busaba' means to enjoy or to have pleasure. it is also the name of a thai wildflower. and in thai it means woman. i was impressed with the entrance,chic and cozy lounge bar and a night club.cool interiors.and when you go up the staircase to the restaurant and take that everyone's favourite table, you can't believe you are in mumbai.this lovely private dining room towards the rear of the building with a wooden floor gives you a feeling of being in goa or bangalore. verdant surroundings.and a huge window giving you that picturesque view of the terrace and the greenery around.
we are not great restaurant goers.we are 'ghar ka khana' people.but l and h are.they go to the most exotic places with their friends and have a very good time.no wonder that we got vip treatment. from no one else but nikhil chib. the chef cum restaurateur in his mid thirty's who had a small tilak on his forehead.he has a formidable reputation and is known as the "momo moghul". we were introduced to him by h and after finding out that there were two vegetarians on the table he suggested some tibetan momos as starters.they were delicious. while we were debating on what we should be having for the main course,h ordered martinis and some french white wine. we had made a spirited beginning. i had a brief tete-a-tete with nikhil chib and even took his picture. a former wall street banker, after completing undergrad studies in the us,he decided that banking was not his cup of tea and came down to mumbai to pursue his passion. his father was aghast at his son's audacious decision and asked him whether he wanted to become a servant. servility,yes. to his culinary passion.
that was about ten to twelve years ago.located next to 'indigo', another famous restaurant on mandlik road in colaba,the present site was a ramshackle house when he bought it over.he has created a restaurant which is very pleasing to the eyes. and he can be justifiably proud of a long list of clientele who swear by the authenticity of his vietnamese food.that actually is his forte.the japanese and korean cuisine are also his specialities.we ordered fresh bean sprouts,vietnamese spring rolls, spinach with white rice cooked in vietnamese style. the taste was so fresh and unique that it struck me that this must be his "usp". his favourite though is the fish sauce. thais cannot live without it neither can he.he eats this dish as often as three times a day. like a friend of mine who is addicted to the korean kimchi. the finale was a huge chocolate cake thoughtfully placed before h to cut. the proud papa was thrilled.great ambience. and service with a smile is the motto of the staff.
we came out of 'busaba' around 11pm. it looked as if the gliterrati of mumbai had descended on mandlik road.the road was chockobloc with cars and the atmosphere was polluted with the deafening car horns. in an otherwise quite neighbourhood. a light shower added to the commotion.the best of cars,the most stylish men and ladies.it seemed it was an oscar awards night. and in sharp contrast there were the street beggars tugging at you for some alms.that was sad, very sad.and that hits you on the face. we spend thousands of rupees for a meal and right in front of you when you are coming out after a pleasurable evening, you come face to face with someone who has perhaps not eaten throughout the day. with a child in arms who might have only had mother's milk. mumbai is a city of sharp contrasts. and so is india. the disparity between the haves and havenots is shockingly huge. it is reality and we need to do something about it.