If you are thinking of restaurants to visit in Mumbai, the list is never ending. There is always a new restaurant opening every week and if you pay close attention, a lot of them follow a similar path. When one restaurant opens its shop with something different and stands out from the crowd, there will be another ten waiting patiently to emulate and try the same formula. It would seem that one of the trendiest things across menus these days is to dabble with molecular gastronomy. Interestingly, most of them feature Indian cuisine or some sort of fusion.
Not everyone is qualified nor do they even understand the concept but these days it is all about swirls, spheres, foams and smoking cocktails. Recently a new restaurant launched called Chemistry 101 and once again it features Indian food and an intriguing menu full of oddly named dishes and plenty of molecular techniques. I wonder, do we really need another one? It would seem now when someone uses the term Molecular Gastronomy, I am more put off that interested.
The restaurant however, is completely different from any other. The main differentiating factor is that it is helmed by Chef Stephen Gomes who was born in Mumbai but is based in Cardiff. His restaurant Moksha has been gaining accolades since its inception in 2007 and Chef Gomes is all ready to give his hometown a taste of his style of food.
The menu is divided into four chapters (appetizers, salads, mains and desserts) and each of the dishes have quirky names. They include a deconstructed caprese salad with mozzarella cheese all ballooned out, a seafood concoction called Atlantis and the chef’s creative version on a good old butter chicken. All dishes that work perfectly are full of flavour. While there are dishes that work like most restaurants, some are a bit of a miss. Sadly, the desserts are pale in comparison to the main menu or even the cocktails. The menu is entirely á la carte with plenty to choose from and no fixed or tasting menu.
The main disappointment here is the ambience and décor or more like that lack of it. It feels more like a casual outlet and in no way complements the food served here. The restaurant is still trying to iron out some teething issues as a few dishes on the menu are not available and they are still waiting for a permanent liquor license (they currently operate on a daily one) which means no real bar menu to read from but the barkeep is happy to help suggest drinks. It also explains the lack of any display on their rather barren bar as they are not permitted to display any bottles without this permanent license.
They are soon going to introduce a separate tapas menu to compliment their drinks and plan to open for lunch as well with innovative options (something the management seems to be excited about but are tight lipped till it launches). If the packed tables are anything to go by, it would seem Mumbai is slowly embracing Chemistry 101 and all their experiments.
Better known as the Tiny Taster, Roxanne is an internationally respected blogger and expert on the Mumbai food scene. She has hosted many events, including the Upper Crust Food & Wine Show and travels the world, sharing her knowledge and gaining more experience.