The last thing I expected in a swish party in a new gastro pub in Bandra was to discuss Bengal’s Gobindo Bhog rice with the chef over Bengali themed phuchka with chutney spheres, panko coated bhetki and mustard fry (no basa here) and mochar chop made with banana blossoms.
The other pass around snacks included a tapas like take on the Sindhi dal pakwan, tacos-like Rajasthani lal maas sliders and shami kabab sliders.
The food seemed so different and Indian at heart in comparison to the European and Asian theme of most new restaurants, pubs and cafes that have opened in the hip Mumbai suburb of Bandra.
I was at the preview party of Monkey Bar Mumbai which opens for business on Friday, 15th May, after winning the hearts of patrons in Bengaluru and Delhi.
I managed to chat with Monkey Bar’s executive chef Manu Chandra over a Don Draper (a whiskey and sugarcane, cloves and bitters-based cocktail). Chandra told me that Monkey Bar is an unabashedly Indian food focused gastro pub. He said that his aim is to introduce people to dishes from across the regions of India in a format and at a price which are not intimidating.
The menu will include the Rajasthani ker sangri, a Kayastha-styled mutton curry with Gobindo Bhog rice, Goan Chorizo pao, Punjab-inspired aloo tikkas, litti chokha from Bihar and Central India-inspired poha croquettes.
Manu told me that he wants people who come to Monkey Bar to go out with a knowledge of regional Indian dishes that they didn’t have before.
It is not fair to do a review of a restaurant basis a preview dinner of course but as a concept Monkey Bar sounds really interesting.
I had recently written about the welcome resurgence of Indian restaurants in Mumbai’s eating scene and it looks like Monkey Bar will be a good addition to this movement.
Note: Monkey Bar does not take reservations
Kalyan Karmakar authors the popular award winning blog, Finely Chopped and is an authority on the food of Mumbai. His extensive knowledge of the city's food scene has been featured in publications such as Femina, Mumbai Mirror and BCC Good Food. He was one of the founding critics of EazyDiner's Mumbai team.