Happy fishing at Bandra's Bastian Restaurant. A brilliant option for seafood in Mumbai

Halfway through a lovely meal at Bastian


“It’s been so long since we did this,” said K when we stepped out at end of our dinner at Bandra’s trendy new joint, Bastian a couple of Friday back. 

“Going to a new place for dinner. Just by ourselves. Where no-one knows you,” she explained.

Yes, it had been been a while since the two of us had tried out a new place in Mumbai casually. Without being invited to do so.

Some of you who might have been reading this blog from the start might have realised this too and might be missing our take on new restaurants.

Earlier on we used to go out to new places in Mumbai to eat. Places which were in vogue. Posh places. We would often when we had something to celebrate. An anniversary, a birthday, a promotion or awards at work or an increment. 

We hardly do that now and there's a reason for it.

Meals should be fun and not work

After I became a professional food writer/ blogger, I began to eat out a lot more for work, ... analyzing meals, talking to chefs and restaurateurs, writing about them. Sometimes K would be part of this too.

I became a bit tired of eating out and as I grew older, my body craved for simple home food too.

The two of us still go out to eat, but this is more for for breakfasts than for main meals. When we do go out occasionally for meals, by ourselves or with friends, I prefer to go to places I have been to and are ideally close to home. Places where I know the food will be good. The service too. Where I won’t have to think much about what to order. Places where one feels at home.

So it was good to go out to a new place the night we went to Bastian. And we did have something to celebrate that day. The preorder link ofmy book, The Travelling Belly. had gone live on Amazon.

And a day later I won the FBAI best general food blog and Godrej Protekt Master Blogger of the year award. You could say that the meal was lucky for us.

I am not sure if Bastian in Bandra, where we went to, can be considered to be ‘new’ any more. I am sure a hundred more places would have opened in Bandra after that. 

One of the chefs behind Bastian is a young expat chef named Kelvin Cheung who is quite popular in local social media circles and I’ve met him a couple of times in food events. He had earlier worked with Ellipsis in Colaba. I’d eaten there once years back. He then set up a place called One Street Over with another chef called Boo Kwang Kim (as I gathered from the internet and social media). My understanding is that One Street over is a small pub with a focus on food. Pubs are no longer our scene so we never ended up going there.

When Kelvin and Boo launched Bastian, it interested me as it is said to serve Asian food and is positioned as a seafood place. I was planning to go there with K for a while but we never ended up doing so for some reason or the other. Then I saw my friend Ranjit Mankeshwar (@qtfan) post a lot of pictures from his meals Bastian on instagram. The other place he posts a lot from is The Table in Colaba. We've eaten there before and didn't fancy the drive to town. So Bastian it was. I normally prefer to take the recommendations of people whose palettes I trust when choosing a new place to dine at and Ranjit is fairly bankable that way.

K booked us a table at Bastian on phone. It was a Friday night and they told here had seatings at 8.30 pm, 9.30 pm (if we promised to leave by 10.30 pm) and 10.30 pm. The last slot worked for us.

Bastian is located opposite National College at Bandra Linking Road where earlier a bar called Pamposh used to be I think, a place you were always guaranteed to get a table when Toto’s and Temptations were full in the late 1990s. There used to be a large Baskin Robins below  and a dance bar too then. Now it has a Burger King and Subway instead close by and some new restaurants which keep changing names nearby.

We reached Bastian around 1040 pm that Friday night and this is what followed.

Ambiance


Buzzy but not painfully

The restaurant is spacious. It was fairly buzzy at that late hour. I hate empty places and many new restaurants tend to be so. I hate noisy ones too. I recently went with college friends to Sassy Spoon Bandra for dinner and the music was  traumatically loud there.

Bastian offered a good balance though. We were seated at a table for two at a corner by a window. I looked out straight on to my cardiologist’s chamber and tried to ignore what he would think that when I chomped on bacon later at night. The doc loves his food though, as do all my doctors, and I think he would approve of the way the seafood that we had was cooked!

The corner that we sat in was fairly quiet and you could see the rest of the restaurant from there. I saw Boo hovering through, keeping an eye on tables and later cleaning up a table when the guests left.

Service


That's Joshua in white, taking the orders

A young man called Joshua took our orders. His modus operandi seemed to involve sitting on his haunches beside the diners and taking the order. He is rather tall after all.

I was supremely impressed by how well he knew the menu and how competently he could answer my questions on the food and how he helped us nail our order. 

The result of this  was a dinner with no unpleasant surprises

The menu

The menu reminded me of something that Rashmi Uday Singh had written in her review on Bastian earlier. The while Bastian is positioned as a seafood and crab place, 50 per cent of the menu (figuratively as I didn't actuall count) is non seafood and that it has has meats and vegetarian stuff too. 

There was a special crab section but we skipped that as crabs tend to be expensive. I did want to focus on the seafood though. We ended up eating two dishes recommended to me by Ranjit. And another one that we chose and that I would happily recommend to him. 

We were quite satisfied with all our dishes at the end and would happily repeat them and recommend.

What we ate


  1. 1 Grilled Korean Calamari



The epic Korean calamiri

What I loved about the dish was that the squids were cooked just right and were not chewy at all. Calamari can often be dished out rubbery and devoid of taste but here the sauce, the spicy and rather red gochujang sauce, had been integrated into the squid and the meat tasted spicy and savoury. It didn’t have any sweet notes in it which is what we are sometimes used to in restaurants serving Asian food here. Salt and chilli were the dominant flavour base in the Bastian calamari. Not that this took anything away from the dish. 

My friend Jean had got me a tub of Gochujang sauce from Seoul recently. I often air fry chicken drumsticks with it and quite like the flavour. The way the Gochujang flavours were rendered at Bastian made the taste very familiar to an Indian palate because of its inherent chilli heat, though the way the squids were cooked and the combination with bacon was inspired and novel and demonstrated good technique.

It was served with a salad of corn which offered a spring to the texture and crispy bits of bacon which combined so well with the calamari. Truly a memorable dish and a good recommendation by Ranjit.

2. Pan seared Himalayan trout in lemon brown butter and white wine sauce


Pam seared Himalayan trout.
Restaurant fish dish of the year for us

This wasn't part of Ranjit's recommendations but we tried it in any case. K and I both agreed that this turned out to be the tastiest fish dish we have had in a restaurant anywhere in the world in a long time. The fish fillet was crisp at the edges and juicy inside. The flavours of the butter intense but balanced by the acidity of the wine and the zest of the lime. As did the salad of tomatoes and (possibly) jalapeno peppers which gave the fish some sharpness. The fish was seasoned perfectly. Very memorable and worth repeating. 

3. Lobster bacon kimchi rice


The magnificent lobster and bacon rice

This was a dish from Ranjit's recos and was the third and last dish that we ordered that night. 

The quality and quantity of the bacon and lobsters (like the squids earlier, juicy and not overcooked) was stupendous. The rice was full of flavour. You wouldn't need a side dish with it. It was a tad spicy but, and I don't handle spice too well, it made me smile. Two people could make a meal in itself with this which is not a bad idea as at Rs 900 plus taxes, this was the most expensive dish of the night, and the most expensive fried rice I'v ever had in Mumbai.

The main flavour base of the rice, like that of the squid, was savoury. I do remember having had a kimchi rice in a Korean place in Delhi which was slightly tangy too as kimchi is a pickle after all. The dish at Bastian didn't suffer from the lack of tanginess. It is possibly my favourite fried rice in Mumbai right now.

I was told by the staff that most of the produce used here is imported but I do hope that Kelvin and Boo can bring on their cheffing prowess to do some good stuff with local seafood too.

For desserts we walked across to the neighbouring Haagen Dasz outlet to have their Belgian chocolate ice creams which we really love.

Good food. Good service. Good ambience. It was a good night at Bastian for sure.

Definitely a place I'd recommend for trying out seafood in Mumbai. I have not tried their non-seafood dishes but I have a feeling that they won't be bad.

There was a bit of a 'pay it forward' thing in the meal. We had a great dinner thanks to Ranjit's recommendations. So the next night I told Kurush and Rhea to go to Bastian for their anniversary. They had all of what I recommended and some prawns too.

They came back as happy with their meal as we were with ours previous night.

PS: Our bill came to Rs 3069 with a soft drink

A phone video where I sum up our meal:







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