My tweet was a wry take on the phenomenon of blogger invites which characterise the launch of most new restaurants in Mumbai. Sometimes I wonder if after the high rental costs here and then the cost of feeding media, social and otherwise, whether there is any money left for the restaurateurs to invest in chefs or produce.
I’d missed the Mamagoto launch as I was out of town but did go there with friends a few Sundays back and then the again next day for lunch with someone who was doing an unannounced review.
Turns out that Mamagoto means ‘playing with food’. Just what were we told not to do while growing up. Times were different then. Today eating is often not just about sustenance but about joy and enjoyment too.
With its bright walls, teapot shaped taps in the washrooms, funky paintings and an ambiance which is reminiscent of Bone Daddies in London’s Soho district, Mamagoto in Bandra (where Nature’s Basket used to be), does seem to have a happy buzzy feel to it. Most tables around us had groups of happy looking folks occupying them on both the days. The pricing seems to be largely Rs 400 and below per dish which makes it quite competitive. The aircon did seem to give up on a packed Sunday afternoon and they need to look into that. Come to think of it the aircon of many Mumbai restaurants buckled under the heat this time.
Over the two meals, my take is that they seem to like their vegetarians more here at Mamagoto.
On the first day our two vegetarian starters were brought to the table much ahead of the non veg one. There was 1 vegetarian and 3 regular folks among us and we dug into the food of the vegetarian as we waited for our food.
Restaurants should pay more attention to the order of serving. At times there could be two of you and one gets their food while the other watches on awkwardly. Remember most new places add a fixed service charge.
Also the vegetarian food seems to be nicer at Mamagoto than the non veg which is weird in an Asian place. The first starter that we had was a chopped mushrooms on lettuce cups sort of dish (veg basil cup) which was very well flavoured and had a lovely meaty texture which contrasted well with the fresh bites of green.
The other one was water chestnut spring rolls. The batter was nice and crunchy and had a feisty spicy chilli dip to go with it that worked for us. The batter and chilli together outshouted the fillings, this was good beer food though they don’t serve alcohol here yet.
We tried the prawn fritters in garlic mayo (called roc shrimp tempura as sassy reminds me but then it’s been two weeks since we went there) and next day the prawn tempuras. On both days the prawns were rather hard and rubbery and frankly the antithesis of the Oriental way of cooking seafood where the seafood emerges as nice and juicy even in batter fries.
The grilled spare ribs were disappointing too. Very uni-dimensional in taste with the marinade and the sweet dip which came with it shrouding the taste of the pork. Both non veg dishes seemed very apologetic about the seafood and meat served on the plate.
On a twitter recco we called for aubergines grilled on a Japanese roboto grill. The dish was very disappointing as the aubergine had a very squishy texture and the garlic coating on top was too overpowering. This story has a pleasant twist to it though.
I had tweeted back to saying that I didn’t like the aubergine and continued with our lunch. A bit later the manager walked up to me and asked for my name. Turned out someone had spotted my tweet and alerted them. The manager apologised and wanted to know what was wrong and whether I had any suggestions. To which my answer was that nothing was ‘wrong’. It’s just that we didn’t like the preparation I explained and said that it’s not that everyone likes every preparation.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that they hadn’t added the price of the baigan to the bill at the end.
Coming to the mains the veg love of Mamagoto continued.
We ordered a veg soggy rice which turned out to be really nice. The rice wasn’t ‘soggy’ thankfullybut had a flavourful sauce in it and loads of crunchy chopped vegetables which made it quite a pleasant one plate dish.
There was a cardinal mistake committed here though. They had given a chilli and apparently soy dip and asked pointedly us to have it with the rice. Later I asked for some fish sauce and found out that the dip was a traditional fish sauce and chilli Thai nam prik la. We had ordered the rice for the vegetarian in the group. The last thing you would expect in a restaurant in India is people giving fish sauce with a vegetarian dish and not even pointing it out. It’s Bandra and not Bangkok for heaven’s sake. They need to be careful on this. As for me, well I love my fish sauce.
We ordered two curries. Penang curry bowl which was served on a bed of rice and a Chain Mai train noodles Khau soi. To be honest, both were much thicker than the curries I have had in Penang and Chiang mai. Having said that there was something in the over the top spices and flavours doused in a very thick coconut cream which made the dishes appealing even if not very ‘authentic’. Check the lightness of the Chiang Mai Khow sois in the pictures in this link and that of the Penang curry here to see what I mean
Our enjoyment of the curries in Mamagoto could perhaps be compared to that of the British when served metamorphosed ‘Indian’ food by Sylhetis of Bangladesh in the curry shops of England.
Was it love at first sight, sniff, bight like it was with pork belly ramen in London’s Bone Daddy? No. Was it pleasant? Yes, it was.
Oh, one more thing. We ordered a veg Penang curry and prawn Chiang Mai Khow soi and again the prawns were rubbery and tasteless. I don’t know what they have against non vegetarians in Mamagoto. The next day I had a nasi goreng where the chicken satays were near fibrous and a beef rendang were the meat was lumpy and lifeless and the curry cloudy and almost pink and made no pretence to be rendang.
For desserts we chose a sponge cake with toffee. The cake was too dry on both days that we ordered it. The toffee too sweet. On both days mot of the others at our table just loved it. I found it too much to handle.
So what’s my take on Mamagoto?
Go there to have a fun time and without chasing any Asian dreams. Or as people say about their favourite Hindi potboilers, no pun intended, this is not made for the Oscars.
As for me, my search for good Asian food in Bandra continues. Busago with its kauk swe & Kofuku with its kakuni have its moments…Globul Fusion’s Quality has plummeted…so currently driving to Colaba for Ling’s and its Cantonese is the best option