|Ling's Pavilion, Colaba Mumbai|
At times I wonder if giving the name of a Chinese restaurant, when asked about my favourite restaurant in Mumbai makes sense. Especially in these days of 'eat local.'
Then I tell myself that the family running Ling's Pavilion at Colaba have a legacy of more than 75 years in Mumbai behind them if one takes into account the Nanking Restaurant that was run by the parents of the current owners. And that they use only local produce as much as possible. Their relationship with their surf and turf suppliers in the city is decades old and spans generations.
For many Ling's regulars, a big part of the experience there centres around the joy of interacting with the very gregarious and warm Baba Ling and his brother Nini Ling, a man of fewer of words but who has his own brand of understated humour. The waiting staff look as if they are dressed for a Bruce Lee flick of the 70s, but know their stuff. South Mumbai old timers (mainly Parsis) will tell you that Ling's is nice, but not a patch on Nanking. One has learnt to indulge them.
The Ling's brother claim that being second generation Chinese immigrants, their food would have stronger memories of China than the Chinese food served in restaurants in Kolkata where the families have been settled locally for many generations.
There are two things that I can say. Firstly, I have often found similarities with the food that I have had in Cantonese restaurants across the world (I have not been to China yet) and at Ling's. Secondly, I once spoke to a young journalist from mainland China who was on assignment in Mumbai on this. He told me that he often went to Ling's as the food is reminiscent of what is considered to be good old fashioned food back home for him. The truth is that Ling's has spoilt me for most other Chinese restaurants around.
Some of my favourites in Ling's Pavilion: Pork soup dim sum (it is not the xiao lao bao), salt & pepper prawns, spare ribs, pork belly with shitake and Chinese greens, pan fried noodles with seafood and tenderloin, mixed meat fried rice, steamed snapper/ pomfret with chilli garlic, black pepper crabs (the only place in Mumbai where I would splurge on crabs as the quality is good and the restraint in spicing makes the crab the hero here).
Tip: Ask the Lings brothers or the waiting staff what the specials of the day are which are often prepared for their Chinese customers.
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Building number 19, 21, MB Marg, regal cinema Apollo Bandar, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001 (Mocambo lane and opposite Le 15 Colaba)