Listing down the best Parsi restaurants in Mumbai is both an easy and a difficult task. Easy, because, the names come immediately to your mind. And difficult, because, you keep hoping you have not missed any good ones….
Mumbai introduced to us the world of Parsi food – hitherto, we, in our Delhi and Shillong, respectively, upbringing, had only heard/read about Patra ni Macchi and Dhansak and Lagan nu Custard. Once in Mumbai, we fell for the cuisine instantly. And now, this 8 and a half years of Mumbai living and loving Parsi cuisine, we make an honest attempt to list which, we think, are the best Parsi/Irani restaurants….no, not in any order of ranking. Why would one do that? They are all good and have some delectable specialities…..Instead of ranks, why not be led completely by our taste buds…? Here we go….
Britannia in Fort: Well, Britannia’s Mutton Berry Pulao, is in the Hall of Fame of Mumbai’s restaurants. Tales of the meal are told across the seas, and people flock to this iconic, old-world restaurant from around the globe. You’d be forgiven if you chose to eat nothing but the Berry Pulao at Britannia in every visit. It is truly worth it. Remember, they open only for lunch through Monday to Saturday. Sundays are closed. Keep cash handy, for, they do not take credit cards, unless they have changed that rule recently. There is no air conditioning – remember I told you it is old-world? We’d suggest you ask for drinks like Ice-cream soda and aerated Raspberry drinks that’s a speciality of Parsi restaurants. Be prepared for the old 90 yr to stop by at your table for a chat with the menu card to share stories from yesteryears….
Paradise in Colaba: What is that saying about the best things in life coming in small packages? It couldn’t be truer for Paradise in Colaba, one of the BEST Parsi restaurant in Mumbai!!! They would have set shop, one tiny, cosy joint in the bustling Colaba aeons ago, and they remain the same. In decor, menu, staff. Why, if you go there after lunch hours, you will, in all likelihood, find the Manager taking a nap in the rear bench. The famed nap of a Parsi.
We normally go to Paradise for Mutton Salli Boti, Mutton Biryani along with Rotis. And always leave satisfied. Until the next time! But most importantly, I go to Paradise for their Lagan nu Custard. I first ask if they have made it for that day and then sit down for the meal. Laganu Custard at Paradise is to die for, to kill for. I have often craved for it sitting miles away in Powai. Absolutely no other place in Mumbai makes it the way they do.
Jimmy Boy in Fort: This old dude is another gem in the crown of Parsi restaurants in Mumbai. Started in 1920s, this grand old Dude retains its old world charm – what with its cosy, two-floor joint with its ornate balustrades that take your to the mezzanine floor. Before you take your chair, look down at the first floor and you will be certain that not much has changed here – the little square tables placed closed to one another, the staff milling around taking orders and bringing food, the lovely chandelier from that era…. Remember, there is AC only in the mezzanine floor of Jimmy Boy. Now, Jimmy Boy boasts of offering the unique Lagan Nu Bhonu, the famed full 3-course meal similar to one served at Parsi weddings. Order that if you have a big appetite or there’s someone else to share the meal with you, for, the full course is really heavy. We make a beeline for their Patra ni Macchi which they serve with Paranthas so tasty, that you will almost want to end your meal right there…so that the taste lingers on…Jayanta absolutely loves their Mutton Keema Pav too…
Café Military in Fort: I seem to have misplaced the photos we had taken at Café Military when we went there the last time. Nevertheless, images of the Keema-Pav and Salli Boti meal is still fresh, so much so that Jayanta can run for its Keema-Pav anytime. Another of those Irani joints from the last century, that it has gone through the passage of history and has seen many a momentous change around itself is evident from its unchanged interiors. Go expecting old world and you will come out very happy from Café Military…
SodaBottle Openerwala in BKC: Is completely new age. The very name conjures up images of the Parsi world in your mind. You think of their zest for life, their need to perfect everything, their crispness, their sing-song language, their immense love for food…Invariably, you tend to keep thinking about all of these as you head to the famous, Soda Bottle Openerwalla in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC, Mumbai, India). And are pleasantly greeted by these very visuals as you go in and are shown to your table – the lovely pieces of furniture, the red-white checkered tablecloths lined with pretty white laces, the knick-knacks on the wall, the quirky lamp-shades, the awesome crockery and serving bowls/plates, the little write-ups on just about everything, walls, menu cards — you are smiling in amusement as you discover every little such detailing…
Jayanta can never look beyond a Kheema Pav option whenever he gets one, while Mutton Berry Pulao is a no brainer for me. They serve the Kheema Pav in an interesting square baking tray (told you, the crockery is interesting) and make Jayanta happy. Now, as unfair as it sounds, Berry Pulao lovers tend to compare every Berry Pulao in the world with the one you get to eat when in Britannia. I did too, and found the one at Sodabottle Openerwala to be very good!
For now, the above are our favourites…and we hope to find a few more jewels in the future to add to this list….