So, Mamagoto (of its Delhi fame) opened in Bombay sometime last month – or the month before – I forget. Anyhow, it became a rage amongst the blogger community, where every other food enthusiast was either tweeting or blogging about his/her experience there. Most of the reviews were really good and that intrigued me further. So, as soon as I got my salary, Ishaaq and I visted Mamagoto at Bandra for dinner this Sunday. Luckily, since we reached a little early, there was hardly any waiting – which is otherwise the norm in any Bombay restaurant on a weekend night. We were seated in royal-looking red chairs with armrests – the kinds you can simply sink into, and I took a moment to breathe in the ambience.
At first glance, the interiors of Mamagoto are colourful and vibrant; red seems to be the dominant shade here. The owners don’t seem to have spent much on the decor in terms of materials (read: rugged walls and exposed HVAC pipes), but this simply adds to the charm. Instead, the walls are adorned with colourful, Chinese-like canvas paintings and spray painted cherry blossoms, which I absolutely fell in love with. White and red dolls hang on strings as partitions and add to the overall decor.
The menu is divided into categories: appetisers, soups and salads, coal-fired robata grilled items, Mamagoto signature dishes (or, as I called them, one-pot wonders), wok and curries, rice and noodles and dessert. After much discussion with the waiter at our table, we finally decided to go with a Salad: thai chicken and water chestnut salad with red chilli strips, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and coconut; Appetiser: Spiced Asian barbecue chicken; Mains: Fried rice with egg and vegetables and lamb chilli in hoisin sauce.
The service was prompt and the food seemed fresh. The salad was flavourful with all the ingredients mentioned in the menu – I loved the taste of the lemon grass and kaffir lime – but it was oddly sweet. I mean, coconut doesn’t make food sweet (I’m a South Indian; I know). So, while the crunch of the water chestnut was lovely with the lime-lemongrass flavour, after a point, the dish became cloyingly sweet for me, so much so that I had to use the chilli dipping sauce from the barbecue chicken that came in later.
The asian spiced chicken barbecue hit our senses the moment it was placed on the table. It was presented to look like a whole fish, but the flavours were spot on. What was disappointing, however, was the chicken itself – both in the salad and the appetiser. It was chewy, thready and very tough – in other words, overcooked! However, we went ahead with the meal.
As we were finishing our starters, the lamb was brought to the table along with the fried rice. On taking one bite of the lamb, we instantly knew that the lamb too was tough. The waiter asked us about the food, and we commented on the nature of the meat and he promptly took away the lamb, promising a replacement. But then, the manager, Nitin, came along and asked us what the problem was. I told him that the meat in all three dishes was tough, and he actually responded saying that this is what the cuisine demands. I didn’t really know how to respond to such a lame justification and let it pass. But, to me, that’s utter rubbish. Even if a cuisine demands a well-done piece of meat, it is not meant to be tough and chewy – they need to get that right!
Nevertheless, the lamb came back – beautifully sliced and tender and the sauce was as flavourful as the rice. We polished off the meal with a dessert. Given the high praise that the banoffee pie had received in other reviews, we decided to order it and were not disappointed. It was heavy, but not cloyingly sweet (unlike the salad). It was a good finish to a decent meal.