Riot of Flavours is not just about recipes, restaurant reviews and food trails. It’s also about experiences. So while I may eat at a restaurant, I may not review it as such but just talk about the experience.
When I first came to Bombay, I lived at a small hostel in Gamdevi near Grant Road West. This area has been home since then. Soon, I went on to living in a rented house in the area, till I got married and came to Andheri East (can I hear you say oh!?). I still miss it. Everything about Gamdevi makes me so nostalgic.
Some of my favourite eateries are there too. Nothing fine dine. We have a Bhelwala who serves up scrumptious bhel puri, sev puri and aloo bomb (chutney, sev and onions sandwiched between two halves of boiled potato). The sandwich guy there is the best, too. His sandwiches are a hit with the college students around and even a stray dog that refuses to have bread without butter! Then, we have Narayan Dosa near Hughes Road. He’s been in the area for donkey’s years now and serves up the most amazing dosas. If you go there, make sure you try every dosa on his menu.
Other places a little far away from Gamdevi but frequent haunts are Crystal at Chowpatty, Sardar Pav Bhaji and Chinese Palace in Tardeo, Mama Mia at Opera House, Karma between Hughes Road and Opera House, and Under the Banyan Tree at Peddar Road.
Staying all the way here, I rarely visit Gamdevi, if at all. But everytime Amma comes down to Bombay, a visit there is a must. So last weekend, when she had come down for a wedding, we had to pay a visit to Gamdevi. Wondering what we could eat, I remembered Soam in Babulnath. Many of you would probably have eaten there already, but quite surprisingly, in my 9 years in the area, I never visited the place even once! So, this was my chance, while I had a few inhibitions about how expensive it would be, I still decided to risk it — and I’m glad I did.
Soam is located at Babulnath. The interiors are warm and the staff is friendly. As you enter, you can’t help but notice the awards wall on the left filled with Times Food Awards, Burrp Certificates, etc. Amma and I sat at a small four-seater table and were flummoxed looking at the menu; there was so much on offer that we couldn’t decide what to order. The waiter was most helpful. Since it was, and is, so unbearably hot, we weren’t in the mood for a heavy lunch. So we called for a farsan platter, a gatte ki sabzi and satpadi roti and Surti chaas. Service was quick and the food was tasty.
The table was adorned with leaf table mats in a perfect round. Five-metal thaalis added to the authentic touch. The farsan platter was the first to be served. The khaman was soft and pillowy, but what took my breath away was the cheese and palak samosa, the outer pastry was perfectly flaky and the fillings authentic in taste. The vatana wadi (something like the very Maharashtrian kothmir vadi) was very tasty too.
Main course was the masala satpadi and gatte ki sabzi. While the satpadi (traditionally made of seven (sat) flours (padi) was very tasty, the gatte ki sabzi was a little disappointing. I’ve had this traditional Marwari dish made my one of my friend’s mothers who is a Marwari and it is definitely more masaledaar. However, it still won my appreciation simply because the balance of flavours was really good. This was served with a capsicum and cabbage salad that had been lightly tossed in oil tempered with cumin seeds.
To wash off the meal, we had a variety of options, of which aam panna was one. But, I wanted something more, so we called for the Surti chaas, which is a little spicier than the regular one.
Not wanting to eat anymore, we decided to call for the check, which seemed quite reasonably priced at around Rs. 525 with taxes. I will definitely visit Soam the next time I’m in the area. The variety is interesting and something I would love to sample. If you’ve been there do let me know your experiences.