Shilarna Vaze has lived in Bombay for most of her life. The chef and caterer runs Gaia Gourmet; she made her way to this profession having dabbled plenty with numerous creative pursuits in college before realising on her love for food, which is when she decided to get her diplome de cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. A degree in cooking, one restaurant in Goa, and a beautiful marriage to the love of her life (also the other half at Gaia Gourmet), and six years later, Vaze finds herself catering for some of Mumbai’s fanciest. Sandwiched in between all of that, Shilarna always makes time for yoga and a little bit of discovery—uncovering Mumbai’s many secret and not-so-secret eateries.
Few other Mumbai neighbourhoods inspire the sort of love that Bandra does. Most big cities tend to have an area where the creative community congregate, and in Mumbai, Bandra is that neighbourhood. Shilarna takes us on a journey to some of her all-time favourites in Bandra’s bustling culinary scene. “Anyone doing something new such as bespoke coffee, Korean food or nouvelle Indian, will first try it in Bandra. Maybe it’s the people here—they’re more open minded. But whatever the case, Bandra truly is one of the best places to get everything from a drink at a local hole in the wall to a fancy meal at a posh restaurant.”
Kitchen Garden By Suzette
Kitchen Garden is one of my absolute favourites. Run by husband-wife-and-friend trio Jérémie Sabbagh, Antonia Achache, and Pierre Labail, it’s the perfect place to have amazing, fresh juices. While the menu is completely nutrition-led with all manner of organic, dairy- and gluten-free goods up for grabs, there’s some decadent treats too—my personal favourite is this heavenly apple raspberry compote with mascarpone, Greek yoghurt and crumble. Jérémie and Antonia are amazing people who are also great bakers so their fresh croissants are a must.
Koinonia Coffee Roasters
Tucked away in the narrow streets of Bandra’s Chuim Village is this new coffee hotspot. Koinonia sells coffees from estates in Marvahulla in Tamil Nadu, Poabs in Kerala and Kelagur and Badra in Karnataka. They also roast the coffee themselves. I’m married to a swiss guy who is always craving good coffee and Clement and his partners are doing a great job of fixing this gap.
The Blue is quite literally Bandra’s best-kept-secret. Owned by husband and wife duo Seefah Ketchaiyo and Karan Bane, (the former Thai and Japanese chefs at the Four Seasons hotel’s Asian restaurant San-Qi), this modest, six table enterprise packs quite a culinary punch. If you’re looking for a really authentic Thai and Japanese experience, then a meal at The Blue is a must—their sushi and Thai curries topping the list of things you must order.
Sequel Bistro and Juice Bar
No sugar. No flour. No chemicals. The menu at Sequel Bistro is super healthy. Started by Vanika Choudhary to promote conscious eating, the restaurant is a great place for a nutritious lunch. The restaurant features an all-organic menu with an emphasis on alternative grains like buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum, chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and more. From delicious nut butters to decadent desserts using natural sweeteners, Sequel is just the place I’d pick for their all-organic salads and smoothie bowls.
One Street Over
We’ve had some pretty crazy girls’ nights here and I’m sure you will too. One Street Over is by far the best place to grab amazing cocktails and fun bar food (watch out for Chef Kelvin’s picklebacks).
Janata Bar + Jaihind Lunch Home
Janta Bar is the suburb’s only local watering hole where heaps of cash strapped college kids hang out and it is that local joint that you never go to but you can always order alcohol from at any point of day or night. Therefore it is a must have on your phone. Jaihind, opposite Janta bar is a fail proof local seafood joint. Stand outs here include bombil fry, prawn curry, Tisria, Koliwada prawn, steamed banana leaf fish and sol kadi.
The Yoga House
The Yoga House is a great place to hang out post yoga or a hectic work out. Aside from their healthy menu of quinoa burgers and feta sandwiches, there’s excellent cups of coffee and smoothies to look forward to here.
Lab by La Folie
Macarons, cupcakes and tarts. The Lab by La Folie run by chef Sanjana, is the perfect place for French desserts. Located on the ever popular Hill Road, the patisserie’s pastries are as stunning as they are delicious. But while the desserts here are the star, there’s also a focus on slow eating, local produce and a more holistic food experience.
At Chef Kelvin Cheung’s Bastian, seafood is the real star. I always go to Bastian for the amazing crab and lobster dishes—specifically the ‘under the bridge crab’—a culinary tribute to the inventiveness of fishermen in Hong Kong, who created a stellar dish stir-frying staples like shallots, garlic and dry chillies. Another stand out here is the cheesecake. I always leave enough place for mine when I’m here.