WHY are Mumbaikar's so hot for Chinese food? As The Guardian newspaper in Britain recently wrote: "In India, people often go for a Chinese. Or rather, an Indianised version of Chinese that some call Chindian. Dishes tend to be flavoured with spices not normally found in Chinese cuisine, such as cumin, coriander and turmeric. Given India's large vegetarian population, paneer, cauliflower and potato are also far more prevalent, along with garlic, ginger and chillis. Popular Chindian dishes include Manchurian chicken, which has a sweet and salty brown sauce, various Sichuan recipes and Hakka noodles. Narrow and flat, almost square in shape, Hakka noodles are made with durum wheat, with or without eggs. They are stir-fried with vegetables and mixed with a hot, vinegar-based sauce, and sold from dhabas (roadside stalls). The name comes from the Hakka people, the tribe of Chinese who first moved to Calcutta in the late 1700s. There is still a large Chinatown in Calcutta today.|
"Indo-Chinese is very popular with middle- and upper-class Indians," says Tishani Doshi, a writer and dancer based in Madras. Much to her amusement, Doshi recently had her first Indian meal in Britain and was surprised not to have encountered a single dish she had ever eaten in India. "It's probably how a Chinese person would feel eating at a Chinese restaurant in India," she says. "I couldn't believe how heavy the 'Indian' food was in London, and it reminded me of the feeling I often get when I go for a Chinese back home: completely stuffed and slightly bloated. I can't imagine that Chinese people regularly eat anything that heavy..."
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HERE is a choice selection of the Chindian restaurants of Mumbai:
China Garden: Cross Roads, Haji Ali Mosque. Phone: 400 036.
The idea of going to Mumbai to eat Chinese food might seem strange to most westerners intoxicated by the delights of Indian cuisine. Nonetheless, Chinese food is in vogue all over India, and I was fortunate to try out a few dishes at my hotel while in Mumbai this year. The thing to remember, is that Indian Chinese food is Indianized in the same way that Indian food served in America has been moulded to suit American tastes. Therefore, the Chinese food in India is unique because it has a distinctive Indian influence and flavor.
Boasting 210 seats, China Garden is one of the best places to get Chinese and south-east Asian food in Mumbai. There is a fully serviced bar and all major credit cards are accepted.
Mainland China: Sakinaka Junction.
Possibly the best Chinese food in Mumbai.
Chinese Palace: Chinese Palace
Bombay AC Market,
Tardeo. Phone: 496 9069/494 4963.
Nita, one of the queens of the Mumbai Chinese restaurant blogosphere, had this to say of the Chinese Palace: "This restaurant, located in Tardeo, Mumbai, just before the Haji Ali crossing, is for Chinese food lovers on a medium budget. The food is good and portions large enough. True, some of the dishes are a trifle spicy, smacking of what is called 'Indian Chinese', but we enjoyed the taste. Besides, there are any number of non-spicy dishes.
"It's possible for one person to have a filling meal here for just Rs 150/- without beer. Where can one get that in Mumbai these days? That too in a decent place, with a decent crowd? However if two people have a sumptuous meal and order the more expensive items on the menu like say prawns, then the bill could easily rise to Rs 500/-.
"Although the restaurant is small, the tables are not packed together, thus affording some privacy. We have visited this restaurant three times and each time the food was consistently good. What we liked even more about the place was whether crowded or not, the service is excellent. The waiters know the menu well, and can guide you through it. Service is also very prompt. No endless waiting here!
"The crowd is a family crowd. The restaurant tends to fill up by nine and is a favourite with the local Tardeo residents."
Noodle Nook Pizzarro: Full review here.
Nita recently wrote on her blog, which seems to specialise in Chinese food and Chinese restaurants in Mumbai and Pune: "Noodle Nook Pizzarro is what this stall opposite Shoprite (supermarket) at Nirmal Lifestyle (India's biggest mall) calls itself. Why? Because it sells Chinese and it sells Pizza. I didn't try the Pizza, and now I won't -- not after watching the way they made it (for some others) and after tasting their Chinese.
Give me a break.
Oily noodles in which one had to hunt for veggies. Specks of green and red. And the man who made it was dripping sweat into the kadhai. Worse, the guy who packed it had black ringed fingers with which he kept shoving the noodles into the parcel he had made. When I told him not to do it -- he smiled.
We made the mistake by asking them to pack a 'gravy' -- sweet and sour. I think they didn't have the 'sour' (I heard them whispering) so they packed some sweet corny thing instead. It looked like sugar cornflour soup and when we tasted it was just that. Boiled water with lots of cornflour and a fistful of white sugar and a dash of salt ( I saw them make it).
Guess what? They took half an hour to make the two plates -- hakka noodles and one gravy.
Then when we went home we threw the 'gravy' down the drain, although my husband was brave enough to taste it. Actually, he was the one who threw it.
I tasted the noodles. Almost puked. An ajinomoto rush. Grease rush. Visions of black ringed fingers and blobs of sweat. Wicked smiles.
I have had street Chinese plenty of times before. Never has it been this bad.
They charged Rs 45/- for each dish. I think Rs 10/- would have been too high a price. And to charge that much for the yucky gravy was cheating.
Considering that the next day both my husband and me had loose you know what -- I think they should pay us. Perhaps we should ask Nirmal Lifestyle to cough up the dough. On second thoughts, forget it. If we have to eat street Chinese, why do we need to go to India's biggest mall? We can have it right outside our colony gate, on a thela. At least his stuff is tasty, even if it isn't healthy."
Some other authentic Chinese restaurants in Mumbai:
Checkmate: Water Field Road,
China Gate: Bandra (W), 2643 2570.
Kemps Corner. Phone: 367 9771/367 5068.
Chopsticks: Khar West, 2649 9009.
Fernandes Villa, Bandra. Phone: 642 4308.
Bhulabhai, Desai Road. Phone: 367 5073.
Dynasty: Santa Cruz, 2648 7436.
Gaffar Khan Road,
Worli. Phone: 493 6602.
Gazebo Oriental: Bandra (W), 2642 1078.
Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant:
Apollo Bunder. Phone: 284 8383.
Lans Down Road,
Colaba. Phone: 285 0023/24.
Shansui: Hotel Centaur Airport, Santa Cruz Airport, 2611 6660.
Song Hay: 1, Norwood, 320, Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri (W). Phone: 2636 5073, 2631 0922.
Stomach-2: Sea Green Apartments, Andheri (W), 2634 3300.
Apollo Bunder. Phone: 202 3186/284 8214.
Contact the author Rob Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anticopyright February 2008.