Restaurant Review: Mamagoto Bandra
Kabir Suri and Rahul Khanna, the Delhi-based owners of Mamagoto, believe in rapidly rolling out branches. They opened the first Mumbai branch of the pan-Asian chain of restaurants in Ghatkopar’s R City Mall in the last week of April, and it was quickly followed by the launch of a stand-alone outpost in Bandra, on Friday, May 2. However, unlike the owners of most restaurant chains, Suri and Khanna are not in the business of cloning outlets. Each Mamagoto is distinct, apart from a few design motifs seen across all the branches of the popular brand.
At the Bandra outpost, as with most Mamagotos, the décor is consciously kitsch, and is dominated by icons of the Orient such as tigers, pandas, dragons, and cherry blossoms. It’s a bit like dining on the set of the Kung Fu Panda movies, all the more fun for easily distracted tots (and a few adults too), who have plenty to marvel at until the food arrives. And the food arrives fast. This is a kitchen presumably staffed with some old hands adept at handling a barrage of orders – on the night we visited without a reservation, the place was so packed that we had to wait 40 minutes for a table.
Mumbai’s summer warrants an order of Mamagoto’s chilled Thai chicken salad (Rs315), which comes prettily presented in a black bowl with a tangle of spring onion stalks and red onions tossed with chicken dressed in a kaffir lime, lemongrass and coconut milk marinade. Their neatly halved vegetarian spring rolls (Rs230), with a filling of crunchy water chestnuts and corn kernels, rekindled our fondness for the old Chinese classic, while the crispy chilli potato (Rs230), a delicious preparation of salli-slim potato fries covered in a spicy-sweet chilli sauce, had us hankering for a beer (Mamagoto is still in the process of obtaining its liquor licence).
While the service was consistently quick, the food suffered in parts. During the same meal, we were served both a terrible and a superb portion of spare ribs (Rs1,195). The first time around, the meat was tough and gamey. Noticing that we barely touched the ribs, Suri replaced our order with a new portion, this one where the sweet, smoked and sesame-speckled meat slid off the bone easily. The Hunan grilled fish (Rs415) was a delicately flavoured fillet of rawas glazed with a subtle Chinese wine and soy sauce that seeped into the mound of sticky rice resting under it. The khowsuey, which Mamagoto calls Chiang Mai train station noodles (Rs465 with chicken), was a picture-perfect bowl of a bright and well-balanced curry with noodles and crisped condiments including fried onions and peanuts. Less well executed were the shrimp with dry red chilli and burnt garlic (Rs395) and the rock shrimp tempura (Rs395), both covered with soggy batter, and the soya sauce-drenched wan chai midnight chicken (Rs355), which tasted like a watered down version of the spicy kung pao.
Thankfully, that most anticipated final course at Mamagoto features neither honey noodles nor lychee-based confections that have been done to death at Asian eateries. The caramel sponge cake (Rs285) was a springy slice soaked in a silken, home-style toffee sauce that was well worth abandoning restaurant etiquette for. Fans of the banoffee should consider ending on their version (Rs285), where proportionate layers of cream, toffee, mushy banana and biscuit are heaped in a glass bowl, all the easier for scooping clean.
Prices are exclusive of taxes. Liquor licence awaited. This review was conducted anonymously.