Does The Fatty Bao’s ramen taste the same in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore? Which of the 17 Socials are the buzziest & which Farzi Café is the busiest? Answers to non-existent restaurant wars and more.
Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have little in common, besides accusing each other of having the worst traffic ever. But look closer at the food scene, and you will spot a lot of the same restaurants, with chefs now taking their brands and baos national.
We travel with our forks to see how the same restaurant stacks up across state borders.
The Fatty Bao
It’s hard to beat Fatty Bangalore’s rooftop location, but Bombay and Delhi (it’s in a mall!) locations are buzzy enough. This season, it’s best you catch up with friends around a ramen bowl, which we’ve found to be consistent across cities, much like their baos. The sushi on the other hand, is a fully different story. Roll over.
You’ve lost count of how many Socials have opened up in India – it’s 17 – let alone which ones are the best. Let us be of assistance: the basement at Khar Social (antiSOCIAL) in Mumbai definitely has the best music programmer, assuring Bombay kids of at least three fun gigs every week. The Hauz Khas Village Social has an unmatchable view of the Deer Park plus lake, which Bangalore can only match with its mean, green full-of-foliage Koramangala branch (the Church Street crowd is much younger). Perch where practical and order from their bar nibbles which include fun foods like Kerala coin parathas and Disco Fried Eggs.
Smoke House Deli
Smoke House Deli is slightly on the down low in all cities, quietly putting out sexy gluten-free menus and old favourites (lox and cream cheese bagel for breakfast?), leaving the loud antics to its more Social younger sibling. Perhaps the buzziest Smoke House belongs to Delhi’s Khan Market neighbourhood, owing to its central location and 7 am shutters-up time; welcoming the breakfast and brunch crowd on weekends. Bangalore isn’t far behind here though, with some fantastic options for brunching.
If a debate about which city’s Monkey Bar is the best broke out, the argument would be drowned out by the raucous music here (all city speakers included). Delhi’s is kind of sad and holding down the fort alone after the CP outpost’s closure; Mumbai’s is the shiniest still, while Bangalore stakes claim to being the original that everyone else aped. Props to the simian for the constant churn of specials menus; the Coastal Adventures was our favourite.
Olive may no longer be the hippest, but it’s still much beloved, like a classic that lords over tentative trends. No city can beat the celebrity crush at Olive Mumbai’s Thursday night parties, though. What’s everyone drinking? No one cares. It’s just where you need to be seen, that’s all. Rumour has it that film and TV scouts comb the crowd here for new faces; attention, fresh-off-the-boat Delhi and Bangalore Bollywood aspirants.
Now here’s a restaurant that’s consistently packed across cities. Peg it to the quick, cheap food or the Irani café feel. While Mumbai might turn its nose up at the faux Irani café (although the real Iranis are disappearing faster than you can say ‘raspberry soda’), Bangalore and Delhi can’t get enough. Vegetarians, if you feel lost amidst the dhansak and patra ni machi, go straight for the Breach Candy Club Okra. We love it.
Wherever you go, weekends are packed. Farzi Café at UB City, Bangalore promised a brewery, but never delivered, so it’s okay to harbor some resentment if you live here. On the whole however, all three cities’ Farzis offer the same fuss and foam, but the tricks rarely come without taste. Whatever you begin with, make sure the reverse-spherified mishti doi is what you’re sweet on. A good dinner place if you can deal with loud music and flashy light shows.
In many ways, Mamagoto could be credited (or held responsible, depending on how you see it) for the advent of the casual, Asian-pop restaurants. Fans of their wall art and noodle bowls (get the Chang Mai Train Station Noodles) replicated the feel in their own restaurants over the years, and slowly stole Mamagoto’s sheen. If you must still visit, the Bangalore outpost is the buzziest and busiest, on weekdays and weekends.
We could write a love letter to Yauatcha’s silken hot and sour soup. The fact that it’s consistent across geography and time, makes us want to scrawl a little ink heart where we sign our names. Fuelling the office district of BKC, Mumbai’s Yauatcha means business, while Delhi’s Ambience Mall and Bangalore’s 1MG Road Mall outposts feed dim sum to a mixed crowd of shoppers and corporate types who don’t seem to fit together. And while we’re on that love note, we’re saving a ‘PS’ for the chocolate-raspberry mousse. XO.
Toast & Tonic
This “East Village” style restaurant and bar, treats its herb-infused gins well irrespective of which city you’re in. We do hear that head chef and partner Manu Chandra – Delhi-born, Bangalore-bred – prefers tending to the Garden City, so now you know where to go. The head chef’s presence in a kitchen is what helps a restaurant to maintain consistency. While the Bangalore space wins our vote for its small al fresco nook, Mumbai’s BKC restaurant shows off with all-glass panes that allow for a deluge of sunlight. No matter where you are, get an Herbalist cocktail and a plate of our favourite – a deceptively simple udon with chorizo, clams and Bangalore black forest ham.
This story was contributed by the team at brownpaperbag.in, a culture and lifestyle portal in Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore.