Crab and prawn cuisine
Hype. Hoopla. Awards. Crowned Srilankas “best restaurant 4 times in a row. Ranked 35thbest in Asia 2019, Maestro Dharshan Munidasa’s “Ministry of crab” finally opened two months ago in Mumbai. Having had many a magnificent meal at the Colombo flagship, I was apprehensive about it’s Mumbai debut. Can the same high standard of live Mud crab be maintained? Will the fluffy woodfired Srilankan “kade” bread be as addictive? And wont the Mumbai vegetarian be disappointed? The Colombo MOC has only veg side dishes. It offers only three desserts and we Mumbaikars have a sweet tooth. In short, Is there hope behind the hype?
BOOKED & COOKED
This is the first time that my ploy ( of my assistant booking in a fake name) did not work. Reason? Since we were six diners, they insisted my assistant give credit card details. That would’ve given my name away. So we cancelled. We tried reserving many a time later, but it was all booked up. And much later just two of us booked there. Under a fake name. Ofcourse!
Majestic. Housed in a tall stand alone corner building in Khar. A glamorous highceilinged space with arched glass windows. A sweeping staircase takes you upto the mezzanine bar. On the ground floor the show kitchen takes centre stage. Railings and fluting, wallpaper and mirrors are art deco-inspired. Kudos to Basrai for the artful use of tropical woody natural materials
Go on. Get ready to make slurping noises, put on your bib and crack that perfectly cooked crab bathed in (my favourite) bold lusty pepper sauce.
Take your pick ( Crabs sizes, small, medium, half a kilo, XL, the OMG and 2kg Crabzilla.) Pair it with pepper sauce, olive oil and chilli, soy, or garlic butter and do lick your fingers, every now and then.
My other addiction is the Prawnzilla served in a glistening pool of the bold garlic chilli sauce.
Appetiser? Go for the crab salad scooped into a luscious avocado with a whisper of wasabi, perfect Crab cakes with raw mango sweet chutney. Must ask for the baked crab risotto, a masterly balance of texture and flavour.
Vegetarians, youre in luck, delicious Coastal Indian dishes infused with coconut ( Goan curry with baby aubergine, mangalorean gassi) japanese style stir fried greens too. Keep space for a happy ending… “story of cocoa” . brilliantly presented in a giant cocoa bean pregnant with
bitter chocolate mousse and coconut gel. Equally good is the deconstructed spongy version of French Toast
sparkled with sago pearls and burnt butter icecream. Superb vegan icecreams and signature granitas too.
Crabzilla was not available when we dined there. Kade bread baked in an Irani bakery did not match up to its Srilankan counter part. Singapore Chilly crab sauce needed it’s sweetness to be toned down.
Lacklustre vegetarian ishtew and an oversweet Black pearl dessert were the other minus points.
Peel away the hype, take away the highprofile cricketing legends partners with chef Dharshan Munidasa) and what do we get? A seriously great restaurant dedicated to using only the highest quality of wild caught, even-clawed lagoon crab. Only live fresh crabs are used. And this shows in the glistening sweetness enhanced by the perfect cooking of each crab (no matter which sauce you pick, it has oomph). Vegetarians are taken care of, as are those with a sweet tooth. My apprehension of maestro Chef Dharshan Munidasa not being present in Mumbai is proved base less by the brilliant young chef Jerry Simon Thomas who ensures consistency in quality and recipe. Except for a few dishes which disappoint MOC Mumbai more than claws it’s way to meet up to expectations. Be ready to shell out high prices for stratospheric quality. After all, we are in a three-levelled, high-ceilinged glamorous crab heaven.
MINISTRY OF CRAB
442, Chitrakar Dhurandar Marg, 14th Rd, Khar West
RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.75 DÉCOR 4
Meal for two Rs 8000
And spearheading this amazing global Rosewood group and powering it with it’s unique magnetism is our very own dapper dynamic Radha Arora. Jai ho!
Hot and Sour Soup
10g Bean Curd – cut into Julienne
5g Wood Ear Mushroom – cut into Julienne
20g Dried Mushroom – Soaked with Water and cut into Julienne
10g Bamboo Shoot – cut into Julienne
50g Lobster Meat(optional)
10g Fishcake (optional)
Paste Chili Bean 2 – 3g Vinegar 8g (Season to Taste)
Dark Soy Sauce 2g
Chili Bean Paste 2g
Corn Starch 5g
Salt Season to Taste
Chicken Powder 3g
Sesame Oil 1g
Blanch all the condiments ingredients, keep aside.
Boil up all the ingredients of the soup base, add all the condiment ingredients and adjust the thickness with Corn Starch.
Finally add the Egg into the soup..
I admit. I have a big fat soft spot for Irani cafes. And I mourn their dwindling numbers as also the lack of good Parsi food restaurants in our city. So when I hear about Andheri’s brand new Irani café lookalike “House of Daaruwala” I dash across the city with big hopes through equally big traffic jams.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.
This ain’t a bowl of mere fermented vegetables. It’s Kimchi. It’s magical. It’s origin is centuries old. But it was sent to space on board Soyuz with South-Korean astronaut Yi So yeon.
It was declared ” vitally important to the morale of Korean troops” (President Park Chung Hee).It’s been cited by Health Magazine as one of the world’s five “healthiest foods” and it dates back to the period of the Three Kingdoms (37 BC‒7 AD.
Till today, it’s a very central part of the Korean meal. It is served as “Banchan” a collective name for small side dishes served along with cooked rice.
On my very first trip to Korea, I’m fortunate to not only taste kimchi in the finest three Michelin starred Korean cuisine restaurant but also blessed to get a taste of “vegan” kimchi in a monastic meal ritual cooked by a monk in the mountains. And finally actually got to make the kimchi myself, in the finest kimchi making class of Korea…with Master Lee and two other brilliant chefs.
IN KOREAS BEST RESTAURANT
I’m on top of the world. In every sense of the term. I’m dining in three Michelin starred Layeon perched on the rooftop of Shilla Seoul, the luxury powerhouse.
The gracious and stately Shilla stands behind Seoul’s medieval city walls but continues to reign supreme. La Yeon interprets Korean cuisine with great care and sophistication. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with banchan and the most addictive umami rich kimchi.
I’m not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the everhelpful Yaeeji Kim.Highest quality ingredients, authentic flavors and creativity infuse the dishes… from mellow and soothing to royal-cuisine Hot Pot here.
BLISSED TEMPLE MEAL
I m in heaven and didn’t even have to die to get here… Just drove four hours in snow to reach the beautiful Naejang mountains. Can spiritual vegetarian meditative monk s food be so seductively gourmet and varied? It sure is I’m Tasting blessings… literally too. All this at the fabulous formal multicourse monastic meal ceremony (barugongyang) The lovable loving and friendly monk.
At Cheongjinam Temple. We sit on the floor with empty bowls baru in front of us. And as if by magic the silent servers glide in and fill them up. Making food and partaking in it is part of the meditative process in the temple and here, they eat only what they farm and make on site. Amazingly gentle and vibrant flavors and textures seduce . We wash the dishes after the meal with the water in each bowl and walk out in a single file.
We move in to the dining area and our eyes and taste buds are luxuriously memorably pampered. After that lunch, monk Jung Kwan takes us on a fascinating walk to see her storage facilities where her “jangs”, sauces and kimchi are being fermented. Since garlic, onions are not used it is these fermented pastes that add a zing to her vegetarian masterpieces.
lovable inspirational monk for delicious blessings which we tasted too. If this isn’t heaven what is?
Note: A unique and blissed out treat. And to be lunching with Koreas finest gourmet chefs, Mingoo Kang ( chef Michelinstarred Mingles)
Hyunseok Choi (chef of ever popular Choi)
Jinpyo Kim, CEO Plating Company
All this made possible thanks to the lovely Editor in chief of Tasty Cookbook,Eunsil Jang.
KIMCHI MAKING CLASS
Its a dream come true. Not only to learn kimchi making from Master Soyoung lee,but to do so with my own hands and then to have the privilege of a home-cooked lunch by her. Kimchi making is done in winter (when the ingredients are available) and its all about bonding and a wonderful family feeling as we chop the vegetables and massage the spices into them. All this with Chef Choi who’s doing pathbreaking research in fermenting and Chef Heesuk Cho a professor in Korean cuisine. Not only have most of the great Korean chefs trained under her but her restaurant (I had an amazing meal here) continues to inspire many others.
It’s all thanks to the super helpful and amazing JungYoon Choi, a chef with 20 years of experience working in Spain, Australia and Korea. Trained at Alicia Foundation and El Bulli and is now executive chef of the Sempio Korean Fermentation Culinary Research Center in Korea. with top chefs and gastronomy-related professionals to research on Korea’s fermentation food culture. She very generously shares the authentic recipe for the kimchi.
– Coarse Salt 7cups
– Chives 200g (Cut 4cm)
– Leeks 200g(Cut diagonally)
– Red Brassica juncea 100g (Cut 3cm)
– Chopped raw shrimps 100g
– Chopped Sea staghorn 100g
– Radish 2kg (Cut 5cm)
– Crushed Chili pepper 6cups
– Chopped Garlic 1 1/2 cups
– Chopped Ginger 1/2 cups
– Salted shrimps 1cups
– Anchovy liqueur 1cups
– Sugar 1/2cups
– Coarse Salt 1/2 cups
- Mixed all the spices and ingredients. (Let this ripen for 30 minutes.)
- Rinse pickled cabbage in cold water to remove moisture.
- Ready to the seasonings between the prepared cabbage.
- Store prepared Kimchi in a container.
The best tasting kimchi is stored in room temperature for an average of six months to reach its full flavor.
After that delicious home style lunch, we all get the fabulous kimchi to take home. As Choi says “my mother will be thrilled with this kimchi, for her and all of us, it is more valuable to receive this than an Italian designer handbag” That’s how magical kimchi is!!!
Here in Seoul’s three Michelin starred Layeon I’m not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the ever helpful
Yaeeji Kim. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with banchan,. I do it all… beef tasting restaurant “ Born and bred” , fried chicken and beer (Chimac) eatery, Korean palace cuisine Hansikgonggan , Modern Korean “Mingles” European influenced Korean “Toc Toc”. Pure vegetarian temple cuisine in the mountains, a foodie blind date in “Balwoo Gongyang” but that is another story.
Sometimes a restaurant experience extends to more than just the food. It’s drawbacks become it’s charms… its tiny home-style space, its one man service, generous portions of the Korean owner-chef Sun’s (not sure if I’ve got her name right) blazing lustily spiced food.
Read my review in today’s Bombay Times.
Lights. Camera.Eat. So what if its minus two degrees in the Korean capital of Seoul. Here, on the TV set, under the bright lights, its sizzling hot. And what better way to learn about Korean food than from the maestro, 70 year young, legendary actress and chef Soomi Kim? And to be invited to cook and shoot on the sets of her hugely popular TV show. Superstar chef Hyun Seok Choi teaches me more fundamentals as does Jin Pyo Kim the mover and shaker of Seoul’s restaurant scene. All thanks to Jung Yum Choi Im learning how to make “kimchi” the traditional way. And tomorrow driving four hours to the mountains to the celebrated Buddhist monks monastery. To get her blessings and to eat her vegetarian food. Cant wait to learn from her how to make vegetarian kimchi. Need recipes? Please email email@example.com
“… yeh hai Bombay meri jaan”the old hindi song echoed in my ears, when I lunched at Bombay Vintage. It did so not just because I was lunching at a restaurant which serves up Bombay’s melting pot cuisines but even more because of my lovable guests (one was my #foodieblinddate) .
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.