In the city that doesn’t sleep, it’s only the restaurants that go to bed early. But like any metropolis worth its traffic, there’s always a good meal to be found in the city’s underbelly. Fly-bynight stalls and cleverly managed restaurant kitchens are a midnight snack-hunter’s best friends.
Jaydeep Mukherjee commands the kitchens at South Mumbai’s posh Indigo Deli, but don’t be surprised if you find him gorging on bhurji pav outside Andheri station. “Suresh’s special bhurji pav can be found bang outside Andheri station on the Western side,” he mentions. “It opens only at 11 pm and serves such consistently good food that I eat there at least once a week.” For vegetarians, Mukherjee recommends paneer bhurji or the vegetable pulao. “Right next to Suresh is Salim Bhai, who serves such delectable kheema that it’s worth making a midnight trip there just for the food,” grins Mukherjee. “His tawa stall serves bheja fry and kaleji, and people usually stand next to the stall and eat it hot.” These stalls operate till the wee hours of the morning, perfect for late night revellers.
By the sea
Another haunt for those with a little more loose change in their pocket is the Sea Princess coffee shop. Before the nightclub Trilogy opened in its premises, the hotel had only the coffee shop, where you could tank up on more beers in case the party had cheated you out of your last order. Cheap enough to attract students and Bollywood strugglers alike, it also offers you a midnight sea view. The best part is the manner of conversations you’re likely to hear from the next table, from producers arguing about increasing budgets to struggling starlets swapping casting couch memories.
Midnight snack food preferences usually veer towards non-vegetarian fare like bhurji pav, kebabs, Chinese food with suspect origins (found opposite CST station and Dhobi Talao), but there are vegetarian options too.
The BPO industry in Malad has also given birth to a late night ‘khao gali’ near the Mindspace grounds. “The crowd is usually made up of Mindspace employees and assorted drunks,” says Monish Moorthy, who used to work near the area. “You can sample idlis and dosas, sandwiches and pav bhaji.”
Ghatkopar in the central suburbs may not strike you as the most exciting midnight haunt, but advertising professional Ganapathy Ramachandran insists that the vegetarian hotdog at Jebi Sagar is worth a try. “The place comes alive post 12 am and they only have two dishes on the menu —tawa pulao and pav bhaji. What’s interesting is a variation of pav bhaji called hotdog pav, which has pieces of potato, tomato and onion, topped with some spice.” On the road to Ghatkopar station right after Sindhu Wadi, the stall has all of eight tables. “You’ll find a lot of local Gujarati and Marwadi Jains who stop by before heading home.”
From the north of the city to its southern counterpart, Bademiya, which dishes out kebab roll after roll in the back alleys of Colaba, is an institution. Another holein-the-wall joint, Bharat Dairy and Juice Centre can be found near Bhavan’s College, Marine Drive. A restaurant that dishes out enough chelo kebabs to earn itself a world record is Zaffran. The place operates legitimately under the license of a coffee shop within a hotel, set in the Bengali quarter of CST area near Crawford Market. “I’ve been going there forever,” says Stuart D’Costa, bassist of popular city band Something Relevant. He waxes eloquent about the chelo kebab, saying, “It’s legendary. It costs about Rs 200 and is made of meat with crushed seaweed as seasoning.” According to D’Costa, Zaffran is a classy joint where you might bump into a friend no matter how late it is. He gushes, “It serves everything on the menu, even if it’s 3 am. They serve soul food, and it’s so good that you just can’t stop eating.”