A decent neighbourhood watering hole: Review of 12 Union Park
Shatranj Napoli has had another makeover. Its new avatar is trendy but not too loud, with a competent menu of modern Asian cuisine.mumbai Updated: Jun 08, 2018 20:36 IST
- Where: Ground floor, 12, Union Park, next to Olive, Khar West
- Timings: Wednesday to Sunday, 12.30pm to 3.30 pm and 7 pm to 1 amMonday and Tuesday: 7 pm to 1 am
- Cost: Rs 1,700 for two without alcohol
- Call: 2649-9844 / 57
- Rating: 3 / 5
Shatranj Napoli is one of those strange landmark restaurants in Bandra that has existed forever but you’ve never ever met anyone who’s dined there. Or at least no one who’ll admit to it publicly. Over the years the restaurant has gone through a number of changes: name, management, décor, cuisine.
12 Union Park by Shatranj is the newest avatar. And this time, in keeping with current trends, they’ve gone with Modern Asian — which means mostly Chinese, some sashimi, a mix of traditional and modern dim sums and sushi, and a sprinkling of south east Asian mains.
Both menu and the interiors are designed to attract groups of young people who will order as much from the bar as the kitchen. The menu is appetiser- and starter-heavy while the space, with its soft lighting, mustard-brown walls and arching pillars, has a cavern-like feel.
One arm of the L-shaped restaurant is a little more softly lit and serves as a lounge area. On a Monday evening it is filled with a large office group cheerfully hosting a send-off for a colleague. In the outdoor area running along the sides of the restaurant, young couples and friends catch up over drinks.
Expecting no surprises we order the smoked edamame and truffle (a staple on Modern Asian menus) and the chicken and enoki mushroom dim sum.
We can’t taste the truffle oil; the edamame has a chalky, mashed pea-like texture and tastes overpoweringly of garlic. Nor can we taste, or feel, any enoki in the chicken. We’re told it’s minced into the chicken filling, which seems a waste of the mushroom’s unique crunchy texture.
The grilled pepper tenderloin, though, is everything it should be. The thin slices of beef are juicy and tender and there’s a sharp undertone of pepper in every bite. It’s worth ordering seconds of this one.
The Asian arancini, a play on the Sicilian deep-fried cheese and risotto balls, are chatpata crispy rice croquettes. They’re not in the least Asian, but so full of strong flavours you can help but eat another one.
Having filled up on starters we keep the main course simple. A lightly aromatic lemongrass rice and a sweet potato Massaman curry that’s a perfectly acceptable vegetarian version. You don’t miss the meat, and the sweetness of crispy, deep fried potato cubes melds with the sweet-spicy flavour of the Thai curry.
At about 10:30 pm the restaurant turns more lounge; the lights are dimmed and the music gets louder (but not so loud it makes conversation difficult). Still, we make haste with the tub tib krob. Their version of the Thai dessert, with green and red water chestnuts, is more colourful than usual yet not too sweet. It is a little heavy on the crushed ice, though.
While there’s nothing exceptional, or noteworthy, about 12 Union Park, there’s nothing terrible about it either. It’s not trying to be anything more than a neighbourhood watering hole that also serves decent food. And it’s doing that well.
(HT pays for all meals and reviews anonymously)