One of the distinct joys of dining out in Mumbai, India, had been their incredible Maharashtrian seafood dishes, combining the freshest ingredients with piquant spices, resulting in some truly amazing culinary delights. And Mumbai boasts of several extraordinarily good restaurants - Trishna, Mahesh Lunch Home, Konkan Cafe and Gajalee.
Now, Gajalee has gone one step further - it's opened a branch right here in Singapore!! Imagine my delight when I came across this new, hardly month-old branch last weekend. The evening I dined there, we had:
- Grilled butter-pepper pomfret. The fish fillets were subtly marinated then grilled. Textures were perfect - it was melt-in-the-mouth & was truly culinary nirvana;
- Green chilli crabs. This was the one extraordinary dish which I remembered from my pilgrimages to two of Gajalee's Mumbai outlets in Vile Parle and Andheri East. Glad to note that the taste here was exactly the same! Unfortunately, the crabs used could have been fresher - whilst the meat from the huge pincers were nice, the flesh from the other parts of the crab tasted slightly powdery. Also, unlike in Mumbai, where one could request for the crab to be de-shelled before cooking- you don't have such luxury here.
- Mutton dum briyani, which was probably one of the best in town. Warning: the briyani, with its robust assertive mutton flavors, don't really match the green chilli crabs' taste, you can't have the two dishes together. Order some plain naan breads to sop up the green chilli gravy of the crab dish.
- Tandoori chicken - the version here is spicy (!!), the Marathis do love their food hot & full of flavors.
- Paneer makhanwala, which was good & quite spicy to boot.
A couple of minor disappointments when we dined last evening: (1) the restaurant does not serve papads (strange: those were a fixture in their Mumbai outlets & a rather common fixture amongst Indian restaurants in Singapore; and (2) the Bombil (or Bombay duck) were not available as, according to the maitre'd, their shipment did not arrive on time.
The pink-colored, harmless-looking but sharp solkadi drink, made from kokum, yoghurt & spices, were also available. It's an acquired taste. But to me, it was also emblematic of the Maharashtrian presence which Gajalee symbolizes when it opened its doors in Singapore. Now, we no longer need to take that long plane trip to Mumbai to taste its culinary pleasures, we just need to go down to Orchard Road.
Gajalee Coastal Foods Ltd
Unit-17/19, Cuppage Terrace
Cuppage Road, off Orchard Road
Tel: 6733 3278