Mahim Seafood Trail: Five Restaurants On L. J. Road For A Fish-Filled Feast
Thanks to a clutch of lunch homes on Lady Jamshetjee Road in Mahim, you can taste the food of west and south India’s gastronomically rich coastal towns without ever having to leave Mumbai or even a single stretch of road. These restaurants serve authentic, inexpensive and terrific seafood meals specific to Malvan in Maharashtra, Karwar in Karnataka, Goa, and Kerala. Here are our picks of the five seafood spots worth exploring.
Diamond Court, Lt. Kotnis Marg, near Mahim Fire Station, off L. J. Road, Mahim. Tel: 022 2444 8942. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from noon to 3.30pm and from 7.30pm to 11.30pm; Monday, closed.
Neighbourhood gem Fresh Catch is comfortably moored in the past. Its Digene pink walls, red table cloths, pink table mats and mirror and wood panelling have been retained since Francis Fernandes set up the seafood specialty joint in 1998. Even the quality of the food has remained the same. The kitchen has perfected Karwari recipes such as rechad prawns, ambotic curry (made with Kashmiri chillis, tamarind and kokam) and rossa curry (made with coconut milk and Kashmiri chillis). The recipes came from Fiona Fernandes, Francis’s mother who cooked in the Fresh Catch kitchen during the initial years of the restaurant.
Our meals here always comprise a portion of their crisp and fresh rava bombil fry (Rs190); Konkan treasure prawns (Rs380), an outstanding appetiser of plump and sweet prawn cooked in a semi-dry gravy inundated with garlic and coriander; and sippi sukka, mildly spiced clam cooked with onion. Neer dosa (Rs90 for four) is the perfect accompaniment to these consistently delicious preparations that you can wash down with a glass of smooth and balanced sol kadi (Rs80). It’s notable that Fernandes personally selects all the fish for their extensive menu daily and sources coconut, kokam and other herbs from Karwar, where his family lives.
Opposite Paradise Cinema, near Kakori House, L. J. Road, Mahim. Tel: 022 2444 5555. Open daily, from 11am to 11pm.
You can cover the journey from Karwar to Goa in eight minutes if you walk from Fresh Catch to Sushegad Gomantak. The five-table lunch home is popular with Mahim’s traffic cops who pile in for inexpensive homestyle seafood thalis prepared by its Goan proprietor Savita Karekar. When the petite and demure Karekar is not around, her equally mild-mannered son Raju takes charge of their modest restaurant. Here it’s the heady aroma of frying fish that baits diners (the tiny restaurant is quite easy to miss).
Pomfret, bangda (mackerel), bombil, rawas, mandeli, mori (shark) and prawn are listed the year round and surmai, muddoshi (ladyfish) and cinanio (green mussel) are seasonal. We’re fans of Karekar’s palm-sized prawn cutlets (Rs150) in which a pair of semolina coated patties are stuffed with tiny shrimp and turmeric-tinged onion masala. The catch of the day determines the special seafood thali of the day. Usually, we stick to ordering the all-season bombil thali (Rs150), a value for money affair with a heap of crunchy rava-fried curls of bombil, a tongue-searing kokam-infused fish curry, a mild sabzi, a bowl of rice (which they replenish at no extra cost) and two light chapatis.
Opposite Paradise Cinema, L. J. Road, near Kakori House, Mahim. Tel: 022 2445 6330. Open daily, from 9am to 11pm.
For a taste of Kerala, walk three doors down from from Sushegad to Sneha, Mahim’s popular Mallu joint best known for its off-menu buff fry with parotta (Rs150). Our frequent meals here have been soundtracked by a symphony of burps prompted by their sumptuous and equally popular seafood thalis. We return for the surmai thali (Rs200) heaving with fish curry, beans thoran, rasam, sambar, dal, papad and a fleshy fillet of surmai marinated in ginger, garlic and chilli powder before it’s deep fried. The fish may have the starring role, but Sneha’s selection of veggies is light, balanced and just as compelling as their meaty courses. Opt for their thick, flaky frisbee-sized parottas to eat with the fragrant fish curry prepared with coconut milk, tamarind, onion and curry leaves.
Near St. Michael’s Church, opposite Paradise Cinema, L. J. Road, Mahim. Tel: 022 2445 6540. Open daily, from 5.30am to midnight.
Like its immediate neighbours Sneha and Sushegad, Madina is a functional and clean hole-in-the-wall lunch shop that’s perennially brimming with customers despite a modest 20-item menu. The kitchen has perfected the ten Kerala items they serve including puttu, egg roast and chicken biryani. They offer a small but stellar selection of seafood comprising fish curry, fish masala and fish fry. Typically they use surmai, bangda, bombil and shrimp across these preparations. Don’t miss the well-cooked fried surmai (Rs150) laced in a thin gram flour batter and the excellent prawn masala (Rs200) flavoured with dry coconut, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Get a pair of crisped parottas (Rs10 per piece) to scoop up the tasty masala and pop the shallow-fried shrimp like popcorn.
Ground Floor, Lilian House, Bhandar Lane, L. J. Road, Mahim. Tel: 022 2432 5181. Open daily, from 11am to 4pm and from 7pm to midnight.
With its immaculate marble floor, cushioned benches, fresh wallpaper and polished wood interiors, the month-old Saibeni Gomantak is a decidedly posher (albeit more sterile) lunch home compared to its peers. Their Malvani menu features crab, mori and tisriya (clams) that are fried, prepared as curries and cooked in tawa masala. They also serve the ubiquitous surmai, bangda and bombil. The surmai thali (Rs250), made up of a sharing portion of fish curry, sol kadi and extra gravy, is bare compared to the others served in the vicinity. Imli lends the gravy a delicious tang and the fish is cooked to flaking perfection. The masala-rich curry is not as fiery as its bright orange colour suggests and is best consumed with warm rice bhakris. Complete your order with a selection of seafood pakodas cloaked in crunchy, salted gram flour shells.