With Restaurant Week upon us, it's time for some tough decisions. Do you go to that new place that you've been waiting to check out, or do you sneak in a meal at your favourite restaurant? To help with the conundrum (or maybe we're just adding to the confusion) here is a list of dishes worth considering, or even building a meal around. Purists will enjoy the classics -- plates (and bowls) that are found on menus all over the world - while those looking for a culinary adventure should seek out the more contemporary interpretations. Bon appétit!
Hummus and tzatziki
Try it at: Aqaba
Hummus may be a simple dish that's easy enough to find, but we've been searching for a perfectly creamy, flavourful, olive oil-topped one all over the city. Aqaba's is all three. A good counterpoint to its richness is their tzatziki, which is tangy but not overpowering. We'd gladly build a meal around both. And when it comes time to order, try the gyro or shawarma to complete your Middle Eastern feast.
(Club House, Level P5, Peninsula Business Park, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel)
Image by: Aqaba
Try it at: Maritime by San Lorenzo
At Maritime by San Lorenzo, the ingredients are imported and it shows in the authenticity of the food. The deep blue walls, black and white photos and cosy bar are enough to transport you to Italy. And if you still need that extra push, there's the tiramisu, a heady, creamy layer cake with coffee fingers nestled in the middle, ensuring flavour in every bite.
(Taj Lands End, Band Stand, Bandra West)
Try it at: Peshawari
You've probably heard how the dal Bukhara at Peshawari takes over 12 hours to cook. And boy, is that time well spent! When it comes to your table, the dal is thick, creamy and easy to lap up with the restaurant's fluffy naans and other flatbreads. Luckily for you, it pairs with anything and everything on the menu.
(ITC Maratha, Sahar, Andheri (East))
Thai papaya salad
Try it at: San Qi
With four different cuisines, all done well, you're spoilt for choice at the Four Seasons' fine-dining restaurant. From the Thai selection, make a beeline for the lip-smackingly tangy Thai papaya salad. Thin green papaya slivers, cherry tomatoes and other vegetables are doused in a tart dressing of lime and honey. The clincher? Crunchy peanuts.
(Four Seasons Hotel, 1/136 Dr. E. Moses Road, Worli)
Semolina gnocchi with peperonata and goat cheese cream
Try it at: Botticino
Tucked away in the Bandra Kurla Complex, Botticino serves hearty Italian food. Light salads might be great for a working lunch, but if you're here for restaurant week go with something cheesy. The home-made gnocchi reinvents a common Italian staple and is accompanied by peperonata (stewed bell peppers, tomatoes and onions) and goat cheese cream. What's not to love?
(Trident Bandra Kurla, C56, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East)
Roasted aubergine, jalapeno and mint glass noodle salad
Try it at: East
Piquant jalapeno and cooling mint are the yin and yang of this intriguing aubergine and glass noodle salad at Sahara Star's East. If you've fallen for either flavour, the airport isn't far off.
(Sahara Star, Opposite Domestic Airport, Vile Parle)
Cold smoke kampachi sashimi
Try it at: The Guppy Pop-Up at Olive Bar and Kitchen
Raw fish is not for everyone, which is why Guppy's smoked sashimi is great for the not-so-adventurous. Smoked in-house with sakura wood and served with yuzu kosho and soy ponzu, the fish takes on a lovely smoky flavour. You may not see any cherry blossoms, but you'll still feel like you're in Tokyo.
(Amateur Riders Club, Mahalaxmi Race Course, Mahalaxmi)
Image by: The Guppy Pop-Up at Olive Bar and Kitchen
Stir fried French beans with bird's eye chilli in yellow bean sauce
Try it at: Mekong
With the view that Mekong has, you'd probably eat anything that they serve you. Thirty-seven floors up, you can see the racecourse and beyond on a good night. Luckily, this veggie dish, with two different types of beans, can hold its own. By turns crunchy and spicy, it's good enough to make you forget the view.
(Palladium Hotel, 462 Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel)
Smoked lamb toffee
Try it at: Prego
Minced lamb is wrapped in dough to make this savoury toffee served with a side of mustard honey dip. At Prego, the Westin's upscale Italian trattoria, you can look forward to a meal that is equal parts inventive and traditional. On the Restaurant Week menu, you'll find bruschetta and pasta aglio e olio rubbing shoulders with prawn risotto and polenta cake with vegetable stew. Choices abound.
(Westin Garden City, International Business Park, Oberoi Garden City, Goregaon East)
Tamarind and chilli-spiced rawas steamed in banana leaf
Try it at: The Sassy Spoon
Chef Irfan Pabaney has been confounding (in a good way) taste buds to great effect at Nariman Point's Sassy Spoon. His menu is a mix of everything from American style BBQ pork-ribs to this Indian-inspired steamed rawas (surmai) served with coconut rice. Tangy enough to make you squint, and with a kick, this is for those that like their food to have punch.
(Express Towers, Ramnath Goenka Marg, Nariman Point)
Mumbai Restaurant Week extends from April 17-26 and reservations for all the restaurants featured in this list can be made here.