Given the kind of importance street food has to a normal Indian (this is of course excluding weirdos like me who hate chaat), street food from around the world does seem like a novel and fairly interesting prospect to introduce in Bombay, the street food fueled metropolitan of India.
Which is why when World Streat Food popped up on my Zomato feed a few months back, I bookmarked it and found the time to pay them a visit this afternoon. But as I noticed through the course of my meal there, as great as an idea may be, what’s more paramount, is clearly its execution.
When you walk into the restaurant, there isn’t a theme, really; just a bunch of minimalistic chairs and tables in a melange of bright summery colours, flanked by walls that have maps detailing their fare on them. On our visit however, what we noticed more than the ambience was a strong almost overpowering aroma of smoke, potent enough to smart the eyes for five minutes, crumpled and shoddily folded napkins and dirty floors. Yes, grimy, dirty floors at 12.30 in the afternoon to the first people who walked in.
When asked for an explanation by the table occupied next to ours, they were told the floor was a result of a new years eve bash and the smoke was from the barbeque.I however wouldn’t personally condone overlooking these things but ah well. I’m not overly confrontational and nor is the mother so we chose to ignore it focus on what we came for- the (street) food.
One of the reasons this place caught my attention during its launch was the vast, almost excessive menu from what they claimed to be a good 20-25 countries at very reasonable prices. While the menu is still sizeable, most of the items that caught my attention like the Korean kimchi noodles, the Java mutton satay and the Filipino Halo Halo seem to have mysteriously disappeared. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, a good 30% of their original menu seems to have been scrapped. Which was marginally disappointing to see. I shall get to the pricing later.
We ordered two appetisers and two mains which I shall further detail below:
NY Veggie Works
The dish was meant to be a take on the classic New York style fries, usually piled high with a bunch of toppings and sauces, served hot. They were fairly average, but possibly a little more spicy than the original might have been, presumably to adapt to Indian tastes. That being said, the mayo and cheese sauce, while a questionable combo to me didn’t seem to overpower the dish thankfully.
Java Satay Ayam (Chicken Satay)
This dish was probably the best we had here. The skewered chicken pieces were delicately flavoured and perfectly cooked and the accompanying peanut sauce with hints of ginger seemed to balance it out well. After all the monstrous and completely butchered versions of Satay I have had in Bombay so far, this was a welcome change.
Durban Chicken Bunny Chow:
Pretty strong hit of the garam masala in this one, but it was in essence a hot chicken stew ladled into a bun. The stew was very….Indian considering it’s South African. But given that the dish has its base rooted in Indian curry served in South Africa at the time, I am willing to overlook it and label the Indian-ness as intention in this case. The bun was fresh and easy to pull apart and mop up the stew with. The random addition of coleslaw at the top was unnecessary. Neither Indian nor South African, as far as I know.
Brazilian Prawns in Habanero Sauce
Plump, tender prawns in a robust, tangy (and yes, SPICY) gravy. We did enjoy this a fair bit, however, the herbed rice accompanying the dish, while adequately flavoured was VERY dry. So that did put a pit of a damper on things so to speak.
Coming to the pricing- Again, the Zomato menu definitely needs an update because there is a near 50% rise in prices from what is shown. And a meal for two with moderate sized portions and no alcohol for us came up to around 2500 rupees vis-a-vis the 1000 for two shown. So definitely keep that in mind when you pay them a visit.
During our meal there, I just found myself “overlooking” a lot of things in a desperate bid to give them a chance at their idea. And as much as I could blame it on how relatively new they are, ambience and cleanliness is key. Especially when your fare though interesting to look at, seems average at best.