Birthday dinners should be ultimate, exquisite. Whether I’m dipping bread into a pot of fondue at home or out celebrating at a restaurant, my meal should contain taste, effort, and decadence much beyond the tasty food we eat every day.
This birthday, I fretted for a week over where we should eat. Those with prior experience know that my process of picking a restaurant is painfully thorough, and on birthdays, I become even more obsessed with finding the perfect place. This being H’s first time celebrating my birthday, the poor guy was spent by my selection process.
But, while I admit I am pretty ridiculous and probably intolerable when it comes to picking a restaurant for a special occasion, trying to choose the ultimate restaurant in Bombay is about 100,000 times more difficult than in New York, or Boston. This is because:
- In those cities, besides word of mouth from your foodie friends, there are so many sources to consult for reliable reviews: New York Magazine; Time Out; The New York Times; Chowhound; Yelp, and of course, well-written food blogs. After consulting one, or a few of them, you’re highly likely to find a fulfilling restaurant. In Bombay, we’ve got Time Out…and, um, Time Out, probably our best resource, because most of the online restaurant review sites (like mumbai.burrp.com) are questionably written and don’t inspire me to trust the reviewer. Also, Bombay foodies haven’t yet developed the thousands of restaurant reviewing food blogs that New York’s foodies have, so googling a restaurant doesn’t yield many comprehensible results.
- Aside from Indian, the variety and quality of Bombay’s restaurant food simply does not compare to the delightful and assorted fare you can order in New York or Boston. But, how can it? The American cities were home to immigrants who tested their culinary creations and reincarnations before a panel of diverse tastebuds- other immigrants. Those dishes I’m so familiar with (dan dan noodles, onion tarts, pizza) have been refined and perfected over long immigrant years. Have you ever been to a Mexican restaurant in Bombay? The food is flat, sweet and sad (though, judging from the crowd outside New Yorker every Sunday, the Guju aunties love their ke-saaah-dyas for deener). (Of course there are other factors- the fairly new culture of eating out, the sudden expendible income, etc.)
I promise I’m not complaining, just explaining why it can be incredibly difficult to choose a place to eat in Bombay when you’re craving something other than Indian food or sizzling frankies from the sidewalk. So. I aim to change this, in a small way. Maybe one day I’ll open a restaurant that serves enchiladas how I like them, with no trace of that horrid, ketch up-y sauce, but until then, what I can do is write restaurant reviews on those occasions we manage to stop cooking and go out for dinner. It’ll be my attempt to make it a modicum easier for the discerning, or annoyingly persevering, vegetarian who loves to eat out.
And did the place I finally picked for my ultimate birthday dinner meet my expectations? You’ll find out in my next restaurant review.