Ajj naye packet mai bache tum ko chij purani! Apparently most of the population is concerned about how the packet today looks like and that is where Panayaa has introduced itself in the Mumbai food scene. Panayaa is another addition to the list of restaurants that serve food with a twist of molecular gastronomy and they are doing a good job there.
I had been seeing updates and posts from fellow foodies for quite some days and my desire to visit the joint would serge every time. This one lazy evening my wife drove me to Raghuvanshi mills based on a pre-scheduled dinner date (yes! some men do go out with their wife on a date :P).
While we entered, the place seemed empty and we were given a table for two. Being the hoggers that we are I knew that a two seated table would not be able to contain the number of dishes we would order and I requested if they could give us a larger table. The lady who escorted us to the table acknowledged the same but also expressed her helplessness for all other tables were reserved. We settled ourselves on the comfortable sofa seats. The menu arrived shortly and we got engrossed in trying to understand its geography and chemistry.
Most dishes on the menu seemed interesting and it was difficult to make choices so I requested them to help us with a tasting menu, if they had one. We were then introduced to Chef Naved who seemed to be doing a dual role at the restaurant who helped us with a tasting menu. There were two mocktails, five starters, three curries, three Indian breads, dal and rice. We gave him a nod for an INR 1650 + Taxes price tag.
Drink it baby!
The Cream cup a milk-based mocktail which was decently presented and tasted more like a fruit punch. It was a nice try but there was nothing exceptional about it.
Then came a drink trapped in a birdcage called the Angel Treat. They won points for the presentation and evened it in the taste. This is a water based pomegranate flavored cooler with mint leaf and pomegranate seed garnishing.
For the love of food!
Khaman Oxide: The Guajarati staple food served with a twist of nitrogen oxide fumes and topped with coriander and tamarind chutney and pomegranate caviar is appealing by the look of it and tastes just decent.
Emarti Tori: This was by far the best looking dish of the meal. Layers of zucchini, cottage cheese and shredded potato served on a base of mustard yellow coloured gravy is a nice try.
Then came a platter containing three different starters namely Sharkargandi chat, Spare cage and Tofu crackers.
Sharkargandi chat was cooked sweet potato mixed with green and tamarind chutney giving it a sweet spicy flavor. This looked as a very simple dish but worked heavy on my appetite.
The Spare cage impressed me with its look but tasted just ok. It was julienned potato fried into little balls placed on spiced ragda topped with tamarind date chutney, green chutney, curd and garnished with micro greens.
I am not a fan of tofu but the Tofu crackers were another dish that contributed to changing the perspective. Mashed tofu spiced and golden fried in cylindrical shape looked and tasted pretty good. It was served with a little bowl of granular accompaniment topped with oil. It was something very close to the Podi masala.
After a stint with the starters it was time for the main course. The main course though did not live up to the expectation created from the starters.
Three different types of breads namely cheese oregano naan, garlic naan and cheese chili kulcha were served. I would go for the garlic naan against the other two breads on any given day. Decent!
Multani Paneer: Non-grainy paneer, extremely fine in texture cooked in a rich orange tomato gravy loaded with cream. The dish tasted just decent again.
Thecha Hariyali: This was mix veg in light brown gravy garnished with a whole red chili on top. It was the spiciest dish of the lot but not spicy enough for its name.
Amratsari Bahar: A kofta enveloping minced vegetables crammed in medium spicy gravy was not a great pick. The gravy was very pastey to my dislike.
Dal Derivali: This was dal makhani with a little sweet flavor but unlike my date for the evening I liked it.
Jeera Basil Rice: This was again decent nothing much to speak about. The taste and flavor of basil was not evident.
Scrappy Mountain was our dish of the day. A live desert made at the table with chocolate & caramel sauce, chocolate brownie, cocoa, cookie crumbles, nitrogen ice-cream and strawberries had a distinctly different taste for being a stereotype dessert. I liked its versatility in taste.
From the designers perspective!
The place is fairly done with wooden tables and fabric upholstered chairs and sofas. The lighting is again done without much panache. Walls are to the most part covered with wacky artwork that does not blend with rest of the decor. Overall ambiance is pleasant but nothing to brag about.
How may I help you?
The service was definitely near perfect. Apparently I asked them to slow down their pace of getting the starters for I could not get my right clicks and a bite into them before they got the next one.
Hawk eye view!
From a hawk eye view, Panayaa is doing a decent job in lower parel with some areas of improvement. I could go back to them for the starters and may be hop around for the main course. Quite a decent try!
PS: All the reserved empty tables while we entered still awaited their guests.
Value for money: 2.5/5