Mahesh Lunch Home – Seafood Paradise in Bur Dubai


Thursday night – it had been a long week, and the weekend was here.  The Boss, B, says, “We are going to try a new seafood place in Bur Dubai!”  She swears I do something called an “inside eye roll” when I find her plans suspect (I don’t, for the record) – my friends, there was nothing as subtle as an “inside eye roll” when I heard this suggestion – it was an all out OUTSIDE EYE ROLL.  All I wanted was to curl up, in bed, watch the latex episode of Game of Thrones, order in a nice Doner sandwich and be asleep by 10pm.   The Boss always tells me that she is never wrong, and I should blindly follow her lead – a part of me wants to say no, but its hard to argue when its the Gospel truth.  So, Bur Dubai, here we come.

Mahesh Lunch Home Seafood Restaurant – now THAT’s a name.  Head towards Bur Juman Mall in Bur Dubai – this is across the street from it.  If you know where the original purveyor of Korean Fried Chicken goodness is (Kimchicken, AKA Bon Chon), this is right next door to it – in like with the Park Regent Kris Krin hotel (long names seem to be a neighbourhood thing.)  An average looking storefront – you walk into a holding area, which is tiny and holds a tank for live mud crabs, topped by a tank for live lobster………and a lectern like desk with a hostess behind it.  On my right, a small door leading to the dining room.  Kinda felt like I owed the hostess a password so I could be let into the back room of a China Town restaurant for the nightly, dodgy, game of chance.  My mind works in strange ways when I am sleepy – it had been a long week, remember?

Ok, so we get to our table.  Lots of families – lots of chatter – lots of smiles and general all-round feeling of mirth – a good vibe that usually preempts a solid dining experience.  A little background – I read on the website today, “Established in 1977 the restaurant has completed its Silver Jubliee i.e 25 years of serving its guest. The restaurant was started by Mr. S.C. Karkera.  The first Manglorean cuisine restaurant in Mumbai serves home-style food which tempts its guest to come here again and again. Mr. Karkerra himself have his lunch and dinner in the restaurant.”  Nice – a little provenance – a little history – a little pedigree.  Should be interesting.  The menu is extensive – primarily seafood based (as the name would suggest), with a few chicken and vegetarian options.  We stick to seafood, primarily.  There are 4 of us, but, as usual, order for 8.  Before I go any further, let me just say this.  If you like seafood, you MUST immediately make a reservation at Mahesh.  The service is excellent.  The atmosphere is casual and loud.  The food is OUTSTANDING.  Skip the appetisers and go for the crab and lobster.  The daal makhani was very respectable as well.

We get (apologies in advance for the quality of the pictures – technical issues with the IPhone):


Bombay Duck Fry

Crab Tandoori

Crab Butter Pepper Garlic

Prawns Koliwada

Prawns Tandoori

Pomfret Masala Fry

Lobster Green Chilli (or something like that)

Bombay Duck Fry (Bombil Fry):  To those unfamiliar to Bombay Duck (its really not a duck), it is the local name for a lizard fish.   The etymology of the term Bombay Duck is fascinating – if you get a chance, take a look at   I’ve heard of my mother rave about this dish (she was born in Bombay), but I had never tried it – when I saw it on the menu, I had to.   Very well prepared, but the taste didn’t jump out – a little bit oily, in my opinion.  I didn’t notice a defined flavour or aroma – just a well fried fillet o’ fish.  Not bad, but not a stand out.



Tandoori Prawns:  The prawns, albeit small, were very well cooked.  The chef knows his way around prawn, for sure, because the the prawn was cooked for just the right amount of time, avoiding the usual rubbery prawn that is served in South Asian restaurants, and the tandoori marinade added a slight heat, which one would expect.  I would have loved to have seen an option for a larger prawn on the menu – of course at a different price point – because I loved the marinade and the preparation.  I would have liked to see that paired with a more meaty, substantial prawn.   I think the combination would be dynamite.


Prawns Koliwada – Tasty small shrimp (pardon my interchanging use of the words shrimp and prawn), coated in spiced besan (gram/chickpea flour) batter, and flash fried.  Again, very well cooked, and a prefect little crispy snack to start of the meal with.  Unlike the Tandoori Shrimp, I didn’t find myself yearning for a larger piece of protein.  There were a nice size – perfect little poppers that bursted with texture and flavour in your mouth.


Tandoori Crab – The reason why we came to Mahesh – the crab.  We were told be a friend, that we had to order the tandoori crab and the butter pepper garlic crab at Mahesh.  This friend, HK, had been eating at the Mumbai branches of Mahesh for years, and was waiting for the Dubai branch to open – needless to say, he requires no menu when ordering.  The thing I liked about Mahesh was that there was no surprise when it came to pricing the crab and lobster.  The waiters bought out a selection of crab and lobster (live) and each showed a clearly marked price – the customer is free to choose exactly which one they want.  We picked 2 healthy sized mud crabs and a pretty giant lobster.  Crab 1 arrived – Tandoori.  AMAZING!.  The smokey fragrance it was infused with was intoxicating.  It wasn’t overly spiced, but had a little something on it that just lingered on your palate but didn’t bring enough heat to result in the delicate, sweet flavour of the delicious crab meat being lost.  The fragrance of the smoke from the tandoor permeated each bite.  This is truly one of the tastiest things I have tasted in a very long time.  Highly recommend this one.



Crab Butter Pepper Garlic – I loved the Tandoori Crab, and thought nothing could beat that.  This puppy came close – like within a hair’s distance from eating it.  It is DELICIOUS.  Not spicy at all, but as you can see from the picture below, LOADED with garlic – which I adore.  The garlic is cooked in the butter and pepper so its crispy (make sure you ask your waiter to spoon a mound of the “masala”, the garlic, onto your plate to accompany the crab.  Again, the crab was cooked beautifully and the crispy garlic was magnificent.  Highly recommend this one too.


Lobster Green Chilli – Again, delicious.  If I were to go back, I don’t think I would order this style of preparation again, however  Though it was lovely, I kept thinking through this course that had it been cooked in the Tandoor over, like crab #1, the result would have been glorious.  Tandoori Lobster.  This version had chopped up chunks of lobster in a tomato and chili paste.  Lobster was tender and the sauce was pretty good.  To sponge and scoop up various sauces we had ordered two different kinds of break – of course, the naan and something called Appam, which was entirely new to me.  Appam (pic 2 – not from the restaurant, but taken from the Internet) is a crepe like concoction, originating from South India, made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk.  Whats not to like, eh?  If you have ever had a masala dosa, its similar to the dosa component of that.  Very nice addition to the meal and perfect for the sauces and the daal.



Pomfret Masala Fry – I was expecting a very spicy dish, but what came out was fairly mild.  Slices of pomfret in a tangy tomato sauce. It was a nice – the sauce was rich and complex, and the fish just tasted fresh.  I love pomfret, and this was cooked so the meat was juicy and fall off the bond tender.  The Appam was perfect to scoop up the accompanying sauce, which was not runny, but thick.  If I were to order this again, however, I think I would ask for the sauce to be made with more punch – some more heat.  But all in all, a well balanced dish.


Hats off to HK for this amazing recommendation.  I see Mahesh Lunch House Seafood Restaurant definitely joining the ranks of my Go To restaurants in Dubai.  While sitting at the table, The Boss and I thought of at least 6 out of towers we just HAD to bring here for the crab.  Its a great place for a quiet, relaxed, casual dinner – no fuss and no pretense.  Excellent and quick service, outstanding food, weighty menu (which leaves me wanting to try new and exciting dishes on my next visit) and relaxed vibe.  Definitely going back.  Standout dishes – Tandoori Crab, Butter Pepper Garlic Crab, Tandoori Prawns and Appam.   Those will be staples going forward – rest, I look forward to trying.

Till Next Time.


Gymkhana London – Tasty Treats in Mayfair (served with a side of *snap* attitude)

I was in London last week, and was fortunate enough to be invited out with some colleagues for a dinner at one of the most celebrated and lauded new restaurants in town.  There is obviously no shortage of ritzy, high end Indian restaurants in London, and after having eaten at the likes of Michelin starred Tamarind, Benares and Quilon in the past, I have got to say – I’m not a fan.  Eating desi food is an experience best enjoyed away from starched white tablecloths, sommeliers, and tasting menus.  There is something special in indulging in a steaming bowl of Chicken Karahi, street side in old Lahore.  Something irreplaceable about ripping open a hot Paratha, fresh out of the fryer and breaking off a juicy chunk of Seekh Kabab, precariously balanced on the hood of your car in the old hood of KDA, Karachi.

Getting both complete experiences for a sum totalling what you would pay for one1 naan at any of the above restaurants makes them all the more fantastic.   Call me old fashioned but desi food, when served, should be hot, delicious, spicy, aromatic, unforgettable, addictive and plentiful – my mother always used to say that any dinner was only successful if every guest raved about the food, and no one ever had to think twice when going for seconds.  The bottoms of the serving dishes should never be seen – PLENTIFUL, being the key word!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  Gymkhana has been lauded by the critics – its tasting menus and innovative cocktail menus heralded.  When I heard we were going here (another two people had suggested that we go here while I was in London, by the way), of course I went through the website and clicked on the menu.  It was evident from what I had read that the tasting menus were the way to go – now, whether to pick the regular one or the one that focused on game, was the question that needed answering.  I am a big fan of game – I love the Teetar and Batair masala you get prepared when out for on a hunt.  Venison cooked any which way is superb, as is Goose and Duck.  Rabbit, pheasant, quail, partridge, deer – all amazing.  Also, not very PC, but if you haven’t tried Assafeer – little larks threaded onto a skewer and grilled until crispy (delicacy in the mountains of Lebanon), which are eaten bones and all, you are really missing out!

So, I get to the restaurant, which is a quick walk around the corner from the Green Park tube station.  Fairly non descriptor entry, with a lovely hostess in a sari who greets you warmly.  The room has a very colonial feel to it – could be one of the dining rooms at Sindh Club in Karachi.  Lots of pictures of cricketers on the wall, and its obvious the proprietors have paid attention to minute detail – from the furnishings, to the pictures on the wall, to the toilet tanks, which were reminiscent of my Grandfather’s house, back in the day.  I’m sure these toilet tanks are not available in your neighbourhood Home Depot – very cool.

Toilet Tank

As we were a party of 9 or so, a special private dining area has been reserved for us.  We were led to the back of the restaurant and down a couple of steps into what can best be described as “cavey” type of room.  Low ceilings, VERY dark, mock stone low ceiling.  Immediately one of the members of the party asked if we could get the dimmer turned up, as it was difficult to read the menu……..crickets…….no response.  Sorry about the terrible picture, but you can get an idea of the room below:


It was a good thing we had opted for the tasting menu, given that the lighting situation was dim.   The game menu was not in the cards, as most of the diners had opted for the regular tasting menu – I decided to join my colleagues and try the regular tasting menu.  The menu was as follows:

Tasting Menu – GBP 55.00
Potato Chat, Chickpeas, Tamarind, Sev
Gol Gappa
Lasooni Wild Tiger Prawns, Red Pepper Chutney
Gilafi Quail Seekh Kebab, Pickled Green Chilli Chutney
Kasoori Chicken Tikka, Sprouting Moong Kachumber
Kid Goat Methi Keema, Salli, Pao
Butter Chicken
Butter, Pepper, Garlic Crab
served with Dal Maharani, Wild Mustard Baby Potatoes – Bread Basket or Basmati Rice
Chestnut and Date Kheer
Saffron Pistachio Kulfi Falooda

We were offered a lovely basket of Papad – Papadoms.  There was a selection of chutneys in which to dip the papad too.  Papad were nice – like papad should be.  The Chutneys were also tasty  – I remember there being one spicy, shrimpy one, which was my personal favourite.


Course 1 – a fairly simple chaat.  Sweet, tart, spicy – tasty overall, but nothing out of the ordinary, really.  I can get comparable chaat at Bombay Chowpatty or Flamingo in Karachi.  The table was hungry, coming straight after work, so the little plates were wiped clean fairly quickly.  I wouldn’t attribute this to fundamentals – merely a market technical.


Course 2 – Gol Gappas.  I don’t think this was a course, as such – probably one plate offered up to a diner who had opted for the vegetarian option.  It was devoured by the table, and I don’t know if the guy who had ordered them even got to taste them.  Nice crisp shells, well cooked chickpeas, and a lovely, cool, spicy, tart pani (sauce) served in a convenient container to allow ease of pour into the shells.  How quickly these were lifted can definitely be attributed to fundamentals.

Pani Puri

Course 3 – Grilled Prawns.  Serving size, 1 per person (though some devious participants took down 2+ each, leaving others who were on the phone with their palates longing for the taste of grilled shrimp!  Tandoori type flavour, well seasoned without being overpowering, and, in my opinion, the most important factor to consider when considering grilled shrimp – not overcooked at all.  Very delicate balance of flavours – the spice from the marinade offsetting the sweet flesh of the shrimp perfectly.  I would have loved to eat a dozen of these as my meal.


Course 4 – Quail Seekh Kabab.  Of all the dishes that were served to us, this was my least favourite.  Seekh kababs are supposed to be served hot, glistening with fat, just off the coals.  Quail is a lean, dry meat.  Grinding it up, putting it on skewers and putting it over coals, in my opinion, is a terrible way to prepare this delicate bird.  There was no fat in the meat to self baste, and what it resulted in was a dry, brittle kabab which tasted over spiced, as there wasn’t the fat to offset the spice.   Not a fan.

Seekh Kabab

Course 5 – Chicken Tikka.  Very tender pieces of boneless chicken grilled up in a traditional chicken tikka marinade.  Extremely flavourful, moist, tender and delicious.  My only complaint – one little piece per person.  Again, I could have made a meal of these alone, given the chance.

Chicken tikka

Course 6 – Kid Goat Keema.  Second least favourite.  Was ok, but by this point I was starving and the tiny little bite size courses that preceded this just were not cutting the mustard.  This was served with one little piece of Pav bread for each person.  The Pav was delicious – buttered and toasted, and reminiscent of a nice brioche.  The table agreed – a basket of these to eat the keema would have been better suited.  When we made a joke or two about this to the waiter, we were reminded that this was a tasting menu and this is how things were done!  This was not appreciated, and this kind of behaviour (not an isolated occurrence) is what put a damper on my evening.  I’ll get more into the service towards the end of this piece.



Course 7 – Butter Chicken.  The alternative to this, which was on the menu, was Pork Vindaloo.  As there were few pork eaters on the table, we decided to opt for an alternative, and the butter chicken was brought to the table.  It was fine – like butter chicken – smooth, creamy, slightly sweet.  Chicken was not overcooked, and retained its moisture well.

Butter Chicken

Course 7/2 – Butter, Pepper, Garlic Crab.  Underwhelming.  The crab was shelled, of course.  Wouldn’t have imagined it coming with the shell.  The dish was a little mushy and greyish looking – not the most visually appetising entree.  I had a little bit, and left the rest – the others didn’t seem to enthused by this either.


Along with course 7, we were served various other little vegetarian dishes.  Some Daal Makhani (called Maharani here), some Potato Sabzi and a large bread basket.  I like my naan to be fluffy, slightly chewy on the outsides and crisp in the middle.  The naans here were crispy all the way through – not my cup of tea.  The Daal was actually very good – but I have a soft spot for Daal Makhani anywhere.  The Potatoes were not bad either.  It was good to finally get a desi style meal that i was used to seeing, with all the food on the table at once, rather than being served piecemeal.  My conclusion was that Indian/Pakistani food is supposed to be served together – appetizers, main courses and even desert.  There are some of us who are used to eating a little halwa before actually moving on to the more savoury stuff.  We like a cornucopia of yummy treats served to us, family style, not tasting menu style, where we can eat with friends and loved ones, and share numerous laughs.  These large feasts sum us up, as a people (not the angry faces you see on CNN).

Mix Plate

The bread basket

Bread Basket

Finally, it was desert time.  I’m not a huge desert fan, but I have to say – the Kheer was SWEET.  Like go see a dentist before dinner is done, sweet.  The taste was pretty rich and creamy – tasted great.  But just left my teeth aching, even after I had a tiny spoon full.


So – lets bring this to a close.  The food, individually, pretty good.  Well seasoned, well cooked, well presented.  Good.  The entire service – I’m not a fan.  As I mentioned, I don’t think desi food was meant to be served like this – cheap, plentiful, hot, spiced and served with chewy fresh naan.  That’s my sweet spot.

Lets get on to the service – as I had mentioned earlier, the table made a few jokes with the waiter about how long it was taking for each course to come out, the size of the portions etc.  He snapped back and pretty much told us that you could take the boy out of Karachi but couldn’t take Karachi out of the boy – tastings menus are supposed to be like this, my country bumpkin friend.  Cool.  He then seemed to go and tell his manager, who proceeded to storm into our dining area and say that he had heard we were not happy with the size of the portions – if we were not happy all we had to do was tell him, and he would just get us more.  We were a little taken back with the aggro behaviour – but asked him to move along.  You may have the serving style down for Mayfair, Hero, but you need to fix the attitude.

Then there was that damn incessant knocking.  Behind us, in the area heading into the main dining room, there was a wooden door.  I don’t know if someone was held prisoner down there, or what the heck was actually going on, but every few minutes, someone would knock, LOUDLY, a few times……..knock knock knock……then silence.  Creepy.   Annoying too.

So, would I go back again?  Look – you can serve me the best food in  the world – if the staff have a poor attitude, I’m out.  You lost me.  I ain’t never coming back.  Its not like I am being served some El Bulli type fare – this is Indian food.  Options are plentiful, and butter chicken is butter chicken, for the most part.  So, I guess the answer is no.  As my friend MN said.  Seller.  In Size.

Till next time