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 Butter Pepper Garlic
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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombay_duck. 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.