Address: Block No.25, Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, SB Road, Lower Parel, Gandhi Nagar, Upper Worli, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013
Time: 12 Noon to 3 PM, 7 PM to 11 PM
Meals for two: Rs. 1,700
Cuisines: North Indian, Street Food, Modern Indian
Facilities: Home Delivery, Vegetarian Only, No Alcohol Available
There’s supergood news and there’s a very bad news. The world’s most brilliant chef, Massimo Bottura and his wife Lara (partner and President of ‘Food For Soul’) are in Mumbai. And here’s the bad news; we pop into Panayaa, the modern Indian kitchen, and come out fuming (nitrogen oxide fumes), literally too. We cram our eating adventure all in one day (see box).
Panayaa, Lower Parel, Mumbai: DECOR
Tucked into the armpit of Raghuvanshi Mills, this 6,000 sq ft is white, bright and airy with gilded mirrors, et al. A hookah lounge and a bar is piled on top of the restaurant.
Panayaa, Lower Parel, Mumbai: FOOD & SERVICE
It’s pure vegetarian. There’s a gimmicky molecular spin on the appetizers and desserts. Mains are run-of-the-mill. Service is attentive. We enjoy the naans and kulchas… cheese oregano, garlic etc enlivens them. Non-molecular mains of Okra masala and Thecha Hariyali, though under a slush of masala, have a glimmer of taste.
Panayaa, Lower Parel, Mumbai: MINUS POINTS
Every starter and dessert had nitrogen oxide fumes, which had us fuming. Why on earth would anyone serve up a breadstick (they call it “nitro-stick”) which is frozen? Or Khaman Oxide, with the Gujarati staple crushed into bits and piled over with coriander and tamarind chutney and pomegranate?
Ditto for the Bhelpuri Version 2.0 and Live Papdi Chaat in a cloud of (you guessed it) nitrogen oxide. Vada Pav Version 3.0 was just a cutesy presentation with a lacklustre taste.
Identity crisis struck Taros Nest of coconut cream with Noodles. Most of the desserts are unavailable. The avoidable Chocolate landscape comes with mountains of freeze dried gook.
Panayaa, Lower Parel, Mumbai: MY POINT
Disappointing gimmickry, which masquerades as “Modern Indian” and falls flat on its face. The flavors are blunt, overbearing and there is haywire calibrations of flavor and texture. I ate there twice. Avoidable! Note: It’s ironic that my guest is Massimo Bottura, the leading global force renowned for challenging the traditions of cuisine and evolving Italian food. His food remains deeply Italian and deliciously, memorably so. And dining with them and knowing more about evolution and modernization of cuisines: “Any great cuisine needs to represent its identity and traditions without mimicking them or turning culinary heritage into entertainment… but most important of all is flavor… True flavors are the ones we never forget,” explains the maestro. We need to learn and to evolve. Grazie, maestro!