Phone: +91 9820442441 / +91 9967098732
Address: 1/23, Kubal Niwas, Opposite Hotel Sachin, Gokhale Road North, Dadar Shivaji Park, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Time: 7:30 PM – 11:30 PM
Meals for two: Rs. 300
Cuisines: Fast Food, Malwani
Facilities: Indoor Seating
Go on. Steer clear of overhyped, over-priced restaurants. Do away with the fancy-schmancy ones. Forget fusion-confusion, tasting-wasting menus. Instead, veer off the eaten track with me.
High On No-Frills
Over the past three decades of tracking Mumbai’s restaurant scene, it’s the “hidden gems”, the “nofrills”, “family run” eateries that have always kick-started my adrenalin to immediately start trawling Mumbai for more. Not only have I written countless columns but even dedicated chapters and volumes of my Food Guides to these.
I’ve kept going with plenty of help and guidance of many a foodie and blind date who directed me. I’m grateful to many a well informed, forever helpful foodie; Kalyan Karmakar, who shared many a fab meal at his Bengali favorites; Arif Memon, who in the early 90s took me eating about in the Lohar Chawl, Mohammed Ali Road area. And of course, the original foodie, Kunal Vijayakar, with whom as a travelling judge for Times Now (which he hosted for nine years), we sniffed out hidden gems from Kashmir to Cochin. And during the filming of this TV show, we’d feasted on mouthwatering Malvani food off a roadside cart – Raju’s Malvani. Also, we gave Raju’s an award.
Past few months, Raju has opened a small eatery in Dadar. The original Bombayite, inimitable lovable funnyman and foodie Kunal Vijayakar, my partner in crime and I overeat at our great fun lunch. The foodie strikes again!
Raju’s Malvani Mejwan, Dadar Shivaji Park, Mumbai: Decor
It’s simple. It’s no-frills. A narrow air-conditioned, 36 seater with photos of Malvan and Sindhudurg on the walls. Tucked close to Shiv Sena Bhawan, Raju’s is located in the area which is the stronghold of Maharashtrian cuisine. I’ve eaten in them all (Prakash, Aaswad, Mama Kane, Sindhudurg, Gomantak and Sachin).
Raju’s Malvani Mejwan, Dadar Shivaji Park, Mumbai: Food
Bursting with authentic home-style Malvani flavors – low on oil and high on hand-pounded masalas. Freshest of seafood (from the neighboring City light Market). Crisp and juicy fried prawns are a must try. Opt for the delicious Tawa Fried Surmai (not the deep fried). Coconut infused Clams and Sukka Tisriya are not to be missed. Ditto for the prawn curry, spiked with the perfect balance of tamarind-sourness and coconutty silkiness. Ladle the fish curry on a mound of rice, top it with the dried prawn jhavla koshimbir, mix it all and dive right in. I’m not a vade fan, but these paper-crisp spheres of steaming hot vade had me drooling. As did the crab lollipops (sound Sweird, taste fab due to crisp batter encased fleshy crab). Go for the dark, intense crab masala. Ask for bheja (dry and curry options) in onion and tomato masala. Happy surprise: traditional vegetarian dishes; flavour -packed, pithla and zunker, and delightful rice bhakri, too.
Due to all the dug up roads and road blocks, getting to Raju’s can take a while. No parking. Sadly, squishy Bombay duck. Lacking punch sukka mutton. Many a dish unavailable… dal, usal, val, muli and vajri. No dessert. No alcohol (non-alcoholic beer offered).
No frills. Tucked into the traffic choked belly-button of Dadar. Family run and how! Mother Gunwanti and son Narendra Govind Sawant, three decades ago, set up their roadside food cart where we had not only dined and shot for Times Now but also given Raju’s an award.
Last September, Raju’s Mejwani opened and now, Narendra and wife Sonali, father-in-law (on the cash desk), son Parth are actively involved. Result? Home-style fare, high on flavor, low on oil and (thankfully) low on prices. Freshest of seafood! We’re hooked!