Moombai & Co. Café and Bar – Review
An animated desi joint, Moombai & Co. is a refreshing new Café and Bar in Dubai, fulfilling what Dubai was missing; authentic Iranian/Parsi/ Indian café style food with a lively ambiance.
It is no surprise that ‘Moombai’ is the buzz word on the culinary map of Dubai. It’s fascinating colorful décor, reminiscent of the golden age of Bollywood, offers something so unique that you can’t resist the charm. The recently opened, Café and Bar exudes the aura and the legacy of traditional Irani-Parsi cafes which flourished in Mumbai during the 50’s era and strives to revive and relive the same rich part of Mumbai’s cultural narrative by rewriting it here in Dubai.
The eclectically quirky, café manifests the sights and sounds of the time that reverberates in the memory like an old 60 minutes cassette with the beats that defined and shaped an era, rallied by the philosophy of letting loose and living a little. The energetic, and colorful world of Moombai & Co. Café and Bar, tastefully details the 1950’s Moombai, with elements that accentuate the heresy of cultural diversity and it’s far-reaching imprint on our lives, our habits, and our taste.
Parsi cafes are almost unique to Mumbai and were established by Persian settlers in the 19th century who would gather in the evenings and reminisce about home over free-flowing chai and bun maksa (bread and butter). Growing from humble tea stalls, their popularity peaked during the 1950’s, becoming institutions on Mumbai’s social scene. Although most of these cafes have now shut, the few remaining along with Moombai & Co. Café & Bar are committed to honoring their legacy.
Located at the H Hotel on just at the cusp of the Sheikh Zayed road, the restaurant cum Café is divided into three dining areas. As soon as you step in you are welcomed by a lineup of cheerful staff and brightly lit lounge area that immediately reveals volumes for what’s in store. Mahogany furniture, Italian marble table tops, bent cane chairs and pendulum wall clocks, vintage Bollywood posters, dated Indian illustrations and vibrant artworks, alongside old relics and memorabilia, many of which have been sourced from the streets of Mumbai instantly transports you to the time when dreaming and romance was the zeitgeist and cinema was considered magic. The roof is another vintage marvel, dome-shaped with exposed bricks inlay and ceiling fans hanging with long downrods. The inside bar/dining area is more vibrant with high chairs, couch style seats and with colonial India’s essentials. The restaurant/café also has a large terrace setting which is a nice spot to enjoy a good company when the weather starts to change. Being technically a café all the tables are provided with tiffin shaped boxes for cutlery and dining essentials, with emblematic Indian imagery.
On a special visit to try this budding new address we headed to Moombai & Co to try the relatively new to us Irani – Parsi Indian food that feels novel and appealing.
We were first treated with the refreshing ‘Kokum Nimbu Ice Gola’ (slushies style crushed ice with lemony, sweet and slightly spicy flavor). The gola was a waking call for us. Bursting with refreshing flavors, that takes you back and forth to the streets of the real Mumbai. It immediately took us to a trip down memory lane when we had fun as kids slurping the icy treat in hot summer days…
After the little fun with gola, our starters for the day arrived. The starters included Bhel Puri (puffed rice, vegetables, crisps and a tangy tamarind sauce), Vada Pao (Pao buns stuffed with gram flour and potato dumplings) and Keema Pao (Minced lamb cooked on slow fire). Although typically street food items, yet Bhel Puri and Vada Pao enjoy a high rank in Indian cuisine. It all depends on how hungry you are, Bhel Puri is a light snack compared to Vada Pao which is more filling. The Bhel puri was a perfect combination of puffed rice and spices and everything nice whereas vada Pao was a spicy delectable treat. Unlike vada Pao, Qeema Pao came on a separate plate and separate pao buns. It too was a delightful affair of spice and juicy lamb mince.
Next came another surprise from the BBQ menu Chaap Lababdar (Lamb chops marinated with natural tenderizers and coriander chili mix), I must admit that it was deliciously cooked to tender perfection, spicy and astoundingly tender with a creamy texture. It is highly recommended if you are a meat lover!
For our main course, we tried, Patra Ni Macchi (steamed white pomfret marinated with generous amounts of green chutney and wrapped in banana leaf) which is a tasty and a healthier option. Nalli Nihari (lamb shanks and marrow keema samosa) was an amusing mix of spicy and a bold take on the traditional dish, the samosa added a strange texture to the dish which was interesting and quite filling. We also tried the famous Moombai & Co’s Chicken Berry Biryani (prepared with berries) and Black Dal which is a delicate black lentil cooked with tomato, cream and butter and left to simmer on slow fire for hours.
For the sweets, we tried the famous Kulfi Platters which was once again refreshing and a seamless eye candy. No trip to a café is complete without the quintessential chai, and Moombai & Co. didn’t disappoint in that either. It took the whole chai experience to another level of service where you are served in exactly the Moombia street style manner in small glasses rather than cups. It was a good dhabba style ‘Karak Tea’.
The resident Chef Ashish Kumar has worked with a number of India’s Celebrity Master Chefs and heads the kitchen team bringing extensive experience and authenticity to the table. The café also boasts a separate bar known as the Permit Bar. You can expect to find all sorts of eclectic bottle-aged cocktails, cold drip coffees, chai.
A place to connect with like-minded people, a place to cheer and dream, Moombai & Co. is an exception in Dubai that offers the warmth with a definitive desi allure. It is a place to relive the ageless grandeur of Bollywood, the inimitable flavors from home and the inescapable lightness of mood that follows.
For more information check out: http://www.moombai-co.com/
Check out our video review below;