This was not supposed to be a planned post but recently i had been looking out for Konkani restaurants around my studio (which is at Sahar Road, Andheri East). Since it is a more Maharashtrian dominated lower middle class area, So there were chances that i would end up finding something like 'Malvani Komdi Vade' or a quality fish thalli. This quest of a few weeks of aimless lunch time loitering lead to discovering two quality joints.
Just to let you guys know I stay miles away from places like Mahesh Lunch Home or Gazalee that rip people off with hefty price tags on coastal food. Somewhere these places have lost the focus and authenticity and instead opted for cliche decor or large fish tanks filled with Lobster and Crabs. The other reason of not falling in love with these places is that the spices are more Manglore oriented than Konkan. Once a Konkani then always a Konkani At least in matters of Fish !
Suyog Lunch Home - Koldongri, Sahar Road.
This tiny eatery looks every bit of a lunch home. Walk past the counter and you can settle on one of the typical table and bench. Waiters shuffle between tables, run back to the kitchen to shout out the order and bring out the dishes. I stepped in during the peak lunch hour. Managed to secure a table after a descent 5 minutes of wait. Most of the people here were ordering either the Komdi Vade or one of the thali. Going by my cardinal rule, i ordered a Surmai (Kingfish) Thali on my first visit and went for the Komdi Vade on the next consecutive day.
I was offered an option for my thali - 200 bucks for regular slice of the fish and 230 bucks for a much hearty slice. The meal consists of a portion of Surmai slice (fry or in curry), two chapatis, one bowl of rassa / curry, plain rice, a dab of coconut chutney and a small bowl of solkadi. It's high on flavour and freshness but lacks a main component for that price - Bhaji ! To be honest i was little annoyed dipping my chapati into a bowl of plain curry. The fish is no doubt fresh and flaky with a nice brownish rawa crust. A descent effort but priced marginally high considering it leaves you with a feeling that something was missing in the meal.
The Malvani Komdi Vade is a rare to find dish best suited for winters or a breezy rainy day. The Vade are made from mixing Urad dal, Rice flour, Gram flour with a few different spices. They were served inflated & piping hot along with a typically spicy Chicken Curry. The messier it got, The better it tasted ! It's a must have at Suyog.
Apart from these they also serve Chicken & Mutton Thalli, Crab Masala, Bombil Fry, Mori Masala and much more.
Ratnagiri - near CID office, Andheri Station East
Ratnagiri on the other hand is a multi-outlet coastal food brand. One of it's outlet is located roughly a kilometer or two away from Suyog and right below the Andheri Metro Station. Since it's very close to my studio, i always happen to visit it during the lunch hours and satiate my cravings for a good thali.. Menu is simple and consists mostly of simple coastal food like Thalipith, Kulith Soup and a variety of fishes served either in Tawa fry or curried masala. Unlike Suyog, These have given 'Kombdi Vade' a miss on the menu. The service is prompt and the what i really like about them is their honesty. Recently, Like every time i ordered for my Surmai Thali and the person taking the order informed me - "Sir, Macchi aaj fresh nahi hai frozen wali hai. Aap Chicken ya Mutton Thali lelo." And the Chicken Thali was equally justified.
This place is by far my pick on the best Konkani coastal food -Freshness of the fish speaks in that slice of Tava Fry with authentic konkani masala marinade served in the thalli along with sol kadhi, khobra kairi chutney, bhaji, chapati and rice. These guys surely have a gravitas that commands an applause. Not once have i come across a bad experience let alone a sub standard experience. The coconut chutney is so dense and flavourful that i always end up requesting for an extra portion. Same goes for the Sol Kadhi - Perfectly balanced.
Do try these places out if you're a coastal cuisine lover and I’m sure you won't be disappointed. You can easily locate both these places on Zomato.