Taking a bite from Julia Child's famous quotes - “How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?” which sometimes is true to our nation where bread is considered only as an element of the morning chai table or an early evening grub and where the average bakery product is far from being a lovable piece of dough. Roti or Chapati in different forms dominate our cuisines from North to South and East to West, thus bread always plays a second fiddle. Our national crowd is distinctly divided into two sections when it comes to bread; One eats a sliced loaf (white, brown or multigrain) and Second eats the ladi pav, gutli or brun. While loaves of Multigrain bread are popular among the middle class families and youngsters, the more traditional pav or brun is a mandatory element of the grown-ups, particularly muslim and christian families.

The 'Brun' or 'Kadak' Pav is one of the fundamental product to come out of any average bakery. A bread which starts life as a slightly tougher version of the average ladi pav, Brun Pav sees the bright flames of the stone oven twice in its daily life cycle before it is let to cool and develop the hard crust; Hence the slang 'Double Bhatti'. In Mumbai, There are pockets where you can find some good old crusty bruns; Bandra West, Andheri, Byculla, JJ & Colaba tops the list with Bandra's A1 Bakery being the most versatile of them all providing all sorts of variations from the regular pavs to Bruns, Dinner Rolls to Sausage Rolls and Sweet Buns to Burger Buns. 

Variety of artisan breads from 'The Bakers Dozen'.

Variety of artisan breads from 'The Bakers Dozen'.

Since a few years, the metropolitan cities have seen a change in bread and baking scenery with the introduction of artisan breads like the Sourdough, Brioche and many others. While many home bakers and startups have lend a hand in this movement, a young learned baker 'Aditi Handa' led company 'Baker's Dozen' has played pivotal role. Baker's Dozen with its strategy and tryst for international quality breads has outlets in the heart of city and mostly manages to get sold out by early evening. Fresh batch of Pain Au Levain, Brioche, Baguette, Focaccia, Ragi Bread and lot more arrive at each outlet every morning. Daily consumers vary from locals to expats while few third party internet vendors collect their batches from the closest store. As a lot more people get educated about the availabilities of such artisan breads, the trend can only be seeing an upwards mark. 

While new startups and independent bakers are exploring new avenues of this industry, legends like Britannia, Wibs and few others have also adapted to the health oriented trend with its brown, ragi & multigrain loaves. Many households claim that while the move is appreciated, the fancy breads barely add any nutritional value and seem like a mere colored variation of the original white bread. Similar loaves of bread from smaller startups justify the expensive tag with its shorter shelf-life and more important 'unrefined texture' that indicates an authentic product. While local bakery sells a loaf of brown, whole wheat or multigrain bread in the range of 35-45 rupees, the upper crust bakeries manage to price them higher than 50 rupees. 

Long gone are the days when a customer said, "ek Britannia ya Wibs dena'. The instructions are now more bread specific and not brand specific "ek Brown Bread with Whole Grain dena". There is a change in mindset of the people who are not just marrying bread and butter, but elevating it ranks by pairing with rich wine and gourmet cheese.


"Oogway: My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours until you let go of the illusion of control.

Shifu: Illusion?"

I believe Oogway made a reference to many pandas when he said that. The illusion of control is that i cannot ask the young Panda to serve a precise Cantonese meal or a Chinese meal-in-a-box when it (the Panda) has grown in the suburbs and wants to prepare a Funky Asian Gourmet ! Go Panda is neither Funky nor is it Gourmet; It is just Pan-Asian. The menu features a vast variety of Asian flavours right from Burmese Khau suey to Malay Korma to Thai Pot Rice. One can also find an outlandish amalgamation of Asian fillings inside Panini breads and Tacos. 

Glamour Quotient :

Well, being situated in Lokhandwala and being subtle is a crime in itself. Therefore, Black, White and Red themed interiors and Yellow takeaway boxes with shiny laminated insides to complete the Lokhandwala fashion quotient. 

Expat Flavours :

Overall, the use of ingredients and the generated flavours meet expectations of an informed audience, but may struggle to make it work in an area that is so contrived that it cannot grow beyond Frankies, Tandoori and Barista. 

Some of the well worthy try outs would be the Prawns Nest, Barbeque Fish, Tom Kha Soup, Thai Jungle Curry and the Malaysian Lamb Korma (avoid the roti). The deep fried noodle wrapped Asian Prawns Nest works well as a quick bite with its sweet chili drizzle and so do the fragile pieces of Asian Barbeque Fish. Tom Kha Soup is rendered well in taste and texture, but may get rejection if auditioning for the first time to a desi palate. I sincerely loved its mix of flavours coming from the coconut base and kaffir lime leaves. The Jungle Curry traditionally known as 'Kaeng pa' in Thailand is known to not feature any element of coconut, but the version here is rendered with enough of it which works well to our taste-buds. The slow cooked Malay Lamb Kurma tastes alluring and can easily be consumed without it's dull looking roti. 

Blowout :

The Vietnamese Smoke Chicken sandwich (mind you, it's not a Banh Mi) is only recommended to one with a craving for Wasabi; Overwhelming would be an understatement here. The Fish in Mustard Sauce is equally overwhelmed by it's mustard base so much so that none of the other ingredients could sensitize the palate. Our Chicken Satay came with barely any seasoning, a very inorganic flavour and overcooked meat. The Peanut Sauce supplied along can be best left unsoiled.

Climax :

Wholesome portions, mostly well altered Asian flavours and a glamourous brand; 'Go Panda' has it all in order to break into the Lokhandwala food culture. It's a valiant effort by a bunch of young entrepreneurs that reflects their thought of bringing cuisines from various parts of this subcontinent under one roof. Moreover it's the only option in that part of the suburb which serves all these delicacies and for a reasonable amount.

My verdict - Go for their Signature Meals, Pot Meals and Appetizers.

Location : Shop 7, Grenville Building, Near Mala Tower, Andheri Lokhandwala


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