There’s a new gomantak that has joined the ranks of seafood restaurants in Mahim, adding to my favourites, Sushegad Gomantak and Fresh Catch. We drop anchor at Saibeni Gomantak on a Monday and are immediately ushered into the ‘family room’ (AC section).
There are other fish in the sea? Saibeni Gomantak certainly thinks so. The menu has mori (shark), surmai (seer fish), tisrya (shell fish), prawn, bombil and crab – served fried, dry or in a gravy. They also offer vegetarians items – dal and aloo and its ilk, and chicken dishes, which are rightly ignored.
We are there to see fish, and eat it and so, we do. Our Tisrya Pakoda (Rs 160), shell fish coated in a light gramflour batter, is interesting but since the meat is actually little, we end up scraping batter from the shell. The Tawa Prawns (250) come to the table smelling like the sea. A bite in and we are in love with the Malwani staple. The prawns are fresh and although swimming in a layer of oil, the onions and tomatoes gravy have a tangy, garlicky flavour. We mop it up with Bhakri (Rs 30).
Despite the bright red colour (hello, unwelcome food colouring), the curries aren’t spicy. It is something that remained consistent through the meal – the food wasn’t fiery despite the red colour and heavy use of masala. The only tears that night were of joy when we see the bill (minus any sort of tax) – a meal for two cost Rs 1,300.
The Mori Dry (Rs 160) surprises us because it isn’t dry at all but has a light onion and coriander gravy; the fish is soft and very tasty. Bangda Tikhla (Rs 150) is supposed to be sour (like the ambotik) but tastes like a simple fish curry, minus the coconut.
The pièce de résistance is the Crab Thali (Rs 290), a big, juicy crab in a thick, fragrant masaledar curry, with wade – fried, puri-like bread, and a heavy coconut curry. My true test of any gomantak or seafood place is their sol kadhi. Here, the sol kadhi accompanies the thali disappoints. It’s too thin and watery and not sour enough.
We give in to the many advertisements for their Caramel Custard (Rs 40), and order it. It is too gelatinous and disappoints.
Saibeni Gomantak has the starkness usually associated with new spaces. It doesn’t care about interiors, which are a mix of dull grey, brown and white. The upper walls, inexplicably, have the names of famous monuments in the world. There’s no character to the place but it doesn’t matter. The food makes up for it, although it is god, next time I will stick to the usual haunts.
Saibeni Gomantak is situated at 1, Lilian House, Bhandar Lane, LJ Road, Mahim; it is open from 11 am to 4 pm, 7 pm to 12 am; call 24325181.