Having placed his inaugural Mumbai restaurant in the heart of the financial district of Bandra Kurla Complex, I can’t refrain but remind my readership of a famous stock market adage “buy the rumour, sell the news”. Loosely applied, I think many reviewers, intoxicated by the buzz surrounding a Michelin Star chef arriving in Bombay, had set unrealistically high expectations of the modestly adorned and priced NRI, and as such were disappointed with their eventual experience (“selling on the news” in stock market parlance). Having scoured the menu in detail before visiting, I was under no illusion that NRI was meant to be fun and quirky interpretations of Indian cuisine from a British Indian’s chef imagination, rather than the more sophisticated, white table-clothed ambience of his London restaurant.Having opted to dine and drink at the bar, I intentionally made my visit more informal and hurried than normal. In this regard, the mixologist and service were effortlessly efficient, sensing my need for punctuality. The Durban Cooler was a glass of joy with the grilled pineapple and pomegranate making for a bittersweet concoction
I opted for two small vegetarian plates – the Mombassa Jeera Paneer and the Vegetable Pakore. Both very simple, you might even say street-food inspired dishes, but were executed well. The paneer was well presented, soft and had a tasty sauce, although perhaps just a touch too tangy for my palette. The pakora batter was light and crisp, owing to the tempura style preparation, a clear example of how fusion cuisine can bring to life everyday food like a humble Pakora. Forever, the wickedly Epicurean fiend that I am, I ended the meal with a sweet drink, the “Indian bounty”! I carefully observed the Mixologist blend dessicated coconut, chocolate sauce, yoghurt & milk together. I was slightly startled by the use of Hershey’s chocolate syrup in the drink, pretty much the lowest common denominator of chocolate sauce. However this is an aberration I will overlook as the drink was indulgent and comforting with a sassy hint of the coconut coming through on each sip.I was happy to engage in polite and sincere conversation with both the manager and assistant manager and being given a business card probably speaks more to the corporate location of NRI than a desire for my repeat patronage. The bill coming to a meagre INR 1300, equivalent to 13 British Pounds in Mr Kochar’s native currency was testament to the value of “Not Really Indian” food, which one might expect would attract a significantly higher price tag.