Bastian (Bandra West, Mumbai)

Bastian is located where Gangstas used to be. If you weren’t familiar with Gangstas, it was a “rockin’” hip-hop and Bollywood joint. I can’t remember the last time, other than in India, I heard the adjective rockin’ used. Perhaps it was Brenda Lee way back in ‘64, with Rockin’ Around The Xmas Tree or maybe my Grandmother to describe that Supremes EP she bought many moons ago (Up The Ladder To The Roof…anyone?)

It’s certainly a shame to see such a venerable night spot die prematurely, but Bastian is a rather impressive replacement! I wonder about the choice of Bastian with an ‘A’ rather than ‘Bastion’ though. Given what’s on offer, I see no reason why Bastian won’t become the latter, a Bastion of a great food in the city.

For all those Harper Lee Fans out there, I had a waiter named “Boo”. This perceptive gentleman instinctively knows I’m all about the “rantsNbants” (rants and banter). I might give him an honest appraisal of his food at the end of the night, but I won’t be ordering him around like some Medieval servant. Seriously, if you’re too lazy to pour yourself that 6th refill of water, you have an ego problem! When he asks me about my allergies. I reply:

“Only bad food, Sir”

“You’re safe, we don’t do that!”

He might not be titled the ‘Archbishop of Banterbury’ with that reply, but it’s better than the monotonous, impersonal, gormless service elsewhere. Mr Boo is on it. He knows the menu inside out, so when I ask for Bok Choi Kimchi, he’s aware it’s been discontinued a few days back. Fair enough. He recommends a few veg dishes and I go with them. 4 dishes for a single person seems ambitious, but I’m all out tonight!

For those nerds who actually read my reviews for the food, here’s a little breakdown:
1) Cauliflower with gochujang butter – cauiflower served al dente is welcome, and the fermented hit of gochujang is unique (3.5/5)
2) Teriyaki Broccoli – the large florets are fresh, again not overcooked, and the sauce pleasant (4/5)
3) Crispy Tofu- excellent tempura battered silken tofu coated with a rich peanut sauce in addition to the zing of the chilli/soy dressing (4.5/5)
4) Szechuan String Beans – fresh and crunchy green beans in a light spicy, soy based mixture. Nice use of caramelised onions too. (4.5/5)

My only issue with Bastian in Mumbai is that it’s serving a number of gastronomically illiterate individuals. The guy next to me is looking rather sheepishly at the seafood pick he’s been handed and is probably wondering if it’s an elaborate tooth pick. Rather, I was seeing it as a perfect tool to mutilate his good looking, but hellishly annoying, high pitched “girl” “friend”.

The problem with restaurants in Mumbai is they always end up catering to the lowest common denominator when they find out that no one can handle the taste or prices of great cuisine (e.g the erstwhile and arguably best pizza joint in India, Di Napoli, barely could do 15 covers on a Saturday night)

It’s very sweet of Kelvin (the chef/owner) to make some awkward patter with me, but he really doesn’t have to. I tell him how pleased I’m with the service and that I have thoroughly enjoyed the food.

Positive feedback is just as important…

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