I previously had written about Pav Bhaji as the emblematic Mumbaikar dish, cutting through social classes and being universally appreciated
After inviting a friend for a late night Pav Bhaji, it seems not all share my enthusiasm for the dish.
**Late Night Whatsapp Transcript (Verbatim)
AA: “Do you want to go have Pav Bhaji?”
AA: “I’m Hungry”
Friend: “Pull this off with someone else. I am more a 5 star class” (sic)
AA: “Meet me it will be fun”
Friend: “Good night”AA: “I was being serious”Friend: “How dare you? Go Eat Pav Bhaji with some cheap tacky people”
I think it’s best I don’t share the even more acrimonious discussion which ensued.
For me, this said elitist friend highlights the depressing reality of a subset of wealthy individuals who have confined themselves to a limited set of 5* establishments and have eschewed the local gastronomic delights in favour of familiar, “safe” surroundings.
If there is such a thing as “conspicuous consumption”, we can definitely define the concept of “conspicuous dining”, where dining becomes disassociated from mere eating and becomes an ostentatious display of wealth and class. The Hindi Proverb “Oonchi dukaan, fika pakwaan” (translated idiomatically: all that glitters is not gold) springs to mind here!
Naturally, I had no intention to entertain such elitism, so struck out alone on a 3 a.m Pav Bhaji Mission. “Late night dining” is central to Mumbai’s food scene and should be on the to do list of any visitor to the city.
I did spend a good 30 minutes trying to work out the name of this restaurant and its address (Zomato thought it had closed down until I went to the trouble of e-mailing them). There’s no board, no menu, just dim light, pink tables and the intermittent noise from the tawa that pierces the solemnity of the deserted streets. In the wee hours of the morning, “Mahim Pav Bhaji” is all that needs to be communicated to any auto or cab driver.
The food is about as good it gets for this time in the morning and the service is more or less punctual. A wave of the arms like a Chicago Stockbroker does the job for more Pav. The Cheese Pav Bhaji with 4 pav comes to 170 INR. As I had expected, the sauce is mild and it’s low on butter in contrast to Amar Pav Bhaji. Overall, this is humble and pleasant fare.
My sole advice would be to keep your eyes on the prize, it’s not the cleanest of places but it seems safe enough!
p.s this is also my 100th review. This one goes out to the 5 people I follow on Zomato. You command my utmost respect for the seriousness and dedication you show to the art of food criticism. Cheers!