A new entrant in the forever changing Mumbai food scene, Plural, a new contemporary South East Asian restaurant makes its presence known in one of the narrow bylanes of Mumbai’s popular locale, Kala Ghoda. In a conversation over drinks and an array of small plates, founder Vedant Shah talks of his dream of Plural becoming a mainstay in Bombay.
An excess of Far East Asian options in the city, as well as his affinity for the cuisine based on his travels in the US, prompted Plural’s 25-year-old founder to choose South East Asian as the restaurant’s primary cuisine. Opened a month ago, the restaurant differentiates itself with its locavore focus, all its ingredients are sourced from within Maharashtra itself.
Local all the way
“We don’t import anything,” says Shah. The menu is based on using ingredients that are not necessarily indigenous to the culture, but giving them a Plural twist. He cites his favourite Seared Brussels Sprouts with nam prik paste, nam jim vinaigrette, fresh herbs and Kohlrabi salad as examples. Focusing on seasonal produce, Shah says the menu will change 30-40 per cent based on the season.
In addition to championing local produce, Shah is also trying to establish a closed-loop in the kitchen. “This means we try to use every part of an ingredient.” Leftover root vegetable trimmings from the Chao Ga Porridge are used to make crispy chips. Mushroom trimmings are given to the bar to make special mushroom dust, and garlic’s green stalks are used to make a vinaigrette that is used in many of the dishes. Shah earnestly explains the plan to practice composting as well.
Entering the space, one may feel a sense of calm with the soothing mint green walls and bamboo furniture. Diffused straw overhead lighting gives the space the exact effect that Shah intended. “Inviting and expansive in the day, cosy and intimate in the night.” An ode to Vietnamese cuisine stands proudly at the entrance; the wallpaper there is decorated with all the leaves, seeds and ingredients that are used in the cuisine like star anise, rice and basil. A staircase leads to a small mezzanine section, perfect for group gatherings.
Not your average Asian food
We started our meal with cocktails that were mixed to perfection. My gin-based ‘Guava Nice Day’ was delicious, but had a more sour and less guava kick. My colleague sampled the ‘What’s in a name?’ a vodka and grapefruit-based cocktail. Kicking off the food portion of the afternoon, a variety of small plates arrived at our table. Plural’s ‘Hummus’, is something you’d never expect hummus to be. It is made with eggplant, corn, and silken tofu instead of chickpeas. The summer rolls were pretty as a picture and were accompanied by a Vietnamese classic nuoc cham dip that stole the show.
Next up was an item you don’t often see, Seared Brussel Sprouts, which are a definite must-try. The Pomelo salad veered a bit on the sweeter side, but complimented the fiery grilled artichoke baos beautifully. From the large plates, we tried the roasted beetroot curry with water chestnut, coconut crème fraiche, crunchy chickpeas, and pomegranate. This was a familiar, comforting curry.
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