Potson and I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Mahesh Lunch Home, a Mangalorean seafood stalwart with its commercial fingers dipped into five different spots across Mumbai. Kudos to Potson who lugged himself over for lunch, despite having stabbed himself in the foot (literally.) with a glass splinter, despite not being a seafood lover.
The long and short of it is slapped into the title. This place is perfect for those who wince over the thought of eating ‘fishy fish’ or worse, something as jaggedy and fierce as crab or slithery like squid. If you fall into this genre of seafood haters, I’d say you wouldn’t be too offended with Mahesh. Grab a tall glass of their lime soda and tuck right into the most adventurous thing you find on the menu, something you wouldn’t have dared to order elsewhere. Like crabs. It took polishing off an entire serving of garlic butter crab before I answered Potson’s question about what exactly it was that he was eating. Yep, crab. Those monsters with the squiggly pincers. No, I’m not joking. Yes, you just devoured it.
The Garlic Butter Pepper Crab (without the shell) starter was tossed with a bucket of crispy caramelized garlic, a fat slab of butter, a hefty fistful of pepper – the holy trinity of seasonings for seafood. The crab was there too. Somewhere. I’m not quite sure where. It was minced so finely that had someone used imitation crab instead, I hate to admit that we wouldn’t have known the difference.
This dish is perfect if you want to can’t bear the sight of crabs and want the sissy way out. But for someone who loves the meaty Keralite-style crabs at Calicut Paragon, this 90 dirham starter didn’t quite cut it for me. For that price, I’d expect the dish to have screamed CRAB garlic butter pepper in my face. And this screamed GARLIC BUTTER PEPPER crab.
[At this point you’re probably wondering what I did with all the photos I snapped at the restaurant. All my fishy photos have fallen off a treacherous cyber cliff – never to return. After a morning spent invoking every possible magic search spell on my hard drive, I have resigned to the unthinkable: a photo-less post. Let's hope this is the last of my photo foul-ups, and may you never have to suffer through my verbiage without photo distractions again.]
The Pomfret Mallipuram was another example of the same sort of principle – incredible seasoning but to such excess that the fish drowned into the depths of anonymity. My first bite was one where I parted the thick shroud of curry to rescue a crisp-skinned pomfret fillet. The creamy butter-laden coriander curry slopped all over the fish was all that stood out. It was overwhelmingly rich, subtly sweet, and just the sort of gravy that you fiddle around with much after you’re full and should call it quits. By the time you leave, you can feel the gravy going glugglugglug through your arteries as it induces all parts of your body into a butter-cream-coma.
The Clam Sukka was no different. Each little clam crater was stuffed with a fiery chilli paste that again, was good on its own, but didn’t really highlight the clams in any way. The place that’s got the balance just right for their Kube Sukka is Canara. In fact, the entire Canara meal had more of a wow experience for me – everything, the fish, the clams, the floppy neer dosas used to sop up the curry – all of it for the kind of stupidly low price that Canara charges in its little hole in Karama. Compared to that meal, the flavours at Mahesh felt too rich, too complicated, too overstated to really bring out the freshness of the seafood starring in any dish.
Whatever my niggling issues with the spice spill clogging the seafood at Mahesh, this is a fact: there is a waiting line at the restaurant even during off-peak hours. The place has already built up a local following, to the point where the server might politely hint for you to vanish after you’ve paid your bill.
If you don’t like seafood and are willing to shell out more money than you’d budgeted for Karama, try Mahesh. But if you genuinely do like to have the full frontal fishy attack, I’ll see you a few blocks down at Canara and Calicut.
Mahesh Lunch Home
Across from Bur Juman, in the same line as Pizza Hut in Karama