Sunday, 1 December 2013

Trishna, Mumbai, India (Alissa and Don Eat Asia Days 7 & 19)

If you like seafood and copious quantities of garlic and butter, there is a place for you and it is called Trishna.

I hadn't intended that our first lunch in Mumbai would be at Trishna but I'm glad that it ended up that way, especially since it also served as our last meal in Mumbai. I will write about both meals together due to their similarities. Having eaten there for the first time 4 years ago, its a restaurant I've often thought of with fondness due to their signature butter pepper garlic dishes and the greatest chilli squid I've ever eaten in my life. Its been 2 years since I was last at Trishna, and having hyped it up to Alissa as my favourite seafood restaurant in Mumbai I was a bit worried that it couldn't possibly live up to the esteem I hold it in.

I didn't need to consult a map or need to stop and think about where we were going; I knew exactly how to get to Trishna from our hotel. As we passed the landmark of Fab India and turned left into the back alley, it was interesting to see hip stores and cafes had opened in what used to be a dingy, dirty alleyway in Mumbai just four years ago. Alissa commented one of the stores looked like a boutique out of Melbourne. Hip indeed. As we arrived at the entrance we were greeted by the familiar sight of the bespoke doorman, who ushered us in.

Trisha is divided into two nautically themed rooms – a left room that has an under the sea feel with fish tanks lining the walls, and a right room with a boating theme. As luck would have it, our first meal was in the right room and our last was in the left. 

On both occasions, we ordered a variation of the famous butter pepper garlic seafood on which Trishna has built its well-deserved reputation. For our first meal we had the butter pepper garlic prawns. The prawns were juicy and perfectly cooked, having none of the cottony quality of overcooked prawns. And the sauce – my god, the sauce. Its fairly simple but utterly decadent; copious quantities of butter given shape and form by insane quantities of garlic and spiced up with some black garlic. As someone who loves butter, Alissa was immediately sold. 

For our last meal in Mumbai, we thought we should splash out and order my favourite of the crustaceans – the lobster. 

The lobster arrived at the table having been removed from its carapace, but the shell was presented to us for our inspection. The lobster meat was nice and meaty, and of course lobster and butter have a long history of being good friends so this worked well. And all the better for the use of ghee as the butter instead of the non-clarified western variety.

The other dish we ordered on both occasions was the chilli squid. I'm a sucker for really good squid and though I've ordered a lot of squid dishes in my time, this dish trumps them all. Chinese food is quite popular in India, though in having been altered for an Indian palate they have become different dishes in their own right. Trishna's chilli squid is tomatoey, capsicum and chilli goodness on a plate, having a nice sweetness and heat to it as well as Trishna's trademark generosity in the garlic department. I've tried to order this dish in other restaurants in Mumbai as well as Bangalore and Goa but no one does this the way Trisha do.

Now we have to talk about the garlic naan. As with everything else at Trishna, 'subtle' is not how I would describe the 'garlic' part of their equation. Their version of garlic naan is encrusted in garlic, and where most places give you the option of garlic or butter naan, Trishna do theirs as garlic butter naan. This is probably our favourite naan of the whole trip, and paired with the butter pepper garlic sauce is both a heart attack waiting to happen and one of the most decadently delicious things you can imagine.

As an extra on our first visit, we ordered palak paneer, as this is one of Alissa's favourite dishes whenever we've ordered Indian in Perth. Though they are definitely seafood specialists at hear, this was excellent palak paneer – bright green and flavoursome, with a very soft creamy paneer. The ordering of three dishes was something we would learn was too much for two people as we were exceedingly full afterwards. Oh well, live and learn.

The Verdict: Exceptional
Trishna won me over when I had my first meal there, and I'm nothing if not a devotee. Prices here are reasonable if a little bit more expensive than somewhere like Persian Darbar or Delhi Darbar – but then we're talking about generous portions of seafood which always comes with a premium anyway. If you're sitting on the fence about making a trip to India, consider travelling to Mumbai and make sure Trishna is on your list of things to eat. This is 'must travel to eat' food.

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