Monday, October 11, 2010

Trishna Restaurant: Yes, it's more chili crab!

Trishna is one of those city classics, a Mumbai seafood restaurant that has been adored and heavily patronized for over 20 years. It's Mumbai style seafood, on the high end, and the kitchen prepares your chosen sea-creature in a variety of ways - Indian, Chinese, European, whatever. The place is so popular that they've managed to open an outpost in London, and it's a must-do on the foodie beat in Mumbai. Me? I like their chili crab. I really, really like their chili crab.

Trishna is located in Kala Ghoda, a nice stroll from Colaba. If it isn't raining. Hint: it is probably going to be raining.

Plenty of tourists come here so it has been Ruined. Judging by the incidence of Indian business groups and blue-haired and terrifying old ladies tearing apart fish and lobsters, though - there may be life in the old dog yet. They're remodeling one of the rooms, so this go-round, I was ushered into a room I didn't actually recognize. There were mostly tourists in there. I'm not in the camp that immediately dismisses a restaurant that has other tourists in it. Sometimes, if not always, tourists are actually right about where one might find a good meal. And think about it: Trishna is a high end place. Your average Mumbaiker might eat there occasionally, but they're not going to splash out on a biweekly basis. A vacationer or sight-seeer though - the logic tends much more towards the "Why the hell not?" Which is why I was there, anyhow.

It always feels a bit awkward to me, to dine alone in Nice restaurants. I'm 22 and I look a lot younger - people guess 15 or 16 a lot - and I always suspect the waiters are wondering what in God's name is going on, if I'm actually capable of paying, if I'm going to inquire in a chirpy voice about the availability of chicken fingers. I ignore their looks of apprehension and order up. Chili crab and bhindi masala. This is all I want to have at Trishna.

Me and chili crab have a sort of, well, perverse relationship. Everyone has a certain food product that they find so godamned delicious as to veer into the "mild, slightly uncomfortable erotica" category, and chili crab is mine. Trishna does a hell of a job with theirs - in my opinion, superior to the way it's done in the Homeland of Singapore. The sauce is a little bit chunky with plenty of ginger and garlic. The balance of sweet and spicy is on point, and there's a bunch of sliced and in-your-face red chilis tossed in there so you don't forget the "chili" aspect of the dish. Finally, Trishna manages to source some excellent crabs. I know how to make this dish, and it's not too hard, but it's a blessing to find one done so well in a restaurant, and especially in India. Oh, the bhindi masala is pretty damn good too.

I went twice in five days. I thought I was exhibiting a lot of self control, all things considered.

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