Busaba, the brainchild of Nikhil Chib, chef & entrepreneur, started off much as an outcast in SOBO, which was dominated by the regular Chinese eateries and Bademiyan. Being located next to Mr. Akerkar’s Indigo also didn’t provide much solace to it’s situation. But things got lucky, people started travelling more to southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and wanted the same food back at home (even though they packed theplas to eat there). So Busaba gained popularity amongst the discerning palate that wanted ghar ka dal chawal but also once in a while wants Korea’s bibimbap not just because it’s cool to eat with chopsticks but because the subtle flavours appeal to him more than the rubber served at American Restaurants (read Mc Donalds), the Pav Bhaji Pasta (read the so called Arabiatta) served at Italian restaurants and the same old cashew chicken and fried rice served at Chinese restaurants. He now wants the Satays, the Jasmine Sticky Rice, Thai Curry and the Laksa’s. All these dishes are flavoursome if not spicy and strike chord with our firmly routed culture of adding condiments,that only add to the taste but the smell, the freshness, the texture, the consistency and the digestion.
Nikhil Chib actually started his career in India with a shack in Goa called Busabong. But that was just one of those ambitious things you start with your friends. After that either differences creep in or life happens. So he started Busaba with a menu that a) did not stick a particular cuisine and b)stayed away from the popular Chinese cuisine, both smart moves from Chib. Although Busaba has its teething problems in the beginning and if you have travelled to South Asia you would notice that the original dishes are far superior in flavor, Busaba has managed to secure it’s position. It still stands like an adjoined twin to Indigo but has its own of fan following and is crowded on most days. Personally I prefer it over Indigo, maybe because I am biased to Asian Food.
When you enter Busaba, you get this bohemian sort of feeling like you’ve entered a den and from somewhere you are going to hear Dum Maaro Dum. The ground floor is Lounge with a bar.A red wall with a huge mirror and chandeliers leads you to the second floor which is quite a contrast to the one below. Understated and serene came to my mind the moment I set foot. The wooden flooring adds to the earthiness. There are two sections and the one that overlooks the road is great, with a view of trees lit with stars romancing the dim lighting indoors and the candle that illuminates just the face of the person you love makes for a perfect setting.
Enough of gyan, getting down to food, we start of with the much spoken and appreciated dish over here – theChicken Momo’s. I have no words to describe this dish, all I can say is do you remember what you felt during your first kiss? Nikhil Chib has managed to replicate it with some dough and chicken. Just top it with some homemade chilli sauce and sit back and enjoy the unadultered purity of the moment. A warning don’t be ambitious and order the Prawn Momo’s which have been injected with a overdose of sodium chloride making them taste brackish. The Chicken Satay with peanut sauce is the usual fair but delicious with a nutty flavor.
For the main course, we order for for theKorean Bibimbap – rice pickled with vegetables (kimchi) and meat of your choice topped with fried egg. Along with comes a clear vegetable soup that I thought in this case was very acerbic due to overcooking of the avocado(avocado when overcooked gives out this bitter taste that extremely unpalatable. This dish is an acquired taste.
We then move on to the Khow Suey, again which didn’t impress me much. The usual noodles served with curry, which I thought was too thick. Whenever I have eaten Khowsuey it has been this flavoursome curry of a soup like consistency. I found this Khowsuey here quite bland even after adding the condiments.
The next we ordered for their Pad Krap Row (no am not abusing) which is strifried meat, choose chicken again unless u want blood pressure, in garlic, holjy basil and bird chillies. The celestial combination makes for a very appetizing dish. Teams well with sticky rice. The next dish,Green Thai Curry is nice, although if you’ve already travelled to Thailand and tasted it there you won’t’ be impressed. However this one is the closest I have seen to the original. The milky flavor of coconut milk coupled with peppers, kafir leaves and fresh basil are quite delectable. It’s a bit dulcified though. Our next is theSteamed Fish with Lime, Chilli & Garlic. The presentation of this dish is excellent. It is served in a platter shaped like a whole fish and a small candle lit below to keep it steaming hot. The silky texture of the lusturous fish combined with lemon zest and kafir leaves make for a buonissimo experience. Best teamed with steam rice.
For dessert we order theBanoffee pie, which is a pie make of toffee, banana’s and cream. This was disappointing, way to dulcified and Milk Maidlike. The next Chocolate Fondant, a soufflé style cake that oozes out heavenly thick melted chocolate when you cut into it. Again the second orgasmic dish after the MOMO’s.
Busaba falls on the slightly dear side of the price bar if not exorbitant with per head costs ranging to Rs 650 – Rs 750.
Food: Ambrosial | Ambience: Understated & Serene | Service: Friendly
Quicktip: A must visit for a zealot of Asian Food. Come in smaller groups of maybe 2 or 3 to be able really enjoy a sumptuous meal as the quantity is not that great. The Momo’s and the Chocolate Fondant, 2 dishes that are an absolute must have! They come under my ‘Dishes to have once again before I Die’
Busaba, 4, Mandlik Road, Colaba, Mumbai -400032 | Landmark: Near Indigo Restaurant