An island vibe with foliage as far as the eye can see is more pina colada than Peking duck, but we have no problem with that. As long as bamboo screens and lanterns don’t dictate the look at this new Asian restaurant, we will accept Bandra’s latest incongruity with a bow and a Bellini.
The kitchen at 12 Union Park, a dumpling’s throw away from Olive Bar & Kitchen, cooks predominantly Chinese and Japanese dishes, but offers none of the elegance that defines these cuisines. A sesame and salmon sushi roll - certainly not the worst in the city - is conquered by un ungainly blob of cream cheese, and sweet sticky rice that overshadows any trace of salmon.
Meanwhile, chicken and pork shumai is strictly average, and best avoided. Marginally more exciting is curry leaf calamari that is all deep fried cornflakes and no curry leaves. If KFC had started up in a beach town, this is what they’d be vending out of plastic buckets.
While the idea of lemon and okra might not send your heart aflutter, the dish brings together an unlikely happy union: slivers of okra fried to a crisp with onions and chillies, served in a basket wide enough to let you grab ‘em by the fistful.
It seems the cocktails are doomed to share a similar fate.
Use Me, a tropical drink that pairs Malibu and lemongrass, is drowned with a heavy-handed squeeze of lime. But we find redemption in a crisp wedge of cold cucumber soaking in the liquor – easily the best thing about the drink. An Old Fashioned is not improved by the upgrade of base alcohol and is pretty much indistinguishable from a whisky on the rocks. Pity, because all this foliage is just the kind of shady den you need for sexy cocktail sipping.
To The Moon
For all that’s happened so far, we’re glad we stayed for Moon Fan rice, containing a merry mix of carrots, shiitake, baby corn and spices that for a fleeting moment, evoke a Chinese spice market. However, our hopes return with a gentle thud as we sample pork belly. The quality of the meat cannot be faulted, but the sweet sauce served alongside is a uni-dimensional afterthought.
And finally, you would do well to skip the honey walnut tart, which, alarmingly, has the same quality of goopiness as any other microwaveable desserts. The side of tender coconut ice cream with coconut shavings is served on a buttery bed of crumbled cookies — an unexpected delight that quietly but surely steals the show.
Getting there: Ground floor, 12 Union Park, next to Olive, Khar (W). Meal for two, with cocktails is approximately Rs 4,500.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
This review was contributed by Anisha Rachel Oommen, co-founder of The Goya Journal.
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