After over a year, I have got an opportunity to visit the Ocean restaurant at the Sahara Star (Vile Parle, Mumbai) – amongst the most beautiful restaurant settings in Mumbai. With fond memories of my first and truly memorable experience, my taste buds were expecting a royal affair.
The first thing that strikes us about the Ocean, true to its name, is the large glass aquarium housing many a large fish and the private dining area at the center of the restaurant.
We were seated near the aquarium. The restaurant has well laid out tables, and a staff that is well versed with the menu and seems to know the regulars personally. The open kitchen adds charm to the dining experience. Being the main atrium of the Hotel, the restaurant surprisingly suffers from low lighting and you require a flashlight to read the menu. Candlelight may add a more aesthetic flavour.
While we wait for the food, we are presented with a nice cool welcome drink (lemongrass with sugar) along with roasted nuts and prawn wafers. The chef offers us Mushroom in Black Pepper, Chicken in coriander and chilli, and Prawns in Hunan Sauce as starters. The prawns are good but are not served well. The Mushrooms are succulent and flavourful, but against the prawns, but get overshadowed by the prawns. The chilli quotient on the prawns is a bit on the higher side, and when coupled with black pepper mushrooms, encourage us to order beer. The chicken in coriander and chilli is a big let-down, with just a hint of flavor supporting big chunks of bland meat.
The Plau Yang Katai or the Salt and Pepper grilled fish is excellent – perfectly cooked and just the right flavor. We receive an order of the Salt and Pepper Prawns, which are over cooked on the inside, and slightly soggy on the outside, due to the crumbs. The rush of spices in the appetizers is not too appetizing, and we look for some respite pronto.
Fortunately, the Chef reads our mind, and serves one of the most delectable soups I can remember – The Tom Kha and Shrimp Clear soups are simply superb. The usual complaint I have with Thai soups is the over or under indulgence with Galangal, but the Chef nails the balance to perfection. With renewed hope and a fire in our bellies (pun intended), we request for the main course.
The Chef presents the Seafood Udon Noodles, the Kung Pao Chicken, a Salmon with Black Bean sauce and a Cantonese Fried Rice with Prawns and Chicken. Notwithstanding the amount of food in front of us, we brave a sample of each dish to prioritize our options. If there was a time at the table that the participants compete for food, it is for the Salmon. Despite an overindulgence of seafood over a couple of hours, we display surprising fervor to devour the dish. The Kung Pao is very soft and flavorful, but very Indian in its feel. Unfortunately, the noodles and rice are quite plain and staid – lacking character to support the Fish or the Chicken dishes.
Eager to close the evening on a high, we suggest we be surprised by the Chef with a unique dessert – and boy did we go wrong. The Sweet Dumpling in hot ginger tea is anything but a dessert, it kills any semblance of taste in my mouth, sprouting emotions I cannot speak of here.
The Beer helped close the deal, or ordeal, whereby a fantastic set of dishes are pulled down by a three below par servings. Given a choice, I would have the dinner in reverse chronological order. Not all was lost, as the team is extremely efficient and helpful, which adds many pluses to the experience. I hope I can go back and re-live my dinner from a year ago, when the dishes were consistent and a perfect symphony of flavors.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 3.5/5.0 | Ambience: 4.5/5.0 | Service: 4.0/5.0 | Overall: 4.0/5.0
Meal for Two: Rs.3,500/- (without alcohol) | Credit Cards: Yes | Alcohol: Yes | Timings: 7:00 PM – 1:00 AM | Cuisine: Pan Asian
Address: Ocean, Sahara Star Hotel, Western Express Highway, Domestic Airport, Vile Parle East, Mumbai | Phone: 022-61617523