A definite landmark that is mentioned in every single guide book to Bombay, the Haji Ali Juice Center has been around forever.

Present at the crowded and ever-busy Haji Ali Circle and on the seaface that has the island mosque of the same name, this juice center is easily discernible by the huge number of cars apparently parked on the side of the circle.

A very Bombay version of a drive-in/drive-through, the stewards of HAJC will guide you to a cramped corner of the road to pull your car over. They will then scoot over with a menu wrapped in a “protective” plastic sheath. He will also start reciting the seasonal specials before you have had the chance to turn the car’s engine off. His aim is to serve you quickly and get you on your way so the next thirsty traveller can be serviced.

HAJC also serves some snacks and even pizza (???!!??), but we say stick to the fruit juices and milk drinks. Of the fruit juices, you can never go wrong with the standard fare of sweet-lime (mosambi), watermelon or orange. We recommend one of the cocktails – most famous of which is the very exotically named Ganga Jamuna. A mix of Orange & mosambi juice, this is a must-try. Occasionally, they will even serve the even more exotic derivative Ganga Jamuna Saraswati, with pineapple juice joining the party.

The milk drinks are also very good and both the banana milkshake and the sitaphal (custard apple) milkshake are delectable. They also push the chickoo milkshake but the real gem is the seasonal mango milkshake (available only from about May – Aug). Show up in May-early July and you will get Alphonso mangoes in them. Yum!

Another fabulous try in the humid summers is the falooda. Filled with the gelatinous noodles or balls, and a generous serving of rose syrup, this iced milk dish is rarely made better than at the HAJC.

The pricing used to very modest but has gone up a bit with the fame. The crowds have increased too and summer evenings can be positively painful waiting to get a place to park.

The new additions are the plastic glasses to allow take away. For the purists though, I say walk up to the counter (which is long and wonderfully fruity in smell) and ask for a tall glass mug of juice.

My recco – Take a car full of folks and everyone order a different drink. Try at least one seasonal special and be sure to share with all.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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When we heard that the Hard Rock franchise was coming to Bombay, we knew we had to take a look. We have seen the cafes in Vegas, Bali, LA and so many other places. How would Bombay stack up?

This is quite simply the best Hard Rock in the world – for an Indian, anyway.

The setting is an old mill that has been repurposed. This means that we have 30/40-ft high ceilings with multiple levels of seating. The performance stage (meant for live gigs) is above the bar.

The attention to detail at this place is amazing. If you have to wait for a table, they give you an old LP cover of a famous old (60s/70s/80s) rock album, to act as a marker.¬† Now that’s cool!

The food here is surprisingly good. We would recommend you come here for the ambience, drinks and starters. They have a pretty decent Veg. burger, and its ideal for one person with a decent appetite. We would recommend the Santa Fe spring rolls – a great mexican/asian fusion dish. Also good is the Hard Rock Nachos.

There is a full bar and you get pretty much what you want. We recommend – cold beer! This is the HARD ROCK CAFE. You come here to listen to good – nay, great – rock music, have some snacks and snark down several tall beers. Period!

The reason why it’s the world’s best? In spite of being a few years old, its in impeccable condition, unlike the HRCs in Vegas etc which have become glorified dive bars. The version of rock plays to the Indian taste – Def Leppard, Deep Purple, Metallica, G’N’R, Bryan Adams and Aerosmith all get plenty of air time. You also get the best Indian rock bands playing live many days of the week.

My recco – Get your closest friends and head there now for a great evening of rock!

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Going to places like Henry Tham’s shows you just how integrated Bombay is with the global party scene. A truly world-class ambience awaits you here.

Located a stone’s throw from the Gateway of India, Henry Tham’s is named after the owner/restaurateur who has given Bombay several excellent restaurants. It is definitely his piece de resistance.

This place serves authentic Cantonese style chinese cuisine as well as some great Japanese and South East Asian delicacies.

The Miso Soup here is very authentic and the delicate flavours of this vegetarian classic shine through nicely. Another nice starter are the sauteed mushrooms.

This is one restaurant where you feel at ease in the hands of your waiter. Let him/her guide you and you will get the best out of this experience. They have a wide range from the veggies in sambal sauce to the crispy vegetables cantonese style.

This is a restaurant where you don’t mind if they make you wait for the table. You see the ground floor is a top-class bar and the cocktails/mocktails are also a must-have. Live music is there most evenings and this ranges from rock to jazz.

The bar, lounge and dining areas all have the feel of a nice plush lounge. The lighting with tall glass floor lamps, strategic use of asian curios and contemporary decor makes for a unique look. If you are lucky, they will seat you at the tables with the high backs. Enough to make you feel like a king/queen, these plush thrones help set the mood for an evening to remember.

The one caveat – remember that kings & queens have money and you must expect to pay well for this experience. As with all upscale lounges, you will leave with your wallet a wee bit lighter.

My recco – Go with someone special + make reservations, but go early. Spend a while chilling at the lounge or bar and then head up to the dining area. Make it a long, slow evening!

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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