Easily the most authentic chinese meal we have enjoyed in Bombay, and a place with great ambience.

This restaurant is one with no lack of real-estate. Still, if I were you, I would book in advance and insist on a table outside. The outside seating has dimly lit pavilions over each table. There is a meandering pool filled with goldfish and small bridges to walk over. Its like a zen garden!

The inside area where we sat had its perks too. We got to see the whole kitchen and the chefs at work. My passable mandarin made me realise that the folks in charge were from China indeed. We saw them roll dumplings, make noodles and various other fancy dishes.

But let me get to the food. It was amazing. We started with a veg. dumpling soup which comes in a clay pot and is made for 2 people. Mushrooms with several different textures along with the aforementioned dumplings in a delicate clear soup. We followed this up with two main course items worth talking about.

The pan fried green beans are a rare delicacy and this is the best preparation we have had in India. Along with this, we tried the clay pot beancurd. Spicy and supported by shiitake mushrooms, bok choy and other veggies the dish is again a “best in class”.

We also had some fine freshly made rice noodles and steamed rice. The authenticity of the meal (and the flavours) were beyond compare.

I polished it down with a lychee caiprioska and we also had some nice jasmine tea. All excellent.

The waiters prevented us from over-ordering and the service was prompt without rushing us. The ambience was just perfect.

The only downside is probably the pricing. But, we do believe that when the food is not local, you often get what you pay for. We believe that the pricing is high, but we forget it in the flavours of the meal & the ambience.

The reward is a 5-bone rating for this authentic chinese oasis in the indian chinese desert out there.

My recco – Go for dinner, get a table outside and get ready to experience “real chinese” (Hunan, Cantonese style mainly) food.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Every so often there is a shift in the benchmark. The advent of Celini is one such instance.

For years, Bombay has benchmarked authentic italian food to the lovely Trattoria restaurant in Cuffe Parade. Time for Trattoria to step aside – there’s a new sheriff in town!

Celini is breath-taking in its high ceiling, modern ambience. Large comfortable sofas await you along with soothing pastel coloured walls. Modern art adorns the walls and your plate is the realm of italian classics.

This restaurant may have the best vegetarian risotto anywhere. An Italian friend ate here recently and remarked that it was as good as back home. Another must have is the wood-fired pizza. Look for the real thing here. Minimal toppings, max flavour and just the right amount of cheese.

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To accompany the meal, fresh bufala mozzarella with tomatoes and basil leaves is recommended. The pastas are all good though the vegetarian range is limited to 4-5 options here.

Some of the finest wines are available and having your pizza with a top quality pinot grigio is recommended.

The service is phenomenal but you do pay for this experience. Its an expensive meal, but you will want to come back for more.

My recco – Plan a meal here to impress your partner. Order a nice wine, some antipasti and wood-fired pizza. Enjoy this modern masterpiece of a restaurant with classical italian cuisine.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Anyone who has ever eaten a good sizzler needs to use this place as the benchmark. A stalwart in the delicate art of preparing a tasty sizzler, Yoko’s has been dishing out these fizzling platters for well over a decade now.

The biggest concern with a classic oldie is that it does not age well. Well fear not Yoko fans – this classic is still just as good.

Technically, Yoko’s offers burgers, soups, sandwiches and even some “continental” food. But, try anything other than their mainstay and shame on you!

Yoko’s offers over 10 different kinds of vegetarian sizzlers and you can do marvellous customization on just about each one. I have two picks – the Veg Shashlik comes with two skewers of paneer kababs and a tangy sauce. Fries, steamed veggies and a stewed pineapple on top complete this ensemble. The Veg sizzler with garlic & mushrooms is just awesome. Some people swap rice for fries, others swap fries for mashed potatoes. But, I just like it the way God intended – with everything!

Pair this up with a lemon ice tea or fresh lime soda and you are good to go. Once you have fought your way through the steam curtain and spotted your platter, try and polish it off. This was my claim to fame in college and I still come pretty darn close. If you are in your late 20s/early 30s and still eat like a “Complan boy/girl” you might wipe it out. But stock up on the ENO & Digene, just in case.

The ambience is no great frills and the crowd has everybody under the sun. Service is prompt, polite and reasonably helpful. Overall, this remains one of the top two places to get a sizzler in India. I recently tried the Malad(W) outlet and am happy to report that the flavour is consistent with the SV Road outlet. They cannot get 5 bones without a better ambience – sorry, but those are the rules! But, great, great food.

My recco – Head here for lunch, skip breakfast and the previous night’s dinner. Order a sizzler with everything and then wipe it out. Wash it down with some iced tea. Once you are done digesting, write to the Hound and let me know if this is the best sizzler you have ever had.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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