This is a plush luxurious eating experience.

Spices is located in the uber-upscale JW Marriott hotel which actually sits on Juhu beach. This killer eatery sets the mood from the get-go. It teased us in, with a long candle-lit corridor greeting us at the entrance. The walls are lined with silk cushions and there is a water channel on either side of the dark wood floor which forms the walkway.

The main seating area is soothingly lit and has ample spacing between tables. No need to jostle for space here. The dark wood and silk theme continues with the tables and apholstery, ensuring you are suitably inspired for the meal ahead.

The menu is actually quite diverse with good offerings from Japan, Thailand and China. We recommend focusing on the Japanese or Thai food. There is actually a Spices Sushi bar as well, and this emphasis on Japenese food continues with their Teppanyaki menu, with food prepared at the table. Teppanyaki is not vegetarian friendly and the server had only one tofu teppanyaki suggestion, which he seemed unconvinced with himself.

On the other hand, the sushi menu has quite a few vegetarian options, and the Kappa Maki (cucumber rolls) are actually excellent. The presentation is top notch, and the wasabi (green horse-radish paste) and ginger were fresh. There are very good avocado sushi and mixed veg sushi plates also available.

A good accompaniment is the miso soup, which is top notch. Probably the most famous, traditionally vegetarian japanese dish, this tofu based clear soup is delivered impeccably at Spices. Delicately flavoured it balances out the striking flavour of the wasabi, which I always tend to overdo anyway.

The piece de resistance was the Vegetarian Udon soup, which has thick meaty Udon noodles in a thin soya-flavoured broth. The authenticity of flavours is unmistakable and the chefs have resisted the urge to spice up this delicacy.

The Thai food has limited vegetarian options and we recommend asking the server to guide you through it. We had some wonderfully silken tofu red curry and veg thai fried rice. Both were pretty good. The highlight was the tofu itself which seemed freshly made.

The bill was high as expected in a top 5-star hotel’s restaurant. It seemed worth the hit – the ambience, the aromas and the flavours made for a singular experience. We give Spices a full 5 bones.

My recco – Go for dinner on a special occasion or for a “pick me up” meal. Pamper yourself in an authentic japanese or thai meal, just don’t have a bit of both!

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Japanese food is the rage in Bombay and a number of high-end eateries have entered with the goal of servicing this demand. Origami, on the top floor of the upscale Atria Mall is one of the better ones.

Many people associate Japanese food with raw fish. The truth is that the Japanese like all their food fresh and well presented. The actual raw material includes many vegetarian staples and several dishes are meant to be vegetarian.

There are several courses in traditional japanese food, and Origami provides good veg dishes in all courses. We strongly recommend the veg sushi and mainly kappa maki (cucumber rolls). They also offer avocado rolls and other mixed veg rolls. The wasabi is sharp, the ginger is literally in the pink of health, and the soya sauce is Kikkoman – need I say more?

There is also the fried veg tempura which is served with an excellent tempura sauce. The veggies themselves could be better, however.

For the main course, we recommend the Veg Bento box. This delightfully presented dish, comes served in the compartments of a wooden shadow box. The edamame (steamed snow peas) was a pleasant surprise and was fresh and crisp.

Another couple good options include Tofu & miso steak and the Veggies in teriyaki sauce.

There are some good sake options, and the servers can assist you in making that decision. If undecided, you could always wash the food down with some icy Asahi beer.

The service is prompt and courteous and reasonably helpful. I only wish they stopped trying to push the thai dishes and recommending “spicy” dishes. The delicate flavours of the japanese food actually comes through very well.

The main downside is the astronomical pricing. Authentic Japanese food is still rare in Bombay, but this pricing still keeps it out of the reach of most.

My recco – Go here for a smart business lunch or dinner with someone close. This is an impressive experience all around.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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We love Thai food and so the premier Thai restaurant in Bandra is a place we visit occasionally.

Thai Ban is a quaintly decorated eatery located in the restaurant rich neighbourhood of Pali Naka. The smells in the restaurant conjure up images of a sumptuous treat to come, and it is not too far off the fact.

The appetizers and soups section is pretty decent and we recommend the Steamed Veg thai spring rolls and the Fried corn cakes. They have also recently introduced a Tofu & Bell pepper satay which is not bad, though not 100% authentic. The Tom Yum (fiery clear thai soup) and Tom Kha (coconut  milk soup) are decent without being spectacular.

For those in mood for something different, try the Spicy young papaya salad.

The main course at Thai Ban is very good in depth and authenticity. One of the few restaurants with a good vegetarian Masaman curry, you also get a good spicy green curry. We would recommend the Tao Hood Thod, which has fried tofu in a spicy and sour sauce. Its got a tangy flavour and the tofu is just perfectly succulent. Another favourite is the Pahd Kraw Prik Je (Veggies in chilly garlic basil sauce). Fresh thai basil makes this vegetable really flavourful. They have now introduced a “make your own main course” section and we would suggest trying the Kapprao sauce (which uses Thai bird chillies).

The rices and noodles are decent, and we would recommend the Thai fried rice. Have the non-spicy option. Thai food has many subtle spices and we recommend resisting the urge to just fire up the spice on all dishes. Your digestive system would probably thank you too! The traditional favourite – Pahd Thai noodles- is only ordinary and not the best in Bombay.

Thai Ban has very few tables and is always full for lunch. So, get here early or book in advance.

Tip: This is the best eatery in the area for a working lunch. Good ambience & food and it cannot get too crowded!

The one major negative with Thai Ban is the pricing. The food is very expensive, especially for an eatery of this category. Adding to this, the portions are woefully small. They recently upped their prices and so you can expect major damages on the bill.

Tip #2: Order home delivery from here. They don’t keep the 30 min standard delivery timeline, but they do give a 10% discount on home delivery.

My recco: Go for lunch and try multiple courses – appetizers + main course + rice/noodles.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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The hippest lounge to open in Bombay in recent times, comes with a twist.

The food looks intriguing, though we did not try anything. The Patatas Bravas seemed the biggest surprise, and I would love it if someone tried it and wrote to us to tell us if it matches the Catalan original for authenticity. Hummus, fusion mediterranean and some asian fusion snacks are what you get to eat.

What you really come here for are the drinks and music. Live music every night on stage in a huge converted mill is a great concept. Even cooler – folks sit in “pods” rather than just at tables. You need to book these in advance. Each circular pod has unobstructed view to the stage and there seemed to be about 20-30 of these of various sizes. The walls of the pods change colour with the music and that adds to the lounge ambience.

The drinks looked innovative and we highly recommend the Thai Mojito. An asian rendition of the caribbean classic, it uses dark rum, chillies and coriander leaves to make a peppy, refreshing adaptation, which we really liked.

The music was great with Pune based DJ Ma Faiza lighting it up along with some dude on live saxophone. Great fusion there as well.

The energy overall is high, the prices are ok considering how hip this place is, and the ambience “one of a kind”. Definitely visit this place soon.

My recco – Book a pod, grab 4-5 close friends and spend the night having exotic drinks and grub at a fairly exotic lounge.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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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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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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