On 16th May, after several hours of simultasking between internship work and frenzied election result tracking and discussions across WhatsApp and Twitter, a hasty plan was put together to meet and have seafood. After a lot of confusion about which restaurant to patronise, I finally suggested Highway Gomantak, which I had often heard, dishes out the best maharashtrian seafood. Since I started eating seafood when I used to live in Singapore, I myself hardly know much of the local Maharashtrian delicasies and was eager to try out the place myself.
Decor & Service
The place derives its name from the fact that it is located right off the Western Express Highway in Bandra East. A simple board in Devnagri above a small door as pictured, welcomes you to the restaurant. Though I liked the simple setting, I was quite surprised by the lack of air conditioning.
Inside the restaurant, there is not much decor to speak of. The food is served in steel plates and bowls on a wooden table. While our group of four could comfortable manage on their table meant for six, the seating is rather cramped and we would have been uncomfortable had we been a larger party. The service also wasnt much impressive as we had to wait for a considerable amount of time before anyone bothered to come to take our orders and even then, the server wasnt very interested in helping us to make a choice.
The food is where Highway Gomantak makes up for all its other (slight) lackings. When we went there, the system seemed to be that everyone orders a la carte starters i.e. fried fish and one of their many thalis as the main course. Though everyone around us seemed to be having fried bombil (bombay duck), we opted for a couple of plates of surmaifry (kingfish fry) which turned out to be fried with a deliciously crispy coating.
Each thali at Highway Gomantak comprises of rice, solkadi (a pinkish maharashtrian appetiser made from coconut milk), bits of onion, green chutney and chapati (or tandlachi (rice flour) bhakri) along with whichever seafood or chicken gravy you choose. While Mr. AA, was afraid of fishbones getting stuck in his throat and ordered surmai again, the rest of us opted for a different taste.
Ms. AM was surprised to find that the prawns in her prawn curry though plentiful, were tiny in comparison to what she was used to back home. However, even the Calcutta native admitted that the rich brown gravy was lipsmacking good.
Mr. AD ordered the Mori Masala thali, not because he knew what it entailed or had any idea of what it would taste like, but simply because he was excited seeing the dish described on the menu as Mori (SHARK) Masala.The idea of eating a sea monster enraptured him.
I ordered teesrya (clams) masala thali which turned out to be a drier dish without much gravy compared to the rest. However, Highway Gomantak thoughtfully adds a small bowl of tangy orange gravy to have with the rice. I had to specifically ask for tandlachi bhakri because if you do not, the service staff simply presumes that you shall have the chapati.
Highway Gomantak also offers the authentic maharashtrian dessert called kharvas which is a rare delicasy which not many restaurants carry on their menu. So we ended our meal at Highway Gomantak by sharing a plate ofkharvas between us.
Though all the main dishes in our thalis shared the masala nomenclature, each tasted disntinct and complemented the meat it accompanied. Everything that we ordered was delicious in its own way. So Highway Gomantak is not the sort of place where they have the same base gravy for any and every dish that you order.
Our meal which left us reasobnably fell set us back by only about Rs. 360 each which reflects very good and affordable pricing. Considering the rates, the slight lack of decor and service can be easily excused and this place is definitely the most value for money sea food restaurant that I have been to in Mumbai.
For anyone visiting Mumbai, and wanting to have good local seafood, I would definitely recommend this restaurant over its more famous (and much more costlier) counterparts such as Mahesh Lunch Home or Gajalee. Though after 8pm the heat did not bother us much, I might be much more apprehensive about visiting this place for lunch during the summer.
Overall I would rate this place : 8/10
P.S. – Despite my best efforts and photography overenthusiasm I often fail to capture the best moments. On the road to the rear of this building is an amazing icecream place where we polished off a few scoop of amazing tasting Litchee and Berry flavoured ice-creams while loudly debating and placing friendly wagers about who shall get what ministerial berths. Making several loud snide comments about several possible ministeral candidates, we were blissfully unaware about the surroundings and the fact that the others in the parlour could have been amongst the171,459,286 BJP voters. I do not even remember the name of the place. I hope I shall be able to find it again. :(UPDATE (30/05/2014) : Anonymous commentor and Ms. AM have kindly let me know that the name of that really nice Ice Cream place is Kamath Icecream! Thanks folks!