This guide is flavoured with nostalgia, budget-friendliness, and a little train travel. It’s delicious!
Remember the old days when you’d visit a dimly lit restaurant with the entire family and slurp on manchow soup in unison? Or the times you sent the manchurian back with the delivery boy because the dumplings were soaked in gravy despite your instructions to have it served ‘dry’? Well, for some of us, that was last weekend.
There’s been a seismic shift in Mumbai’s definition of Chinese cuisine. But while townies and Bandraites debate subtle differences in Sichuan and Cantonese flavours, in the 'burbs, the greasy, soy-stained, laminated menus of the ’80s and ’90s still exist. The Malad-Kandivali-Borivali belt in particular, is peppered with eateries that serve Indian-Chinese staples in melamine plates with no mention whatsoever of monosodium glutamate.
If you’ve ever put one too many drops of soy sauce into your sweet corn soup or foraged through capsicum, chilli, and onion for that last piece of paneer, read on. This guide is flavoured with nostalgia, budget-friendliness, and a little train travel. It’s delicious!
If you’re inexplicably drawn to heaps of neon orange fried rice served in bright yellow plates, Schezwan everything and the love of the common people, head to Uncle’s Kitchen. The Mith Chowki landmark recently changed location to a nearby lane, but its established popularity ensures a minimum wait of 20-30 minutes for a table on weekends. Crowd-pleasers include Drums of Heaven (chicken lollypops), triple fried rice, and pretty retro sized portions.
Uncle’s Kitchen, Ground Floor, Buena Vista, Sunder Lane, Opposite St. Anne's School, Orlem, Malad (w), Mumbai 400 064. Phone: 022 2888 1752
At Fire Bowl, what you see is what you get. The extensive menu features vibrant pictures of soups, chopsuey and everything in between. You could spend time poring over the menu, or just follow conventional wisdom and order burnt garlic fried rice with gobi manchurian. Eat at the restaurant only if you can slurp your noodles with a gaudy, red-eyed dragon staring you down. Or else choose the efficient home delivery option.
Fire Bowl, Ground Floor, Aruna Residency, Atmaram Compound, Near Dalmia College, Sundar Nagar, Malad (w), Mumbai 400 064. Phone: 022 6504 0002
Lama’s Corner never fails to pack a pungent punch of nostalgia. Red plastic stools? Check. Option of half or full portions? Check. Folding pamphlet menu? Check. Spelling errors on said menu? Check, check, check. The vegetarian menu includes familiar favourites like sweet corn soup, Hakka ‘noodels’, Chinese bhel, plus an entire section dedicated to paneer lovers.
Lama’s Corner, Shop No. 1, Krishna Apartment, Bhatt Lane, SV Road, Kandivali (w), Mumbai, 400 067. Phone: 098214 43899
Unlike the derivative restaurant chains cropping up across the city, this mononymous establishment has an uncomplicated menu with neat columns and year-round discounts that could put online shopping sites to shame. The manchow soup alone is worth the trek to Charkop, but the Singapore rice and Chicken 65 have their fair share of fans. All food is sans ajinomoto.
Wok, Shop 2/3, Plot 118, Ila Apartment, Charkop Sector 4, Kandivali (w), Mumbai 400 067. Phone: 022 2868 6399
As a teenager, every time I walked down LT Road, I would stop to read the bold calligraphic script that declared; Night Evil – “Our only competitors are in China”. While that statement may need corroboration, their confidence is commendable. The mushroom chilly (dry) and vegetarian Manchurian (gravy) are quite good too. Comparatively higher prices and cramped quarters may deter new diners, but old-timers swear by the sizzling chicken Schezwan noodles at the oldest Chinese restaurant in Borivali.
Night Evil, Hari Darshan, Opposite St. Anne’s High School, Lokmanya Tilak Road, Borivali (w), Mumbai 400 092. Phone: 022 2892 2889
Choi Kim Cuisine
The intricate red and golden wrought iron gateway at Choi Kim acts as a portal, transporting patrons back to the ’90s. There’s obviously an AC section decorated with dragons, hand fans, mandalas and other such tropes. Of course, they have staple Indian Chinese dishes at pocket-friendly prices. Chicken lollypop, spring rolls, American chopsuey – you can have it all. The more contemporary wine ribs and Hunan pork are welcome additions to the otherwise vintage menu.
Choi Kim Cuisine, Ground Floor, Mansi Enclave, IC Colony, Borivali (w), Mumbai 400 103. Phone: 022 2892 8332
Though technically in Dahisar, Hill View makes it to this list because it never fails to deliver, albeit a tad late at times. When our family discovered the concept of ordering in, Chinese was our poison of choice, and Hill View the executioner. The restaurant itself is tiny, bare, and has no actual view, but the aroma of paneer chilly and Hunan chicken is enough to ensnare customers. However, it’s the radioactive American chopsuey – orange gravy oozing over the top of a volcano of crumbled fried noodles – that ensures lifelong loyalty to Hill View.
Hill View, Sterling Avenue, Kandarpada, Link Road, Dahisar (w), Mumbai 400 068. Phone: 022 2892 3344
Feature photograph copyright Brent Hofacker - stock.adobe.com
— With arrangements from ciystory.com