Life does get busy, you do get stuck in a cycle of your daily routine that you tend to go about with everyday. You forget small things in life, don’t notice things and places around you. I have been living in Mumbai all my life, yet I don’t know the hidden gems around the city. Blame it on my busy lifestyle, me being plain lazy or the simple reason that I do not want to drive through the maddening traffic and busy snarls of the city. For someone who thinks on similar lines as me, well a weekend night drive is the best way to explore Mumbai – the city that never sleeps. Read on a very different night experience around the town, where I visited a few food places tucked away in the corners of South Mumbai and the vehicle that took me to these places for the food trail, the lovely Volkswagen Passat premium sedan and the empowering Tiguan SUV.
So it all started with a phone call that I received from friends at Volkswagen knowing I am a foodie. They asked me if a night food trail sounded fun… and yes, yes, yes was my reply, as I received an email with the formal invite! The starting point for the Volkswagen Midnight Food Trail was Volkswagen Downtown, their prominent dealership at Prabhadevi, Mumbai. Reached the starting point at 9:30 pm, was welcomed by team Volkswagen and also a few lovely food bloggers who were joining me on the food trail. A quick introduction of everyone and then a small brief about the Passat and Tiguan, and we were good to go.
Excited about what lay ahead, I was behind the steering of the gorgeous Passat. Had driven this beauty on its media drive crossing more than 400kms in 5.5 hours in Rajasthan and I very well knew what this luxurious sedan was capable of in terms of comfort and safety.
The first stop for the Midnight Food Trail was the iconic Hajiali Juice Center located at Hajiali. This place has been a part of Mumbai’s history since the 1960s. It has become a pitstop for partygoers, for families, for hungry and thirsty travelers, and is frequented by celebs, along with the whos who of Page 3 alike. The menu is simple but long. Juices, shakes, faloodas, fruit with fresh cream, fruit bowls and yes they also serve pizzas, burgers, rolls and sandwiches off late.
The place is bang on the Hajiali signal junction, yet is well managed by the Juice Center people who help you neatly park your cars to avoid any traffic issue. Orders are also served in the car if you want. The place is clean and the hygiene level is good. It being the season of mangoes, Mango Cream was what I had here. Others had dry fruit cream and strawberry cream, which also looked very inviting. The Sitafal Cream here is a must have we are told. Done with the first stop, we were good to drive ahead.
It was nearing 11pm when we reached Bachelorr’s, our 2nd stop for the Midnight Foodtrail. This place is located bang on the lovely Chowpatty. A perfect night hangout for your cravings, they are very famous for their wide variety of grilled sandwiches, pizzas, yogurt, faloodas. This place also serves chaats, pasta and burgers along with some Chinese food items.
The place is crowded, but service is fast and much needed help is offered to park the car on the busy road. Do not miss out on the special Choco Banana Smoothie. A small burp after finishing my Veg Grilled sandwich, a couple of bites of the pizza and ice cream, I was ready to hop into my car, stepping into the Tiguan for the next leg of the Midnight Food Trail.
The Volkswagen Tiguan is one of the safest and sturdiest SUV that we have driven in its segment. I had loved driving it over two days from Bangalore to Chickmanglur and back, with super comfort and loads of driving pleasure on that epic drive last year.
After having the session of small grubs, it was 11:30pm and was time for the main course, with the next stop being just for that. Stop 3 was the Persian Durbar where the food originates from the Middle East. Valet service is available here and soon we were led to our special round table on the 1st floor where they have their AC dining hall.
The restaurant is all well done with Arabic interiors, paintings, lighting, mood lights etc. The feel is excellent inside and you can imagine how dining in Arabia actually feels like. The serving staff are courteous and service is quick. We ordered for some Kebabs in Mutton and Chicken, Butter Chicken, Kheema, Roomali rotis and two vegetarian dishes for the Veggies among us and yes, also some fresh lime soda to go with the food.
The kebabs tasted out of the world, very well done with a tinge of charcoal on them giving it a very good, smokey flavor. The butter chicken was good, not the best I had, rotis were nice and I did not venture into the veggies territory here on purpose. In fact, you actually get a feel of Arabia while dining here due to the ambience that goes very well with the good food served here. It was time to head to our next stop and we got into the Volkswagens.
Stop 4 was supposed to be Bade Miya which we thought of skipping and reached Ayub’s which is located at Kala Ghoda Fort and a very known hangout for kebabs and rolls. Tucked away inside a narrow lane the rule is simple here. Either park your car and walk to the place or if late night, then park and eat inside the car which we did as it was hot outside and we were more than comfortable inside the climate controlled cabin of the Tiguan.
It was 1am and we ordered for one mutton seekh roll and one Paneer Baida roti, aloo chaat and a soft drink. The roll tasted very nice, juicy and fresh. Quantity was also good, aloo chaat can be avoided, while the paneer baida roti was a mixed bag. Best thing to do here is stay with the Kebabs and the Kebab rolls, safest bet. They also serve dum biryani. Food is served in the car, servers are friendly and also help you in ordering.
Stop 5 was supposed to be Gokul, which is again located in Fort. The place was closed so we gave it a miss. Then we dashed off to the iconic Asiatic library for a quick group pic with the lovely Volkswagens that had taken us around into the wild night, exploring eating places that are mostly open till late night and early mornings. The Midnight Food Trail showed me the other side of Mumbai, the side that never sleeps, the side that is ready to satiate your hunger pangs at the late hours. Exploring Mumbai when there was zero traffic and no signals to stop at, driving the lovely and confidence-boosting Passat and Tiguan. These night food drives are so much fun and should be done atleast once a month, maybe on a weekend or a holiday. Thank you Volkswagen for showing me how and why Mumbai never sleeps.
Also if you want to read our detailed roadtest review of the Volkswagen cars just follow the links