Drive through Byculla in the morning and you will see streets lined by bakeries, many attached to Irani restaurants and stores, all doling out laadi pao, poee and brun. You can lose count of the plates of kheema pav being served during lunchtime, and press your noses against old-school dessert vitrines after.
But running parallel to the old Byculla is a new story, where visiting chefs from LA cook for a swish set of Mumbai diners; where indie filmmakers screen their movies at the neighbourhood’s recently revived museum; where people set up secret restaurants at home and recommend pond-facing rooms for your next big bash.
Request for an UberHIRE and use this Brown Paper Bag guide to hop between new and nostalgia in Byculla.
Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum
This museum has witnessed a revival of sorts in recent times, organizing walking tours, Movie at the Museum nights, and incredible exhibits by
the likes of Sudarshan Shetty, Dayanita Singh and more. They also offer postgraduate diplomas in Contemporary Indian Art & Curatorial Studies; and hold classes to teach you everything from how to play the sitar and sarod, to filmmaking on your phone!
Where: Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan (Rani Baug), 91/A, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Byculla (E), call 23731234, 10 am to 5.30 pm.
The Great Eastern Home
You can spend days wandering through the many expansive rooms that make up this home store, marveling at antique beds and chandeliers from another era, peeping into Chinese medicine cabinets and colonial drawer sets. Secret: the
back room facing a lotus pond can be rented out for parties.
Where: 25-29, Dr. Ambedkar Road, near Rani Baug, Byculla, call 23770079, visit http://www.thegreateasternhome.com.
A long, low-key storefront and warehouse is the reason all of little D’Lima Street in Byculla smells of bread. The Iranis of Wibs started their establishment as KhodadadRestaurant, Stores and Bakery four generations ago, and took a couple of right turns through history to arrive at their present identity, Western India Bakers, suppliers of Wibs to all of the island city. You can stop by for their signature loaves, as well as laadi pao and brun, at any time of day or night — it’s open around the clock.
Where: D’Lima Street, off Nawab Tank Road, near Dockyard Road station (E), call 23747024.
Bombay’s most cult kebab-shop, Sarvi was born in the 1910s at a junction where Byculla’s Catholic, Irani and Bohri Muslim cultures flowed, and still flow, into one another. But its roti-kebab- biryani menu — supplemented, naturally, with caramel custard — is the
heritage of North Indian Islam, and has found many imitators in Byculla over the decades as demography and tastes have shifted.
Where: Nagpada Junction, corner of Sophia Zuber St and Dimtimkar Road, call 9820142967.
Magazine Street Kitchen
The buzziest new bakery on the block is also probably the hardest to find, and entails a lurch east of the Bombay Port Trust Road into the Devidayal industrial estate at Darukhana, where Britannia once ran an office. There’s no sale counter at this glossy, super-modern outfit, but as you probably know, the bread retails online and at the owners’ Colaba jewel, The Table. Also, check their Facebook page for a schedule of
one-night-only dinners cooked by visiting international chefs.
Where: Gala 13, Devidayal Compound, Magazine Street, Reay Road, see their Facebook page for updates, order from Mag Street Bread Co online.
The Big Spread
Farida Kutianawala, like many Bohri women now, runs a restaurant out of her Byculla home. Book in advance to attend a community-style Bohri thaal meal, where the raan, marinated overnight in tandoori spices is so soft and buttery, it will have you inquiring about the butcher (it’s Chaudari & Sons at Nal Bazaar).
Where: The Big Spread at Byculla, to book a dinner for six (minimum number required), call Fatema on 9821535884.
Regal Restaurant, Stores and Bakery
Umbilically tied to Byculla Bakery across the road — the owners come from the same family — Regal is 90 years old, and makes pao worthy of an ode: pale, crusty on the top, a little resistant through the middle, and still somehow creamy and sweet on the aftertaste. Better still, the kitchen’s kheema should be given national-treasure status. And best of all: if you’re ladies-only, you’re offered a seat in a sunny side-room with other girls who will gossip, write, and brood by themselves like they’re sitting by the Seine.
Where: Ambedkar Road, between Byculla Station (E) entrance and Palace Talkies, call 23723270.
Roshan Bakery + Roshan’s Rotis
Roshan’s bright new saffron signage makes it the spiffiest shop on Love Lane, but Roshan’s Sliced Loaf and crusty, airy mawa cakes now
have a partner with at least as much history. Nagpada’s old Gama Rotiwala, inspired by India’s most famous wrestler, has found a new home on the premises after a redevelopment plan forced it to relocate. The ‘Gamma Roti,’ white and melt-in-the-mouth
soft when it’s hot.
Where: Love Lane/Seth Motisha Lane, next to Swagath Lunch Home, call 23722257/23736908.
The American Express Bakery
A handsome pink heritage building houses the firm that’s offered to “knead your needs” since 1908. A quiet little café offers respite from Clare
Road’s chaos, along with fig-mint roast chicken sandwiches on ridiculously soft, porous bread — and of course the patisserie in those glass cupboards to which your grandparents probably pressed their noses.
Where: AEB House, Clare Road/Mirza Ghalib Marg, call 23084441.
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