Mekong is a trans-boundary river in South East Asia passing through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the world’s 12th longest river and the 7th longest one in Asia. It passes through most of the oriental territory and true to this spirit stands the highest Asian restaurant in India – By the Mekond, on the 37th floor of the St. Regis in Lower Parel, Mumbai.
Heard and read a lot about this place from multiple sources, I decided to have a meal here myself. And one fine afternoon, I get off at Lower Parel local station, and walk about 1km to St. Regis, take the elevator to the 37th floor and settle myself into a cozy table by the wall. The only thing is the wall is entirely glass and from there I can see the waves rising and falling in the sea in the distance, the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, the Nehru planetarium, Haji Ali, the Mahalaxmi local station, a lot of Mumbai Central and so much more. As a kid, I always heard from elders that from a lot of height, people and cars below appear like ants. This was the first time I was actually getting to see it that way.
By the Mekong, the fabulous Asian cuisine restaurant, is reminiscent of evocative memories and moods down a waterway – floating twigs, passing scenes and emerald hues. Helmed by a team of native chefs, and awarded as the finest Asian restaurant in Mumbai, Mekong takes you on a culinary journey through the districts of Yunan and Sichuan in China, and through Thailand and Vietnam.
By the Mekong encourages diners to take a culinary journey down its namesake river transporting guests from Mumbai to the old world mystique of the river’s cuisines. It has one of the best views in the city, overlooking the Mahalaxmi Racecourse witht he Arabian sea lapping the southern and western shores of the city. Enjoy the exclusivity of the place, and the truly unique Chinese tastes of Yunnan, the province with a great variety of remarkable cuisine – aromatic, flavorsome with a strong ethnic character.
From China, By the Mekong takes guests down the river with cuisines from Vietnam and Thailand. Experience the four flavors that are the main tenets of the region’s cooking – Salty, Sour, Sweet and Hot. When blended together with the specialty herbs, spices and ingredients of the region, these create a perfect balance of tastes that surprise the palate. Adding to the exclusive ambiance are three private dining areas for a rarefied gathering where fine food & sparkling conversations take center stage.
I had booked myself a fixed menu with the help Wowtables, a special concierge service available in cities like Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru. I picked up one of their offered experiences, booked myself on the day and time of my choice and it was all set and confirmed.
The menu for me for my selected experience had the following:
Course I: Appetizers (Any 1)
- Crispy vegetable spring rolls with house sweet chili sauce
- Crispy boneless chicken with honey and chilies
Course II: Dim Sum (Any 1)
- Steamed Pea and Edamame Dumplings
- Steamed Yam, Celery and Water Chestnut Dumplings
- Steamed Chicken Dumplings
Course III: Soup (Any I)
- Chinese Hot and Sour Vegetarian Soup
- Chinese Hot and Sour Chicken Soup
Course IV: Mains (Any 1)
- Braised Eggplant in Hot Garlic sauce
- Vegetarian Thai Red Curry with Sweet Basil
- Claypot Chicken in Sichuan Chili Bean Paste
- Steamed Fish in Soya and Ginger
Course V: Staples (Any 1)
- Wok Fried Rice with Mixed Vegetables
- Vegetable Phad Thai Noodles
- Wok Fried Noodles with Mixed Vegetables
Course VI: Dessert (Any 1)
- Roasted Banana with Sago Pearls, Coconut Milk and Vanilla Ice Cream
- Chocolate Mud Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
The total cost of the entire experience was Rs. 1200 inclusive of all taxes and service charges (for one person).
Being a vegetarian, some of the choices were already made. It’s a fixed, limited meal, so no second helpings or re-orders. My final choices were:
Appetizers: Crispy vegetable spring rolls with house sweet chili sauce
The crispy spring rolls were cute, small, bite-sized. Crisp on the outside, crunchy on the inside, fresh filling, no doughy feel, no oil oozing out. Just perfect. The house sweet chili sauce had the heat of the chili, toned down by sweet honey, a blend of sweet and spicy, tingling the tastebuds, and a perfect accompaniment to the rolls.
Dim Sum: Steamed Pea and Edamame Dumplings
They were delicious, soft, a brilliant green stuffing. No doughy feeling, just perfect. I took the burnt chili sauce served on the table with these. I am now a huge fan of the burnt chili sauce, and I keep asking for it in all oriental restaurants I visit, but alas, I don’t find it anywhere, so I guess I would have to go back to the Mekong to have it. And the dumplings too!
Soup: Chinese Hot and Sour Vegetarian Soup
Full of crunchy exotic vegetables and tender tofu, this thick hot and sour soup was more than I could ask for. Not watery, not oily that I often tend to encounter in a lot of restaurants. It is so perfect that I am at a loss to even find the right words to describe it. A thick consistency soup, with perfectly cooked veggies and the tender tofu providing a relief to the otherwise hot soup is amazing, I can still feel the taste in my head.
Mains: Vegetarian Thai Red Curry with Sweet Basil
A huge fan of the Thai Red Curry, I couldn’t resist ordering it, I could chuck the eggplant for once though it sounded really exotic and delicious too. The curry was thick, with loads of vegetables – zucchini, mushrooms, beans, corn, peppers and herbs like basil, etc. I could have it just by itself, but my choice of staples got determined by this. Noodles wouldn’t generally go well with a Thai Red Curry, so I stuck to the conventional Fried Rice to go with it.
Staples: Wok Fried Rice with Mixed Vegetables
The plain-jane wok fried rice. Nothing fancy, nothing out of the box. Simple. And that’s where it’s beauty lies. It was simple and easy-going, just enough to accentuate the flavors of the Thai Red Curry I was going to have it with. Nice flavor of the garlic stuck through, made the mains more enjoyable.
Dessert: Roasted Banana with Sago Pearls, Coconut Milk and Vanilla Ice Cream
This one is something I chose on a whim, just because I found myself amused by the name. The other option was a Choco mud pie. I told myself that I could have a choco mud pie anywhere, it wasn’t something rate, though I am sure By the Mekong would have made it unforgettable and unlike any other mud pies I have ever had. But I still felt amused, maybe even intrigued by the other one, so I chose that. Arrived a white dish with a small bowl in the middle having a light green shade of liquid, almost the shade of pistachio milkshake. In it floated pieces of roasted banana, sago pearls, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, that was slowly melting out. It tasted out of the world. Not too sweet, yet not bland, it was too good. The roasted banana gave a refreshing banana flavor without the mushy feel. The sago pearls were a fun element. The flavor of coconut milk in the dessert was great and complemented well by the vanilla ice cream. I would never forget this dessert, and I don’t have an ounce of regret of choosing it over mud pie. It was a perfect finish to a magnificent meal.
Would I visit this restaurant again? Definitely. Is it expensive? Maybe, but it is worth every single penny I paid for sitting here and eating. The service here is great, it is invisible. My glass of water gets refilled as if it’s automatic, I don’t even realize it had gotten empty, I didn’t ask for water even once. I never served myself anything, the moment my plate was on the verge of getting empty, I had the attendant appear next to me ready to serve me more, or with the next course. No waiting for the next course to arrive, cursing everybody who comes to mind for causing the delay. Very meticulous and attentive staff, I am extremely impressed. And I am not easily impressed, I am sure. I don’t regret spending Rs.1200 on my entire meal, I would have been willing to pay more too. When there is great service and great food with a great view, I wouldn’t mind paying, most customers won’t.
My report card –
Taste – 10/10
Ambiance – 10/10
Value for Money – 10/10
Service – 10/10