Best Bombay Restaurants for Business Meet and Greets

To talk privately, celebrate, impress, break ice and bread – these six Bombay restaurants do brisk business

Though it lacks the glitzy sheen of some of India’s newer business hubs, south Bombay continues to be India’s financial epicenter, serving as headquarters for everything from the Reserve Bank to the stock exchange to the nation’s mint.

No wonder then that the area boasts many work-friendly restaurants.

We polled some city professionals — lawyers, fund managers, bankers and finance media folk — and zeroed in on the six best Bombay restaurants for different business occasions.

Wasabi by Morimoto: Best Bombay restaurant to impress a business colleague

Wasabi Mumbai

This restaurant is like a pearl, embedded in the dramatic seascape corner of the city’s fabled Taj Mahal hotel, overlooking bobbing craft anchored at the Gateway of India.

Wasabi, the Taj’s first-floor Japanese restaurant, is also is one of the most expensive tables in the city, at Rs 4,500 per person, not counting the sake.

Some 28 varieties of fresh seafood are flown in once a week from Japan to supply the sushi and live teppanyaki counters.

Sushi on offer can rival any Japanese restaurant in any other major world city, but caters to Indian palates with an outstanding vegetarian selection including Mexican-inspired delectable guacamole tacos.

Know your menu: Soft-shell crab sushi rolls; rock shrimp tempura with spicy mayo; white fish carpaccio; steamed Chilean sea bass with blackbean sauce, chef’s scallions, ginger, hot oil; and Miso-marinated black cod.

Lunch: 12:30 p.m.-2:45 p.m. Dinner: 7 p.m.-11:45 p.m.

For reservations call Taj Mahal Palace, P J Ramchandani Marg, Apollo Bandar, Colaba;             +91 (0)22 6665 3366      ; www.tajhotels.com

Thai Pavilion: Best Bombay restaurant for a private business meeting

Thai Pavillion Mumbai

With its hushed tones and dark interiors, Thai Pavilion is Bombay’s answer to Bangkok fine dining.

It’s a choice place to hold a private business lunch meeting.

TP, as its affectionately known, was refurbished in 2007 and is spacious enough to make eavesdropping on neighbors difficult.

Its location at the Taj Vivanta in Cuffe Parade, makes it a convenient meeting ground for out-of-town business guests who like to stay at Taj’s business hotel.

As far as Thai food goes, this is the Bombay’s best on offer.

Know your menu: Gaeng Ped Thai red curry with jasmine rice, Pla Nueng Manao steamed John Dory with lemon and garlic sauce and Phad Phak stir-fried mixed vegetables in a Thai sauce.

Dinner approximately Rs 3,000 per head and lunch Rs 2,000 per head, with one drink.

Lunch: 12:30 p.m.-3 p.m. Dinner: 7 p.m.-midnight

For reservations call Taj Vivanta, 90 Cuffe Parade;             +91 (0)22 6665 0808      ; www.vivantabytaj.com

Frangipani: Best Bombay restaurant for a business lunch

Frangipani Mumbai

The Trident’s all-day restaurant is a favorite amongst local business folk, given its extensive hot and cold buffet lunch spread.

Diners are spoilt for choice, with a variety of salads and appetizers, a generous Indian menu as well as à la carte for those in the mood for Continental or Italian.

Plus its ample seating often allows for last-minute reservations and walk-ins.

In other words, it’s perfect for those impromptu, no-fuss work lunches.

Know your menu: Salad of chevre and ruccola with citrus fruits and crisp almonds; aglio olio spaghetti; sour dough margherita and four cheese pizzas; and Jambalaya-style risotto with Chorizo sausages, shrimps and ham.

Budget for Rs 2,000 per head without alcohol.

Open 7 a.m.-12:30 a.m.

For reservations call Trident Hotel, Opposite Air India Building, Nariman Point;             +91 (0)22 6632 6310      , 6632 4343; www.tridenthotels.com

Khyber: Best Bombay restaurant for Indian food experience  

Khyber Mumbai

Khyber’s Mughlai cuisine is guaranteed to work with both foreign and desi business colleagues.Its kebab and curry friendly menu reads like a greatest hits from north India, with a heavy dose of Bombay thrown in with kali mirch rawas, a spicy local fish marinated in black pepper yogurt, or the crab bhurjee (stir fried spiced crab, onions and tomatoes).

It’s a better choice for a business dinner than lunch, because after a heavy Tandoori meal it’s near impossible to work.

Know your menu: There’s 10 different types of kebabs, and vegetarians won’t be disappointed either, with a big thumbs-up to the pudina gobi (cauliflower marinated in mint yogurt) and the achari mushroom, or pickled mushrooms grilled on charcoal.

With most dishes under Rs 500, Khyber offers good value for money too, making it a preferred dining destination for big group business dinners. Rs 1,500 per head without drinks.

Lunch: 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m. Dinner: 7 p.m.-11:45 p.m.

145 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort;             +91 (0)22 4039 6666      ; www.khyberrestaurant.com

Indigo: Best Bombay restaurant to break the ice

Indigo Mumbai

Beloved by locals, Indigo has long been a must-stop on every Bombay visitor’s list.

There’s something warm and familiar about this 12-year-old fine dine restaurant that pioneered modern European food served up with a South Asian edge and a healthy dose of ambience, outside the gambit of Bombay’s five-star hotels.

In good weather, the upstairs al fresco dining captures Bombay’s laid-back yet boho chic mood, but if you’d rather be indoors, there’s a lively buzz to the downstairs space, with the long bar and lounge setting the tone for a fun evening out.

What’s truly great about Indigo is that it allows your dining experience to be whatever you want it to be — casual for some, formal enough for others.

Know your menu: Recommended dishes are the lobster risotto, the caramelized onion flan, buffalo tenderloin with braised oxtail, asparagus-stuffed gnocchi and beetroot carpaccio.

Indigo is also well priced, with average cost per head at Rs 2,000 with a glass of wine.

Lunch: Noon-3 p.m. Dinner: 7 p.m.-11:45 p.m.

4 Mandlik Road, Apollo Bandar;             +91 (0)22 6636 8999      ; www.foodindigo.com

Hakkasan: Best Bombay restaurant to celebrate closing a deal   

Hakkasan Mumbai

The most buzz worthy opening in Bombay this year, where nouvelle Chinese meets London chic, Hakkasan is best enjoyed when you don’t have to worry about the bill — and what better way to do so than a deal closing dinner?

Hakkasan’s pricing has already made it a legend among Bombay’s chatterati, making it a sure fire winner with all those hard working colleagues looking for an emphatic pat on the back (and a night out on company expense).

The bar scene at the Ling Ling lounge is buzzing towards the end of the week, so after a sumptuous meal you can retire to digestifs for a fitting finale and blend with the crowd.

Know your menu: Hakka steamed dim sum basket, crispy duck salad, salt and pepper squid, roasted silver cod with Champagne and Chinese honey, stir-fry lotus root and asparagus in black pepper, Mabo tofu with chicken and Sichuan pickled vegetables and steamed whole crab.

Average price per head is Rs 5,500, with one drink.

Lunch: Noon-3:30 p.m. Dinner: 7-11:30 p.m.

Krystal, Waterfield Road, Bandra (W); +91 (0)22 2644 4444, 2644 4445; hakkasan.com/mumbai

Places to Visit During Chocolate Week

Europe goes chocolate crazy in October, with major fairs and celebrations – but you can become a chocolate tourist almost anywhere. 

The United Kingdom has declared this week Chocolate Week. Normally we’d scoff and cry “shameless marketeering”.

But when it involves chocolate, that simple blend of cocoa, milk and sugar that can turn any forlorn depressive into a smiling, sighing blob of bliss, we say “why not?”

Chocolate tourism has now gone global, so here are 10 top adventures around the world for chocoholics.

 1. Make chocolate on a cocoa plantation, St. Lucia

The Hotel Chocolat

Discover the roots of your chocolate addiction.

British chocolate makers Hotel Chocolat have opened a hotel on their St. Lucia plantation. When not sunning, swimming or relaxing in their “cocoa pods”, as rooms are dubbed, guests can visit the plantation, lend the harvesters a hand and enjoy a “tree-to-bar” experience, in which they partake in every step of making their own confectionery.
Prices: Rooms from US$450
The Hotel Chocolat, Rabot Estate, Soufriere, St. Lucia, West Indies; +1 800 757 7132; www.thehotelchocolat.com

2. Visit artisan chocolate-makers in Tuscany’s Chocolate Valley

chocolate tours

And you thought eating chocolate was easy.

Tuscany may be better known for its wines and picturesque hill towns, but the region’s Chocolate Valley is becoming a must-see. The area is famous for fine chocolate makers including Bianchini, Enoteca Pinchiorri, Slitti and Catinari-Agliana, plus the chocolate factories of De Bondt and Amedei – rated by many the world’s most gourmet chocolate.
Four-day tour from $1792 at www.seventypercent.com

 3. Stuff yourself at a chocolate bar, United States

Langham Boston

Whose round? I’ll have a pint of truffles.

Boston’s chocoholics creep into the historic downtown Langham Hotel on Saturdays to stuff themselves at an all-you-can-eat chocolate bar.

Fare includes a legendary chocolate croissant bread pudding as well as the usual truffles, whoopie pies and choccie sculptures.
Prices: Adults US$40, under-12s US$28
Langham Boston, 250 Franklin St., Boston, Massachusetts, United States; +1 617 451 1900; boston.langhamhotels.com

4. “Choc around the clock walk,” Belgium

www.choco-late.be

Choc mate.

This little country has made itself synonymous with good chocolate, and its most picturesque city, Bruges, goes mad with a “Choc in Bruges” month starting November 6.

There’s a “choc around the clock” walk, a museum dedicated to the luscious confection and a choice of creative chocolate menus in 14 different restaurants. The pinnacle is the Choco Laté Festival, from November 13-18, featuring more than three dozen of the city’s chocolate shops.

Bruges Belfry, Bruges, Belgium, www.choco-late.be

5. Mayan chocolate massage, Mexico

chocolate massage

Yes, I’m a chocoholic. Rub it in, why don’t you.

As the Mayans invented and revered chocolate, it’s natural they would find meaning in rubbing it all over themselves as well as drinking the stuff.

At the Tides Riviera Maya, the Xocolate ritual is performed with due ceremony in a semi-al fresco treatment room in the middle of the jungle. Cocoa shells are used to slough off dead skin cells before massaging the whole bod with warm cocoa butter — and the whole ritual starts with a shamanic blessing.

Prices: Xocolate ritual US$220, rooms from US$585
Playa Xcalacoco Frac 7, Quintana Roo, Mexico; +1 310 752 0960; www.tidesrivieramaya.com
6. Cook like a chocolate pro, France
Valrhona

Become the best girl/boyfriend ever.

But you don’t have to be a pro to take a one- or two-day course in their chocolate cookery school. The nearest airport is Lyon, a gourmet town full of artisan chocolate-makers — but there are also branches of the school in Paris and Tokyo.
Prices: US$385 for a two-day course

Valrhona, 8 quai du General de Gaulle, Tain l’Hermitage, France; +33 4 75 07 90 95; ecole-gourmet.valrhona.com

7. Enjoy an in-room chocolate fountain, England

Chocolate Boutique Hotel

Taking the pillow chocolate concept to a whole new level.
This small hotel on England’s south coast will deliver a chocolate fountain to your room with strawberries for dipping, and offer you a truffle-making workshop in their kitchen.
Naturally, the whole place is decked out in shades of chocolate and cream, there are choccie cocktails and breakfast includes chocolate crepes and the best hot chocolate you’re likely to taste outside Bruges (see above).
Prices: Rooms from US$165 double, chocolate-making workshops from US$74
Chocolate Boutique Hotel, 5 Durley Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, England; +44 1202 556 857; www.thechocolateboutiquehotel.co.uk

8. Chocolate and wine matching, Australia

 Hahndorf Hill Winery

Perfect partner to a Pinot Noir.
Hahndorf Hill Winery in the Adelaide Hills is famous for chocolate and wine pairings, featuring gourmet chocolate of single origin by the world’s top producers and confections by local artisan chocolatier Steven ter Horst.
Their ChocoVino Experience has been rated as one of the top 10 food and wine touring options in South Australia, and teetotalers are welcome to taste the chocolate too.
Prices: From US$10 or US$20 with wine
Hahndorf Hill Winery, Hahndorf, South Australia; +61 8 8388 7512; www.hahndorfhillwinery.com.au 

9. Get wrapped in chocolate, Austria Hotel Sacher

“Sweet chocolate body care.” Just the sound of it will make you melt.
The two-hour treat involves being peeled with a purifying cocoa bean extract, wrapped in a rich chocolate body mask and getting professionally caressed with something described as “sweet chocolate body care.”
Prices: Treatment US$250, room rates from US$508 Hotel Sacher
Philharmonikerstrasse 4, Vienna, Austria; +43 1 514560; www.lhw.com/sacher
10. Chocolate Dream Park, China China Chocolate Dream
Chocolate handbags, for the woman who wants it all … to eat.
Last year it was Beijing; this December, it will be Shanghai’s turn to host the annual Chocolate Dream Park, which has become an annual highlight of the Chinese winter.
Nearly half a million visitors are expected at this year’s chocolate wonderland, packed with beautifully crafted works of edible art. They will include Shanghai’s most iconic architectural landmarks – all made out of chocolate.Himalayan Centre, Pudong, December 16-February 19, 2012

 Thanks, Anthea!

How To: Make Money from Your Hotel Room

Condo hotels are the latest investment for business travelers and second home buyers in Mumbai

Tuscany Terraces
Owners can use the room their at Tuscany Terraces for 30 days a year, and share rental profits from the rest of the year with the resort.

Condo hotels – a relatively new concept in India – allow buyers to buy a hotel room to live in for a certain number of days per year, and rent it out for the rest of the time. Profits are split between the owner and the hotel.

“Typically, hotel properties give higher yields, about 20 percent over time, than commercial properties,” said Anand Narayanan, a property consultancy at Knight Frank India.

India’s first condo hotel, Tuscany Terraces, a luxury resort at Neral outside Mumbai, has already sold 100 rooms.  The resort is owned by Silvexity Group in partnership with Best Western.

Each room (64 square meters) costs Rs 280,000 for 30 days in a given year; a 102-square-meter room costs around Rs 460,000.How to make money

Although the room sounds a lot more than it actually it is – they call it an “apartment” whereas it’s no more than a suite – it’s the facilities that make the deal sweeter.

These include swimming pools, a health club, spa, multi-cuisine restaurant, lounge bar, library and games rooms. The resort also hosts conference and banqueting facilities.

Not to mention not having to pay electricity or water charges, or property tax. And being able to order a burger in bed.

Room-owners can also exchange stay-days in holiday resorts across India and Sri Lanka.

“We introduced Tuscany Terraces because we felt there was a big market for real estate products which can be used not only for leisure but also for investment purposes,” said Amod Singh, vice president of strategic finance at Silvexity Group.

“It enables customers to own a holiday home and at the same time earn guaranteed rental on the property. Holiday home buyers tend to use their property for around a month every year,” he added.

However, buyers at condo hotels in other parts of the world have experienced resale problems and higher-than-expected operational costs.

Royal Destination: Udaipur

Udaipur is an ideal getaway for a weekend if you’re staying in Jaipur. It’s quite a bit of inter-state travel, so an ideal trip to Udaipur would be around two to three days. The best way to travel around the place would be by a tourist taxi.

Check in
One of the best hotels in the city is the Taj Lake Palace Udaipur. It has luxurious 5-star rooms with a view of the Lake Palace. Other good hotels include the Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur, The Oberoi Udaivilas and The Rajputana Resort.

Lakes and Palaces
The City Palace, Lake Palace and Jag Mandir Palace are Rajput-era monuments with breathtaking scenic beauty. The Pichola Lake has the lofty Aravalli hills on one side and soaring palaces on the other. The City Palace, with its museum, is one of the most visited attractions in the city. The Fateh Sagar Lake is another tourist favourite.

Temples
The Eklingji temple is said to be the abode of the guardian deity of Mewar (to which Udaipur was capital in the Rajput era). A four-faced, black marble idol of Lord Shiva adorns the main temple. Another cherishable visit would be to the Shri Nathji Temple in Nathwara. This 600-year old structure is adorned with picchwai paintings and is noted to be the second-richest temple in India.

Forts
Udaipur has some historic forts with great stories wound around them. The Chittaurgarh Fort was made in the 7th century and was the center of the Mewad empire. Inside the massive gates, you will see huge temples and towers that have a scenic view down-hill. Another famous fortress is the one at Kumbalgarh which dates back to the 15th century.

Restaurants by the lake
You’re guaranteed a great view and ethnic cuisine at the restaurants around the city. The Udai Kothi Hotel Rooftop Terrace Restaurant has a splendid lake-view. You cannot miss the desserts at 1559 AD. Ambrai at Hanuman Ghat has splendid ambience and the Jaiwana Haveli Roof Top Restaurant serves authentic Indian cuisine by the Lake Pichola.

Shopping
The markets of Udaipur make for great shopping, artifact collection and souvenir selecting. Hathi Pol, Bada Bazaar, Chetak Circle, Bada Bazaar and Palace Road are the popular shopping arcades. You will find collectables ranging from paintings, pottery, jewellery, handicrafts, wooden toys, and cloth lanterns to name a few.
If you find yourself travelling to Udaipur in the Spring, don’t miss the Mewar Festival celebrations. At any time of the year, a trip to Udaipur will definitely find its place in your album of memories.

Distance from Jaipur: 403 kms

Approximate travel time
Road: 5 hours 30 minutes via NH 8
Train: 6 hours 30 minutes
Air: 1 hour

Thanks, Prakriti!