Mumbai – jollies in Juhu

As Mumbai is squeezed onto a peninsula moving around the city can be a bit of a nightmare, especially when travelling by car. This is why my employer usually puts us up near where we’re working, in this case Juhu in north Mumbai. I would rather be in one of the more historical neighbourhoods like Colaba or Fort in the downtown (see my previous posts) but the logistics for my job would be a nightmare.

Juhu is actually quite a pleasant area (in contrast to Goregeon further north for example) and is quite nice to wander around, especially in the evenings.

There are plenty of things to see.

And plenty of photos to take.

Juhu has a nice long beach, although I wouldn’t want to swim in the water. Lots of people come down here for a stroll with their loved ones at dusk. Video here.

JW Marriott Hotel (Advanced A), Juhu Tara Road, www.marriott.com

In February 2018 I drew the long straw (but got the short one in 2019, see next post) and was put up at the 5 Star Marriot Hotel which is one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in.

The breakfast buffet is extensive with a wide range of fresh fruit and lots of Western and Indian options like omelettes, dosas and parathas. There’s even live tabla and sitar to listen to while you’re eating. The service is excellent if a little overbearing at times, as is the Indian way, but generally very good.

Most importantly for greedy types like me, the gym is very well equipped with half a dozen good quality treadmills and lots of weight stations. There’s also a big pool which, other users permitting, could allow you to get a few 50m lengths in.

There’s a small paddling pool for the kids too and plenty of sun loungers. Needless to say, this is where I spent most of my free time.

On my last night I discovered the Arola Bar on the ground floor where I befriended Raj the bartender who makes a great Negroni with Antica Formula, my favourite sweet vermouth, and Monkey 47, the renowned German gin (which has quite a story behind it).

In terms of food, there are a few good places to eat nearby…

Govinda’s Restaurant (Intermediate A), Juhu Church Road, ISKCON Temple, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Vile Parle West, Chand Society, MHADA Colony

This was my favourite as they do an all-you-can-eat thali for around 480Rs (in 2018), so make sure you go with an appetite! It’s all veggie as ISKON is a Hare Krishna facility but there’s no noticeable religiosity, at least not in the restaurant which is fairly formal.

According to Hare Krishna practice there is a total of fifty six items on offer as this is the magic number of offerings to God mentioned in a sacred Hindu text. Needless to say, this doesn’t include alcohol.

It does include my favourite Indian dessert Gulab Jamun; little balls of deep-fried milk solids doused in sugar syrup. To me the taste and texture is reminiscent of treacle pudding which is maybe why I like them so much.

Mahesh Lunch Home (High Intermediate B), Mahesh Lunch Home, Juhu Tara Rd, Uditi Tarang Housing Colony, Juhu Tara, www.maheshlunchhome.com

This comfortable establishment has a rep as one of the best places to eat seafood in Mumbai. It’s also the place to come if you want an alcoholic drink with your food outside the hotel. Kingfisher Ultras are a reasonable 200Rs but I’d avoid getting cocktails if their Negroni is anything to go by (C-).

I went three times in all so I got to try a few things. The starter I enjoyed the most was the Basa Tikka (B+). Basa is a kind of catfish that has a pointed fin like a shark.

The Tandoori Crab is also very good (B+).

I also had the Crab Sukka, cooked in Mangalorean spices, which was nice (B).

And I also had a regular crab for around 700Rs, which is pretty cheap by UK standards. If you ask they’ll bring the wriggling crustacean to the table for inspection. This monster was for the family sitting next to me.

Their Prawn Masala Fry didn’t impress me much (C) but the Veg Chettinadu, Dal Makhani, Seafood Rice and Steamed Basmati Rice were all fine (B).

There are a few other places in the alleys to the north of the Marriott. Everywhere I mention is on my map.

A place that’s not that great for food but has a nice ambience is the Prithvi Theatre prithvitheatre.org. There’s a large outside area where you can sit under the trees and have a non-alcholic drink.

Also worth checking out is Aleph www.facebook.com a self-described ‘hippie yoga cafe’. It’s on the first floor at 7-28/29 Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road.

Nearby is the Tea4health Restaurant at 32 Church Road where the tea is good (A/B) and the food is perfectly edible (C). We sat downstairs which was very noisy, but upstairs might be better.

This next place is a fifteen minute drive from the Marriot, towards the airport. Technically it’s not in Juhu but it’s worth the taxi ride for a good meal…

South of Vindhyas at the Orchid Hotel, Vile Parle, www.orchidhotel.com

I had a nice evening here with three friends. They serve various Southern thalis, the seafood version is the one they’re best known for (B).

It costs 1500 Rs whereas the veg thali costs 1100 Rs. A bottle of Sula Mosaic white wine (C+) is 3000Rs.

The chutney trolley is what impressed me most of all though.

When we were there they had live tabla and sitar music which was very chilled. Video here.

There’s another restaurant on the top floor where you can eat barbecued food al fresco. Coincidentally I came with my friend Nicky who had stayed here several years earlier. She rates it as a hotel too.

Unfortunately I didn’t have quite such a good time in Thane, next…

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