Unlike Delhi, there aren’t too many places that have al fresco dining in Mumbai. While that’s the first thing that sets Tori, the city’s new Latin-Asian fusion space in the heart of Bandra (Union Park) apart, its innovative dishes and timely service demand the same attention.
Tori comes with a new mandate — a Latin-Asian restaurant with futuristic food. It’s a tall order, mainly because post pandemic eating-out is still about comfort food than trying new things. But Tori is adventurous and hopes to meld the strong and punchy flavours of Asian and Latin cuisine, to give Mumbai something new altogether.
Launched by expat Chef Thomas Catley and entrepreneur Abhayraj Singh Kohli of Grandmama’s Cafe, each dish here speaks to the art of creating a new culture of food. Chef Thomas Catley has worked extensively in renowned restaurants in Peru, and headed Nobu in London; he is also the founder of London’s popular Peruvian restaurant chain, Pachamama. Every technique and innovation that he has learned through his travels, come together at Tori.
The decor at Tori is minimal and fuss-free, with murals of Japanese geishas alongside Latin American textiles coming together to create the coziness of a restaurant that serves up hearty flavours. The al fresco dining area is large, private, and filled with plants — a welcome addition to Mumbai’s dining scene that is fraught with noisy waiters and conversations drifting from other tables, not to mention traffic. In contrast, Tori seeks to be private (we foresee celebrity-spotting), offering a moment of calm in the city. The high walls and music help too.
Good, fresh produce is at the heart of the menu, alongside strong flavours and ingredients. For their drinks menu, the restaurant has collaborated with Bombay Duck Brewing and is serving two varieties of beers — a rice beer to showcase the East, and a stout to highlight the coffee from South America. Also on offer is a range of sake, 15 to be exact, alongside Pisco Sours that can be personalised with flavours such as the orange and cumin, cucumber and coriander, or litchi and lemongrass.
The cocktails are the real stars here. The Kyoto Sour comes with whiskey, lime, miso puree, matcha, and beer foam, while Lost in Translation features Suntory Toki whisky, shochu, shiso leaves, and spiced grenadine. I, however, settle in for a classic, the Scent of Kochi, made with Absolut and Yuzu. For teetotalers, the house-made Horchata — a delicious Mexican drink made with almond milk and rice milk, and served over ice — is a great option. The restaurant is also working with Dope coffee and Chado teas to bring in Japanese teas and coffees into the mix.
The thing to note about the food menu is that each dish at Tori comes with a slight twist or a kicker. For appetisers, we start off with the small plates menu from the cold bar, opting for the Watermelon Carpaccio — slow-roasted for eight hours it is fruit that looks like a fine piece of tuna. Once the flavours are condensed, it comes together with a bit of soy-balsamic, truffle tofu cream, pine nuts, and lemon oil — the likeness to a tuna carpaccio is spectacular, and it’s the bestseller, you can tell.
The Tuna or the Red Snapper Ceviche and the Beetroot Tartare are other favourites, we hear. The savoury Parmesan Churros with truffle tofu sauce are soft and go down easily, as do the flavoured Edamame, this time with truffle salt — it’s almost party food with a gourmet twist and the flavours crackle in your mouth.
The vegetarian menu is extensive and unique, and delights in the fresh produce. The Beer Battered Snapper Tacos are smooth, and with a tangy, spicy sauce. With sushi, we chose the classic Prawn Tempura Tanuki Maki — definitely sublime and flavourful.
The baos are a great addition to the menu, and we try the T.F.C. Bao (Tori Fried Chicken) that comes looking like a burger — robust, and with the right sauces. As for the main course, Aunty Gung’s Steamed Chicken with chilli paste, charred leeks and basil is a wholesome option, while the Bang Bang Crispy Prawns with pineapple-habanero hot sauce make for great addition. On the Tori menu is also signature hand-made noodles and a host of oils and sauces, 61 to be precise.
Tori is all about the experience — the nuanced dishes, the subtext in the drinks, and the amalgamation of two unique cuisines — and Chef Thomas Catley has done it justice. The dishes are innovative and perfect for a city like Mumbai that is always hankering after fresh produce.
Price: Rs 6,000 for two (approx.)
Ambience: Dynamic and outdoorsy
Timings: 6.30 pm to 11.30 pm (Tuesday to Sunday); Sunday brunches from 12.30 pm to 4:00 pm
Best time to visit: Serving only dinner as of now
Best dish: Watermelon Carpaccio
Service: Knowledgeable and quick
Where: TORI, 21, Pali Hill Rd, Union Park, Khar West, Mumbai Ph: +91 22 2648 2727, +91 98333 73888
All images: Courtesy Instagram