Since I stayed not for from the Kala Ghoda district in Fort, I spent much of my time exploring this area, where many cool shops and interesting eateries are located.
One of the coolest shops in the area is Kultre Shop with a focus on contemporary Indian graphic design. The shop serves as a platform for leading and upcoming artists, graphic designers and illustrators from India and around the world; enabling their work to be more accessible through the sales of affordable prints, stationery, homeware, t-shirts and books. When you walk into the shop, you are likely to be attracted by the colourful, modern and graphical prints on the walls and items on the shelves. The shop has two branches in Mumbai, and also sells online via their website (they ship worldwide).
Address: 9 Examiner Press, 115 Nagindas Master Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort.
Kulture Shop in Kala Ghoda
Not far from Kulture Shop is Filter, another curated design shop that sells a range of products from stationery to prints, t-shirts, books and homeware etc.
Address: 43, VB Gandhi Marg, behind Rhythm House, Kala Ghoda, Fort.
For more traditional and handcrafted items, the Artisans’ Art Gallery and Shop is the best place to go to. The shop and gallery was founded in 2011 by Radhi Parekh, a designer and art promoter who comes from a family that has a long-standing association with local textiles.
The shop sells a range of high-quality handmade textile items and jewellery. Although the prices are not cheap, the quality is much better than what you would find at the markets.
At the time of my visit, there was an Urushi Japanese lacquerware exhibition by Japanese artist Yukiko Yagi and Meguri Ichida showing at the gallery, which was a pleasant surprise.
Address: 52-56 V B Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort.
Urushi Japanese lacquerware exhibition and Indian textiles at the Artisans’ art galley and shop
Nicobar is the younger and more affordable sub-brand of the city’s iconic sustainable apparel and homeware brand Good Earth (see below). Their minimal and organic clothing is comfortable, versatile, contemporary, and particularly suitable for travelling.
The shop is divided into the cloithing section and home section. The home section sells a range of home furnishings, homeware and ceramics that would not look out of place in most modern homes.
Address: #IO Ropewalk Lane, above Kala Ghoda Cafe
Obataimu is a cool conceptual clothing and design shop that is inspired by Japan and India. Influenced by both cultures, the founder Noorie Sadarangani likes to experiment and treats her retail business like an art project. When you step into the shop, you would notice that wood is the predominate material here, and at the back, there is a glass partition that enable visitors to see the workshop where the tailors/ artisans work (all dressed in white). All the clothing on display is not for sale, instead every piece is made to order to reduce wastage. The clothes here focus on innovative materials, traditional craftsmanship and sustainability, so what more can you ask for?
Address: B. Bharucha Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort.
The shop front of Obataimu
Before my trip to India, I was unaware of the contemporary apparel scene in India, therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to see some wonderful shops in Mumbai that sell handmade, sustainable, classic and affordable clothing and accessories. One of them is Cord Studio. The focus here is craftsmanship and nostalgia; you can find well-made leather bags and accessories, and clothing that is practical and contemporary.
Address: 21 Ropewalk street, Kala Ghoda, Fort. (Opp. Nicobar and Kala Ghoda cafe)
Even though I am not a tea person, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to lovely San-cha tea boutique. The two girls/staff were very friendly and knowledgable and made me two different cups of tea to try. The brand was founded by tea master, Sanjay Kapur in 1981, and they sell over 75 varieties of tea from green to white, black, oolong, and blended ones like masala chai. I bought some masala chai for myself and several friends, and I like it very much. Although I have not been converted to a regular tea drinker, it is nice to enjoy something different occasionally .
San-cha Tea Boutique
Art on the street: Rampart Gallery
Yazdani bakery and cafe is well-known for its brun maska
Ice cream at Bombay Street Treat
I don’t usually visit a cafe/restaurant twice on a single trip, but I did return to Kala Ghoda Cafe a few days after my first visit. This relaxing venue is a cafe, bakery, wine bar and gallery. The cosy cafe part is housed inside an early 20th century barn with plenty of skylight coming through from the roof. I had a simple lunch here one afternoon, and I really liked the laidback vibe and atmosphere.
I came back to try the wine bar at the back one night because I didn’t want proper dinner. I ordered a fish tikka and a green salad (although I was told not to eat anything raw in India, I took the risk here, and I was totally fine afterwards), and I reckon the fish tikka here was the best I have EVER tasted! I even tried the local Indian rose, which was surprisingly refreshing and very drinkable. I really recommend a visit to this cafe and wine bar if you are in the neighbourhood.
Address: Bharthania Building, A Block, 10, Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort.
Kala Ghoda Cafe
I decided to try the popular vegetarian Burmese restaurant Burma Burma after reading many positive reviews online. I visited Burma two years ago, but I have not had the cuisine since.
The interior of the restaurant is sleek and modern, with a bar that serves very interesting mocktails. I had a set menu that included several classic dishes which were all very tasty, and together with the mocktail, the bill came to less than £10 – I (as a Londoner) would consider that a bargain.
Address: Kothari House, Allana Centre Lane Opposite Mumbai University Fort, Kala Ghoda
Arguably Mumbai’s most famous seafood restaurant, Trishna’s restaurant front looks quite intimidating with a seated guard by the door. I decided to brave it and walk in with one aim: to eat their famous crabs!
To my surprise, the decor inside is simple and unassuming. The waiter was eager to get me to try their famous butter garlic crab and so I did. It did not disappoint – the crab was rich and delicious (and I probably gained 2 lbs after eating it). The meal was the most expensive one I had in Mumbai, but it was worth it as that was the only Indian crab I got to try throughout my month-long trip!
Address: 7, Sai Baba Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort.
Butter garlic crab at Trishna
Not far from Kala Ghoda, there is a charming and nostalgic restaurant that stands out for its ambience and history, and it is a MUST if you want to experience ‘old Bombay’.
Britannia & Co. is a third generation Irani restaurant and one of the last remaining Parsi cafes in south Mumbai. The popular Dishoom chain in London was modelled after these once magnificent cafes.
Opened in 1923, Britannia’s Zoroastrian/Iranian proprietor, Boman Kohinoor, is now 96 years old, and yet he still visits the cafe regularly. It was lovely to see him greeting his regular customers and being photographed by them. The cafe was originally set up by his father, and he has been working here since he was 16. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the painting of Queen Elizabeth II next to a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, both hanging beneath a gilt-framed picture of Zarathustra, the Zoroastrian prophet worshipped by the Parsis.
The most iconic dish is the Berry Pulav, a recipe that the owner’s late wife brought back with her from Iran. The barberries used in the pulav that give it its distinct flavour are imported from Iran. I ordered a paneer berry pulav, and when the plate arrived, the paneer was nowhere to be seen. Then as I started to mix the rice, I realised that the paneer and sauce was at the bottom of the plate – it would have been embarassing if I had called the waiter over to ask him about the paneer! I have never tried this dish before, and I found it very tasty and comforting; I guess it is probably regarded as a Parsi comfort food.
It is sad to see that only a few of these Parsi cafes are left in the city, and I sincerely hope that this cafe will still be around when I visit Mumbai again. There may be numerous modern and fancy restaurants in the city, but none can match the personal, historic and nostalgic cafe like this.
Address: Britannia and Co., Wakefield House, 11, Sprott Rd, Ballard Estate, Fort. (this restaurant only opens for lunch except Sats and closes on Suns)
Britannia and Co.
Elsewhere in Cobala, I visited Good Earth, a luxurious apparel and home furnishing shop founded by Anita Lal 24 years ago. The brand bridged the gap between craft and luxury, emphasising on craftsmanship and sustainability. The apparel and craft items here are more old school, traditional and pricey, which differs considerably from its sub-brand Nicobar.
Address: 2 Reay House, Apollo Bandar, Colaba
Not far from Good Earth, I stumbled upon Clove The Store, which is a new luxury fashion and homeware brand. Its founder is Samyukta Nair, who resides in both Mumbai and London, also runs a sleepwear brand called Dandelion, and the Jamavar Women’s Club in London. The clothing and home furnishings on sale here are unique, well-made, and contemporary. The female staff was also very friendly and helpful, which made me feel very welcoming.
Address: 2, Churchill Chambers, Allana Road, Colaba.
Clove The Store
I returned to Mumbai for one night before leaving India, and I chose to stay in Khar West, which was closer to the airport. It is a relaxing residential neighbourhood, and apparently home to many Bollywood celebrities and business industrialists. Tucked away in the Chuim Village is a small DIY paper craft shop called Sky Goodies. I had to ring the door bell to be let in, but once inside, you would be surrounded by many colourful and delightful paper objects. Founded by two designers Misha and Amit Gudibanda, they drew inspiration from paper and hand-painted art, and started to create DIY paper kits. There are various themes to choose from, and you can make stationery, home decorations, calendars and paper animals etc. I think their designs are unique, fun, and affordable, so I bought a few as souvenir to give to friends, and they were all very impressed (and surprised) when they received the kits. You can also order online via their website or from their shop on Etsy.
Address: Ground Floor, Bungalow no 29, Chuim Village Rd, Khar West
Sky goodies shop
After visiting Sky goodies, I came across KCRoasters (Koinonia Coffee Roasters), which specialises in artisanal Indian coffee. The cafe is compact but stylish, with a laidback vibe, which kinda makes you forget that you are in Mumbai. I had a cold brew (as it was a very hot day), which was balanced and strong as I like it.
Address: 6, Chuim Village Rd, Khar, Chuim Village
On the last day of my trip, I got to catch with my busy local actress friend (who never seems to get a day off work). She asked me what I wanted to have for lunch, and I told her that I was craving for salads (after having Indian food daily for 3 weeks)! She suggested the Bombay Salad Co. in Bandra, and it was exactly what my body needed. I broke the raw food rule again, but luckily, I was perfectly fine afterwards. There are many salads, juices and sandwiches to choose from, and everything we had was fresh and tasty. Looking around, I noticed that the cafe was full of health-conscious looking ladies, so I guess this is a popular spot for ladies who lunch.
Address: Shop No, 1, 16th Rd, near Mini Punjab Hotel, Bandra West.
Bombay Salad Co.