An American friend of ours was visiting the city recently, and in the mood for some Peruvian food. She was taken aback to hear that a city as cosmopolitan and global as Mumbai had not a single South American restaurant. Two weeks later, Lima arrived to the shores of Mumbai, and the city received it’s first ever South American tapas bar. Better late than never, I’ll say!
Lima is yet another ace that emerges from Chef Atul Kochhar’s pack of cards – the previous one being NRI at BKC with whom Lima shares a wall. (Read more about NRI here.) But they both are as different as chalk and cheese! While one serves up global Indian fare, the other emphasizes on cocktails and small plates from the South American region, namely ceviches from Peru, grills from Brazil and street cuisine from Mexico.
My experience with Peruvian food is limited to a single ceviche dish I had abroad, years ago. So I really have no basis to judge the authenticity of the food here. I know for a fact the cuisine is centered around their local produce, simple preparation, and dishes where the ingredients are the hero. Some dishes also have a Asian and European influence owing to the large migrant population there.
Lima is a lounge bar, which is clearly visible in their extensive bar menu with spirits such as the Peruvian Pisco and cocktail concoctions from Brazil and Mexico. The food menu – though limited – covers Peruvian Ceviche and Tiradito, Salads, Churrasco Grill and Mexican Antojitos.
Lima is a gorgeous space, that instantly transports you into a different geographical zone. The bar area is a bright blue with rope chandeliers suspended from the ceiling, where you can nurse your drink to the beats of Latin tunes. Or else, feast in the neutral hued dining area with vintage fans that belong in a cottage in Goa somewhere.
I was looking forward to trying a Pisco cocktail, but sadly the night we visited they were out of this Peruvian brandy. I settled for a tart Kumquat Basil Caipirinha among the ‘Cane Rum’ section of cocktails, which is Brazil’s most popular distilled spirit. The bar menu aims at doing a lot of South American boozy preparations including a Mexican Michelada and tons of tequila based cocktails. These novel spirits alone warrant a visit to Lima. I’m yet to find them on any other menu in the city.
The only non-vegetarian ceviche on offer is the Indian Sea Bass, where the fish comes cured in citrus juices topped with avocado and red onions. It’s really a pity that there are no more fish ceviches on offer, considering the sea bass one was delicately executed and beautifully flavored.
My first experience tasting a traditional Tiradito – a fish based, Peruvian dish where thinly sliced slivers of fish come coated with a spicy sauce. ‘This looks a lot like sashimi’, I exclaimed. ‘That’s because of the Japanese influence on Peruvian cooking,’ Chef explained. The Tiradito at Lima comes with topped with a yellow aji chilli paste and chia seeds for texture, and was my favorite of the night. The vegetarian Five Bean version had Fava bean, Kidney Bean, Edamame Bean and Pigeon Pea in a salsa dressing that was delicious though reminded me of some sort of healthy bean salad. (Look ma, I’m eating healthy!)
I really enjoyed the Multicoloured Quinoa and Mint salad that came with red, white, and black quinoa drizzled in the most delicious passion fruit dressing. I personally love the sweet sour taste of passion fruit which added a whole new dimension to quinoa. One dish that I’d love to replicate at home. A dish that incorporates chicken, potato, and egg should be at the top of my list. And shouldn’t be anywhere in the salad section of a menu. But the Classic Chicken Causa proved wrong on both points. A base of purple potatoes, topped with chicken and grated egg served cold – a bit too bland for my palate. Again I have no reference point here, and maybe the dish is supposed to be bland. I’ll just have to go to Peru to find out!
The Churrasco Grill section from Brazil, is a traditional style of grilling meats specifically beef. No luck finding beef, or even game meat on the menu here. Stick to ordering the Limo Chilli Prawns where large, butterflied prawns come perfectly cooked, with a yellow limo chilli marinade complete with a smokey aftertaste. The Gochujang Honey Chicken is another testimonial to the Asian influence over Latin American cooking with the Korean miso paste providing heat to this dish. Vegetarian options include munch worthy Yucca chips, and a chipotle rubbed corn on the cob that was tender and delicious, but not worth the price tag.
In the Antojitos or the Mexican section you’ll find Lamb Chimichangas, Chicken Quesadillas, and Chicken Empanadas with their respective vegetarian counterparts. Even though they come with the best sour cream, guacamole and salsa this side of town, it’s not something I would order again. Only because it’s something I can find at any other Tex Mex restaurant in the city. Not going to find a Sea Bass Ceviche or a Tuna Tiradito elsewhere, am I?
Would I return to Lima? Yes, to sit at the bar with a Pisco cocktail and a small plate by my side. The dishes are priced heftily which makes it a place that you’d go to on a special occasion. But then again, it’s a price to pay for imported ingredients and a cuisine that we can’t find elsewhere in the city. Lima is bracketed in the lounge bar space with an extensive cocktail menu, limited yet cohesive food menu, dimly lit-exquisite decor, and foot tapping music. Salud!
Lima, Maker Maxity,
North Avenue 2, in the same complex as California Pizza Kitchen and Le Pain Quotidian, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Bandra (East).
Tel: 022 3000 5040.
(The author was invited to dine at Lima. The views are unbiased and entirely her own.)