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Malavika’s Mumbaistan: The Return of Solomon

Chef Ananda Solomon is back, with his new solo venture, Naam by Ananda, an approximately 100-seater restaurant, located near the international airport, which opened to the public last week

Updated: Feb 17, 2020 00:48 IST

By Malavika Sangghvi, Hindustan Times

Chef Ananda Solomon

He introduced Mumbai to Thai cuisine almost 25 years ago, with the opening of the hugely successful Thai Pavilion at the Taj President Hotel, which had counted amongst its loyal patrons the likes of Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani and Sachin Tendulkar. And with the popular Konkan Cafe and Trattoria already under his belt, chef Ananda Solomon went on to achieve legendary status amongst the food community in India, training chefs like Indian Accent’s internationally-acclaimed Manish Mehrotra along the way. But in 2016, he had shocked the F&B industry by retiring from his high-ranking position as the executive chef, Taj Vivanta, and his legion of fans were naturally heartbroken.

But now, word comes in that during his hiatus, Solomon had focused on standalone projects in Maharashtra and Goa, besides spending months traveling around Thailand, researching recipes and ingredients for his next venture. And this month, the highly-acclaimed chef is back, with his new solo venture, Naam by Ananda, an approximately 100-seater restaurant, located near the international airport, which opened to the public last week. Unsurprisingly, we hear reservations are already hard to get, as his loyal fans queue up to get a taste of his famous soft-shell crab with pomelo salad, duck liver with sea asparagus, steamed John Dory and authentic Thai green curry.

As one foodie was overhead trilling: ‘Happy Days are here again…’


Ever since a video of this attractive Delhi-based art maven and fashionista was leaked to the Mumbai grapevine, Mumbai grande dames cannot stop sniggering over its contents. The artfully shot video features the statuesque art maven clad in her usual designer threads, executing what can only be described as a raunchy bump and grind seduction routine, for the pleasure of an unknown viewer – a far cry from her attempts to gain serious credibility amongst art circles across of the world. As is known, substantial amounts of her husband’s wealth have been spent on building up a serious art-focused profile for the ambitious lady. So what on earth could be the reason for this somewhat tawdry exposure? “She had made it to send to this guy she was ‘pattoing’,” explained a Mumbai grande dame, about the video, “and he obviously went and leaked it,” she added.

And to think there was a time when Delhi’s formidable art mavens were little old ladies clad in hand-spun saris, whose specialisations and hairstyles were both inspired by the 14th century!

Dr Dinyar Workingboxwalla with his guests.

The Good Doctor Workingboxwalla

He’s something of a city legend, one of Mumbai’s best-kept secrets, and so when cosmetologist Dr Dinyar Workingboxwalla (film stars Urmila Matondkar and Kim Sharma, and interior decorator Kavita Singh, are all said to have been his clients), renowned for his facials and skin products recently celebrated his 70th birthday, some of the city’s most famous faces gathered to wish him. Held at the Cama Baug Agiary in South Mumbai, the good doctor, who practices his art in modest surroundings, had invited 150 of his favourite ladies to celebrate with him, and some of them even brought their better halves along. So there was Pearl with Hafeez Contractor, Roshni with Parvez Damania and Smita with Mohan Jayakar, as well as ‘Upper Crust’ editor and media publisher Farzana Contractor, amongst many others. “Despite his renown, Dr Workingboxwalla works in deliberately humble conditions, from an office in Grant Road situated on the first floor, with steel cupboards and no flashy spa atmosphere or other trappings,” says Contractor, adding, “And though several well-known companies have apparently offered to tie up with him, the good doctor has turned them all down, preferring to practice out of his modest surroundings and to sell his products in little plastic bottles with red caps.”


Michio, with Hilda Lai , Sake king Mr Kato , Adi Godrej, Vidya Balan and Siddharth Roy Kapur, amongst other guests.

Sake and Sushi in a Stately Mansion

When Japan’s dynamic consul general (CG) to Mumbai, Michio Harada invites you for a sake-tasting at his official residence at Cumballa Hill, it is prudent to go. For one, the stately white mansion surrounded by its sumptuous lawns, are rarely opened to visitors. In fact, until Harada’s appointment last year, his neighbours swore that they had rarely seen the gates of the consulate open. The new CG has changed all that since his arrival, engaging enthusiastically with the city, golfing at the Willingdon, hosting sit-down dinners, slap-up barbeques and glamorous soirees, almost weekly, and making his residence hum with activity and bonhomie.

Thursday evening’s reception saw the likes of Mumbai municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, industrialist Adi Godrej, businessman and honorary consul of the Republic of Kazakhstan MK Sanghi, actors Dalip Tahil and Javed Jaffrey and stylista Chayya amongst others, gather in the presence of a sake Master, Mr Kato (“The king of sake masters and my good old friend,” as Harada said), over a sampling of some of the rarest examples of Japan’s famous national beverage. But besides the sparkling conversations, libations and buffet, the highlight of the evening was certainly the presence of Harada’s attractive young wife Hilda Lai, a successful realtor in Hong Kong, and the couple’s charming seven-year-old son Takara, who spent the evening chatting happily with the assembled guests, adding an easy informality to the dinner. That’s another reason to attend sake tastings: unlike wine tastings, they are light, informal and tend to end early. Thursday’s ended by 10pm and the next morning, which happened to be Valentine’s Day, the Haradas flew to Agra to fulfil a long-cherished wish to see the Taj together.


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