After skipping brunch last month I was really looking forward to brunch at Vongwong which occupies the first floor at the Express towers. It is located well off of marine drive behind the iconic Air India building and across from the Trident(earlier the Oberoi Hotel). Located on the first floor of this mundane looking office tower the space has plenty of natural light filtering in and high ceilings. The tables are well spaced, making it a luxurious dining experience – ideal for a relaxing afternoon with friends.
The staff is very friendly and do not hover around the table. The brunch includes a salad bar, dim sums served at the table, an entrée, a khow suey station, a platter of desserts and designer cocktails. The sunday brunch is accompanied by a musician who visits each table with a guitar in hand taking in requests.
In order to maximize our brunch time we do not wait for everyone to get there and started off by calling for their designer cocktails. I had the Head or Tails which was a concoction of melon, cucumber essence and vodka. It was a refreshing start that was followed up by a caipirinha, a checkmate (whiskey and apple juice) – which was delightful but could have been better with a dash or two more of whiskey. While most of us began with drinks my friend Rohini as always began with a plateful of desserts that she found to be strictly ok.
We skipped the salad bar and requested that the dim sums be served immediately. We had steamed pork, chicken and tenderloin dumplings. The pork dumplings were tasteless, the chicken passable and the tenderloin gratifying. We were also served a variety of crispy chicken – that were good. With a hint of wasabi and mayonnaise the deep-fried wasabi prawns drizzled with parsley were truly divine, I must admit I got greedy and had quite a few. After which I still tried the khow suey and was disappointed.
This time at brunch we missed some of our regulars but we also had a few first timers. Satyam who worked in the same office as me in New York joined the brigade to see what all the fuss is about. I think he left satisfied. Also joining us was Stephan an architect from Austria, who is in Bombay working on an independent research project exploring the informal aspects of the city. To learn more visit Interdisciplinary Structure for Sustainable Space research.
Midway through brunch our server walked over offering us magic shots and he approached Amrita first since she seemed to be having the most fun. The shot included two pieces of fruits a tea-spoon of pop rocks and a mouthful of a mysteriously looking red coloured syrupy vodka. The shot should be rechristened mouth cracker.
Our conversations that afternoon were amusing they ranged from discussing pop culture, trashy television shows from Big Boss to Rakhi Sawant to the Indian version of Masterchef that was really disappointing to the various neighbourhoods/ areas that make up the framework that is Bombay. As Stefan noted that our conversations were like a whirlpool as they would start somewhere but then come back to Bollywood. Shahrukh Khan, the overplayed song Chammak Challo by Akon and the Ra.One doll that is on Prashant’s birthday wish list.
I was most intrigued by the conversation about the surfing swamis that reside in Karnataka and a search online revealed the numerous surfing ashrams, associations, bespoke surf companies that exist in India.
The brunch was as it was meant to be – an afternoon of endless dim sums and bottomless cocktails. I would definitely like to go back for the wasabi prawns and the stress free ambience. After brunch we took a heady walk along Marine Drive.
Bombay Brunch Brigade meets once a month. The purpose of this group is to meet – have fun, find a travel partner, a date(may be), share brain farts and savour brunches. We will be exploring different brunch places all over Bombay. Join our Facebook group for the next brunch date and location information.