Happy Thai – Happier Japanese food!
Erstwhile Tetsuma team creates magic
One lazy Sunday after the customary brun-eggs-sausage breakfast, I was browsing the newspapers. And what should I come across but a review in Mint Lounge of the newbie Asian restaurant, Happy Thai! Like a sign from the Gods. The sun was shining (unrelentingly so, no sign of rain) and the stars were clearly aligned just right. I dialled the restaurant and managed a table at get-go! Just like that! No customary – “We are fully booked” spiel (even with half the tables unoccupied!) that seems to have become the standard issue launch marketing.
Is it the buzzing Inox or the Big bazaar supermarket that has increased footfalls at the once ghostly Atria mall. Or it could be the slew of restaurants that have made a home here. Whatever be the cause, the mall is a hive of activity and the parking lot full. Happy Thai adds to the hustle-bustle! The Tetsuma team of Aditya Kilachand (offspring of the Shobha De) and Chef James Biaka (ex-Kofuku) get together again to create magic.
Go for the Thai, Stay for the Japanese
The menu is balanced between Thai and Japanese offerings. The motto seems to be to focus on fewer things and to do them really well. Being a sushi and sashimi fiend, I gravitate towards the Japanese part of the menu. One taste of the OMG roll and I am convinced that there is a Kofuku chef in the kitchen. Later I find that Chef Biaka is ex-Kofuku. While enjoying the food at Happy Thai, the thought running through the back of the mind is a concern for the continued existence of Kofuku, my absolute favourite in the Best Sushi places in Mumbai!
The Tuna tataki follows and is pretty-as-a-picture and almost too beautiful to eat! Again the flavouring is spot on and is an interesting mix of tartness and savoury tastes. The tuna itself is almost voluptuous in its soft succulence. A sense of peace settles in while we make short work of these star dishes. We don’t mind the clear (and present) service challenge that the (un)Happy Thai team is dealing with. We write it off to teething problems that are part and parcel of the process for a barely 5 day old restaurant. Other diners don’t seem to be so forgiving! Happy Thai really needs to get its service act together.
Soup & Rock(ing) shrimp tempura
The husband put Happy Thai to the acid test by ordering a Prawn Tom Kha. This came to the table seemingly in reverse order, after most of the food. I thought this was the only dish that was not a 5 star rated rendering of the original. For starters it was a light brown colour while a traditional Tom Kha is all white. A tom kha draws its brothy goodness from the aromats which could have been better used. The husband liked it though. He was doubtful how long the restaurant would continue serving 4 large prawns in a 250/- bowl of soup!
The ‘rock’star of the lunch (for the husband) was the creamy and spicy shrimp tempura. And this was not even the rockstar shrimp tempura – another dish on the menu! Can’t wait to try that the next time. A paradoxical creation – crispy tempura coating that was creamy, spicy in patches. And concealed fresh and tender perfect morsels of prawns. A clear 10/10 happy dish at Happy Thai.
More Sushi and Spinach gomae ends the meal prematurely
The spinach gomae (sesame) salad was another Kofuku favourite. And the one at Happy Thai was further proof of the Kofuku influence in the kitchen. Lightly steamed spinach on a bed of spot-on flavoured sesame sauce. An eternal favourite and a lovely way to eat some healthy greens.
The rainbow roll had the expected tuna, salmon, hamachi and avocado. And some fresh crab-sticks tucked away inside. Good but would be great with more generous slices of fish. Waiting to try the subtle (and expensive!) Black cod miso on the next trip.
The starters about finished us off and we had to pack the Lamb Massaman curry untasted. The curry is served with sticky rice and the flavour profile was thankfully not a red curry masquerading as a Massaman. Actual undertones of spices giving the curry a more complex flavour profile.
By the end of the meal, the disgruntlement with the service seemed to have eclipsed the great food at most tables. This is something to really guard against. And the Happy Thai team needs to sort this issue double-quick. We were floating in a happy haze of good food though. And didn’t have too many things to get back to on a Sunday afternoon. Except a siesta!
Desserts on the menu seem to have no link to the cuisine served. No sign of Tab tim krob or Mango sticky rice. Not even a green tea (matcha) ice-cream! Disappointing! The only redeeming feature were the Sucres des terres ice-creams. Definitely pick the Salted caramel one – just outstanding. We did not manage a dessert on this visit. Maybe the cheesecake on the next visit (of many more!). Hope Chef Biaka manages to incorporate the green tea Kakigori (fruit salad topped with matcha ice-cream) on the menu by then.
If you are a fan of Asian food then check out Asian style tapas at Foo Mumbai or if your taste runs to Thai casual dining try TYGR at Palladium Mumbai. A sushi and sashimi fiend – check where you can get the Best sushi and sashimi in Mumbai. Also check the review for Kofuku – my best bet for modern sushi.