Review: Say Vanakkam to Mumbai's First South India Inspired Bar

Move over idlis. SamBar has changed the plot


It is the most popular export from the kitchens of the South Indian states. But what does the lentil curry have to do with Mumbai’s SamBar? Let’s just say, it sets the tone.

Most bar and nightclub themes never venture off the beaten track—they’re either funky and casual, or recreate the old-world charm of an English pub. Very few places will sport a regional identity. But that seems to be SamBar’s USP. The interiors are straight out of God’s own country—complete with friendly lungi sporting servers. While I do love pomp and faff, SamBar is delightfully understated. It’s a Tuesday evening and the place is literally brimming with joie de vivre. Blame it on the happy hours when drinks fly at Rs 99.

But, it’s the food that clearly stands out—a well curated, full-bodied, South Indian menu tweaked for the urban pub-goer. Move past the idlis and sambar vadas, there are interesting items on the menu you must try. We picked our favourite five.

1. Gunpowder Fries: Sprinkled with south India’s spice hero – gunpowder, this one is high on flavor and fairly reasonable on the pocket (Rs 180). The chunky potato sticks are evenly coated, crispy, golden-brown and addictively delicious. They’re so good, they don’t even need ketchup.

2. Poricha Kozhi: This spicy, fried chicken recipe from Kerala is quite a kick-starter. The batter is light and the tender chicken is smothered in ginger and garlic. Perfect bar snack. Team it with Spice-e-talam where vodka hobnobs with coke, Tabasco and chat masala.

3. Goli Bajje: It’s rare to find this Udipi specialty in restaurants in Mumbai. The deep fried maida balls satiate you with its soft, sweet and decadent loveliness. The ginger infused bajje comes with a thick coconut chutney for dipping. Undoubtedly the star of the menu at SamBar.

4. Kori Roti: This is owner and fellow Mangalorean Pragnesh Rai’s favourite, and not without reason. The crispy, thin rice wafers (also known as rotti) doused in spicy, coconutty chicken curry is a highly recommended messy indulgence at SamBar. Though not as fiery, the SamBar version nearly took me back to my hometown in Mangalore.

5. Injipuli sausage mix: Injipuli (ginger and tamarind in Malayalam) is a traditional Kerala pickle served during sadya. The spicy, tangy and sweet sauce is tossed with chicken sausages. Wash it down with a south Indian version of LIIT spiked with kokum. Simply delicious.

Cost for two: INR 1,500

Address: SamBar Pub and Kitchen, Khar (West) Phone: 9820907212.


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