As a primarily land-based organisation, The Bombay Report has always had a tumultuous relationship with the sea. Anyone who’s read our website knows we’re self-proclaimed experts on this city’s cheap seafood, and that we’ve travelled far and wide to spend as little money as possible on fresh fish. But our fondness for seafood has as much to do with our love for fish as it does with our contempt for the oceans; & we regularly stand on the seashore during high tide & yell curses at the seas, while our parent company dumps enough mercury in the water to let them know who’s boss.
Our ceaseless pursuit for this city’s best seafood has led us all throughout the land, from the venerable stone buildings in fort to the barren wastelands of Goregaon. However, right next door to Stack And Racks in Malad, lies an obscure little bar that we happened to stumble upon when a horrific storm blew our Uber off-course. We say it’s obscure because it’s on a road populated by dozens of other bars, pubs and restaurants, in what appears to be Malad’s version of Time Square.
It’s called Samudra, and while it spent years as a purely seafood restaurant, it recently acquired a liquor license, & sells alcohol in quarters at sidey bar rates. We’ve been to a few dive bars over the years, but professional seafood restaurants with full bars are by far our favourite kind. The first thing you notice when you walk in is their impressive collection of fish pictures and sculptures, that serve as a passive-aggressive reminder that this is no simple bar. It can’t help but make you wonder whether there’s something off about them, given their apparent downgrade from family seafood restaurant to bar; but just one look at the menu will put your mind at ease.
They offer more styles of seafood preparations & masalas than we even deemed possible. Naturally, as mature adults, we freaked out and ordered everything we possibly could:
At The Bombay Report, we’ve built a reputation as sort of scholars on the subject of Bombil Fry. And while that’s not entirely untrue, we have to admit that sometimes even we, in our infinite wisdom, are taken aback by some new rendition of this humble, yet beautiful, classic Bombay dish. The Bombil Fry at Samudra was lightly spiced and deep fried to light, flaky perfection. The crispness & melt-in-your-mouth delicateness of this particular Bombil Fry was perfect, & unlike anything we’ve had in all our travels.
Shellfish in Green Masala
We make it a point to always order shellfish at bars, not only because they’re an aphrodisiac, but also because once licked of all their masala, the shells make for adorable gifts & trinkets for our girlfriends, thus redeeming us of night out at said bar. In this case, the shellfish were coated in a rich, thick green masala. The color and consistency of the masala initially reminded us of palak paneer, a dish we detest with a fierce passion. Luckily for us, it tasted nothing like spinach, and was perfectly fragrant, garlicky & salty; one of our favourite masalas of the night.
The Surmai Fry, while not much to look at, was actually masterfully prepared. The coating was superbly thin and crisp, while the fish was perfectly soft and flaky. As straightforward as this dish seems, Samudra once again taught us that we have much to learn when it comes to the art of fried fish.
The Decree: As a city forged centuries ago on the backs of the great fishing tribes of Western India, Mumbai has a long history with seafood. Many argue that cheap local seafood was the sole impetus for the formation this website. Just two quarters into our review, we begun to realise that we’d stumbled on to something not just extraordinary, but possibly life-changing. The food was amazing and fresh, but perhaps most importantly, they had preparations you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. We don’t know why Samudra had to resort to hard alcohol to survive in this cruel world, but upon introspection we discovered that’s essentially what we do too. It truly is a gem of a bar, which is why we give it our highest endorsement.