Lima is Chef Atul Kochhar’s latest experiment, the previous one being his restaurant NRI (Not Really Indian), also at BKC. Going to Lima is a unique experience, being one of – if not the only – restaurant in Mumbai that specialises in South American cuisine. While we thought some dishes tasted odd, we admire the novelty, creativity, and thought that went into each of them.
But perhaps a lounge bar, rather than a restaurant, would better describe Lima. It has only 17 items on its food menu but offers many more signature drinks, while the music is a medley of samba, tango and salsa. A green ceiling and bright blue bar gleams with natural light.
The best thing about the food is that it is a cultural experience. One might be surprised to find a dish called the Gochujang Honey Chicken under the Churrasco Grill section, but Chef Atul explains that Korean migration to Latin America after WWII influenced its regional cuisines. The chicken, marinated with ají mirasol chili pepper and then grilled, was succulent, and the gochujang, which is a spicy and pungent paste formed from chilli and soybean, added an unexpected kick.
Also on the Churrasco Grill is the slightly strange-tasting Milk Infused Corn on the Cob. The cilantro sour cream did not go well with the sweetness of the corn. The Chimichuri Chicken Liver also fell flat, but perhaps it’s because we don’t like liver. We did appreciate the taste of the chimichuri, though, which is a sauce from Argentina made with parsley and garlic and used for grilling.
Our next stop was the quesadilla, a dish found on the menu of every self-respecting restaurant with Latin food. At Lima, it came with black beans, corn, bell peppers and manchego cheese. We were a little disappointed by how ordinary it was, but most other dishes were revelations.
Take, for instance, the Indian Sea Bass ceviche. A ceviche, a seafood dish from the coastal regions of Latin America, is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices and spiced with ají or chilli peppers. The dish we were served was exquisite – balanced, fresh and flavourful.
The other ceviche was re-imagined for the vegetarian customer and made from five types of mushrooms, most of which are found in Asia and not South America. Interestingly, instead of substituting the sauce found in typical ceviche, the chef decided to use Japanese ponzu sauce. Also citrus-based, it is similar enough to the dressing in ceviche but was more suited to the taste of these mushrooms.
Another enjoyable dish was the Multicolored Quinoa and Mint, drizzled in a deliciously sour-sweet passion fruit dressing. Quinoa, which is originally from the Andes, is usually whitish in colour. The black and red quinoa, while adding little to the taste, makes the dish an art piece — a good example of the thought that went into the presentation of every item.
Lima is a risk; the food would be out of most people’s comfort zones. But perhaps the delicious drinks will ease customers in. Our favourite was the Kumquat and Basil Caipirinha, though the Watermelon Mojito, which is self-explanatory, and the Volcano, made with rum, pineapple juice, and a burnt orange peel, were good too.
The steep prices, relatively small portions, and unfamiliar food might put some people off. Vegetarians should also be wary. But go if you’d like a warm ambience, refreshing drinks, and want to try something new.
Price for two (including drinks): Rs 4,200.
Address: 2, North Avenue, Maker Maxity, BKC; Tel: 30005040
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