When I first moved to Mumbai, my cousins took me to Leopold café. As I relished their beef mushroom soup and beef chilly, I remember thinking Mumbai would be full of great non-vegetarian places. Imagine my utter shock when I moved to Chembur and only found vegetarian places. To be fair, I later discovered that Chembur can boast of a considerable number of great non-vegetarian places. However, in the beginning, all I saw were vegetarian restaurants. It was a dark and gloomy time for me complete with the raging monsoon rains to bear witness. Not accustomed to how big and busy the city was, my timid attempts to venture out were largely unsuccessful. And the meat lover in me grew more ravenous and rabid, leading me to throw caution to the wind. I began frequenting very shady ‘bar restaurants’ in Chembur camp on my own to devour plate upon plate of chicken and mutton!
These were desperate times and even as I succumbed to the measures they called for, I knew I was living dangerously. This had to stop soon. I needed to get my fix with less risk involved. As if the universe feared for me, serendipity intervened and one afternoon, when the rains had paused for a rest, my friends invited me for lunch at Sunny’s. Now the thing about Sunny’s, like most other great restaurants is that, it is located in the most obscure corner of Chembur. If someone doesn’t take you there, you’ll never find it. Past Chembur station, under the bridge, under another, in the midst of furniture shops, a bakery and a booze joint, a sign with Sunny’s (the logo , no prize for guesses, is a sun with rays) diffidently lets you know you’ve arrived.
My ever grateful memory must narrate my entry into this now hallowed space in slow motion. Filled with men, women, children eating all sorts of wonderful exotic looking fare, I felt at home at once as we walked past them to the ac section. It was there, that my friends introduced me to south Indian (specifically Kerela) non-vegetarian food. Until then, I always thought all south Indian was vegetarian and basically masala dosas at that. Thanks to my outraged friends from different parts of ‘south’ India, I am now aware that this is perhaps the gravest misconception I am guilty of to date, and I have gladly committed the rest of my life to atone for it.
I had my first taste of Chicken Chettinad and marvelled at the complex medley of spices that flavoured the meat. Their mutton sukkha was unlike anything I’d tasted. Thanks to Sunny’s, I left my perilous practice of eating at ‘bar restaurants’. I had somewhere safe to go every time I craved meat. Now content, I calmed down enough to explore Chembur more leisurely and found many other fabulous non-vegetarian restaurants such as Oceanic, Le Café, the restaurants around diamond garden. My newest discovery is the café at Oro spa which serves great salads.
As far as meat is concerened, I am far from sober. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But thanks to Sunny’s, I’ve learnt to indulge in my addiction in as safe a manner as possible.