It’s wonderful how a city can surprise you over and over again in many little ways. Our latest Bombay discovery was a surprising little Tibetan restaurant in Andheri.
Very easy to miss, Serenya Tibetan Chinese Kitchen looks like a little hole in the wall place. We did in fact miss it a couple of times before calling them for directions. Located opposite a thoroughly unmissable costume store called Hollywood Bollywood Dresswala, Serenya looks a little worryingly small and is no longer shiny, but considering they are over 10 years old, this is forgivable.
The decor, what there is of it, is generically Chinese looking for the most part. Even the menu makes you wonder how different their ‘Tibetan’ food will be from the standard Indian Chinese food available in similar hole-in-the-wall establishments across the city. We were encouraged by overheard conversations between other customers and the manager. They seemed like regulars, one of them returning every week for a meal here.
The menu at Serenya is quite extensive and for first timers, a little daunting. As we pored over the lengthy menu, the very friendly manager, Sylvester, asked us if he could make some recommendations. We were happy to let him and he was very careful to ask us what our preferences were.
While we waited for our food, we learned that Serenya was founded by Sikkimese Tibetans and that the Tibetan portion of the menu is a combination of traditional Tibetan dishes, as well as their own creations that use traditional Tibetan ingredients and methods.
We started with a traditional Thukpa, a spicy noodle soup, spicier than any noodle soup we’ve had. Apparently not as spicy as is traditional though as the heat has been toned down for city palates. The soup was a rich broth, pungent and spicy, and would have been wonderful on a colder day. On the hot, sunny day we ate there, we moved on to our next course fast.
Another traditional Tibetan dish, we eagerly awaited our steamed Chicken Momos. These were phenomenal. The texture of the wonderful, thinly rolled dough had the perfect bite to it, and the filling was incredibly flavorful. We would go back again and again, just for these.
The Momos were delicious with one of the three sauces they serve at every table. The herb pickle, Gumpa, takes 3 days to make and consists of sun-dried cabbage, rock salt and some Tibetan herbs, the combination of which is a palate party.
Sylvester assured us that we wouldn’t go wrong with a bamboo rice dish to go with our order of Chicken Kumpa. The rice dish was fragrant, tender and a little different from anything we had tasted before. Sylvester mentioned that the herbs used in the rice were traditional Tibetan herbs such as Kumpla, a herb with a sweet, star-anise like flavor.
The Chicken Kumpa, while a little familiar in flavor, was set apart from other similar dishes in other similar restaurants by how well the chicken was cooked. Refreshingly not deep fried, the pieces of chicken were tender and the sauce was interesting.
We ended with a delicious vegetarian dish of Monk’s Meat, the name given to little flour dumplings that are used as a meat substitute for vegetarians (and monks). This dish of pan-fried flour dumplings, crunchy bean sprouts, crisp stalks of cauliflower, glistening batons of spring onions, all tossed with pepper, Tibetan herbs and sesame oil was fantastic and so good, we ordered a second serving to take home with us.
Serenya, the champion of Tibetan food in Mumbai, is a little challenging when you first approach it, a little grittier than the well-scrubbed restaurants most of us are used to. But once the food arrives, those things are forgotten. Well worth stretching ones boundaries of comfort.
Our meal for two set us back Rs.660
Serenya, 185 Oshiwara Link Road, Opp. Hollywood Bollywood Dresswala, Adarsh Nagar, Oshiwara, Mumbai; Phone: +91 22 65741005, +91 9820531935
Note: They have a branch in Malad and they also cater Momo parties.