Blink and you’ll walk right past it – this surprising little gem by the name of Kombava Cafe is tucked away in a narrow, dirty yet somehow trendy (dere-lict?) lane, which also houses other prominent eating houses.
An extension of The Art Loft, the owners of Kombava Cafe celebrate the theme of nature with the use of plants and bamboo which act as dividers between slightly cramped and uncomfortable, but pretty booths.
The USP of Kombava Cafe is that nearly all of their dishes are light, clean and healthy but not all irritatingly vegetarian, or even worse, patronisingly vegan. Non-vegetarian options include chicken, prawn, squid and even mutton.
The menu is fresh, varied and interactive, with each item marked by a coloured dot of red, blue, green or yellow. Add up everything you order, see which colour features the most and boom – read all about your personality.
This serves as an interesting twist and a definite conversation starter (especially for those awkward first dates).
I was delighted to see Vietnamese rice paper rolls for the first time in Mumbai. I ordered the prawn variety with a flourish and was astounded by their authenticity when they arrived, complete with three varieties of dipping sauce – sweet chilli, soy and hot chilli.
My only complaint is that for the price, the portion served could have been larger.
The pumpkin and nutmeg soup was a disappointment – bland and tasting somewhat artificial.
Really well-made vegetable soup should taste like a liquid version of the said item, be it tomato, pumpkin or leek. It was necessary to add pepper to every couple or so spoonfuls to be able to tolerate Kombava’s interpretation.
Freshly cracked pepper was not available (minus one point).
To my utter, utter surprise I immensely enjoyed the vegetarian dishes – that too, the salads (the mark of an exceptional restaurant).
Finding an enjoyable, fulfilling salad in Mumbai is no mean feat and this journey has come to an end, thanks to the farfalle and pesto sunflower seeds, rocket and cherry tomato with pesto salad.
Sizeable without being heavy, the mix of the pesto covered pasta resonated perfectly with the rocket, with the sunflower seeds adding a crunchy texture and the cherry tomato providing small explosions of sweetness.
The chicken laksa with rice noodles, sour fish and coconut broth should be commended for its size, however it lacked oomph, was somewhat bland and lacked authenticity.
The drinks list sings like an ode to healthy living with endless combinations of fresh juices, smoothies and mocktails.
It almost seems a sin to order anything as regular as a coffee or an aerated drink.
Impressive enough are the extensive range of teas, each to suit a particular purpose: refresh, uplift, calm, digestive. Finish off with the addictive after dinner tea of organic fennel, chicory and cardamom tea – you’ll fall asleep before you even pay the bill.
The service is relaxed but not lax; it simply goes with the calm, peaceful ambience of the place. The food in general and ambience was genuine and well-intentioned. I will give food 8/10 and ambience 8.5/10.
Kombava Cafe is situated on Waroda Road, off Hill Road, Bandra West, Mumbai. Check them out here.
Picture credits: Sian Pascale for the Cargo Collective, zomato.com, mumbai.burrp.com,