For a city that is already blessed with a number of excellent seafood restaurants, Mumbai was certainly waiting with bated breath for the first Indian outpost of Colombo’s famous Ministry of Crab to open its doors. The restaurant, which opened on February 10, had already sold out its tables for the first fortnight when we arrived for a preview lunch.
Founded by cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, along with chef Dharshan Munidasa, the restaurant has consistently been placed on most Best Restaurant lists in Asia since it opened in 2011, and because of its policy of serving only the best catch of the day, the prices are high and tables served each day are limited.
Deep pockets are aplenty in Mumbai, especially in the upscale neighbourhood of Khar, where Ministry of Crab is located, and besides a genuine love of good seafood, it shouldn’t be surprising that the name itself is a huge draw. This is their third international outpost, after Singapore and Manila, and here, they have partnered with Gourmet Investments Pvt Ltd.
“We believe only in using the best of the local seafood and India has a long coastline in the east and the west, so for this restaurant, we will be sourcing all the catch from both coasts,” Munidasa says. This means, he adds, that their kitchen will use only fresh and best quality catch every day, even if it means that on some days the supply falls short of the demand.
The menu here isn’t very different from the menu in Colombo. The crab sizes will range from the one weighing half kg to the so-called Crabzilla, which is two kg or more. The preparations include the popular Garlic Chilli Crab, a Ministry of Crab original that combines Mediterranean and Japanese flavours with the local catch; and Pepper Crab, which uses black pepper in three ways — hand-crushed, whole and as a stock. There’s also the vegetarian Goan Curry, made with baby eggplants, button mushrooms and onion rings, and flavoured with coconut vinegar. The dishes can be had with rice or (we recommend this) the traditional Sri Lankan wood-fired bread called Kade Bread.
The Ministry of Crab comes with the pressure of great expectations to a city that is no stranger to excellent seafood. Are Munidasa and his team prepared to deal with the bouquets or brickbats? “We are very excited to be coming to Mumbai, and we’ve dreamed of this for a long time. We hope Mumbai is as excited about us,” he says.