The rich and warm looking entrance to Mantra, in Powai Plaza, is inviting but a little deceptive. Expensive and exclusive, one might think. In reality, Mantra is neither. What it does provide is tasty food at reasonable prices, in an attractive setting.

Inside, Mantra is divided into two separate areas — a larger dining room, and a bar area with tables. The bar area, with its flashing coloured light panels, is definitely the most atmospheric of the two. And judging from the crowd there, Mantra is very popular with a diverse range of people including college students, couples, and work colleagues. It was a Monday night, but there wasn’t a spare table in the room.

Mantra serves Indian, Mughlai, and Chinese cuisine. Therefore, I was quite surprised to see Phad Ka Pow on the menu. It’s a traditional Thai dish, stir-fried with basil, and one of my favourites. As a result, my curiosity got the better of me and I ordered it. I wish I hadn’t though. While it was very edible, it just didn’t taste like Thai food. What’s more, it closely resembled the chicken Sapo (a garlic, onion, dry red chilli combination with red pepper sauce), which was the other dish ordered.

We had the Mushroom Baby Corn Chilli for starters. It was a generous size, crispy and well cooked with plenty of flavour. Caprioska was the drink of the night. This cocktail is made with vodka, lime, brown sugar, and crushed mint leaves. It’s supposed to be quite tangy, but this one distinctly lacked tang. Not enough sugar, I think. And I wasn’t too keen on the shredded mint getting stuck in my teeth.

But still, the prices were decent enough. 250 rupees for a Caprioska. 175 rupees for the starter, and 185 rupees for each of the mains. And a really appealing thing about the menu at Mantra — taxes are included, even for drinks. So you don’t get any nasty surprises on your bill at the end of the night!

I’ll definitely be going back.

Inside the bar dining area.


Mushroom Baby Corn Chilli starter.

Chicken Phad ka Pow is on the right. Chicken Sapo is on the left. It’s hard to pick the difference!

Photos copyright Sharell Cook.