Food And Drinks

Bombay Street Kitchen on South OBT Gives Indian Street Food Its Long Overdue Spotlight Orlando

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For many years, our Desi dining scene has evolved like the Yacht Rock of Gastronomy, run by Mughlai, South Indian and Pakistani restaurants serving dishes long known to sleepy diners. But American Gymkhana, supported by the owner of the Michelin-starred Junoon in New York City, disrupted the paradigm after it opened here in 2014. While it closed the following year, the restaurant made an indelible mark on Indian restaurateurs, blowing a little wind into the city’s weathered sails of a kitchen that, frankly, had long since weakened. Six years later we are in the middle of a revitalized expanse that is supported by upscale, populist and mom and pop bars and offers everything from Bengali to Hakka to Keralan. In the case of Bombay Street Kitchen, all of the above.

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The restaurant is run by Amit Kumar (the chef behind Aashirwad on Kirkman Road and Tamarind in Winter Park) who has chosen to close the All-Veg Bombay Café nearby and join the street food trend. And why not? Millions in the Indian subcontinent rely on street food for their daily subsistence, but the staggering range of options at BSK is nothing short of mind-blowing. Well, that and the fact that the room that previously housed Abhiruchi’s Indian kitchen looks fresh in equal parts as Pompidou Industrial and Joanna Gaines. There’s even a fancy bar, but the food that comes out of the open kitchen is everything and a bowl of chips.

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PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT

The crispy comes in many forms – the delicious kale in the kale chaat ($ 6), which is a mix of crispy sev (fried chickpea flour noodles), tamarind chutney, pomegranate, and yogurt. or in more traditional bhel puri ($ 5.50) with a mix of puffed rice, sev, potatoes, onions, and mint, all washed in tamarind and garnished with coriander. These are small plates that are ideal for sharing – almost everything here is actual. Even spiced tandoori pompano ($ 20), an appetizer offering filled with basil, mint, and lemon, got us finger-ravaging the local catch. Also the gunpowder garlic prawn quintet ($ 11). Everything has an intense taste; all fire.

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PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT

There are items that differ from your typical Indian cuisine – after all, BSK promises delicacies “straight from the streets of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and beyond”. The “Patthar Ke Gosht Kebab” (US $ 11), a Hyderabadi lamb specialty grilled over a hot stone, is well worth a try for the cardamom spice in the meat. Chicken Momo ($ 9), lovely steamed dumplings from the Himalayas; and Sassy Garlic Chilli Chicken ($ 11), a Hakka dish, are two that fall into that “beyond” category. There’s plenty of consolation with the goat kadhai ($ 17), a thick curry named after the wok-like pan it’s cooked in, and one that feeds hordes on the streets of Karachi. Scoop up some doughy, ghee-coated garlic naan ($ 4) and feel the faint.

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PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT

Now I’m not sure if I should serve pani puri on a little street cart. Not when there is a glass bottle filled with green “pani” (or water) made from mint, coriander and green chillies and another bottle filled with a sweet pani made from tamarind – it seems like an accident waiting to be passed But it’s sweet and tricky, and more importantly, no matter which pani you use, the fried puffs filled with a potato mixture are absolutely pop-worthy. The Street Dosa ($ 11) also came filled with a potato mix, but the raw cabbage tossed us. None of the Indians on my crew had eaten a dosa with cabbage in it before, and we felt that the crunch highlighted the delicate crispness of the rice crepe. However, the dosa has been folded and cut for easy dipping into the sambar and coconut chutney.

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PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT

Serving shaved ice in a styrofoam bowl isn’t a way to treat a sweet ending. On the other hand, I suspect that this is how the Indian blackberry and black salt “khala katta” (US $ 5) are served on the street. That means I should have gone with lychee and lime juice, since the khala katta tasted like Vimto. Angoori Rabdi ($ 5) from the list of traditional desserts had cheese balls in a saffron milk sauce. It was good. Just not my cup of balls.

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PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT

There’s a lot on the menu here by the way – it would take maybe three to four trips with a group of people to try it all. Even so, I plan to lure some of my food-obsessed comrades into doing just that. Maybe they’ll make them drive. Maybe they should pay. Maybe you can get her to do it all over again. It’s all just part of my street hype.

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PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT

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Janet Smith