The time of the bao or baozi as a food fad has come and gone in Mumbai, and they now find themselves relegated to the snacky part of the menu, for when you’re too hungry for starters but too full for mains. But Mr. Baozi, by the owners of Bar Stock Exchange and Masala Zone, are trying to rekindle the city’s love for these steamed buns, among other things.

The good stuff

The décor of the sprawling basement under Bar Stock Exchange in Kamala Mills, Lower Parel, takes the pan-Asian part very seriously, so you’ll find Japanse dragons on the walls, colonial Shanghai roof shingles and floral tiles everywhere. It’s eclectic, but charming. The theme runs across the menu too, so Chinese baos share space with sushi, Thai curry and laksa. Off the cocktail menu, we ordered the Liquid Som Tam (Rs350), which promised all the benefits of the salad with a hit of vodka. The result was a mellow, vegetal bloody Mary served with a curious peanut and jaggery rim—a very agreeable lunch drink, as was the citrusy Orange Mojito (Rs350).

The baos came four to a portion: generous by Mumbai standards. The Crispy Corn and Water Chestnut in Hot Garlic Sauce (Rs260) sat crunchy water chestnuts in a soft but chewy open bao with a liberal lashing of gochujang sauce. The Pork Char Siu bao (Rs300) got some stuff right, like the knobbly bits of roast honey pork, but, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you’d be better off skipping this.

Sushi, in Mumbai, is still hit-and-miss, so we called for the Sushi Platter (Rs 1,200) with not a little trepidation, but, thankfully, it delivered. Fresh salmon, snapper and tuna in uramaki rolls were given a surprising crunch with tempura flakes. The Veg California rolls (Rs160) were standard issue and could have used a bit more cream cheese but there was little to complain about.

The bountiful portions meant we were too full for mains, so, in the best decision of the meal, we called for dessert. The sublime Coconut and White Chocolate Mousse with Pineapple Sorbet and Salted Toasted Coconut (Rs 190) featured an airy, intensely coconutty mousse with a sharp sorbet to perfectly cut through the creaminess. The next time, we’ll start with dessert.

The not-so-good

Mr. Baozi’s sprawling 10-page menu crams far too many things into it, so much so that you’ll spend a good 15 minutes just going through it, then getting fed up and ordering off the first two pages. And clearly, it’s also a problem for the wait staff, because every question about the menu sent them scurrying to management for answers. Perhaps a pared-down focus on what they do best will work for both diners and the restaurant.

But at a time of shrinking portions, Mr Baozi offers excellent value for money.

Talk plastic

A meal for three people, with two drinks, three starters and one sushi platter costs Rs3308, with taxes.

C Wing, Trade World, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai (7666569300, 02224925556). Open noon to 4pm and 6pm to 1.30am.

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