Bombay duck is not duck at all.
But don’t worry… it’s still something you eat, and something you should make all efforts to eat when you’re in Mumbai.
In this blog post I’m going to tell you about Gomantak, a restaurant that serves Malvani seafood, and some seriously good Bombay duck in Mumbai.
First, what is Bombay Duck?
Also known as bombil, Bombay duck is a term used for a type of lizardfish that’s commonly eaten along the western coast of India, specifically the state of Maharashtra (state of India where Mumbai is located).
It’s not completely known how the name “Bombay duck” originated, and there are a number of different legends and theories.
According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, one of the stories is that the British named the lizardfish after the Bombay Dak, which was a transport train that was known for smelling bad, similar to the drying of lizardfish. However, it still remains a bit of a mystery.
Gomantak Restaurant (Dadar West)
So anyway, Bombay duck (bombil) being one of the most iconic foods to eat in Mumbai, it was one of the things I was most looking forward to eating when I was there.
When I asked where to eat in Mumbai, Gomantak was a restaurant that was recommended, and it looked like exactly the placed I needed to go to try Bombay duck.
One more quick note: There are a number of different Gomantak restaurants throughout Mumbai, and not sure if they have any relation. I chose Gomantak Boarding House, the restaurant located in Dadar West.
My wife Ying and I arrived to the restaurant in the mid afternoon, and it was full. Good sign.
So we waited for about 15 minutes until there were two empty seats. They have both an AC and non-AC section. The non-AC section had a bit more character and local feel to it, so that’s the area we sat it.
The menu was luckily written in English and they had a long list of different, mostly Malvani seafood dishes to choose from.
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For my wife Ying and I we decided to each get a thali (which is a full plate meal including rice and chutney and main dish), and then a couple extra dishes to share. There was also a pink liquid included with the thali (more about this below).
Surmai masala thali
Ying ordered the surmai masala thali, which I wasn’t fully sure what it was until it arrived. But it happen to be king fish in a curry, with rice, chapati, and a number of set dishes.
What I immediately noticed about the curries and dishes at Gomantak, and I think characteristic of Malvani cuisine, is that the dishes weren’t very oily or buttery, but they tasted more watery based, perhaps with coconut milk (I’m not totally sure), but if so, not a rich coconut milk.
The flavor of the masala was mild, yet well rounded, with not too much cumin, but I think plenty of turmeric, and perhaps some ginger and lots of onions cooked down.
It tasted light and refreshing, the type of curry sauce you could just about drink and it wouldn’t feel oily.
Bombil fry thali (Bombay duck)
I of course had to go for the bombil fry thali – the Bombay duck.
The Bombay duck was a little curly, and I’m not sure what it was coated in, but I think it was a dry rub flour (I think semolina flour similar to this recipe), and then deep fried.
The lizardfish was crispy on the outside, and wonderfully buttery and silky soft on the inside. It had a mild taste, not really fishy, but an amazing flavor and texture.
What really bumped up the flavor was eating the fried Bombay duck along with rice and some of the curry sauce provided on the side.
It was delicious, and again, the flavor of the curries were not overly pungent, and not oily, just good flavors.
Since Ying and I were both quite hungry the day we ate at Gomantak Restaurant, we decided to order a couple extra side dishes.
I’ve always been a big fan of pomfret, so I got the pomfret masala.
It was in the same masala curry as the surmai masala. Again, it was well rounded in flavor, with a turmeric flavor, and I think lots of onions in the sauce.
The pomfret itself was small, but the meat on it was good. Pomfret is always a wonderful fish to eat.
Chicken sukka (or sukha)
Finally we got a side order of chicken sukka, which is another western Indian dish.
This dish was a little more buttery than the others, but it still wasn’t the heavy kind of north Indian style curry (both styles good).
What I immediately noticed about the chicken sukka was the cinnamon or sweet spice taste to it at first, followed by the more pungent spices like cumin and coriander. But that cinnamon was really nice as the first taste.
Solkadhi (pink dish)
At Gomantak Restaurant in Mumbai, all the different types of thali’s were all served with a dish of pink liquid.
I had no idea what it was or how to eat it. But as I watched other people eating there, most people saved it until the end and then drank it to finish off their meal.
It tasted like natural yoghurt, but complete watery, with just a hint of spice to it. It felt kind of like a probiotic digestive beverage, but while I was drinking it I had absolutely no idea what it was.
After finishing it and doing some research online later, I found out it was something called solkadhi, a type of curry drink commonly served in Malvani and Goan food.
Solkadhi is made with coconut milk and kokum fruit, and to me it really tasted like the water that settles on the top of natural yoghurt.
It was a fantastic way to end a delicious Bombay duck meal in Mumbai.
Price for the meal
The total price for our entire meal for my wife and I came to 710 INR ($10.60). And we had two full thali’s, plus two extra curries.
Bombay duck, which is not actually duck at all, but lizardfish, is one of the iconic things to eat when you’re in Mumbai.
Gomantak Restaurant, located in the Dadar West neighborhood of Mumbai, is a fantastic restaurant that specializes in Malvani cuisine (food from the Konkan region of Maharashtra where Mumbai is located), and they serve some delicious Bombay duck.
When you’re in Mumbai, you’ve got to try Parsi food and many other delicious foods, but don’t leave the city without eating some Bombay duck.
Gomantak Boarding House Restaurant
Address: 301 Miranda Chawl, Kelkar Road, Dadar West, Mumbai
Open hours: 11 am – 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm – 11:30 pm daily
How to get there: I took a taxi to go straight there. I think that’s probably the easiest and most convenient option. I was staying at a hotel in Colaba, and the taxi ride cost approximately 250 INR (). If you take a taxi make sure you take down the address and have it pinned on a map so you can follow along the route and tell the taxi driver how to get there.