I don't go gaga over nightspots too often. That's because I rarely visit them.
Well, cosmic forces combined to take me to a place so amazing I feel compelled to write about it. Coz there are clubs and there are lounges and there is Shiro. The moment you enter, your jaw will drop and you'll say "Wow!"
Never heard of it? Well, neither had I. Which is why I first took a peek into the Hard Rock Cafe located in the same mill compound. Verdict: yummy. But having been to a couple of Hard Rocks in other parts of the world, we thought let's give this Shiro place a chance.
And what do you know. Inside a plain, unmarked wooden door lies a world in itself.
The very first thing that hits you is a 50 foot high stone sculpture - whoa! Coupled with the soothing sound of water, dim lighting and oodles and oodles of space. So much space that you suddenly feel "this can't be Bombay.. it just can't".
We were led upstairs (yes, there are two levels) where the two of us chose a luxurious sofa to loll on. Right opposite, on the wall, was a fantastic wall sculpture - the kind you might see in Khajuraho - except these weren't kinky and the faces are all south East Asian.
In a corner there's bamboo shoots gently swaying, look above and there's a 100 ft high ceiling. Giant red lamps dangle from the ceiling - more for decor than lighting. The seating area to the side of us resembles a 4 poster bed with gauzy, golden curtains. The 'table' in front of me is a low wooden chest.
Close your eyes and gurgling water and soothing music give you a sensory massage. In 10 minutes you are completely relaxed. Ah, now for the menu.
There's a wide and interesting range of drinks, although gven the lighting, it takes effort to squint at the menu. Cocktails with names like Balinese beach and Shanghai sunset. Margaritas nicknamed 'irresistible concubines'. And something called shochutinis (martinis made with Japanese rice wine). Prices range between Rs 250-475.
I tried out the wine cocktail 'fortified with vodka' in cranberry-black currant flavour (Rs 325). Very nice.
There is a wide range of eats of the Japanese-Korean variety. The menu includes stuff like Norwegian salmon (5 pieces for Rs 500), sashimi platters (Rs 700 to Rs 1850, depending on number of pieces). There were many items on the menu mentioned as "bulgogi in bao" ie chicken bulgogi in bao, beef bulgogi in bao. Pata nahin kya hai but sounded intriguing!
There are a decent number of vegetarian options but only if you like tofu/ shitake mushrooms (which are an ingredient in almost everything here).
My friend tried chi-chow dumplings (which are like chicken momos, Rs 250) while I, the ghaas-phoos lover went for mixed veg dumplings with glass noodles (Rs 175). When it came, I could hardly tell what I was eating (did I mention the lighting is dim!). Whatever it was - accha tha. Service was cool but then, being a weeknight there wasn't much crowd.
The bottomline however is, food and drink is incidental to the experience. It's the ambience which is mindblowing.
Is it a replica of the famous Buddha Bar in Paris? Well, from the pics of Buddha Bar I checked out on the net it does not seem like an exact copy. There are no Buddhas per se, at Shiro, just a predominantly Far Eastern theme with an emphasis on the Japanese.
The idea and the overall atmosphere may well match - but who cares?
Although it's a really really romantic place, Shiro is essentially designed for large groups. The best seating in the house is what I call the 'boudoirs' - the area which resembles a canopy bed although with low L shaped sofas.
Yes, it is expensive (factor in VAT and service tax also!) but completely worth it. This is the place to see/ be seen at for some time to come. If you're going on a weekend better make a booking!
Sorry, I have no pictures to put up yet. I did take some with my camera phone but those do no justice to the place. We did in fact seek permission for JAM magazine to shoot some pictures... but they are yet to grant the same.
We're told there is a PR agency which is very selective about who gets to review the place. Aha. But what about people like me... We didn't need a freebie invitation. We came, enjoyed the experience and want to write about it.
Yes, I understand they want to slowly build up this place. Keep it mysterious and exclusive for a while. That way everyone wants to come here. And you don't depend on minor celebrities to endorse you to be seen as 'happening'. In short, no hangers-on who don't pay because they grace your club with their presence!
All I would say is, a write up in Bombay Times is not necessarily the best thing for a really cool place today. Yeah, they did feature Shiro yesterday, on some obscure page (bet you didn't notice it!). With a picture which looked like it was shot by an amateur (if you put on the flash, how can you capture the atmosphere!).
Aap hamein gale lagayein ya nahin, hum to aapke chahne wale ho haye. So, no hard feelings. The pics will happen. Watch this space!
Shiro, Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli, Mumbai. tel : 022-24383008