As a kid, I had a mastery over the fine art of annoyance through such fine techniques as kicking the seat of the driver in front of me and constantly asking “are we there yet?” every two minutes into a 16 hour journey, to showcase but two arrows in my quiver. Indeed, it is through being absolutely insufferable that I learnt a no could be turned into a definite maybe and maybe could be fashioned into a definite yes.
As time passed on, I polished my skills to becoming a fine exponent of my craft, as many people would unhesitatingly attest to. Of course, being exposed as a kid to world-class talents in this field such as Nayan Mongia and Javed Miandad only helped speed up my development. It was only much later that, with a probing, persistent line just outside off in what got dubbed “the corridor of uncertainty”, McGrath that drove home for me the value of perseverance.
Yessireebob, being dogged always pays off.
Like the time my little lady landed from a long flight and was hungry but refused to admit to being so, for it was well past my bedtime and she didn’t want to keep me up.
“Do you want to eat something?”
“How about getting a bite, huh?”
“How about now?”
And so our cat and mouse game continued, but the wifey underestimates this cool cat even after all this time. I asked the question of her relentlessly, with her stonewalling me for the longest time ever before one of my questions finally cracked her defence and she said “yes”.
Come to think of it, that’s kind of the story of how we got married in the first place. But that’s a different story for a different day.
Truth be told, I was despairing, fearing I wouldn’t get her to say yes (to eating something, not marriage, you fool). By the time she said yes, we had hit Chandivali and Mint Leaf was the only restaurant that struck me as being open at the time. Yes, it was quite late.
And that, kids, is the story of how your mother and I went to Mint Leaf.
Mint Leaf had been on my radar for the longest time, but I hadn’t been there as yet. The place is a not-so odd hybrid of lounge cum watering hole cum restaurant, something that isn’t so odd as restaurateurs try to cram more into each square foot of space on offer. The stairs leading to the upper level of this restaurant housed the bar with a couple of tables and a TV in the far corner showing the Australia England ODI (score!). Mint Leaf does alright in the aesthetics department without winning any beauty pageants.
It must be said that the staff, despite the late hour (it was a little past 12 when we gave our order) were friendly and fairly enthusiastic when it came to offering recommendations, and so we went with some classic Chinese options, such as Burnt Garlic Fried Rice and Hunan Chicken for the mains with the only manner of experimentation coming by way of the Chicken Coriander Soup and a mocktail called Fire n Ice for me. Let the games begin.
The Chicken Coriander Soup was unrelentingly green, but also a nice enough departure from the the usual Manchows and Hot n Sours of the world. Studded with garlic and flecked green with coriander, the soup packed a nice tangy flavour with just the tiniest hint of lime. packing much more of a punch was the Fire n Ice which, despite its colourless nature, packed more of a knockout punch than Tyson at the peak of his powers. The chilli seeds dotting the drink ensured that each sip turned you into a fire breathing dragon. All we needed was a lighter lit near my mouth and I’d have become Ruhi’s personal flamethrower.
But that’s not to say it was something I disliked. Au contraire, I quite enjoyed the raw fieriness of it although you’d be well advised to steer clear of it if the spice islands isn’t the favorite destination on your culinary map.
The Burnt Garlic Fried Rice and Hunan Chicken were nothing that would blow your mind, but then it has absolutely no need to veer away from a well-established formula. The sweet and spicy nature of the gravy was complemented well by the garlicky neutrality of the rice, and the quantity of it all was so much that the two of us simply couldn’t finish off. We packed it off and took it home to keep us company since we knew when to call it quits.
Simple yet satisfying, our meal at Mint Leaf cost us 900 for 2 across our pair of drinks, a soup and mains. Sweeter still was the fact that taxes and what not were kept to a minimum by baking most of it into the price you see on the menu, something that’s appreciated as much as you imagine it to be.
Sometimes, it pays to be annoying and this was one of those times since the fruits of persistence are often very sweet. Mint Leaf wasn’t exactly a breath of fresh air, but it offers familiar food at comforting prices at odd hours. For that reason alone, I can see myself digging into it more often at late hours of the night when love and fresh air is not enough to keep one alive.