If Mohammed cannot go to the mountain, it is only obvious that the mountain must come to Mohammed.
This axiom, which made little sense to 8 year old me, was epitomized by All Stir Fry opening shop without much fanfare and revelry in little ol’ Marol, that most fashionable of suburbs.
For long an institution, All Stir Fry has a star all its own on the wok Walk of Fame. Mumbai might be inundated today with more wok centric food outlets than Cancun has half-naked girls during Spring Break, but it was All Stir Fry that kick-started this whole party back in the noughties. All Stir Fry has been a stalwart on the scene when the ideas of most wok based eateries were no more than an idea yet to take seed in the mind of their respective restaurateurs.
Bear the dreary banality of Marol for a bit and it gives way to the exuberant designs of the Waterstone, a boutique hotel that houses this outlet of the popular Colaba eatery. Done up in vibrant hues and with bright upturned yellow lights dotting the ceiling, the entire space at All Stir is very open and inviting, not two adjectives you can use for a lot of Mumbai spaces. Settling on a weekday evening, we were the only people there to begin with, and we weren’t as fashionably late as we believed we would be.
Settling in, we glanced over the menu and quickly zeroed in on the Chilli Squid and Prawn Tempura for starters, and while the Tempura was a little bit of a let-down (although Aquaman would be proud of how large his subjects had grown) thanks to the batter not being the ultra-light, gossamer web of magic I like Tempura to be, the Chilli Squid more than made up for it. Not the chewy, rubbery rubbish doled out at most places, the squid was cooked very well and the mildly sweet, chilly and tangy hit from the sauce combined their powers to deliver a knockout punch of a starter that comes highly recommended. A special mention goes to the Tempura’s brilliant tart, savory ponzu sauce which is good enough to be a meal by itself for some. I’m looking at you, Yatin.
While All Stir Fry does offer a great deal of variety with its menu, I think the magic of it can only truly be manifest if you were to try their signature woks. At ₹730 plus taxes for as much as you can eat, it represents insanely good value for money for those that don’t want to burn a hole in their pockets. For the more adventurous, it represents a way to have your meal your way. You are the master of your own culinary destiny, and that by itself is a very satisfying and empowering thought.
Pick your base ingredients followed by choosing vegetables and proteins of your choice. Once done, add condiments and sauces as er your liking and voila! Your wok is ready to rock and roll. With so many combinations possible, the possibilities are limitless, offering more variety than any menu could possibly offer.
The live cooking does have a charm of its own, and I found myself returning to grab fistfuls of the high quality prawns and squid on offer. With a great selection of ingredients on offer, you will be spoiled silly as you roam the counter with bowl in hand and greedy eyes on the hunt.
Of all the sauces, I loved the piquant spiciness of the Chilli Plum and the mellow, un-melodramatic way of the Spring Onion with Ginger and I’d recommend those over the more recognisable and staid Kung Pao’s and Schezwan sauces any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Your mileage may vary though; mix and match to your heart’s content as you go back for seconds, thirds and fourths.
Like a Rubik’s cube, a meal at All Stir Fry is whatever you make of it. If you can dream it, you can have it, it’s as simple as that. All Stir Fry is like culinary clay, putty in your hands and waiting for you to shape your meal as you see fit. Now that’s a plan I can go along with all day long.
P.S: Don’t forget to get your stretchy pants along. You’ll need it.
P.P.S: Don’t overfill your bowl, ensure you go back for more and more, it’s the best way to try everything!