I personally feel that a large part of the dining experience is the waiters. After all, the waiter is really the interactive face presented to you so if your waiter is lousy, no amount of good food will make up for this!
Which is why, I feel that Five Spice offers a great dining experience. A clean and neat eatery, tucked away in a very crowded and chaotic part of Mumbai in the day, it becomes a welcome haven after office hours.
We went early in the evening because my daughter who is a regular warned us that it gets crowded pretty fast. Actually it is not very hard to fill up the space as it is very small. But small is beautiful and I can fit into a small space so............ I don't really mind.
We had lots of parking space available since the whole street had emptied out . In any case, there is valet parking available for all those who can't manage a parking spot right outside the restaurant.
We were given our choice of seating since we were almost the first diners. We went into the air conditioned section which was different from the outside only in terms of temperature. Perhaps it was because the place was empty that the air conditioning was so effective that we chose to eat outside rather than have our teeth chattering in tandem with our chop sticks!
Seated in a comfortable spot, we settled down to choosing our food. Since my daughter was familiar with the menu, we left it to her. She chose Butter Garlic prawns (Rs. 200) for starters , a Chicken Moon Fan rice ( Rs.150) and Hunan Fish (Rs.210).
Of course the waiter was not only helpful but also knowledgeable in terms of portions, taste and suggestions of complementing dishes and flavours.
The starters came quickly while the prawns were still hot and crispy - just right infact. Juicy inside with the subtle flavourings of garlic, pepper and butter enhancing the natural taste of prawn.
The simply aromatic Rice giving off the distinctive whiff of Star Anise came in a hot clay pot . We lifted off the top and bit into succulent lightly batter fried pieces of chicken combined with shitake mushrooms. It is the star anise which differentiates this rice from the normal "Flied Lice" available in all Chinese restaurants. Also according to the waiter who recommended this dish over Fortune Rice, it was dry and would go better with the gravied fish.
While my daughter was thrilled with the Hunan Fish since it was her preference, I would have preferred a Soy based sauce but I am not complaining about the fish which was served in a fish shaped chafing dish.
And the last course was the main reason for our being there - the Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream (Rs. 100) According to my daughter this was the raison d'etre of this restaurant and sure enough by the time we left, we found people pre-ordering this delicacy as the restaurant tends to run out of it! Incidentally this One dessert was enough for the three of us to share though I did pig out by ordering a Chocolate Mousse Cake (Rs90). This chocolate chip covered mousse was insipidly disappointing particularly eaten alongside the sinfully rich chocolate brownie.
The servings were large - so large that the three of us couldn't finish what we had ordered so we doggy bagged it for lunch. Actually it would have been better if we had taken one more person along as it would have been just right.
So along with three aerated drinks and a bottle of Aqua vita, this became a wonderfully affordable gem for all of a princely sum of Rs.870!
Five Stars then for Five Spice which according to me scores 10/10 for all the ingredients that make for a happy meal
Location and ambience - easily accessible, simple and clean
Waiters and general staff - helpful, pleasant , knowledgeable and very efficient.
Variety and Taste - Great food and choice
PRICE - All the better to eat more!
Icing on the cake : Five Spice does Free Home Deliveries so you can literally have your cake and eat it too. Of course minimum order is Rs.500 but for two people that will easily amount to that much
Final verdict - GO FIVE SPICE