[Mumbai, India] Middle-Eastern lunch at Souk, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

It was the penultimate day of our India holiday, and we are back where we started - in Mumbai. We reckoned that we’d like to go somewhere for a meal with a panoramic view of the city, and opted for Souk, a Middle-Eastern eatery on the top floor of the 20-storey Tower wing of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

The iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel’s main building was completed in 1903, a virtual city landmark with a million-dollar view out to the historic Gateway of India.

The Tower wing was added on much later - in 1972.

Souk restaurant’s distinctive floor-to-ceiling windows on the top floor of the Tower were quite distinctive.

First, to get into the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, one goes through tight security checks, put in place after the Pakistani-Muslim militant terror attacks of 2008.
The giant concierge looked rather intimidating, easily dwarfing one of us who’s “only” 6 feet tall. :joy:

Sumptuous dining area at Souk, with breathtaking views.

𝗦𝗼𝘂𝗸’s Syrian-born Executive Chef, Simon Shakour.

Our lunch spread:

  1. Kolokithi - zucchini, squash and aubergine chips, with garlic-yoghurt.

  2. Hummus Bil Lahm - hummus with crispy lamb and pine nuts, served with a basket of Arabic breads.

Bread basket, which included Manakish bi Za’atar, Aish Baladi and Khoubz.

  1. Grilled Halloumi, with roasted bell peppers, prunes and dried mint powder.

  2. Sheesh Tawouk - char-grilled boneless chicken, with roasted bell peppers, toum (Levantine garlic sauce), on pita bread. This was the best dish at lunch today - perfectly-textured chicken.

  3. Lamb tagine, with cous cous.
    Our waiter here, Anselm, is a Goan who’s worked at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel for 39 years, including at the hotel’s former signature fine dining restaurant, the Zodiac Grill.

6) Om Ali, an Egyptian bread pudding, using phyllo pastry, milk and pistachio nuts.

  1. Chocolate b’stilla, a Moroccan baked phyllo pie, filled with melted chocolate and pistachios, dusted with sugar & cinnamon.

As always, diners loved the idea of being at the Taj Mahal Palace - and the feeling that one is dining at the apex of luxury in the city. Personally, I felt it rather odd that, even after having dined several times at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in the past 20 years: Masala Kraft, Wasabi by Morimoto, Golden Dragon, etc. - none of the meals would actually constitute the “best I’d tasted in Mumbai” experience that I was looking for. In fact, I rather enjoyed my meals at Mahesh Lunch Home, Gajalee or even Copper Chimney more than any I’d had at the Taj.

But the views, I must admit those were unparalleled.

Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel
Apollo Bunder, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400 001, India
Tel: +91-22-6665-3272
Opening hours: 12.30pm to 11.45pm


There was a time when fine dining was only found at the 5 star hotels — restaurant culture was much more limited than it is now. In those days, Golden Dragon did indeed serve the best chinese food in town, Tanjore was a different level of refinement of Indian food, and The Sea Lounge was and is one of the most atmospheric places in town, Wasabi was the first Japanese restaurant, and so on. Shamiana was open 24h.

The five star hotel experience in India was and is more about the experience than the food — not sure there’s an equivalent category of dining elsewhere. Maybe brunch at the Ritz or high tea somewhere tony, but I’m reaching.

1 Like

We were at the Sea Lounge for their Maharajah Afternoon Tea (INR 4,500 per head) this afternoon. People were queuing outside for tables!

1 Like

The kolokithi look absolutely fantastic! And I want to just pop that chocolate b’stilla in my mouf.

That view! :heart_eyes:

1 Like

It ain’t cheap, but it’s pretty wonderful.

A few years ago, we went to the Oberoi (now Trident) for their afternoon tea instead, and it was also very good, with a view of marine drive instead of gateway, but it’s really hard to beat the sea lounge :joy:.