CTExclusive: Streets Of Japan Come Alive At Bandra In The Form Of New Coffeehouse & Dining Spot, MOKAI

In Bandra's Chapel Road, lies a bungalow that is Bandra’s newest coffeehouse-cum-all-day-dining haunt, MOKAI. Read more about it

by Rachna Srivastava
CTExclusive: Streets Of Japan Come Alive At Bandra In The Form Of New Coffeehouse & Dining Spot, MOKAI

On a tiring Monday evening, I decided to get lost in the lanes of Bandra. Well, not technically, but philosophically. I made my way to Chapel Road in Bandra, which connects Mount Carmel Church to Hill Road, and is known for its houses, street art, and graffiti. Right after you cross Adagio on your right and a pretty arched, white-doored wonder, on your left you will set your eyes on a bungalow that is Bandra’s newest coffeehouse-cum-all-day-dining haunt, MOKAI.

First Impression Of MOKAI Is WOW And There’s More WOW Inside!

Mokai In Bandra
Image Courtesy: Supplied

MOKA = Coffee; AI = Love; MOKAI= Coffee Love!

Seeming alien to its surroundings, the old Bandra bungalow called Newton House has been revamped to look like something you will find on the streets of Japan. After all, the bungalow exteriors boast artwork inspired by Japan’s iconic The Great Wave, a vape-inspired Moka pot and little details best explained by the visionaries of the place. The concept and design are by Parzan Daruwalla and Natasha Chawla of Studio 6158 and by Jungle Gym.

Karreena Bulchandani is a first-time restaurateur and MOKAI is her vision and brainchild. But her husband Mohit Bulchandani’s expertise (owner of Seeds of Life) comes in handy when dealing with the technical aspects of managing and running a restaurant. 

After living in China, Singapore and London, and visiting a bunch of Southeast Asian countries, Karreena wanted to bring the streets of Japan and Southeast Asia to India. Each nook and cranny of the place is a personal extension of her visits and likings, and you will find a lot of custom elements all around you.

Minimalistic Interiors With Maximum Character

The hanko with MOKAI written on it and handmade origami birds (left)The vending-machine washroom door (right)
The hanko of MOKAI on the wall and the handmade origami birds above (left)
The vending machine-inspired washroom door (right)
Image Courtesy: Supplied

The philosophy of Wabi Sabi is reflected in the imperfectly perfect coffee bar, rugged tables, artwork and minimalistic interiors. Spread across two levels, the lower level aims to be buzzy and happening. There are dedicated high tables for people looking to work out of there. The upstairs is more calming and aims to cater to folks who would rather tuck into a book (or their laptop) and coffee in a corner, undisturbed. 

My Fave Nooks & Design Elements:

  • The Moka-pot vape on the facade 
  • Coffee-to-go window 
  • The hanko of MOKAI on the wall as you head to the upper level
  • Handmade origami birds hanging from the first-floor ceiling
  • Oyster-mushroom shaped lights
  • Washrooms. Yes, I know it’s quite odd to point this out. But you will know what I am talking about once you see it yourself. While the ground floor one is behind a vending machine-inspired door, the upper one has the trippiest mirror lending a psychedelic effect. Both the washrooms transport you to Tokyo streets with their posters, anime art, and have Japanese audiobooks keeping you engaged while you do your business. I have a pun that I don’t intend to share (*sticks out tongue*)


What’s On The Menu At MOKAI? 

Image Courtesy: Supplied

It is a coffeehouse, yes. But it also has all-day dining options. With diverse Asian offerings, the core philosophy is to go beyond the coffee. And honestly,  the curated menu achieves that. It is a blend of traditional French baking techniques, inventive flavours and Asian cafe vibe. The menu has all-day breakfast options, sandos (Japanese sandwiches), salads, appetizers, noodles, and bowls. 

MOKAI Taro Tea and Katsu Chicken Sando
Taro Tea and Katsu Chicken Sando
Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava

I tried Roasted Togarashi Potatoes with Truffle Aioli, Crispy Shrooms, Katsu Chicken Sando, Tornado Eggs with Hong Kong style Chilli Fried Rice, Miso Mushroom-y Noodles, and Honey Butter Toast. My fave was Hong Kong Street Style Steamed Wontons (with prawns). The flavours are fresh, the presentation is very ‘gram-friendly and you will truly find comfort in the things you eat here. 

Crispy Shrooms and Hong Kong Wontons at Mokai Bandra
Crispy Shrooms and Hong Kong Wontons
Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava

What’s To Drink?

Beverages At MOKAI
Beverages At MOKAI
Image Courtesy: Supplied

It is a coffeehouse, so of course, we need to talk about the coffee! MOKAI has a house blend coffee that is sourced from Chikmagaluru and roasted in Bangalore. It also has a collab with Singapore’s Common Man Roasters and has globally roasted coffee that is sourced from Burundi and Brazil; roasted in Singapore, and then shipped to Mumbai.

But even the beverage menu is more than coffee. You will find a variety of cold brew, manual brew, hot coffee, iced coffee, cold drip; along with smoothies, matcha teas, hot chocolates, shots, juices, and coolers. Do try the Pandan Coconut Cooler, Kyoto Cold Brew (Japan), Taro Boba (Taiwan) and Thai Milk Tea (Thailand). They have a dedicated Traveller’s menu that has specialty beverages from across Southeast Asia.

Also Read: CTReview: I Had A Meal With 6-Inch Tall Le Petit Chef & Friends In Delhi; Transformed Into A Theatrical Culinary Spectacle!

So, Should You Go Or Not?

A big yes! Bandra is a cultural hub and this Asian addition to the ‘burb is much welcome. The visual language of the place will captivate your attention. Plus, the 63-seater will soon have an outdoor seating addition that is going to be pet-friendly. And they plan to take care of strays around too. So for a slice of Japan and more of Southeast Asia, make your way to MOKAI and fall in love with aesthetics, brews and ube (the colour element that forms a strong backbone to the brand’s visual entirety). Oh, and they are also gonna have merch and coffee you can purchase and take ‘stock’ of! 

Where: Newton House, 54, Chapel road, Bandra (W), Mumbai
When: 7 am to 7 pm | Open all days of the week
Contact: +91. 9619866607
Cost:  ₹1500 for two

The editor was invited by Team MOKAI for a preview. MOKAI is opening doors to the public on April 1o, 2024.

Cover Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava and Supplied

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