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Burgers with a difference
Matthew Schneeberger
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June 01, 2007

Peru's favourite burger joint, Bembos, opened its first restaurant outside of the tiny South American nation -- here in Mumbai!

Located in what is known as the queen of the suburbs, Bandra, on SV road (near the Gaiety Galaxy and Surburbia cinemas), Bembos is an exciting alternative to the normal burgers dished out at McDonald's.

In Peru, Bembos is known for its terrific beef patties and unique, South American infused toppings. Sensitive to religious traditions in India, however, the chain does not offer pork and beef products here. Instead, there is an extensive list of vegetarian options as well, including numerous vegetarian burgers and egg-free mayonnaise.

Through buzz on the street, Bembos is quickly becoming a big hit with both kids and adults in Mumbai's suburbs.

When I arrived with my girlfriend, most seats in the tiny restaurant were occupied; a long line snaked out of the doorway from the cash register.

While waiting, I perused the menu and found it easy to understand. Here's the breakdown:

Burgers -- mutton, chicken (fried or grilled) and vegetarian options.

Toppings -- mayonnaise, cheese, lettuce, chillies, tomatoes, pineapple, onions, fried banana, green and red peppers, mushrooms, various curries, tomato ketchup and pepper sauce.

Sides -- French fries, soda pop, iced tea, coffee, ice cream treats.

Managing the menu was not difficult, which was a good thing as the queue rapidly diminished thanks to quick service. I soon found myself facing a smiling waiter ready to take my order.

I ordered a Mutton Cubana Burger (Rs 99), owing mostly to the zany toppings: mayonnaise, lettuce, fried banana and onions.

My girlfriend chose the Rajma Masala Curry (Rs 39) vegetarian burger.

We decided to split a large French Fries (Rs 49); we both chose Iced Tea (Rs 20).

The total came to Rs 227, comparable to a similar meal at McDonald's.

After a brief wait of about five minutes, my name rang out from the speaker and a worker brought our food on two trays.

The Cubana burger was rather large, a thick mutton patty covered by two fried strips of fried banana and other toppings. The bun was soft, warm and covered in sesame seeds.

I must say, the burger was a bit of a disappointment, as the flavours were too strange and didn't mingle properly. The banana was coated in chaat masala, which overpowered the subtle seasonings in the mutton burger. There was mayonnaise in abundance and the onions were too strong as well. I couldn't taste the meat.

My girlfriend's Rajma burger was noticeably smaller. The fried vegetarian patty was covered liberally with a masala curry sauce along with a slice of cheese and a few onions. Unlike me, she thoroughly enjoyed her meal.

"The burger is made of beans and, when combined with the South American spices, it creates an enchilada type flavour. The onions aren't too strong or stinky and the sauce is delicious. Vegetarians are going to love this place!" she grinned.

The French fries were numerous and warm. They were much like McDonald's fries: skinny, crispy, heavily salted and went wonderfully with ketchup.

The iced tea was tasty, but too sweet. I believe it came from a powder concoction. The cup was small, and I was forced to order a second.

It was 3 pm, and neither of us had eaten breakfast, so we decided to get some more food. In the name of research, I ordered a second burger.

This time, I opted for the Hawaiian Grilled Chicken Burger (Rs 99). Its toppings included two pineapple slices, two slices of cheese and mayonnaise.

It also came quickly and was served warm. Like the Cubana burger, I was again unimpressed.

The cheese seemed processed and artificial; the mayonnaise was overpowering and ruined the flavour of pineapple. Thankfully, the grilled chicken patty was tasty and infused with great spices.

Overall, I must say that I prefer McDonald's. My girlfriend described it succinctly, saying, "If you have an adventurous palate, you'll like it. If not, maybe you should stick to more customary flavours.'

It's not a place to take the family or a date for a nice dinner, but it doesn't claim to be one. Instead, it's a great place to grab a quick bite to eat with friends or when you just don't feel like cooking after a hard day at office.

Bembos expects to open locations in several Latin American nations, as well as open more branches here in India.

Setting: It was small, synthetic and very typical of a 'fast-food' restaurant. The music was a steady procession of turn of the millennium hits, including NSYNC and Britney Spears [Images]. On the positive side, it was very clean and everything was well labelled.
Rating: 3/5

Service: The service was very efficient and helpful. We were served warm food with a smile and used the trays were cleared quickly. There was a lack of paper napkins, which was annoying with all the mayonnaise I wanted to wipe off my chicken burger.
Rating:  4/5

Food: The food was interesting, to say the least. I've certainly had better burgers in my life, and the lack of a beef patty was a disappointment. The fries were nice, but not enough to salvage my vote. My girlfriend recommends the rajma masala curry burger for vegetarians.

Value: When you eat fast food, you expect value. I still feel there is much better food to be had in Mumbai for less money, but at least it's in the price range of McDonald's.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or cuisine? Or have you sampled the latest haunt on the block? Be it Manali or Kanyakumari, Kashmir or Goa, Jaipur or Nagpur -- we would love to know more about the eating out options in your village, town or city.

Self-confessed foodies, recommend a restaurant. Rate the food (vegetarian and non-vegetarian), ambience, service, accessibility and whether you plan to head back.

Don't forget to add the restaurant's address and phone number, along with your full name, age, the name of your city, your profession and contact details.


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