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Created: May 2005.

All Stir Fry

Gordon House, Regal. Plate 250/- [5/05]

If you can drag yourself past the glare of light off the chalky face of Gordon House, you find yourself in one of those thin and long lobbies that is a perennial risk in Bombay. Through the first door waits another of Narang's restaurants. This time the decor is east-Asian street vendor: long wooden tables flanked with benches, a wooden floor and a front wall with a nice idea in lighting. Never mind the lack of attention to the side walls.

There are several things on the menu, but I can't get past the chinese version of the Gujarati Thali. The way it works is that you go to the counter, get a bowl from the chef, fill it with whatever you fancy from the self-service counter, and tell the chef to cook it with the sauce of your choice. And, of course, you can go back as often as you wish.

So what do they have? Three varieties of noodles: ramen, soba and udon. The usual varieties of diced vegetables, soya, fish cakes, meats and sea food. Two cooks handle three woks- one of which is reserved for vegetarians. They are helpful: I had a long conversation over each bowl, asking them about the correct sauces to add to each thing. They sent me back for appropriate veggies to add to the seafood. The food is good and fresh, different from the usual run of Indian chinese restaurants. The space is open and filled with a pleasant bustle, making for a good experience.

Only one problem, Mr. Narang. We may be going through a confusing time with taxes. But this is no reason to add an extra few rupees to bills along with small print saying that the money for charity is optional. Many of us would not think again about a fiver given to a deserving charity, like the one on my bill. But we don't like the feeling of being tricked into it.