Dinesh and Vandana Pujary certainly know how to make headlines. After Gokul Bar & Restaurant and the tiny Gokul Bite, they've opened Gokul9 in the same vicinity which is not only alcohol-free but also pure vegetarian!
So you can tuck into fast food favourites like cheese pav bhaji and schezwan masala dosa as well as hearty thalis, milkshakes and mocktails with your grandparents and grandkids in tow. And you won't have to worry about the smell of fish fry renting the air (how dare it!) or any drunk youngsters making a questionable impression on your sanskaari family.
Jokes apart, this part of Colaba really needed a quality vegetarian outpost and Gokul9 though small, boasts of very comfortable seating with air-conditioning and an extensive Indian menu. "The concept of running a vegetarian restaurant is very new to us, but it's in our blood and I know we can do it," says Vandana, daughter of the original owner the late Mr. Jaya Pujary.
Gokul9 Special Pav Bhaji
A calorie-laden stunner, we're not even sure this can be called pav bhaji. It's choc-a-bloc with paneer chunks and generously topped with chopped almonds and cashews. And of course, there's a lot of cheese and butter. We were unsure if the customary onions and lemon would go with this mega pav bhaji but they added the requisite amount of crunchiness and zest.
Tip: It's really huge and heavy (even the pavs are larger and more filling than normal - sourced from a nearby bakery) so be good and share it with your friend. If eating alone, this would be an entire meal.
Paneer Masala Dosa
It's masala dosa topped with copious amounts of shredded paneer. But what makes this really outstanding is the sheer size of the dosa and the authentic South Indian taste of the coconut chutney and vegetable sambhar. Dinesh Pujary's wife Vinita told us that some of their kitchen staff is South Indian and hence the Udupi-like taste. Along with chutney and sambhar, they also served a slightly tangy red chutney.
Gokul9 Special Pizza
We were already full by the time the pizza arrived so we couldn't appreciate it as much as the other dishes. But the toppings were quite unexpected - lots of cheese with olives, jalapenos, pineapple, sweet onion and corn. The pizza crust was like a quintessential tawa pizza - extra crispy, which may or may not work for you.
And to drink...
Gokul9 Special Mocktail
You probably think mocktails are a waste of money too. But this one's really delicious - it's the colour of blue curacao and tastes fizzy, fresh and lemony. The drink went wonderfully with all the cheesy food and it was served in a nice mason jar.
Mangoes are in season and you can't go wrong with anything that includes the king of fruits. The milkshake was thick, not too sweet and heavy on mangoes rather than milk. I'm not sure if they added ice-cream - that would definitely be a welcome inclusion.
Most items on the menu cost between 150 to 250 INR and a meal here won't cost more than INR 800 for two, with drinks. So the next time you're in Colaba, you know where to drop in for some pet pooja.
Where it's at: Ground Floor, 21 Ram Mansion, Near Gokul Hotel, Nowroji Ferdonji Street, Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai
When it's open: 7AM to midnight, everyday, so you can drop in for an early breakfast as well