One of the few times I enjoy taking a tour is to enjoy a food tour of the city. I think it’s a great way to be introduced to the local cuisine, understand how it’s eaten, and allows you to try everything without too much concern over the quality since these places are already vetted. Although there are a number a food tour options to choose from in Mumbai, I went with the Chef’s Food Tour and was not disappointed.
The Chef’s Food Tour was $50 USD and about 4 hours of eating and drinking with breaks built in as you walk to your next food stop. Your guide will pay for the food, drinks, and transportation so it’s included in your price and it’s a great way to see the city.
I met my guide Sagar in the heart of Mumbai just a few blocks from Victoria station. I got lucky and found out I was the only one on the tour that day so I basically had a private tour.
From there, we immediately dove in with drinks, food, and other good to know things about Mumbai. I have to say, one of the basic rules I have when I travel overseas is to never drink the water and to be weary of the ice (since that’s typically made with tap water). However, Sagar explained that since he had guided the tour and since he was a local and knew everyone, that we would only be drinking bottled and safe water or having drinks made with bottled water. That immediately put me at ease since otherwise I probably would have spent the bulk of the tour worrying about getting sick.
We went to about 12 different places and each place was unique. The tour was spaced out so you could pace yourself and it wasn’t like you were getting mounds of food all at once where you’d be full by the 3rd food item. To say it’s a lot of food is an understatement but some offer small bites (so if you’re counting calories, in my book, they don’t count).
Another fun part to the tour was Sagar’s introduction to the train system of Mumbai. If anyone has ever seen the mass of humanity that flows through India’s rail system, it’s easy to say that it’s intimidating. Signs aren’t clearly marked, everyone is pushing past you, and if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, you’ll be stuck on the train and unable to get off. It’s a thrilling experience but daunting to say the least.
Although we only took the train for 2 stops, it was a good enough introduction to the system for me. I THINK the longer trains might be easier to comprehend since there aren’t as many as the locals trains but I wouldn’t be able to say for sure. However, taking the train for just 2 stops on a fairly empty (I use that term very loosely) was more than enough to get a taste of the train system. A word of caution: don’t stand near the doors since you’ll either be pushed on or off the train. The doors don’t close so when a stop is near, everyone who needs to get off starts to push their way forward before the train even stops. Once at the station, everyone who needs to get on will push their way forward. If you’re caught in the middle of the train and need to get off, just push you way through to the door until you make it. That was the advice given to me anyways.
I really enjoy doing food tours especially in a city or a country that’s completely new to me. It eases the pressure of ordering and figuring out where or what to eat. Food tours pretty much let you enjoy the city with training wheels and if you like something, you’ll hopefully remember it so you can order it somewhere else. The Chef’s Tour was a great introduction into the street food culture of Mumbai and I would totally take it again.