Review: La Bella, Ahmedabad

La Bella by Mrs Mary Lobo is one of the most popular non-vegetreian Goan restaurant in Ahmedabad and here is a review from one of my numerous visits to the iconic place.


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'Yeh sab kyon poochta hai tu (why are you asking all this)?', she asked and I fumbled for a smart answer, but came up with none. I just told her that I am keen on writing about her and hence the questions. She was least impressed and told me that I should read the papers more carefully, this January there was an article in Ahmedabad Mirror about her. However, the fact that I was from NID softened her and slowly as we started talking she spoke to me warmly and even invited me home for the Easter Cake!

La Bella Restaurant ahmedabad review Mr Mary Lobo
Mrs. Mary Lobo in her kitchen
This was Mrs. Mary Lobo, the lady who is now an icon in her own right. More famous as 'aunty' who runs La Bella in the old town of Ahmedabad, Mrs. Lobo originally hails from Goa. Married at a young age, she shifted to Ahmedabd with her husband and since then has been an Amdavadi. Her language has completely changed from Portuguese (she only remembers a few words now) to Gujarati and occasionally English, but she remains a Goan at her soul. Her clothes, her mannerisms, and her famous food - all of it is distinctly Goan. This has also added to the exotic value of La Bella and many people flock here to eat authentic Goan food, though in her own words its hardly Goan at all anymore!

La Bella Restaurant ahmedabad review
La Bella from outside
As against the general perception she doesn't cook the food herself anymore. Her helper Anna does all of that, while she supervises the cooking and takes care of all the supplies. Especially particular about the fish, she visits the fish market everyday to pick fresh supplies. Another popular perception is that she has been running the shop forever, though in reality La Bella opened the same year as NID and IIM, and was run successfully for years before Mrs. Lobo took it over after the death of the original owner (who was her husband's business partner as well). This was barely 15 years ago.

La Bella Restaurant ahmedabad review

Aunty doesn't cook anymore, but helps in warming the food and

serving it to the guests
Apart from the food, La Bella is also famous for the cost. Bhavin and Muzayun ate various delicacies and stuffed themselves full, yet the bill barely crossed Rs. 100. Just to give an idea, a rice plate barely costs Rs. 5! I was shocked by the prices and asked her how she made any money at all; her reply was simple, 'I earn enough to live and to continue making food for others.' I had never quite met anyone like that before

La Bella Restaurant ahmedabad review
The humble seating space
Of course the food is made only in limited quantity and gets over very fast. Be there by 07:45 pm if you wish to try it all; as time progresses things get over very fast. And if you come late, be prepared to go back without any food at all, sometimes even nine is too late.

La Bella Restaurant ahmedabad review
Our autorickshaw parked outside
As I stood leaning against the door and chatting, many people came and placed orders for food. Most come all the way to the kitchen and ask edaunty' directly for what's available and then order. I could see so many of these relationships built over years of great food enjoyed at the place. One young man came with his newly wed wife and introduced 'aunty' to her, it was absolutely heart warming to witness the intimacy 'aunty' shared with so many visitors. 

La Bella Restaurant ahmedabad review
I loved the heavy carved wooden door
Highly disappointed that I did not eat meat, she offered me potato wedged which I gulped down immediately. She wondered loudly why would anyone be a vegetarian, I did not argue back, just laughed with her and agreed. 

La Bella Restaurant ahmedabad review
My vegetarian potato wedges :)
It was soon time to leave, I realised that I spent my entire time in the kitchen and forgot to even talk to the customers and get their perspective. Maybe that's for my next visit. Of course Easter isn't far and as my love for cakes borders obsession, I might just visit her next month itself!


Read about the other very popular non-vegeterian food destination in Ahmedabad - Khamasa on my other blog.

p.s. Unfortunately I had no camera that day, and my phone came handy again.

Comments

  1. It seems Aunty is a legend especially among the hungry lot from NID and IIM. Even I have read about her.

    I guess her pocket friendly prices and home style food appeals to all :))

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  2. 'Aunty's' approach to food and business differs so greatly from the way the Western world approaches these...everything is profit-driven and often ends up sorely lacking the intimacy of personal contact and touch. What a heartwarming look at a side of life so foreign to us, where food really is the heart and soul of life and not just a means to an end.

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  3. another intersting story, this time showing a human's life passion! I would love to try this food

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  4. A great post about food and a woman who enjoys what she is doing without making profit a priority. She also brings people together...
    Ther is a phylosophy of life behind it all!

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  5. A very interesting read but then I am vegetarian too, so I identify with the last part much more!

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  6. The minute I read her name I guessed the lady came from Goa, as 'Lobo', meaning wolf, is a portuguese family name. :-)

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  7. She sounds like a very spunky, take-charge kind of lady. :-) Those potato wedges look delicious! I'd love to eat at her place. :-)

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  8. Interesting post Siddhartha.. I remember, I stumbled on one such post of yours before following your blog..!

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  9. Interesting , it would be delight for non vegie .

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  10. Oh Wow! You really took the time to talk to Aunty to share this details to us, awesome. Thanks for sharing this info. Her principle 'I earn enough to live and to continue making food for others.' struck me. Such an inspiring thoughts.

    With the relationship she gives to her customers, for sure, her resto will live forever.

    Nice shots using celfone camera.

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  11. Im suddenly wondering if there's any difference in preparing (cooking) vegetarian and non vegetarian potato wedges. Interesting story.

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  12. passion for life
    aunty surely has it

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  13. its these aunties that make the world a better place to live in...
    thank you for sharing

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  14. 'I earn enough to live and to continue making food for others.' such a classy lady, i've been reading your stories and it's a breather from the other blogs. i always find myself thinking after reading every story.

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  15. @Purba: I completely agree...she truly is a legend for us :)

    @Desiree: I think you are right, the intimacy with cooking as well as the closeness she shares with her guests (she often invites a few to her home as well for festivities) makes her as well as the place so special...

    @Ola: I am sure you would too enjoy the food :)

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  16. DeeBee: Absolutely :)

    @Mridula: My veg status is what kept me away from the places for years, am glad I finally went and unexpectedly got to relish the wedges as well!

    @JM: Thanks for sharing this, its a useful bit of information :)

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  17. @Rambling Tart: Sure :)

    @Sridharan: Thanks, that's how even I started following you :)

    @Dhiraj: I really is, all me non-veg friends love the aunty and her food :)

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  18. @Rizalenio: Thanks a liking the pics, I really regret not carrying my camera that day!

    @Pranavan: Thanks!

    @Eye: I guess there is no difference, unless you use fish oil or something :)

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  19. @Nandita: Absolutely!

    @Pinoy: This is very generous of you, am glad you find something worth reading here :)

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  20. I really like the photo of her in the kitchen. Very nice portrait, esp with a cell phone.

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  21. What a story. Your photos give nicely the whole picture.

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  22. looks like an interesting place, full of character.

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  23. Is she Mary Lobo who got a grand daughter named Sharon Lobo or something?

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  24. what a nice,cosy interesting blog
    (uh...although i don't have patience to read all of it)

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  25. @Halcyon: Thanks!

    @Phivos: I try to do my best, but I agree photos make the job easier...

    @Evelyn: Absolutely!

    @thefeelinglonliness: Mrs. Lobo has no kids at all, so can't be her I guess. And thanks :)

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  26. Wow. I wish I had eaten something before I passed by your blog today. :-)

    Oh. And I discovered your other blog the other day. I have been reading up. Loved your convocation series. I'm sure it spread a lot of love among your friends. I was very curious about Sheetal (I think her name is). With a daughter in a hostel!

    And the book. I have a feeling you are going to love it. It makes for such light reading. You HAVE to tell me all about it once you are done reading it.

    Mrs Mary Lobo looks like a woman who can cook up a frenzy. :-)

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  27. So if you ever come down to Ahmedabad, you know the place you can't miss :)

    It was really nice to write the convocation series, and most of it was actually loved by everyone :) Its great how they still come back to blog to read up and see the ridiculous videos :)

    And I am really looking forward to starting the book today :)

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  28. This lady, some DJ Roopalee from DNA After hrs has plagiarized from this article and presented it as her own, and I see your blog is copyrighted, plz take some action against her Siddharta,
    See the article here titled, La Bella is like Shangri La: http://epaper.dnaindia.com/epapermain.aspx?pgNo=4&edcode=1310009&eddate=2012-1-14
    last week too she copied from this article on rediff
    http://www.rediff.com/getahead/2006/feb/17rest.htm

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  29. Here's her facebook id btw
    https://www.facebook.com/DJRoopalee

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  30. Nice! You do this often, I mean visit places to eat and write?

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    1. Sometimes I do...when I get emotionally impacted by a place :)

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  31. Thanks for this..I absolutely loved her food when we visited while at MICA. I'm writing an article on the variety of food in Ahmedabad and mentioning aunty there as well. Unfortunately I don't have a snap of hers. Do I have your permission to use one of yours? Do let me know. Thanks

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    1. Sure you are most welcome to use the image as long as you cite the source :)

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  32. Thnx Siddhartha for mentioning about aunty in this beautiful article.... To correct you, Anna is not her helper, but her brother.... and recently La Bella celebrated its Silver Jubilee (25 years) on 2nd December 2012....

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  33. Thanks for bringing such a good eatery to notice and that also at this economy rate in this inflated world. I may try tomorrow - Sunday and will update accordingly.

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  34. Friends......can anybody from you update - what's the timings normally during morning - noon and night. So, that I can accommodate the timings, as I am staying on the otherside of Ahmedabad and it seems that if I do not heed to your inputs, then commuting charges will be more compared to food price !!

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  35. Please share the exact Address for Mary Aunty's La Bella? I wanna go visit n enjoy her Goan Food.... Please share!!!

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    1. I am really sorry Sneha, but I do not know the exact address! Check this article about the place here - http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=MIRRORNEW&BaseHref=AMIR%2F2013%2F09%2F08&ViewMode=GIF&PageLabel=10&EntityId=Ar01000&AppName=1

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  36. Nostalgic! Way back in late 70's I used go with Iranian friends whwn Mr. Lobo was alive - a very temperamental guy but very very honest. Food so cheap but so very delicious. May God keep Mrs. Lobo healthy and hearty as ever.

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  37. This was my favourite dinner place, almost alternate days of the week for the few years I was at NID (1987 ~ 93). The place and Mrs. Lobo and Anna are exactly the same. I often remember them, but have not got the opportunity to visit them. I am planning a trip to Ahmedabad just to visit them, meet and chat with them, and of course the food.

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  38. Hi beautiful blog and nyc article about aunty.

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