Mokai: An amalgamation of Tokyo street culture on the vibrant streets of Chapel Road, Mumbai!

Nestled in one of the oldest streets of Bandra suburbs, Mokai transported us to the cafe arenas of Japan while we sipped our coffee sitting in a quaint corner of Chapel Road.

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Mokai's Facade.

Right after the bustling Hill Road, the road connecting St. Stanislaus and Mount Carmel Church landed us on one of the narrowest and oldest streets of Bandra. Amidst the vibrant landscape of what is called Chapel Road, we strolled through the old bungalow from where the local tabloid 'BandraTimes', catering to a few Bandra residents, is published reminiscing the old times of walking down here before stopping to check out what's buzzing. And, it was buzzing and brewing there at Mokai — a new cultural addition to this historically artistic street of Mumbai.


One of the corners in Chapel Road. Image Courtesy: My Favourite Things

Multiple bungalows boasting Goan architecture have always been a witness to changing times, here at Chapel Road along with the Catholics living in these settlements. Many of these bungalows have been redeveloped and Chapel Road was quick to lose its old-world charm. However, in the past decade, the time got the winds of change for both. While the street has now been dipped in the best of the wall artworks, graffiti and murals that have become a memoir of a few Hindi movies — all thanks to the Bollywood Art Project started in 2012, the residents give daily disapprovals to the people flocking here to capture their houses and streets! 


'Coffee To Go' inspired by the Japanese eateries. 

In between the tussle, new commercial additions to the street do not cease to stop. Mokai, a remodelled space on the old Newton's House, however, only adds to the artistic confluence in Bandra by mixing it with the cultural hues of Japan. The facade of Mokai offers a fine peek at one of the popular works of Katsushika Hokusai, the Japanese painter and printmaker, 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa' while towards its left is the ‘Coffee To Go’ takeaway counter, inspired by Japanese eateries. As we found it to be quaint on a Friday afternoon, Mohit Bulchandani, the owner mentions that it gets lively during weekends. 


The ground floor counter (above) and the seating area on the first floor (below). 

We entered Mokai to be greeted with the Japanese concept of minimalism consisting of the wabi-sabi aesthetics that become evident with the imperfectly perfect designs. Taking a glance at the deconstructed coffee counter on the ground floor, we took the stairs for the first floor's seating area as the ceiling of the staircase owned the origami birds — in the Japanese style of paper folding that pays an ode to poetic themes hinting travel, migration and exchanges. On the wall lay the M-O-K-A-I hanko, one of the best highlights here.


The minimal staircase decor (above) and vibrant tint to the space are inspired by Tokyo's culture (below). 

Like the ground, this floor also welcomed us to the elegant settings with wooden walls blended with the colour palette of earthy browns but maintaining the ube-pink hues throughout. We could not leave the chance to admire the art in prints on walls, irregularly shaped cushions, murals and symbols. However, it goes for a good contrast with the dynamic street culture of Tokyo displayed here, especially in the washrooms with the audiobooks playing in the background in between the vibrant display of cultural blends on the walls. "Each element is inspired by my partner's travelling experiences in South East Asia," says Bulchandani about his partner and co-owner Karreena Bulchandani. 

Staying for the sensory feast — Coffee! 


Mokai impressed us with their coffee offerings

Staying true to its name, MOKA meaning Coffee and AI meaning Love, Mokai entices with its caffeine and sipping Tiramisu Iced Latte was a testament to the same. Talking to Local Samosa, Mr. Bulchandani says they have been sourcing the coffee from Chikmagalur along with Singapore in collaboration with Common Man Coffee Roasters. If anything could add to the experience, it was the Kyoto Cold Brew. There is no doubt that both of these had influential traits to make us feel like visiting the place again. 


The food menu brings in the South Asian flavours. 

Mokai does not fail in bringing the South East Asian culinary adventures to this space. We navigated well through Okonomiyaki which turned out to be a slice of heaven being the savoury Japanese pancakes with veggies and eggs. While Chilli Fried Egg Avo Toast and Hong Kong Street Style Steamed Wantons raided the bar for us, Sichuan Spiced Fried Chicken Karaage got us looking for a better end to the meal, a part of which we got through the slices of their best-seller Old Styled Chocolate Cake recommended by Mr. Bulchandani. 


Mokai blends elegant aesthetics with the vibrant street culture of Tokyo through various elements

An afternoon spent at Mokai was full of discussing contrasts for us. Beyond the minimalist yet vibrant offerings of the place, it's about the modern infrastructure within the traditional Japanese ethos situated in an old bungalow on Chapel Road. What might not land well for some guests looking for peace amidst this area's quaintness could be the noisy atmosphere at Mokai owing to the proximity between the seats even though the entire setting gives an ode to the Japanese cafe culture. But it is the blend of the international odyssey with the cultural tapestry of Chapel Road here that fixates the eyes in this redevelopment, which even with its newness does not let go of the authentic charm of this area. 

Mokai Mokai Bandra