17 Oct For the love of Parsi Food: SodaBottleOpenerwala, BKC,Mumbai
An absolute charm of a place, an initiative from Mr.A.D Singh (owner of Olive Bar) that seems to have hit the bulls eye in Mumbai. This time, it’s about Parsi Food and culture, that’s brought forward to re-live its olden era and throw open its culinary dictionary to the world, to the elite and premium class, in style,exuding an ambience that’s edgy and quirky. Bringing alive this concept of Parsi food, their great delicacies to the world on an classier platform, with opulence and grandeur, a blend of the age old Parsi look and feel, merging it with modern décor and design, keeping in the aesthetics right in place. All done up so well and named aptly as “Bombay Irani Cafe and Bar”,thus opening as a place that is an option to unwind an exhirilating night over great Parsi food. Unlike the earlier times , when the Irani Cafes, took pride (and still does) on their unapologetic run down fashion kind of a look with their typical red checkered table cloth framed by a plastic or a glass over, the mosiac floors, the black board that depicts the day’s special and the menu in details ,not many would consider the café as a hangout place for a great evening. It is only for the great spread of delicacies that often pulls the crowd to an Irani Café. How can we not love the bun maska and irani chai, the dhansak, the chicken cutlets, the berry pulao and mutton salli boti.Mumbaikars are in love with these authentic parsi delicacies. However , for most people(including me), it always has been an office quick lunch or an evening snack kind of an atmosphere that was a part of your routine work life, more so if your work place was located somewhere close to Nariman Point or Ballad Estate, that was (and still is ) the hub for Irani cafes. But never an option for dining out perhaps. Never a part of your social media tagline or top of your story to showcase to the world ,neither any fancy hashtags to show off. The parsi food, loved by most mumbaites, their unique taste, distinct and exquisite fills us with a great morsel of yum . Yet as a business, it saw the death of so many old restaurants in recent times be it due to issues of profitability or of carrying the legacy forward by the next generation of the families consisently.At this stage, Soda bottleopenerwalla comes up as a lavish funky restaurant and shines like a beacon throughout the Mumbai partying and dining scene , showing through ostentatious glamour, giving a premium look and feel to the whole atmosphere. It lends a glamorous edge to the dining out experience of a person seeking Parsi food; that eluded the city for decades. An exemplary concept in the culinary landscape of the city that brings in joy to the lovers of Parsi cuisine. Striving to promote this cuisines an taking it a notch higher through its deameaur of well-designed architecture while maintain the basic elements of a Irani Café perhaps .I am so glad that they are popularizing the authentic heritage recipes that stands to project this cuisine to a wider audience, to the elite and the classy. The young, the old, the party goer and the foodie ,all at one place. At a time, when the trajectory of the parsi cafes as a brand was perhaps in an apologetic/ abysymal state, many of them having shut down already , the opening of soda bottleopener walla has only bolstered the popularity of Parsi Cuisine, seeking the love that they desire from the diners
Food has suddenly taken a beautiful journey and giving a new definition to the culinary landscape .Local food, fusion food an molecular gastronomy, all existing in harmony. Here in case , the local Parsi Cuisines, their heritage recipes are all decked up and glammed up , opening up a new avenue , a new look , positioning as a modern luxurious gourmet offering, coupled with its lavish settings
Decor :One look at the entrance and you realize how beautifully the elements of traditions have been blended to this swanky new place. Edgy , quirky yet traditionally rooted. The tables are laid out with the red checked tablecloths while one walls demits the character of the café through its blackboards that highlights the erstwhile board that adored an traditional Irani Cafe. Beautiful rustic lighting gives it an arty feel that effectuates the vibrancy of the place while the stunning, impecabble modern swanky bar makes it unique and attractive. The desserts constitutes the very famous laganu custard, while bottles of toffees adorn the dessert bar ;candies, Poppins ,khari biscuits, bakery and Shrewsbury biscuts all of them reminiscent of an Irani Café. Absolutely stunning and enchanting to the eye.
With a swanky bar added to its grandeur, it manages to create a bonhomie between the drinks and an Irani cup of chai as both elements coexist in harmony. A cup of chai or your favorite drinks, all under the same roof, thus maintaining a camaraderie between the old rustic flavor of décor and menu offerings and the modern decor that give sits a glamorous edge to the ambience, with stylish , lavish set of architecture, a beautiful blend between the authenticity of the erstwhile cafes and a modern contemporary look of a premium ,quirky restaurant. All together , merging traditions and current market trends of an edgy hang -out place.And towards the end, you smile with glee as you recount memories seeing the poppins and candies on display.
Food :Drinks apart, I choose to gorge on my favorite parsi dishes and must say, it was an absolute delight to relish their awfully gorgeous dishes
Mutton dhankak– An all time favorite of mine, this dish never fails..Staple to Parsi cuisine, it is ubiquitous across all Irani Cafes. Borrowing from the culinary dictionary, Soda bottleopener wala, manages to introduce a lip-smacking dish of mutton dhansak, albeit, a little unique and different from the original dish. Yes, it may not sign off as the most authentic plate of mutton dhansak, but for the love of Parsi food with the opulence and grandeur of the place, it all suits fine. The dal and the green leaves blend to give out a hot , warm tantalizing taste. While the soft tender pieces of mutton soaks in the gravy giving out a beautiful flavor.Complimenting the beautiful mutton is a gorgeous bowl of caramalised onion rice,sweet and salty , with an undertone of ghee lingering over.Like the irani café, the dhansak came styled in a dabba(tiffin style) to add to the current trend of using rustic crockery as a fashion element in many retsro bars .
Chilli cheese Pavs-The quintessential Pavs are a signature item of Parsi food. You don’t get a better, soft and buttery Pav anywhere except an Irani Café. The bun maska or kheema Pav are signature dishes,the Pav lending a beautiful moist and soft texture , almost a melt in the mouth feel. The softness of the pav is what makes it magical.The chili cheese pav is a modern take on the pav, taking the route of the erthwshile garlic cheese breads. Melting cheese adorning the soft Pavs, is mesmerizing to your taste buds, almost taking it to a different level of ecstasy. A must try. Like their old fashioned crockery, these Pavs are presented beautifully in saucers like plates that is reminiscent of those run down, simplistic crockery that adorn the tables at an Irani Café.The feel of an old Irani Café making a vivid memory as you relish your cheese avs
Badami potatoes– An exquisite dish, this one is rich and creamy and has all the goodness of almonds to soak into. Visually and aesthetically appealing, you cant wait to dig your fork into. One bite and you realize its beauty. With onion caramelized rice they are an ultimate fantasy of goodness.
Potato cutlets-These were absolute soft, and moist. In short, yummy morsel of yum. Perfectly done up, with a crisp outer crumb and an soft inside
Chai-The ever so popular cup of Irani Chai.It was just like it is supposed to be
Laganu Custard– Cant get enough of it ever.An ideal Parsi meal ends with a bowl of laganu custard and I chose to follow the same route for adding a finesse to my meal.. Soft and gooyey, it was captivating and disappeared in minutes.
Service– With a welcoming stance, the staff are well trained on the parsi dishes and quick to help you with your order, exuding a vibrancy in attitude, contentious as they are, they are quick to respond with utmost alacrity.
An unprecedented initiative by the promoters, it is a great way to revive this great cuisine and showcase it to the world. I am truly impressed with everything that it speaks of as a place. Didnt fail me one bit except that,I would have loved to see the chicken sandwich or the kheema pav as a delicacy too. Nevertheless, all in good taste, with the congenial mingling of parsi cuisine and great drinks influenced by market trends basis the parameters of a great hangout place ,this restaurant definitely has the charm, the quirkiness to attract a classy crowd ,and serves parsi food with perfection.
Summary:The grandiosity of the place , aided by the parsi recipes definitely managed to strike a definitive connect with the audience, the elite and the classy crowd ,who looks out for a great evening, a session of fun filled ambience. If food is a labor of love and if satiating your taste buds is a sensory experience then this outlet ticks all the boxes. Great food, swanky décor, maintaining the rustic charm of an old age irani café, while the modern , edgy bar gives sit all an exhilarating experience. For me , this definitely is one of my favoriteParsi joints for sure.Managed to impress me with its concept , décor and congenial ambience, great food apart of course, and I will be back soon to savor parsi delicacies for sure. And if you are a profound lover of parsi cuisine and even if you are not, then this place is worth a try for once to pass a judgment. You will walk out with fulfillment and delicious memories of Parsi gourmet cooking, an way of life is my guarantee.