Malls of India by DLF has recently opened its gates in Noida. The mall touted as among the biggest in India, offers a major respite to the much parched food & dining scene of Noida. Even though there is no real ‘break-through’ or standout restaurant, nothing that we have not seen before in Delhi or Gurgaon, however most of the restaurants which have opened or are about to open the shop there, are a first for Noida – Some of the names that pop to my mind – Pizza Express, Chili’s, Kylin Express & of-course SodaBottleOpenerWala.
SodaBottleOpenerWala has been around in DLF Cyber Hub of Gurgaon for several years and recent months have seen them grow into multiple Indian cities, which is a testament of their popularly, acceptance and Operations management. I have visited their Cyber Hub outlet a couple of times and have had decent experiences. As with the gurgaon outlet, the interior of the Noida outlet was also class apart. Stepping in you get almost the same feel as an age-old Irani or Parsi cafe run by some bawa uncle in Mumbai – the table clothes, the wood work, the show cases – all symbolic enough to make you instantly nostalgic about those beautiful family run cafes of Mumbai.
Their menu was another pleasant surprise, nothing seemed exorbitantly priced and rates were at par with any decent full-service restaurant that you would come cross. Another good thing about the menu – it was not full of hundreds of items to choose from. All items were quite unique in themselves and the menu had a limited selection, which makes life easy for greedy food lovers like me. After spending much time we settled on a Combo – we had several to choose from in veg, chicken and prawn versions – we selected one with Veg. Berry Pulao, Vada Pav and Kachumber Salad. To add some meat on the table we also ordered for Bhendi Bazaar Seekh along with Parantha.
The combo came in a 3 box tiffin box – the tiered steel lunch carrier that we have all grown up seeing being used in our family. Just for the convenience – these boxes were our TupperWare before the now so common plastic lunchboxes happened. The box was opened on our table and one of them had Berry Pulao, other Vada Pav and Kuchumber salad came in the Third box.
The salad was exactly like what you would make at home – very basic with not much to go wrong there. Vada pav was served the way it is served on streets of Mumbai. Despite getting the flavors right, it lacked Hot & Fresh feel that is associated with this super popular food item from Mumbai. The pav though authentic in texture felt like it was the last day before it would be declared ‘expired’. Similarly vada felt like refried which I am sure can be attributed to street vendors making it in bulk while the folks at SBOW would have to fry it one piece at a time. Here I would like to admit that I am being extremely critical – the vada pav packs enough punch to fix any cravings you might have, however could have been a bit better.
Coming to the Bhendi Bazaar Seekh Kebab – nice big pieces of Kebab which look like they mean business – slightly on the oily side these are some of the finest Seekhs you can invest your appetite on. Unlike our routine ‘Indian’ seekhs, there were barely any spices in mince and every morsel gave you a brilliant savory flavor of the mutton itself. Not soft or melt in mouth, but then the bite and chunkiness are hallmarks of a proper seekh and these ones delivered on it. The chutney served with them could have used flavors other than basic coriander which would be helpful for those who seek a bit stronger flavor from those seekhs. The parantha felt like someone took out a frozen sheet and deep fried it. Tasteless and characterless. I would advise you to save your calories and invest them in more Kekabs or other food stuff on the menu.
No visit to a parsi joint is complete without me polishing off a few Lagan nu Custards, which is one of my favorite desserts and having tried them at several places in Colaba and rest of Mumbai I can very well say that no two custards are similar. Eagerly finished the meal here as well, as custard was on my mind and once done, ordered it with a grin on my face. What came on my table left me a little disappointed, the presentation was way too boring, the mint leaves used for garnishing didn’t deserve to be there. It came in a bowl rather than a plate as I have come to expect it. Couple of bites into it and I decided not to go further with it. It just felt synthetic and nothing like some of the finer stuff I have enjoyed in Colaba Cafes. Here I would like to mention that service staff on noticing my disappointed took the custard away and offered me a replacement dessert for the same – I could choose anything from the menu. Super gesture by service staff who were anyhow exceptionally courteous and polite.
Skipping 5 star brownie & Toblerone Mousse – both of which are not my type of chocolates, as I prefer mine to be dark and bitter, I decided to play it safe and ordered Malai Kulfi from Parsi Dairy Farm. Its an icecream made with a company called ‘Parsi Dairy Farm’ in Mumbai. Simply speaking its milk thickened by continuous boiling and then some sugar – very simple and rustic flavor which has a very home-made and genuine feel to it. If you have not tried this one, then do add it to your list.
Honestly speaking those Kebabs were high in fat content – maybe some from the meat and some added on top, which I didn’t mind at all, however to wash them down a hot drink was need of the hour. Ordered a Phetaili Coffee – which can be termed as Bambaiya slang for Beaten Coffee and a Parsi Choy which is your mint infused tea without milk. Coffee was par excellence and at Rs. 90 offers excellent value for money, while at Rs.70 there was not much wrong with the tea as well.
Oh! and all this while if you were wondering when I was going to talk about Berry Pulao, then this is the time for it. The Showstopper of the meal. As a rice lover I order biryani and pulao almost everywhere – from Lucknow to Ambur to Hyderabad to Moradabad to Kerala – I have been fortunate enough to try several versions in different parts of India and this Berry Pulao is at par with the best in business. Extremely fragrant rice dish loaded with flavors. Berries add super nice texture and flavor to the dish and vegetable version we had absolutely managed to stun us. These pulaos are served in layers – a layer of cooked protein (Veggies, chicken, mutton etc) topped with fragrant rice, dry fruits & berries. Again like most other parsi dished – not spicy at all albeit slightly sweet and sour thanks to the berries used in preparation of the dish.
Coming to the cost : I think Rs.360 (plus taxes) was an excellent price for the combo, you try multiple things and is more than good enough for full meal of someone with above-average appetite. The Seekh kebab platter for Rs.315 is not a bad price at all given the amount of meat you get in that thing. Have already mentioned that drinks are reasonably priced and so are the desserts with the Malai Kulfi being the most expensive item of the menu at Rs.180 per serving.
Overall speaking I think the place does suffer from its ‘chain’ syndrome and the food does hit the Lowest Common Denominator due to standardisation at a few places, however it does offer an excellent experience for anyone who is looking for a brand new cuisine served in a very stylish and premium setting.
SodaBottleOpenerWala is a much needed entry into Noida Food Scene and is a place that does warrant a visit for any food lovers who is keen on some nostalgia eating (if have visited Bomday) or just to try a brand new cuisine, which barely 2-3 places serve in entire Delhi / NCR, SodaBottleOpenerWala being the most prominent name among them.
Just for the record other two being – Parsi Bhonu at Adchini and Parsi Anjuman (which is more of a Dharamshala) near ITO, on the outskirts of Old Delhi.