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Thaker Bhojanalay

31 Dadiseth Agyari Lane, Off Kalbadevi Road, Mumbai, 400002, India

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On my second visit to this little restaurant things were much the same standard, the format being an all you can eat thali with a wide variety of dishes. I was particularly taken by the little fried lentil balls, and bhindi (okra) was excellent, carefully cooked and entirely avoiding the sogginess that afflicts this dish in so many restaurants. Little puris had lovely texture, as did soft rotis and breads. Yellow dhal was better than I remember it, spicier this time. Alphonso mango syrup, sweetened with a little sugar, was a fine way to finish. 

The thali had many dishes, including green pea patties, sandwich dhokla, dal pakoudi, bhindi, malai parwal, corn capsicum, aloo masala, chaowala, meetha dal, meetha kadhi,tikka kadhi, lachko dal. There was wheat roti, puri, corn roti, bajra roti and juwar roti for breads, as well as biscuit bhakhri. There were various chutneys (green chutney, garlic chutney,meetha chutney and coconut chutney) as well as a little raw papaya salad, chilly fry and popadoms. All this food was served until you were full, and all for less than £4. Amazing. 

The notes below are from a visit in August 2011.

If there was a prize for the most unpromising restaurant location anywhere this place would probably win. Near a busy commercial market in downtown Mumbai, you approach it via a narrow lane barely wide enough for a car, thronged with people, carts and perhaps the odd cow. Down a grubby corridor is a lift and a flight of stairs, and up these stairs is the restaurant. The decor was very simple, with bare tables and a couple of ceiling fans.

This is a Gujerati restauant serving thali on a steel tray. A little dish of moong bean curry had strikingly distinct flavours from its spice mix to enliven the beans (14/20). A potato curry and gourd curry were competent but less interesting (11/20), but then came an excellent okra dish, lightly cooked and accurately spiced without a hint of the sliminess which so often happens with this ingredient (14/20). Dhokala is a dish of rice and lentils, and there was a good pakora with a tasty spicy lentil filling (12/20). A series of different styles of roti appeared: plain, one with the consistency of a biscuit, another stuffed with sweet jaggery (13/20).

Bhatura bread was also excellent, light and freshly made. A sort of mini samosa called ghughra had a crisp outside and superb green pea spicy filling, again with strikingly vibrant spicing, where each distinct spice could be clearly tasted. This was one of the best Indian vegetarian dishes I have eaten (16/20). Dhal came in regular and sweet forms, and for me these could have had a less watery texture (11/20).

Finally gulab jaman, made from scratch in the kitchen rather than bought in, was genuinely excellent, again one of the best I have eaten (15/20). The head chef Gemayel Hemeram is in fact from Rajasthan, but he can certainly cook Gujerati food. The entire thali cost RS 250 (less than £4). No, I did not miss a decimal point there. The restaurant has been running continuously in family ownership since 1945 and is a hidden gem. My thanks to Rashmi Uday Singh for introducing me to it. I really liked this little place, and according to Rashmi, Alain Passard was also taken with it; I quite understand why.

 

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  • Nic Moga

    This place was awesome. I knew I was in for a bit of adventure when the concierge's eyes bulged when I told him where I needed a taxi to take me. "So you want to see the real Mumbai sir? Very good. The driver informs me that the roads are not accessible to car near the restaurant so you will have to walk a bit." I was let off about a fifteen minutes from the restaurant and after asking a few locals for directions finally found the place as you described it. I wasn't really given a menu, all of a sudden food just appeared in front of me and I began eating. After starting off a bit too fast I settled into a nice hour long-plus dinner of excellent dishes, spices, and various breads. None of these I could confidently identify but somehow this added to the experience. There was constant attention by the staff and management and the owner (whose name escapes me) was nice enough to engage me in conversation throughout. This was an excellent visit for me for several reasons. First, the journey to the destination exposes one to "real Mumbai" which is important for those who have a somewhat natural tendency to stay in our hotels and do the tourist circuit. Second, it introduced me to a new dish/way of eating (Thali). Third, the food was excellent. Fourth, the price is even more excellent; they have "increased" their charge to 270R which I gladly paid after tipping the staff 500R, for both the generous service and so now I can say I've tipped more than the price of the food at a restaurant. Lastly, there is a picture of you Andy in the back of the room in the context of an article about your visit here with Ms. Singh. (That was about as close to a brush with fame I got during my ten days in the country hah hah) Overall, the entire experience was the most satisfying dining of the entire trip for me and a great example of how eating doesn't have to be expensive or luxurious to be truly memorable. Thumbs up!

  • Name unavailable

    Many thanks for the recommendation Andy. This has got to be the best vegetarian thali ever ! Certainly the best meal I've had in India so far. Well worth wandering around back streets to find it.

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