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Updated about 9hrs ago

  • Food
  • 70% Complete (success)
  • Service
  • 60% Complete (success)
  • Decor
  • 70% Complete (success)

A quirky, tongue in cheek re-creation of a dying institution: the Irani café

Gawking at Gurgaon's Cyber Hub is good enough reason to visit; Sodabottleopenerwala (SBOW) is the icing on the cake

Atmospherics: If the swish hub looks like Singapore or Dubai, with its spacious walkways, the restaurant looks like a throwback to another era. From the uber cool display window with its giant bottles of sweets from the 1960s – orange drops, Poppins, coin-shaped chocolates... And other delights from yesteryear, to the red walls and trademark furniture of Mumbai’s Irani restaurants, SBOW does what few home-grown eateries have managed: take itself with a dash of humour. So, instead of expensive crockery, your food will be served in charmingly dented aluminum cake moulds! That’s Parsee eccentricity played up a notch or two. The other great aspect is that it is as much a restaurant as a café, so whether you land up for their signature tea Irani special chai (Rs 60) or for a full meal, you’ll find it full. In fact, so brilliant is the cold drinks menu that you’ll be tempted to order everything in succession, with a dessert or three.

Table talk: The food is where the restaurant scores, because there has never been a dedicated Parsee restaurant in the NCR. The chef is a youthful Parsee girl and while the food is completely faithful to the original flavours, it is not very fussy or elaborate. So you can get a Tamota, Papeta per Eeda (Rs 165) two eggs baked on a bed of sliced tomatoes and potatoes, or Irani Keema Macaroni (Rs 395) that comes served in a Staub pan and has a higher desi quotient than the eggs. Parsee food is part Iran and part Gujarat and both ends of the spectrum are reflected in the cuisine. On the whole, the short menu travels between snacky meals and full-on Parsee favourites. The latter have been kept to a minimum in SBOW but that's probably to test the market. Do not miss the Berry Pulao (vegetarian/chicken/mutton Rs 395/495)

Plus and Minus: the cold drinks and the sweets in the display counter certainly add a dash of charm to the place. The slow service and the occasional endless wait for your order may or may not become streamlined in the days to come, but it is a turn off.

Must try: Bombay Rasta Sandwich, Bhendi Bazar Sheek Paratha, Toblerone Mousse

Updated about 23hrs ago

  • Food
  • 70% Complete (success)
  • Service
  • 70% Complete (success)
  • Decor
  • 70% Complete (success)

I may not be a fan of Yo China: it is a project that has outlived its use and hardly caters to the tastes (and price points) of today. The latest offering from the same stable is dimsumbros. And that is something that is all set to rock the NCR. A single restaurant has cleverly made two sections, each one invisible from the other. In the middle is an effective partition: a dim sum kitchen on one side and a bar on the other. I visited the dim sum section and was completely overwhelmed at two things. One is the quality and sheer range of the dim sum on offer, the other at the price.

It takes a certain sort of genius to serve 37 varieties of premium, baked, steamed and fried dim sum at rock-bottom prices in a mall. This means that the clientele inevitably consists of those who have never encountered say, a radish cake or a custard bun. Thus, the idea has to be explained to them by the painstakingly trained staff. Do be warned that you'll get ticked off (in the politest way, to be sure) if you mismatch your sauce and dim sum! It's all for a good cause. You can opt for four, six or eight baskets of dim sum per meal, each basket containing three pieces. Eight baskets (Rs 950/1,250 veg/non-veg) will get you two baskets from the premium section plus any other permutation; four baskets (Rs 550/750) will get you no premium dim sum, and six baskets will get you one premium dimsum basket. You can treat the dim sums as a complete meal or as a starter and order an oriental meal in a bowl after that, but to do so would be to somewhat miss the point.

The two finest dim sums of my meal were scallop suimai with sturgeon caviar (Rs 700) and almond prawns with wasabi mayo (Rs 500). The first was served in a Chinese soup spoon: all you had to do was ladle it into your mouth. There was enough scallop used in the filling to justify the name, but the 'caviar' was anything but! Almond prawns had been thinly coated with a batter to keep the whole thing crisp. There was a touch of wasabi and the almond slices were razor thin and added texture to the morsels. It is not easy to steam a chicken glutinous rice lotus parcel and get the rice whole, while imbuing it with the flavour of the lotus leaf. Usually the rice becomes gooey (a cardinal sin) and the lotus leaf just forms a flavourless wrap. The restaurant has one of the finest versions I have tried in a long time. Similarly, do not miss the playboy dim sum. The corny name is because the dumpling is shaped like a bunny rabbit, ears and all. Inside, a juicy morsel of prawn and enoki mushroom add texture and flavour.

For those who like their dim sum deep-fried, fear not. There are options that underline the point that the management has been hard at work trying to do something different and unique. I liked the concept of the chimichanga roll: diced vegetables in a cheese sauce wrapped in a wheat wrapper and deep-fried. Chicken sui cot is a quaintly pear-shaped dimsum with a potato coating on the chicken filling that has been deep-fried.

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