Monday, January 9, 2017

Old chai in a new cup

Irani cafes. That celebrated, much talked about, written about and sadly, slowly disappearing integral part of Mumbai. Bun maska, chai, keema pav, khari - many a Mumbaikar has devoured these creations here, and lamented that some of these little time capsules are shutting down. The owners – most of them have owned these cafes for generations – are unable to sustain them in these times.

Kyani, Yazdani, Sassanian are some of these gems that have still managed to stay afloat. In 2015, as a tribute to these places, a restaurant that mimics their style and serves some of the cuisine they serve, was started. Today, SodaBottleOpenerWala has become ‘the place’ to be seen for the rich, who ironically, might not want to be seen visiting the real McCoys. This weekend I headed to it with friends.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While the flattery seems to succeed at most places here, it falls flat with the food.

The interiors included a medley of items bought from Chor Bazaar, new furniture designed in the Irani café style, and tiffins or dabas to serve some of the dishes. The glasses were bigger versions of chai glasses.

The tables were covered in the uniform red chequered pattern fabric one sees in most Irani cafes. And they had made an effort in most of the place, to tell the customer about Irani cafes and Parsis and their food. Just in case a customer forgot.

What I really liked was the motif on the flooring. Really, really Irani café.

Old photographs from Irani/ Parsi families also adorned most walls. Wall clocks showed the time in Persia and London among other places.

As written, the place is a tribute to Irani cafes, so there shouldn’t be other expectations. This isn’t a review, but for the authentic experience, head to the real places, while they are still there.

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